Don’t go golf­ing

Financial Mail - Investors Monthly - - Opening Bell -

CHINA’S rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party might be the sort of part­ners that many growth-strapped ex­ec­u­tives would want right now, but don’t bother ask­ing them for a round of golf.

A new eth­i­cal code put out this month by the party, and ap­par­ently ap­pli­ca­ble to all 88m mem­bers, lists golf as one of the for­bid­den ac­tiv­i­ties, along­side rather more ob­vi­ous sins, such as ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs and “ex­trav­a­gant eat­ing”, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s state-run Xin­hua news agency.

The golf­ing ban might seem crazy, but there is ac­tu­ally a rea­son for this mad­ness — even if it’s a thin one. Many of the shadi­est deals done in re­cent times were clinched on China’s golf cour­ses.

So, as China’s pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping goes on the of­fen­sive against cor­rup­tion, he’s fo­cused rather sharply on golf cour­ses.

In March, Reuters re­ported, the gov­ern­ment shut down 66 golf cour­ses, and is now rig­or­ously polic­ing its decade-long ban on build­ing new golf cour­ses in the coun­try.

China’s gov­ern­ment has no short­age of ex­am­ples to jus­tify this ban: a cor­rupt former po­lice chief was, ap­par­ently, a par­tic­u­larly keen golfer, while a vice-mayor in the south­east of the coun­try was promptly fired when it turned out he was play­ing golf — not work­ing.

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