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China eco-city deal clinched: eco-tourism city

Source: The Australian

SYDNEY-BASED Australian-Chinese entrepreneur George Wang has secured an agreement with the Tianjin municipal government to develop a $700 million "eco-tourism city" in a staged development in China. 

The deal was sealed at the weekend, with Trade Minister Simon Crean witnessing the signing of the agreement between AIMS and the Tianjin municipal government.

Mr Wang, founder and chairman of AIMS Financial Services, told The Australian that it would be a profit-sharing project with the Chinese on a 60-40 basis.

The Tianjin government will provide the 4sq km site, which nestles on the hills between Beijing and Tianjin, in an area known as Xiaying in Ji County, not far from the Great Wall of China.

Mr Wang said this eco-city development would become one of group's main businesses in China.

He expects the project to be a forerunner to similar projects that would breathe new life into rural areas of China.

He said the concept was to develop residential, cultural, agricultural and tourism facilities in a rural setting that would appeal to tourists and residents.

"I want to create an environment that is similar to small towns in rural Australia," he said. "One feature will be vineyards and I want to bring Australian wine growers to Xiaying."

As well as developing homes, the plan includes the reconstruction of a cluster of ancient Toaist temples.

Mr Wang said he hoped the project would create jobs for rural people and provide an alternative to traditional agricultural activities.

The development will be staged over five to eight years.

Mr Wang hopes to eventually build five or six such eco-cities to create the necessary critical mass for a real estate investment trust, which could then be listed on a stock exchange.

The initial project will cost up to $700m when fully developed. Mr Wang said the money would be raised from private investors in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia through a China Agricultural Eco City Development Fund.

AIMS Financial Services has been investing in China over the past decade. Last year, it signed an agreement with Tianjin City authorities to provide financial services expertise in the northern Chinese city.

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