China Cracks Down on Western Leisure, Closes 66 ‘Illegal’ Golf Courses

Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing a crackdown on “banquets, gift-giving, and other official excesses” that ultimately includes the closure of 66 “illegal” golf courses.

The golf courses were targeted because they are “closely associated with wealth and Western elites.”

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), a ban on the targeted golf courses has existed for ten years, but the Ministry just now took action to close them. A March 30 announcement posted by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources said, “Presently, local governments have shut down a number of illegally-built golf courses, and preliminary results have been achieved in clean-up and rectification work.”

The central government issued a ban on new golf courses in 2004, but local officials continued to allow course development because of the money it brought to their communities. These local officials “even offer[ed] tax breaks for operators of new courses in places such as Hainan.”

Moreover, government officials joined golf clubs associated with the new courses, but they did so “under false names.” The goal was to enjoy golf without giving off an air of opulence.

The National reports that news of the closure of 66 courses was followed by reports that “senior official Wang Shenyang was being investigated for playing golf in breach of Mr. Xi’s ‘eight rules’ on official behavior.”

In 2014, the Chinese government’s anti-graft commission “announced that provincial Communist officials would face punishment” for joining a golf club or taking part in certain golf-related activities. A telephone hotline was set up so the Chinese people could report any “suspected golf offenses.”

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