A wealthy Chinese developer has made a bid on a tract of land in Akureyri, Iceland, with such amenable features as mud pools and molten lava fields. Huang Nubo is a former Chinese government official whose claims of wanting to develop a resort have come under scrutiny by Iceland’s Interior Ministry. Some more conspiratorially minded people believe this is an attempt on the part of the Chinese to secure a foothold in the Arctic Circle, where the melting of icecaps could reveal efficient new shipping lanes through which to transport goods in the future. Huang’s history in the Chinese Communist Party, his considerable wealth coupled with ties to the Ministry of Construction and the propaganda department provide considerable reason to question his motives, but his company, the Zhongkun Group, has more projects planned in China, the United States and Scandinavia, bolstering his arguments about the innocuous nature of the developments which are likely to cater to China’s burgeoning middle class.
Iceland’s economy has struggled since its sovereign bankruptcy in October 2008 but nonetheless a tendency to reject outside intervention in their domestic economy has made many Icelanders wary of Huang Nubo’s intentions. Iceland’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, welcomes the investment and the jobs it would bring to the cash-strapped island nation.