Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iceland Blocks Chinese Businessman from Buying Land

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Iceland Blocks Chinese Businessman from Buying Land

Article excerpt

Chinese businessman Huang Nubo planned to invest $200 million in Iceland, but it has sparked national security concerns, despite popular support in a country still reeling from its 2008 financial collapse.

A Chinese billionaire who was blocked from buying a large chunk of Iceland has lashed out at what he calls Western nations' "mistrust and fear" of China as they seek to constrain the Asian giant's rise.

Huang Nubo planned to build a hotel featuring a golf course and hot air balloon rides on a 300-square-kilometer plot ( roughly 115 square miles) of northeastern Iceland, roughly a quarter of the size of Hong Kong. His bid sparked national security concerns in Iceland, despite widespread popular support for the $200 million investment plan in a country still reeling from its 2008 financial collapse. Then on Saturday, Icelandic Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson ruled that the deal did not meet legal requirements for land sales to companies outside Europe.

"There are still double standards," complained Huang Nubo, who had planned to build a massive tourist resort on a remote stretch of frozen heath. "The Western world asks us to open the Chinese market without restrictions, but when it's a question of their resources they close the door on us," he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Huang's problems are not deterring China from seeking to snap up bargains in crisis-hit Europe, however. "Next year we will send a delegation to promote trade and investment to European countries," Trade Minister Chen Deming told a meeting of Chinese firms with overseas interests on Monday.

"Some European countries are facing a debt crisis and hope to convert their assets into cash and would like foreign capital to acquire their enterprises," Mr. Chen said. "We will be watching closely and pushing forward progress."

Huang, who was ranked 161 in last year's Forbes magazine list of the richest Chinese, accused Western governments of often wrongly assuming that the Chinese military is behind Chinese foreign investments.

Other Chinese firms have run into national security objections in their efforts to expand internationally. …

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