Halldór Jóhannsson, Huang Nubo’s spokesman in Iceland, conveyed last week to Viðskiptablaðið his approval of the fact that the commission revising the Icelandic foreign investment legislation will produce a draft law by January, earlier than originally planned. Interior minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir (Independence Party) had insisted on an earlier completion of the commission’s work as a way to create an environment more receptive to foreign investors.
Some such work will indeed be necessary if Iceland is to become a bit less restrictive to foreign investment. While historically investment from other European countries is considerable in comparison to the size of the economy, when it comes to non-European investors the restrictions can be quite stringent, and, in the case of real estate, squarely prohibitive. These restrictions have prevented Mr Huang, a Chinese billionaire real estate tycoon, from purchasing a tract of barren land in the north of the country, that he would like to turn into a tourist resort. Despite all the bile exchanged, he remains committed to the project and has said in the past he will wait for Iceland to sort out their investment legislation so he can buy his plot.
Halldór’s involvement in Chinese activities in Iceland also includes helping provide the land for a Chinese-Icelandic aurora observatory.
Mr Huang’s other endeavours have recently taken him to Germany, where a volume of his poetry has just been translated under the title Kakerlaken-Kunde (something like ‘cockroach lore’). The English edition (Dorrance Publishing, 2010) is called Bunnies, which translates the original Chinese title (《小兔子》), and back in March my main article on Huang quoted one (long) verse from it:
The greatest treasure of the dead ought to be the inability of the living to know that moment of death, and the joy or pain of that moment, just like a 1981 Chateau Laffite [sic] Rothschild, the appreciation of which is greater than the desire to taste it.