Iceland’s foreign minister this morning described Canadian fears that Huang Nubo’s hoped-for land purchase in Iceland is part of a wider Chinese plan to take the country over, as ‘ridiculous’.
Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson says it is crazy to suggest that Huang’s plan to build a hotel and golf resort in northeast Iceland is somehow connected to a colonial plot — adding that it is nothing short of funny that the Canadian military intends to play on these fears to secure extra funding from its government to buy icebreakers, ships and submarines.
The Canadian paper Globe and Mail reports that the country’s defence ministry has been looking seriously into the issue.
Huang Nubo’s intention to buy Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum has attracted attention further afield than just Iceland and the Globe and Mail reports that Canadian military generals fear that the investor has more on his mind when trying to buy 0.3 percent of Iceland than a mere hotel and golf course.
The paper speculates that Chinese interest is more connected to important Arctic shipping lanes which are slowly opening with the melting sea ice to the far north of Iceland, which could make the country a trans-shipping hub for freight between Asia and Europe and North America.
Canadian military officials are apparently taking that threat seriously, saying it means Canada should buy more icebreakers, other ships and submarines.
Össur Skarphéðinsson makes little of it, saying to RÚV: “I find it sort of quaint that the Canadian Army is worried because a Chinese person wants to build up a tourist resort in Iceland […] and make a direct link between that and trying to get more funding from the government to build a counterweight against the Chinese.”
Icelandic interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson’s decision to block Huang Nubo’s land purchase caused ruptures within the Icelandic coalition government last week and they only got deeper this weekend when he and Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism Katrín Júlíusdóttir became embroiled in a discussion over what defines helping the Chinese investor to circumvent Icelandic law. Katrín is reportedly working to help Huang Nubo lease the land instead of buying it outright.