Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.09 24 Jun 2020


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A Hong Kong real estate tycoon is looking at Ireland as the potential site for a new 'charter city' to house tens of thousands of people from the territory.

As China continues to impose strict new laws on the self-governing territory, many Hong Kong residents are considering moving away from the city.

Ireland is among a small number of countries being considered by one developer as a potential new home for some of those people.

The proposed city would have a dedicated charter promoting values and principles such as democracy, environmentalism, sustainability and internationalism.

It would be managed in a way that would "be suitable for the residents who'd like to move in", but would overall be governed by Irish laws and the legal system.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Ivan Ko - CEO of the Victoria Harbour Group - said any new city would be a "green field, ground up" project.

Developer looks to Ireland as potential home for 'new city for Hong Kong people'

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He explained: "Hong Kong people are very urban - we are almost like urban animals. The whole Hong Kong city is well developed and urbanised. Many of us are used to this kind of city-life.

"We know Dublin is very expensive, so we are not thinking of Dublin - but anywhere near Dublin would be welcomed by Hong Kong people.

"We are targeting the city ultimately or ideally to be 50% Hong Kong people and 50% local people together with people from around the world."

Mr Ko said that they'd hope to have around 100,000 people living in a 50 square kilometre city in Ireland when it's mature, likely after 15-20 years.

He also said post-Brexit such a new city would help make Ireland more attractive for international financial services.

He observed: "I think to develop a new city, first of all we'd need the land. We'd like to have land which either at a big discount or granted to us, then we can go into public-private partnership with the government.

"The government support is very important in terms of the site availability, and also the conditions to allow us develop an international charter city in your country."

Mr Ko stressed that it wouldn't be a new country, and that it would be an Irish city with many Hong Kong residents.

He explained: "The new city still belongs to the host country, and there is no issue about sovereignty because we are just residents of this city."

Main image: File photo of Hong Kong. Picture by: Li Gang/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

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