Chinese investment in Iceland making world headlines

Recent news that a Chinese investor has bought a large tract of land in north-east Iceland, with a view to building a luxury hotel and eco-tourism resort, is being widely discussed overseas.

As previously reported on IceNews, the Chinese investor Huang Nubo has bought (subject to Chinese and Icelandic government approval) Grimsstadir a Fjollum. Nubo is a friend of Icelandic translator Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, with whom he studied at university. He says his interest in Iceland is based on his love of nature.

The news broke internationally on Monday when it was picked up by the Financial Times and the American news channel CNN. It has also been one of yesterday’s top stories on the BBC News website.

The Financial Times points out that Nobo is on the Forbes list of the 170 richest people in China. His assets amount to USD 890 million — or ISK 100 billion — and his companies own property all over China and around the world. He is affiliated with the Communist Chinese government.

The question the international media are asking is: are the Chinese gearing up for the likely future opening of Arctic shipping lanes by buying strategically important land in Iceland? Or is it simply a case of an interested businessman innocently intending to invest billions of kronur in exactly the way he says he will?