Private islands are new status symbols of wealthy Chinese

Updated: 2015-06-09 13:43


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Private islands are new status symbols of wealthy Chinese

Lin Dong, founder of China's first association of private island owners, relaxes on his island off the coast of Guangxi. [Photo/AFP]

Real estates or luxury commodities are no longer satisfying the wealthy Chinese, as they head overseas to snap up islands, a new signature to mark their status, Cankao Xiaoxi ( Reference News), a newspaper affiliated to Xinhua reported Tuesday.

Lin Dong, 42, a Guangdong entrepreneur who made his fortune from a medical equipment company, is one of a small but growing number of rich Chinese acquiring their own islands.

Since acquiring his first island nine years ago, Lin has bought more than 30 islands for 30 million yuan ($4.83 million).

Lin has founded China's first association of island owners, China Island Owners Association, which currently has 53 members, two thirds of whom are from Chinese mainland and the rest are overseas Chinese.

There are at least 600 island owners in China, Lin estimates.

By the end of this month, around 70 wealthy Chinese assembled by Lin will head out to Fiji, Tuvalu and Tahiti to purchase islands in a group tour.

Islands in China come with many restrictions on their use and a lease of just 50 years while most overseas islands are sold freehold, part of the reason why foreign islands are a hot cake.

Lin said, there is an elite group that buys islands for pleasure alone, while some look at islands from an investment point of view, mostly corporations planning tourism or fishing development.

"Buying islands is on the top of the pyramid of luxury commodities, and wealthy Chinese are showing growing interest in overseas islands in recent years", said Lin.

In march, four islands in Fiji, Greece, the United Kingdom and Canada were put up for auction on China's largest online shopping platform Taobao, and three of them were sold within 12 hours. A construction magnate in Yunnan province bought islands in Greece for 6.2 million yuan and in Canada for 1.7 million yuan.

A wealthy Chinese woman recently purchased Slipper Island, one of New Zealand's few privately owned islands, as a gift for her daughter. The 224 hectare island was sold for nearly 35 million yuan.

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