Tags: Washburn | China | golf | crackdown

Asia Society's Washburn: China's 'Complicated' Relationship With Golf Continues

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2015 06:20 AM

Much in China remains a mystery to those of us in the West, and that certainly seems to be the case with golf in the country.

As golf fans in the United States get set for The Masters tournament that begins Thursday, Chinese authorities announced last month that they're shuttering 66 "illegal" golf courses — about 10 percent of the country's total.

The government is apparently now enforcing a long-ignored ban on golf-related construction — since 2004 it's been illegal to build new golf courses, Dan Washburn, chief content officer at the Asia Society and author of "The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream," writes in an article for CNNMoney.

"China has long had a complicated relationship with golf," Washburn states. "The focus of the [current] crackdown appears to be not just a golf course's mere existence, but its impact on land and water supplies."

That's a legitimate issue, since the country is home to 20 percent of the world's population, but just 7 percent of the globe's fresh water and 9 percent of its arable land, one-fifth of which is polluted. "But who knows if the closures will really address those serious issues or just provide fodder for headlines," he explains.

However, the crackdown on golf isn't universal. Days before the announcement, Tiger Woods reportedly signed a $16.5 million agreement to redesign two Chinese courses.

In addition, "the Chinese government quietly continues to funnel an unprecedented amount of money into its national golf team, all in pursuit of those all-important Olympic medals," Washburn writes.

Contradictions seem to be a major element of Chinese policy across the board.

For example, while the Chinese government is punishing many U.S. companies based in China, such as Microsoft, on trumped up charges, plenty of U.S. companies are embarking on new projects in the world's second largest economy.

Meanwhile, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor of The Daily Telegraph, says the U.S. government is making a major mistake in trying to torpedo China's creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

"The U.S. Treasury's attempt to cripple the AIIB before it gets off the ground is clearly intended to head off China's ascendancy as a rival financial superpower, whatever the faux-pieties from Washington about standards of governance," he writes.

U.S. officials say the bank must meet the same governance standards as other multilateral lending institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

"Such a policy is misguided at every level, evidence of what can go wrong when a lame-duck president defers to posturing amateurs in Congress on delicate matters of global geo-strategy."

The U.S. has forced allies to make a choice between ourselves and China, "and has ended up losing almost everybody. Germany, France and Italy are joining. Australia and South Korea may follow soon. The AIIB is exactly what the world needs," Evans-Pritchard explains.

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Much in China remains a mystery to those of us in the West, and that certainly seems to be the case with golf in the country.
Washburn, China, golf, crackdown
Thursday, 09 April 2015 06:20 AM
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