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Golf slammed as a luxury China can't afford

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Nov 23 (Reuters) China's official Xinhua news agency today took a swing at the country's fast-multiplying golf courses, saying their construction flew in the face of the realities of scarce land, tight resources and poverty.

In a commentary, Xinhua said the establishment of so many golf courses throughout the country -- 38 in Beijing alone -- was seriously out of line with the government's emphasis on sustainable development and contributed to pressure on land supply, which was driving up property prices.

In short, it was an extravagance China could not afford.

''When some primary and middle schools don't even have simple sports fields, putting so much money and so many resources into the construction of golf courses that are used by so few people can only harm the public interest,'' it said.

Xinhua provided no figures on how many golf courses had been built nationwide, but put the blame for their expansion on local officials, many of whom it said were chasing ''face'' by carrying out the projects.

Golf, which has become popular among affluent Chinese since the first course opened there in the early 1980s, has become a source of heated debate in recent months as at least two universities have announced plans to put it on their curricula.

Peking University recently announced, and then dropped, a plan to build a golf practice range on its campus after students and bloggers slammed the sport as elitist and inappropriate at a university serving students from a range of backgrounds.

Xiamen University in southeastern Fujian province has begun requiring management, law, economics and software majors to take golf as a compulsory subject precisely for that reason -- state media last month said the move was meant to help students ''achieve their elite ambitions''.

REUTERS AY PM1240

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