Lotte's theme-park project halted amid Sino-Korea tensions
South Korea's Lotte Group said the Chinese government ordered the halt of the company’s 3-trillion-won (USD 2.6 billion) theme-park project in northeastern China, according to a Bloomberg report.
The report indicated that China is stepping up economic retaliation against South Korea for pushing ahead with the deployment of a U.S. missile shield known as Thaad.
China's order to suspend the development in Shenyang came in December but the group expects to get approvals to restart construction in March, a Lotte Group spokesman said.
The move comes after the Chinese government launched safety and tax inspections on Lotte’s various stores in China in November, the representative said.
Global Times reported that Lotte has signed a deal with the South Korean government to allow the use of what is now a golf course in southeastern South Korea as the site for the deployment of the THAAD system, a move that China opposes.
The Lotte official played down a connection between the group’s setbacks and a political feud involving the deployment of the Thaad missile. As to the timing of the halt, the official said building typically stops during the winter anyway.
The Korean conglomerate, South Korea’s biggest operator of hotels, theme parks and duty-free stores, is planning to build a so-called ‘Lotte Town’ in Shenyang by 2019, which will include shopping malls, a theme park, apartments and office buildings.
Chinese visitor arrivals to South Korea rose 34.8% YoY to 8,067,722 in 2016, according to data from Korea Tourism Organization, a 46.8% share of the country's total visitors.
But Ctrip revealed that South Korea had slipped to seventh, from third a year ago, on the list of preferred New Year holiday travel destinations for Chinese tourists.
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