Business Times

Disappointed Chinese investors return with another investment

After quitting Mirigama Zone
By Bandula Sirimanna

A group of Chinese investors who abandoned a special economic zone outside Colombo which it was setting up exclusively for Chinese investments, returned to Sri Lanka this week with other plans including investments in trading.

Executive President of China Huichen Investment Holdings Ltd Ron Huang told the Business Times in an interview in Colombo that his company will venture into new areas of business in the island after deciding to abandon the dedicated Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project at Mirigama, the focus of a series of exclusive articles in this newspaper.

Disclosing details of these plans, he noted that the company plans to build a massive shopping Mall with a Convention hall and apartment housing complex near the Katunayake International Airport, using modern architectural techniques used in the Netherlands for floating house buildings near lakes and lagoons.

Negotiations are underway to purchase a 157-acre land near the airport for this project, he revealed. Huichen Investment Holdings will invest in tourist resort projects and commodity trading including tea. It will also purchase a tea factory in Sri Lanka, Mr Ron said.

He revealed that the preliminary agreement to set up the Mirigama zone was signed by the previous management of the company, headed by former Chairman Huichen Investment Wang Yu Ping.
Since then the management has changed and the new board of directors found that the site was not suitable for an industrial location due to poor condition of roads and other infrastructure facilities. It is also opposed to environmental pollution and will not encourage industrial ventures harmful for environment, another issue that cropped up at the site.

A sum of $2 million was spent by the former management on basic infrastructure development at Mirigama which included cutting of coconut trees and clearing of the land. Explaining further the reasons for pulling out from Mirigama, Mr Ron said the former chairman made an attempt to bring some Chinese investors to set up industries but was unsuccessful. Another negative was transport difficulties with the site located faraway from the city of Colombo.

Now Huichen Investment Holdings is shifting its attention to other areas of investment and continuing what it calls ‘friendly relations and maintaining its goodwill with Sri Lanka’. “We love Sri Lanka and its people and we want to be friendly with them always without causing any damage to their environment,” Mr Ron added.

The group is a major buyer of Sri Lankan tea from HVA Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and is engaged in promoting and selling Sri Lankan tea in China since 2009. It also imports coconut fibre and coir from the island. “We don’t want to harm these relations and we came back with the plan of establishing a sister city of Fujiang in Quan Zhou province in Gampaha, to create international understanding and goodwill. The Sister Cities Program promotes world peace in an individual level and encourages citizens to better understand community, by contrasting their way of life with another culture,” he said.

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