by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 2, 2011
A Chinese property tycoon who is trying to buy a huge swathe of Iceland for a luxury resort said Friday he had been attracted by the country's wilderness and pledged to respect the local environment.
Huang Nubo, a former Chinese official who made his fortune in property, told journalists in Beijing he also hoped to create Europe's biggest nature reserve with the 300 square kilometre (200 square mile) area.
Huang said the land, which he has offered to buy for $10 million, stretched across two separate nature reserves, and that 99 percent of it was wilderness, with the remaining one percent made up of abandoned farmland.
"Using my land to unite these two reserves would create the biggest nature reserve in Europe," said the head of Chinese property company Zhongkun Group, which owns resorts and tourist facilities across China and the world.
Huang said the resort and golf course he wants to build would cover only a small proportion of the land, which he is buying in its entirety because the sellers do not want to divide it.
And he said he would ensure that waste water produced by his project did not pollute the environment.
"Iceland is such a beautiful country I would not think of letting waste water cause underground pollution," he said.
Icelandic Interior Minister Oegmundur Jonasson said earlier that the government would have to consider the future of natural resources such as water on the land in deciding whether to allow the sale.
The land, called Grimsstadir a Fjoellum, is partly owned by Iceland, which suffered a disastrous economic collapse in 2008 when its hugely overstretched banking sector plunged into crisis and its three major banks collapsed.
Icelandic Ambassador Kristin Arnadottir was at Friday's press conference, and said she was in favour of the sale.
"I think we are perhaps going to experience something much more positive now that Iceland is going to become a tourist destination," she said.
China is encouraging companies to invest abroad as part of a strategy to create global firms and use its massive foreign exchange reserves.
Huang confirmed his past history as a government official but denied his company had government support.
The Financial Times, which reported the project this week, said opponents have warned it could give Beijing a strategic foothold in the North Atlantic.
Iceland occupies a strategically important location between Europe and North America and has been touted as a potential hub for Asian cargo should climate change open Arctic waters to shipping.
Beyond the Ice Age
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Iceland receives Chinese request for land purchase: ministry
Reykjavik (AFP) Sept 1, 2011
Iceland's interior ministry said Thursday it had received a request from a Chinese investor and property developer for permission to buy a tract of Icelandic land for a tourist resort. Huang Nubo is seeking an exemption to an Icelandic law that bans the sale of land to citizens outside the European Economic Area (EEA). "This request will be taken into consideration in the ministry, like ... read more
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