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Taiwan Allows First Land Project by Chinese Developer

  • Ralph Jennings

Beijing Vantone, which is known for luxury home projects in China, is building two 29-story towers with ocean views. The developer is working with a local firm to open the $8.6 million project near Taipei by 2014 after getting permits more than a year ago. Vantone’s founder and chairman, Feng Lun, a frequent visitor to Taiwan, chose the site because he thought it would attract ethnic Chinese from around the world.

Kidd Lin is sales manager for the project, known as Vantone Taipei 2011.

He says the company chairman felt Taiwan is now the place that best suits ethnic Chinese. First, Lin says, there’s Taiwan’s medical system, then its political stability and its degree of openness. The chairman has always wanted to do business in Taiwan, he adds.

The sales manager says Vantone set up a company in Singapore and used that name on its application to the New Taipei City government. A city construction publicist said her department was not obligated to check to see whether Vantone was backed by Chinese funds.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost to the Communists and moved their government to the island. China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since then, causing fearful leaders in Taipei to ban investments from the other side.

But relations began to thaw in 2008 under Taiwan’s conciliatory President Ma Ying-jeou, and since then the island has opened 404 sectors to investors from China.

Taiwan’s Investment Commission says private construction is now closed to mainland Chinese. One concern is security, and another is competition with local firms. Taiwan residents also worry about opening the island to wealthy Chinese companies that would speculate in the market and cause property prices to go up.

But Taiwan does let mainland Chinese investors bid on 43 types of public projects. George Tsai, political scientist at Chinese Cultural University, says Taiwan hopes the economic powerhouse across the Strait can ultimately do more.

“If investment from China is not for short-term profit, is not here to speculate for profit, then I think the investment should be treated as any foreign investment, should be regarded on equal footing,” said Tsai.

Vantone and its Taiwanese partner Southern Land Development Company are also working on a 4,000-square-meter clubhouse that includes a wine bar, a children’s play area and a hot spring dipping zone that uses the mountainside location’s natural geology. Most of one tower will be reserved for serviced apartments - furnished units available for short term stays. Vantone says it already has sold 70 percent of the units, all to ethnic Chinese.