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A Chinese tycoon’s Icelandic land grab

A Chinese investor’s plan to develop a large chunk of northwest Iceland is raising some eyebrows: Huang Nubo, a real estate investor and former Chinese government official, has struck a provisional deal to acquire 300 square kilometres of wilderness in north-east Iceland where he plans to build an eco-tourism resort and golf course. Opponents have ...

Thorvaldur Orn Krismundsson/AFP/Getty Images
Thorvaldur Orn Krismundsson/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese investor’s plan to develop a large chunk of northwest Iceland is raising some eyebrows:

Huang Nubo, a real estate investor and former Chinese government official, has struck a provisional deal to acquire 300 square kilometres of wilderness in north-east Iceland where he plans to build an eco-tourism resort and golf course.

Opponents have questioned why such a large amount of land – equal to about 0.3 per cent of Iceland’s total area – is needed to build a hotel. They warned that the project could provide cover for China’s geopolitical interests in the Atlantic island nation and Nato member.

It’s actually even a bit more extreme than that. About half of Iceland’s land area is a massive volcanic desert and around 10 percent is covered by glacier, so Huang’s purchase could actually amount to about 0.75 percent of the country’s habitable land — then again, with only 320,000 people, space isn’t really much of an issue in Iceland.

According to the Financial Times, China has been making overtures in Iceland lately, including a $500 million currency-swap deal last year, as part of a broader strategy to secure Arctic shipping lanes.

HT: Boing Boing

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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