Uproar as Vietnamese firm calls for Chinese investor in mega airport

By Ngoc Tuyen   August 25, 2017 | 04:00 am PT
Uproar as Vietnamese firm calls for Chinese investor in mega airport
The lotus design of Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
The public are dead against the idea, pointing to other sub-par projects that have run massively over budget.

The Hanoi Export-Import Company, or Geleximco, has asked for permission from authorities to find a Chinese investor to construct the multi-billion-dollar Long Thanh International Airport, which will be the country’s biggest when it is completed.

Geleximco director Vu Van Tien said the company has asked the government and the Ministry of Transport to build the airport in the southern province of Dong Nai under the public-private partnership model, a cooperative arrangement between the public and private sectors.

He said Geleximco has established partnerships with a number of big Chinese firms, including Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group Co., Ltd., which constructs power plants and offers electrical contracting services, as well as major investment funds like Huarong Overseas Investment, China Minsheng Financial and the Hong Kong-based IDG.

Despite funding concerns for the new airport, which will cost an estimated at $16 billion, Tien said with its experience and financial capacity, Geleximco is confident it can complete the project at the lowest cost within three to five years.

Geleximco proposal to invite a Chinese partner to work on the project has met with strong public opposition.

Most VnExpress readers said they do not want a Chinese partner involved in the project because there are much better options from Japan, Korea, Europe and the U.S.

They are also reminding authorities to look at over-budget projects that Chinese investors have run into the ground in the past.

Reader Bui Huy Khoi’s comment, which asks who doesn't want a Chinese firm involved in a project of this scale in Vietnam, received more than 2,000 likes in just five hours.

Geleximco specializes in real estate, information technology and finance and banking.

Long Thanh, which will cover 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres), is expected to replace Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City as the country’s largest airport and have an annual capacity of 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo.

Lying 40 kilometers from HCMC, the project will be carried out in three phases, the first of which is scheduled for completion in 2025 and will be able to handle 25 million passengers a year.

Vu Hong Thanh, chairman of the parliamentary Economics Committee, told a meeting in June that the increasing demand for air travel and constant overloading at Tan Son Nhat have “made the construction of Long Thanh an urgent issue.”

Tan Son Nhat currently receives 32 million passengers a year, far beyond its designed capacity of 25 million.

The transport ministry earlier asked the public what they thought the design for Long Thanh Airport should be, and the top three choices were a lotus, bamboo and a palm tree.

The ministry in April picked a lotus-themed design for the airport, and the choice is being reviewed by the government.

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