No politics behind Iceland project: Chinese tycoon

BEIJING - A Chinese tycoon who plans to build a resort on an isolated patch of land in Iceland said on Wednesday that there were no political motives behind the project, after its strategic location raised security concerns in the island nation.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 31 Aug 2011, 4:43 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:42 PM

Huang Nubo, chairman of the private real estate company Zhongkun Investment Group, which has reached a preliminary agreement with local owners to buy a 300 square kilometre farm, told Chinese state media his plan to build a green tourism venture was strictly business.

“The project is a purely commercial move and has no connection with politics. The concerns are groundless,” Huang said, according to China’s official new agency, Xinhua.

Huang, a poetry-writing millionaire and former Chinese government official, reached a deal for 1 billion crowns ($8.8 million) to buy the Grimsstadir farm in the North Atlantic nation, where he hopes to build a golf course, a hotel and an outdoor recreation area.

Listed 161st on the Forbes list of the richest Chinese in 2010, Huang worked for the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and the Ministry of Construction in the 1980s and early 1990s.

This part of his resume have made some uneasy about his intentions for the tract of land, which experts have said could give China a strategic foothold for its geo-political interests in the region.

“I was an ordinary official then and quit the government jobs a long time ago. It is absurd to draw the conclusion that my company has government support,” Xinhua reported him as saying.

The deal still requires the approval of Iceland’s government.

Analysts told Reuters earlier that security concerns are centred around Iceland’s strategic mid-Atlantic location between Europe and the United States, and its proximity to the Arctic where a number of nations are competing to make resource claims could not be ignored.

The project would mark the first major Chinese investment in Iceland, which is still slowly recovering from the collapse of its banks in 2008 during the global financial crisis.

The Xinhua report said Huang, a nature lover and mountaineer, had been drawn to the country’s natural environment and also donated $1 million last year to set up a foundation for exchange between Chinese and Icelandic poets.

The project may not turn a profit immediately, but Iceland’s beautiful landscape was sure to attract tourists to the resort, Huang said.

Huang’s company submitted an application for the investment project to the Chinese government on Monday and expected it to approve its part within six months, Xinhua said.

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