The Nansha Grand Hotel hosted the society wedding of Kenneth Fok and Guo Jingjing. (Photo/CNS)
The wedding between Guo Jingjing, the renowned Chinese diving champion, and Kenneth Fok, scion of a wealthy business family from Hong Kong, has boosted the profile of the Nansha Grand Hotel in Guangzhou, owned by the Fok family. Insiders say the family may resume its development of a sprawling commercial complex in the city's Nansha district.
In 1989, when many foreign investors were withdrawing from the Chinese market, Henry Fok, Kenneth's grandfather, invested over 2 billion yuan (US$320 million) in developing a commercial complex on a plot of land covering 22 square kilometers in the eastern region of Nansha. Over the past 10 years, the Henry Fok Foundation has completed many construction projects in the area, including a ferry dock, a passenger ship harbor, an elevated bridge, expressway, hotel and golf course.
Fok encountered a number of difficulties developing the complex, however, including extortion from municipal officials such as Liang Bonan, then party chief of the Nansha development zone. Liang was later arrested for corruption.
The Henry Fok Foundation also came into conflict with the administrative committee of the development zone. Some local people complained that the purchase of 22 square kilometers of land by Henry Fok at an ultra-low price has blocked the entry of other investors, leading to Nansha's development stagnating over the past 10 years.
After Henry Fok passed away in 2006, there has been little progress in the development of Nansha, despite soaring local realty prices.
A turning point happened in September, however, when the State Council formally approved the plan for the development of Nansha New Area, which included the area owned by the Fok family. In the two months since the approval of the plan, realty prices have jumped over 25%.
The development plan calls for a time span of 5-10 years for short-term projects and up to 40 years for long-term projects. Timothy Tsun-ting Fok, chairman of the Henry Fok Foundation, said Nansha should develop in a way that displays its own characteristics, just like Macau. According to his vision, Nansha should develop into a green city of low carbon emissions and emphasizing environmental protection, should assist the development of local innovative industries and the service sector, become a leisure center in southern China and join Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau to form a regional economic circle. In line with this vision, Timothy Fok revealed that his family intends to revive its plans for Nansha.