Is Northeast China a good place for investment? Public discussions on the topic have been heated in recent days following accusations by a prominent Chinese entrepreneur that a local committee in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province improperly intervened in his business and illegally occupied his land. The Global Times recently spoke with several investors in the region as well as a number of experts to find out their views on the local business environment and the future prospects of investing there.
A video capturing a prominent Chinese entrepreneur's tirade against a local committee in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province for "improper interference" in his business has gone viral.
While the video has sparked public discussion about the so-called hostile business environment in Northeast China - which has been labeled as the main cause of its struggling economy - experts and officials have also pointed out that the remarks in the video offer a chance for the region's authorities to improve the local investment environment, as already exemplified by the Heilongjiang government's swift response to the entrepreneur's accusations.
In a three-minute video uploaded online on January 2, Mao Zhenhua, chairman of ski resort Heilongjiang Yabuli Sun Mountain, also founder of China's first credit rating agency China Chengxin Credit Rating Group, says that his enterprise has suffered "a dark period" due to interference by a local administrative committee which oversees ski tourism in Yabuli.
Mao claims in the video that the committee illegally seized 230,000 square meters of land in his resort and then invited other private businesses to set up facilities on the property.
Unsurprisingly, Mao's video has provoked a storm on the internet, with several other business tycoons backing his claims and urging the local government to investigate the matter.
The video also triggered the start of an official probe by the Heilongjiang provincial government.
On January 4, the Heilongjiang provincial government issued a statement, publicizing the initial investigation result of Mao's complaints. It ordered the local committee to apologize to Sun Mountain for "illegally occupying land owned by the resort and improperly intervening in its business operation." The provincial government added that government officials involved in the "serious disciplinary violations will be punished."
Both Mao and the Heilongjiang provincial government refused to comment further when contacted by the Global Times on Monday. An executive at Sun Mountain surnamed Xue, however, told the Global Times on Monday that the resort welcomes the result.
"The quick response shows the local government's determination to improve the business environment… I'm confident about the future prospects of my resort, as well as investing in Heilongjiang," Mao was quoted as saying in a Xinhua News Agency report over the weekend.
But the incident seems to have taken a toll on the reputation of Sun Mountain. In an announcement on the website of the China National Tourism Administration on Wednesday, the resort failed to qualify as one of the national holiday resorts, a State-level honor, despite being selected as a candidate in late December.