Property tycoon looks to build new city between Belfast and Dublin for Hong Kong citizens
A billionaire property tycoon has proposed building a new city between Belfast and Dublin for thousands of Hong Kong residents fleeing China's recent crackdown.
The proposed settlement, dubbed 'Nextopolis', would be located near Dundalk in Co Louth and could see up to 15,000 Hong Kongers making the move.
There has been debate about whether the ambitious idea would boost the economy or if it should be dismissed as a fantasy.
Ivan Ko, founder of the Victoria Harbour Group, reportedly pitched a proposal to officials in the Republic and has been looking at six potential sites.
He has argued it would fit with the Irish government's desire to develop areas outside the capital.
"We like Ireland. Corporate taxes are very low. You have very strong manufacturing and biomedical companies. Major tech giants have European headquarters there. Overall we think Ireland is very good," he told told The Guardian.
Mr Ko told Newstalk earlier this year that post-Brexit, such a new "international charter city" would also help make Ireland more attractive for global financial services.
Irish officials are reported to have poured cold water on the idea after initially being approached late last year.
The south's foreign affairs department said that "following an initial approach in December 2019, the department had limited contact" with Mr Ko, and it had taken "no further action" on this matter.
However, Mr Ko recently sent a representative to Dundalk to discuss the idea and reportedly plans to visit the area.
Hong Kong has been facing an uncertain future amid violence during mass protests and international condemnation of China imposing new security laws, regarded as a crackdown on human rights.
The UK and Australia have made special immigration arrangements for Hong Kong residents looking to relocate.