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China gets tough on illegal golf courses

2014-07-25 14:52 CNTV Web Editor: Li Yan

Chinese authorities have sent in workers to dig up and tear down five illegal golf courses discovered in different parts of the country. It's part of government efforts to get tough on unauthorized construction and protect China's farmland.

Here on the outskirts of Beijing, What was once an 18-hole golf course filled with long fairways and manicured greens, has now been reduced to bits of rubble and mounds of mud. The course's clubhouse facilities have been also demolished and the owners fined heavily. Experts say it's a necessary measure to protect China's precious natural resources.

"China has a limited amount of arable land with a per capita average of about one acre--that's only one-third of the world average," Professor Zhu Daolin with China Agriculture University said.

Golf has gained popularity in China, especially in business circles. As a result, a large number of courses were built in a short period of time. But many of them were on arable land. China prohibited building golf courses on arable land in May 1997 and has published at least 12 regulations since then.

In a joint announcement, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Land and Resources said five golf courses had been discovered to be illegally constructed on protected farmland in Beijing, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Yunnan and Liaoning provinces.

The announcement called on local authorities to fully enforce the regulations and severely punish violators.

"We shouldn't pursue economic development by ignoring the environment. We need to have tougher regulations and law enforcement," Professor Zhu said.

There were an estimated 639 golf courses across China at the end of last year, triple the total from 2004.

But the government's recent crackdown sends a message that sacrificing the environment for the sake of development is no longer a gimme.

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