Residents of Hong Kong who don't want to live under new Chinese restrictions might be able to relocate en masse to Ireland if a real estate tycoon's vision is realized. Ivan Ko wants to build a small new city dubbed Nextpolis in Ireland to be the home of 50,000 Hongkongers, reports the Guardian. He already has presented the plan to Irish officials, and this iteration is a drastically reduced version of the original, reports the Times of London. It calls for what the Guardian describes as a "semi-autonomous" region of about 20 square miles, probably between Dublin and Belfast. "We are not thinking about anything like a separate border, different official languages, and different political system," he says. But schools would teach Cantonese.
The Irish government doesn't exactly sound thrilled with the idea, with a spokesperson for the department of foreign affairs saying it has had "limited" contact with Ko since an initial inquiry about the project late last year. (Ko announced his scaled-down version, about a tenth of the original size, just this week.) On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Dundalk chamber of commerce—one of the areas seen as a possible fit—is gung-ho. "If it’s going to be accommodated in Ireland we are the prime location," he says, citing proximity to airports, universities, and even the border with Northern Ireland, should residents opt to live in the United Kingdom. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)