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Reykjavik (AFP) Sept 1, 2011
Iceland's interior ministry said Thursday it had received a request from a Chinese investor and property developer for permission to buy a tract of Icelandic land for a tourist resort.
Huang Nubo is seeking an exemption to an Icelandic law that bans the sale of land to citizens outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
"This request will be taken into consideration in the ministry, like all other requests, since the purchase is illegal unless there is a special exemption," Icelandic Interior Minister Oegmundur Jonasson told AFP.
The request "calls for intense consideration," he said, adding: "We are talking about a huge (piece of) land ... and I have said that we need to view the matter in that context."
Oegmundur has previously said that the future of natural resources, such as water, on the land in question would have to be taken into account.
The piece of land is located on the northeastern part of the island.
According to the Financial Times, Huang Nubo, a former Chinese government official, plans to buy 300 square kilometres (about 200 square miles) of land and invest a total of $100 million (70 million euros) to build a luxury resort with a hotel, golf course and sports facilities.
The land, called Grimsstadir a Fjoellum, is "partly owned by the state. It is not up for sale simply because a high price is being offered," Jonasson told AFP on Tuesday, without putting a price on the land.
Forbes ranked Huang as China's 161st richest man in 2010, with a net worth of $890 million. His company, Zhongkun Group, owns resorts and tourist facilities across China and around the world.
Iceland occupies a strategically important location between Europe and North America and has been touted as a potential hub for Asian cargo should climate change open Arctic waters to shipping.
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