AFP - A Hong Kong businessman has offered to pay about $7.7 million for the British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible so he can turn it into an international school in China, a report said Friday. The South China Morning Post reported that Lam Kin-bong made the bid at an online auction for the decommissioned ship, which played a key role in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict between Argentina and Britain.
Lam, who operates the popular Wing Wah chain of Chinese restaurants in Britain, offered to pay five million pounds ($7.7 million) in the auction, which stopped taking bids Wednesday, the paper said.
If he wins the auction, Lam plans to tow the 22,000-tonne Invincible to the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, near Hong Kong and Macau, and turn it into a school "to help foster communication and cultural ties between China and Britain", the report said. Lam could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The entrepreneur told the Post that he had no plans to use the ship for military purposes, amid US concerns about Beijing's military build-up.
"My intentions are purely commercial and have nothing to do with the military," Lam was quoted as saying. Lam said another option is to berth the vessel in the English city of Liverpool and turn it into "a school to boost the understanding of China and the Chinese in Britain".
A British defence ministry spokeswoman told the Post that the vessel would be stripped of all its components.
"In effect, whoever buys equipment like this is buying a shell", she added.