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Iceland blocks Chinese businessman from buying land

Chinese businessman Huang Nubo planned to invest $200 million in Iceland, but it has sparked national security concerns, despite popular support in a country still reeling from its 2008 financial collapse.

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In this photo taken Sept. 27, an unnamed location is seen in Iceland. This isolated expanse of land is pocked by steaming fissures, molten mud pools and lava fields. Chinese businessman Huang Nubo wanted to build a resort here, but his purchase bid has been blocked.

Paisley Dodds/AP

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A Chinese billionaire who was blocked from buying a large chunk of Iceland has lashed out at what he calls Western nations’ “mistrust and fear” of China as they seek to constrain the Asian giant’s rise.

Huang Nubo planned to build a hotel featuring a golf course and hot air balloon rides on a 300-square-kilometer plot ( roughly 115 square miles) of northeastern Iceland, roughly a quarter of the size of Hong Kong. His bid sparked national security concerns in Iceland, despite widespread popular support for the $200 million investment plan in a country still reeling from its 2008 financial collapse. Then on Saturday, Icelandic Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson ruled that the deal did not meet legal requirements for land sales to companies outside Europe.

“There are still double standards,” complained Huang Nubo, who had planned to build a massive tourist resort on a remote stretch of frozen heath. “The Western world asks us to open the Chinese market without restrictions, but when it’s a question of their resources they close the door on us,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Huang’s problems are not deterring China from seeking to snap up bargains in crisis-hit Europe, however. “Next year we will send a delegation to promote trade and investment to European countries,” Trade Minister Chen Deming told a meeting of Chinese firms with overseas interests on Monday.

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