China golf: Communist Party bans club membership

(BBC) – The Chinese Communist Party has banned all 88 million of its members from joining golf clubs, in its latest update of party discipline rules.

Extravagant eating and drinking, and abuse of power, are also formally banned, said Xinhua news agency.

The party has in the past warned its officials to refrain from extravagant dinners and purchasing moon cakes using public funds.

China has been conducting a strict anti-corruption drive since 2012.

The new rule on golf states that members are banned from “obtaining, holding or using membership cards for gyms, clubs, golf clubs, or various other types of consumer cards, or entering private clubs”.

If caught, members could either receive a warning or be removed from the party, depending on the severity of the violation.

‘Social interaction’

The new regulations (in Chinese) did not explain why the joining of golf clubs is banned, but such clubs are often seen by the Chinese public as places where officials have cut shady deals.

In September, local media reported that at least 60 employees in state-owned companies were punished for spending public funds on playing golf.

Earlier this month, Lin Chunsong, a vice-mayor in the south-eastern Fujian province, was sacked for belonging to a golf club and playing golf while he should have been at work.

China and golf

  • China announced a ban on building new golf courses in 2004
  • However, the ban has not always been enforced, and state media say the number of golf courses in China increased from 200 in 2004 to 600 in 2015
  • Many local authorities have encouraged the development of golf courses to draw in tourists
  • Environmentalists say the golf courses have damaged ecosystems
  • In March, China shut down 66 illegally built courses

One owner of a golf equipment store in Shanghai, who was only identified by his surname, Huang, told Reuters that his store’s sales had dropped at least 30% last year.

Golf in China was “about the social interaction”, he said. “If a company boss can’t play with a government official, there’s little point in him spending his money.”

Another new rule states that party members cannot “violate official provisions on hospitality management and engage in over-the-top entertaining, or take advantage of opportunities for extravagant eating and drinking”.

The Communist Party has also rephrased a previous clause banning adultery and mistresses, which now says that members are banned from “having improper sexual relations with other people which have bad repercussions”.

The party’s strict rules for officials have in the past affected business for restaurants and luxury goods retailers in China and elsewhere.

President Xi Jinping has led a major anti-corruption campaign since taking office three years ago.

He has previously warned of unrest if corruption and perceived privilege within the Communist Party are not tackled.

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