Chinese government turns its attention to (illegal) golf

China seems to be caught in a conundrum. While the country has over the past decade actively promoted and encouraged the rapid rise of its middle class, it now seems quite unsure of how to handle the trappings that go with their newfound wealth.

First the hammer came down on billboards advertising luxury brands - from March they were banned in Beijing and Shanghai, as well more regional cities such as Chongqing, for promoting a lifestyle that was both "unhealthy" and "foreign."

And now the authorities have again turned their attention to the pastime that was at one stage banned for being too "bourgeois" - golf.

China only built its first golf course in 1984 and while estimates suggest that there are a few million people playing the game now, that figure is expected to grow to around 20 million by 2020, according to industry figures. The problem that has again arisen, though, is exactly where they are swinging their clubs.

China in 2004 issued a ban on the building of new golf courses across the nation - save for those being built on the southern holiday island of Hainan - but in that time regardless, the number of courses overall has risen from 170 to an estimated 490 now, with 60 of those courses being built last year, according to reports in Chinese media.

The problem as the government sees it is that valuable farming land is being taken up by golf courses, which also place a heavy strain on natural resources such as water. That's why the government has vowed to track down the illegal courses - and close them when it does.

But the growing trend is for China's modern-day businessman to mix his work with golfing pleasure, hence the demand for new courses and the growing problem of developers adding 18 holes - or more - to their properties without declaring the plans to the government.

"In China today you'll find it quite common for businessmen to forge relationships out on the fairways," explained Alex Jenkins, editor of Hong Kong Golfer magazine. "Golf is a status symbol and it works to your advantage if you can take a client out for a round."

The sport's rising popularity can best be seen on Hainan Island where the massive Mission Hills complex continues to take shape, with 10 courses now - and counting.

The Chinese government has included golf among its plans to expand the tourism potential of Hainan Island - and to make it more attractive to the legions of world golfers who head to Asia yearly on golfing holidays.

According to the book Golf Tourism , which was released last year, the sport injects some US$20 billion (15.6 billion euros) into the world tourism market each year, with more than 50 million people playing the game while they travel.

MS

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'