The Svalbard Islands are situated half way between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole – as an “untouched Arctic wilderness” with three nature reserves, six national parks and 15 bird sanctuaries, described by Norway’s tourism office. The Austre Adventfjord property, the one on sale, is one of only two private owned pieces of land in the territory, reports South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Willy Østreng, president of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research, believed that it is the resources and shipping lanes of the Arcitc attract China’s interest. The privately owned fjord, still undeveloped, could potentially have 20 million tons of coal reserves, said International Business Times.
“It is extremely rare that land goes on sale in Svalbard,” he said to SCMP. “This is much more than an economic transaction – it also affects regional security.” The Norwegian government has declined to buy the property, Verdens Gang reported. Østreng said to SCMP that he expected the government to reconsider, due to strategic implications.
The concern of Østreng is not uncommon. Two years ago, the government of Iceland rejected Nubo Huang’s $200 million bid for a 300 km2 plot of land, concerning that there would be too much land in the hands of a foreigner. The sale turned into a renting agreement for 99 years and the renting failed in the end. “As far as we know, there is a U.S. military base near the land on sale.”Huang said to China.com.cn
Huang has turned his eyes to Norway, with a $111 million bid for the land on Svalbard Islands, reported China.com. cn. The plan is to build a resort there if he gets the bid.
Nubo Huang is chairman of the board of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co., Ltd. The company has run several projects in China, one of which is the operation of the World Cultural Heritage-Hong Village. However, the road of oversea business is rougher. In an interview with Hunan TV, Huang said “ There is a wall of glass. I think the western world has set up defenses against Chinese somehow, in a conscious or unconscious way… If it(investigation) is not successful, it is us ending up bearing the losses. It is a really rough road for private companies (in the oversea market).”
No matter the result of the real estate sale, Huang has already started contact with Norwegian society. In February, Huang donated $1.57 million to KODE Art Museum of Bergen. Zhongkun Investment Group sponsored a collaboration between KODE and Peking University, including a transfer of seven columns originating from Yuanmingyuan in China from KODE to Peking University. Karin Hindsbo, director of KODE says on the website of the museum that she believes the collaboration with Peking University will help the museum gain a leading position on Chinese arts in Europe.