A property tycoon from Hong Kong wants to build a city in Ireland, hosting 50,000 migrants from the semi-autonomous region in a scheme he prefers to purists arriving in the US.
Evan Ko, founder of Victoria Harbor Group (VHG), an international charter city investment company, hopes to find a 50 sq km site between Dublin and Belfast to build a new city called Nextapolis from scratch.
Ko has pitched the plan, which will include schools that teach in Cantonese, to Irish authorities, arguing that it would be in line with the government’s desire to develop areas outside the capital.
The favorite of the six locations under consideration was a site between Drogheda and Dundalk near the border with Northern Ireland, within striking distance of Dublin Airport, Ko told the Times, which first reported the story.
“Hong Kong people are used to urban life. We want to go out at night, that kind of thing. So basically we thought corridor between Dublin and Belfast may be appropriate because of the infrastructure.
“It is also close to Dublin Airport. Hong Kong people are used to flying to other countries to do business. But we are also open to other places, where you will probably have a lot of tech companies or strong manufacturing, where the land may be even cheaper. “
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Ireland confirmed talks had been held with Ko, but the idea appeared to pour cold water. “After an initial approach in December 2019, with the Department had limited contact with the persons involved in order to provide useful and realistic guidance about Ireland. Since providing this guidance, no further action has been taken by the department in this matter, ”he said.
Ko did not immediately respond to a Guardian’s interview request on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, he told the Times that he had dropped in the autonomous city – 500,000 autonomous city of Hong Kong with more than 500 square kilometers of its original pitch in response to the Irish response.
“We have changed our strategy. We are now more flexible because we understand that each country has a different position in terms of size and capacity to acquire land. “
He said that the envisaged city would be integrated into the host country, not autonomous. “Now we are not thinking of anything like separate border, different official languages and different political system.”
Attractions include Ireland’s low population density and Brexit creating opportunities for its financial services sector, Ko said. He said he was considering three or four other countries, which he refused to name.
A spokesperson for Dundalk’s Chamber of Commerce, Paddy Malone, said the M1 corridor area could host such a city. “We would be ideally positioned to facilitate that we have the infrastructure to cope with the expansion.”
He said Hong Kong residents would enjoy faster broadband, could have access to three airports and seven universities and should be able to come from Northern Ireland should they prefer to stay in the UK. “If it is being adjusted in Ireland then we are in a prominent position.”
The implementation of China’s recent national security laws on the island has prompted many Hong Kongers to consider leaving. The British Government has promised to provide assistance and rehabilitation.
Charter city in 1602 podcasts Institute compared the migration to America to stay at the Mayflower. “We are in search of freedom and democracy, similar to the pilgrims and purists who are searching for Europe. Of religious freedom.”