Huang Nubo first visited Iceland last year for a poetry festival, one that he sponsored, the Financial Times reported Friday. But the 55-year-old has ties to the country that go back to his days at Beijing University, when he had an Icelandic roommate.
"I thought it was so beautiful," he told the newspaper. "I love wild barren places."
Huang plans to spend $9.3 million to buy a sizable tract in the northeastern area known as Grimstaddir a Fjollum, and $100 million to acquire a hotel and golf course. Visitors will fly there in two small planes, he said, and can enjoy horseback riding and hot air balloons as well as golf.
The plan must be approved by Iceland and by China, which monitors its citizens' investments overseas. In Iceland, many locals and officials are suspicious that Huang, who once worked in the Chinese Propaganda Ministry, is more interested in Iceland's strategic importance than its scenery.
Huang has at least one highly placed supporter.
"Nobody talked about geopolitical implications when Iceland flooded its valleys to create hydroelectricity for western aluminum companies," President Olafur Ragnar Grímsson told the Times. "But when a Chinese poet wants to build a hotel, everyone goes crazy."