A billboard describing a planned resort complex that's set to be built by the World Shine Hong Kong Limited Company along the Hai Van Pass in Thua Thien-Hue Province. Photo: Bui Ngoc Long
The mayor of Thua Thien Hue Province told the press on Wednesday that he is awaiting instructions from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on a controversial resort project backed by a Chinese developer.
Nguyen Van Cao, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, was referring to a planned resort complex it licensed in October of 2013.
At that time, the Thua Thien-Hue government gave the Chinese company 200 hectares (494 acres) of land on Cua Khem Cape, which just lies just north of the central city of Da Nang, near the southern entrance to the Hai Van Pass.
The project's investor is a subsidiary of the British Virgin Islands-based World Shine Hong Kong Limited Company, whose director, Lu Wang Sheng, is a Chinese national.
If built, the complex will feature a five-star hotel with 450 rooms, a luxury apartment building with 220 apartments, 350 villas and a 2,000-seat international convention center.
The project's total cost was estimated to hit US$250 million and is slated for completion in 2023.
After local media reported on the project, several defense experts publicly denounced it as a threat to national security due to the Hai Van Pass' great strategic significance.
The project's detractors have called for a careful review from both the provincial government and the Ministry of Defense.
Lieutenant-General Be Xuan Truong, deputy commander-in-chief of the Vietnamese People’s Army, told the press he's sure the Ministry of Defense won't approve the project due to its sensitive location.
Lieutenant-General Nguyen Quoc Thuoc, former commander of the Military Zone 4, said that particular stretch of the Hai Van Pass--between Bach Ma Mountain and the East Sea (the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea)--plays a significant role in national security.
Whoever controls the pass will be able to control the whole country, he said, so no portion of it should be given over to foreign investors.
The municipal government of Da Nang has argued that the project is located on a disputed spot claimed by both the city and Thua Thien-Hue Province. Da Nang has called on authorities in the neighboring province to halt construction and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to pull the project's license.
Meanwhile, Cao, the Thua Thien Hue mayor, told the press the project’s location falls totally within his purview.
He said the local government sought opinions from provincial military authorities before licensing the project.
But, he said, if the PM orders the province to cancel the project, it will do so.
“We’re waiting for the PM’s instructions,” he said.
The Hai Van Pass runs along a spur in the Truong Son (Annamite) Range, which emerges from the west and juts into the East Sea, forming the Hai Van Peninsula and the adjoining Son Tra Peninsula (in Da Nang).
In 1858, the French launched their first military incursion into Vietnam at Da Nang, ushering in nearly 100 years of colonial rule.