After rejecting his offer to buy a 300 square km piece of land in November, property tycoon Huang Nubo now claims that Icelandic authorities have approved a deal that would allow him to lease the land instead. From China Daily:
Huang said he learned the good news from his company’s agent in Reykjavik at midnight Friday. He assured China Daily that he will sign a deal in mid-June but “the details of the term will need further negotiation”.
Huang said he believes that, during the whole process, he has played a positive role in telling his personal story of turning from a government employee to a successful private business owner during the 30 years of the country’s reform and opening up. He worked for a Party department and the Ministry of Construction in the 1980s but quit in the early 1990s when many officials turned to business during the economic boom.
“I’m accompanied by a handful of successful businessmen like me. The West knows little about the transformation. My story helps them to better understand China and what’s happening here,” he said.
The long-term lease agreement likely assuages fears in Iceland that an outright purchase would help China gain a foothold in the Artic region for energy resources and shipping, and paves the way for Huang to open a resort on the land within the next five years.
After a review process lasting more than 12 months, the government last month approved the sale of the 16-property Crafar Farms group to China’s Shanghai Pengxin in a deal reportedly worth NZ$210 million ($170 million).
On the face of it, the sale was a minor component of the burgeoning NZ$10 billion a year trade relationship between China and New Zealand, which in 2008 became the first developed nation to sign a free trade agreement with Beijing.
But the approval sparked intense controversy in the farm-reliant country, the world biggest exporter of dairy products, with Prime Minister John Key’s conservative government accused of selling out to foreign interests.
The main opposition Labour Party labelled the decision “a massive kick in the guts” for New Zealand farmers, while Winston Peters of the populist New Zealand First Party branded it “economic betrayal”.
“The whole sales process has been a shonky, jack-up job between Prime Minister John Key, his ministers, and the communist government of China,” Peters said.