The mysterious Chinese telecoms entrepreneur behind a long-shot proposal to build a canal across Nicaragua has waded into Ukraine’s political crisis, unveiling a $10bn project to build a deepwater port on the Crimean Peninsula.
Wang Jing announced his latest project during the visit to China of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, who left a capital besieged by protesters to solicit desperately needed loans and infrastructure investment from Beijing.
The $3bn first phase would involve the construction of a deepwater port and reconstruct the sea port of Sevastopol, according to materials provided by Beijing Interoceanic Canal Investment Management Co, Mr Wang’s company. A second, $7bn phase would include an airport, LNG terminal and shipyard. Sevastopol is home to both the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea fleets.
“We know China has a lot of big state-owned enterprises, including construction SOEs, but we don’t simply want a construction partner, we want a strategic partner,” Aleksey Mazyuk, head of the partner in the project, Kievgidroinvest, told reporters in Russian.
Following Mr Yanukovich’s visit, China released a statement saying the governments “agreed to promote co-operation in big projects” but Beijing did not explicitly commit to the state-to-state loans Ukraine was seeking. It could be years – if ever – before the privately backed Crimean project materialises.
Mr Wang controls Xinwei Telecom, which has a number of contracts to build networks overseas, including in Nicaragua and Ukraine.
Xinwei also holds the license to China’s 3G mobile standard, developed with state funding and intended to be the crown jewel of China’s homegrown technology. Mr Wang, who says he majored in Chinese medicine but will not reveal at which university, gradually took control of Xinwei in recent years.
Both the canal and the deepwater port proposals are priority projects for their host governments but have failed to find commercial backers in the past.
Mr Wang said financing for the project would be “smooth” but did not provide further details. He said the Nicaraguan project is preceding “very smoothly” and raised its cost estimate to $50bn from $40bn previously, because of the choice of route which he declined to identify.
王靖(见图)旗下的北京大洋新河投资管理有限公司(Beijing Interoceanic Canal Investment Management Co)提供的材料显示，第一阶段的30亿美元投资将涉及建设一座深水港、以及重建塞瓦斯托波尔(Sevastopol)海港。第二阶段的70亿美元投资将包括建设机场、液化天然气(LNG)码头和船坞。塞瓦斯托波尔是俄罗斯和乌克兰黑海舰队的停靠地。