Anti-graft push doesn’t target golf as sport

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-12 23:48:01

Officials punished for violating Party rules, accepting bribes on the course

China's top disciplinary watchdog on Tuesday reiterated that the country's anti-graft campaign is not targeting the sport of golf, but rather takes aim at the corruption and violation of discipline bred by the sport's proliferation.

"There is no right or wrong about playing golf, as it's just a sport," stated Zhongguo Jijian Jiancha Bao, a newspaper run by the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), stressing that golf-playing officials are punished for violating Party rules.

The current Party rules - presented as the strictest ever - stipulate that officials who violate relevant regulations in order to acquire, possess or use membership cards such as VIP club cards or VIP golf course cards may be given warnings, or may even be removed from their posts.

National legislators and political advisers have also proposed banning officials from playing golf. Wang Yushi, a political adviser from Jiangsu Province, in 2007 proposed strengthening supervision of officials' golf-playing habits and conducting an in-depth investigation of the phenomenon, Legal Weekly reported.

There has been heated public debate as to whether rules limiting golfing are too strict, as there is no law banning golf playing. Some also questioned whether the restrictions will violate officials' personal rights.

Unlike other sports, golf requires huge expenses that can scarcely be afforded by government officials. Lawbreakers may cater to some officials' penchant for leisure activities and offer them bribes disguised as sport, making the golf course an arena for corruption, Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Chongqing Committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Golf can satisfy some officials' vanity, corrupting their lifestyle, which can lead to damage to the Party's image and the erosion of officials' ability to serve, Su added.

Several officials have been punished for playing golf in recent years, including Lin Chunsong, deputy mayor of Wuyishan in Fujian Province, who broke Party rules to gain possession of a golf VIP card and took 13,908 yuan ($2,151) in bribes while playing golf, the CCDI newspaper reported.

An increasing number of State-owned enterprises have also purchased expensive golf VIP cards at public expense for  their senior executives, Beijing-based newspaper Economic Information reported.

Since China opened its first golf course in 1984, golf has become increasingly popular among the Chinese rich. By 2013, the number of golf courses in the country had risen to over 500, in spite of restrictions on the construction of new courses, which often consume excessive amounts of water and occupy a great deal of land.

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