Ten years later: China’s golf course crackdown gets serious

On March 30, China’s National Development and Reform Commission ordered the immediate closure of 66 golf courses across the country — the first sign of follow-up on a 10-year moratorium on new courses that a report by Beijing Today describes as “an admission of the failure” of that ban. During the past decade, instead of declining, the number of golf courses on the Chinese mainland exploded from 178 in 2004 to 528 in 2013. How did that happen in the face of a government crackdown?

Scientists question environmental impact of China’s Winter Olympics bid

According to Beijing’s bid to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the environmental impact of the Games will be “ecofriendly” and “sustainable”. Experts say otherwise: providing snow for events will be tough in a city where “it just doesn’t snow” and “a Martian-like plan” will be needed to create artificial cover. Conservationists worry about moves to build Olympic ski resorts in national parks and protected nature reserves. Ski resorts, meanwhile, require water and lots of it but Beijing doesn’t have water.

Bo Xilai’s pet project blocked … for now

Construction of a controversial hydropower project that would flood one of the last remaining unaltered stretches along China’s famed Yangtze River has been blocked by the country’s environmental regulators — a surprise defeat in the face of an unrestrained dam-building boom that many opponents worry will cause an irreversible legacy of damage.

Did China profit from corrupt Sri Lanka deals?

Sri Lanka’s new government is reviewing all investment projects signed by the previous administration. Chinese companies, awarded the majority of those deals, are at the center of the storm. Sri Lanka’s new finance minister, Ravi Karunanayake, says Chinese firms “used the opportunity of a corrupt regime to crowd out other companies”. CNNMoney and Business Insider report.

MDB “knowledge” banks

Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff says “far too little attention has been devoted to understanding why multilateral development lending has so often failed”. In his experience, MDBs are most valuable as “knowledge” banks — sharing soft development infrastructure such as experience and best practices rather than financial muscle. The latter, he says, has led to their “greatest failures”.

China’s blind “barefoot lawyer”

Chen Guangcheng, frequently described as a "barefoot lawyer"  who advocates for women's rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor.

Blind human rights activist, and self-taught lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, gives an extraordinary interview here with the British broadcaster Matthew Bannister, detailing his very dramatic escape from China to the U.S., as well as his difficult childhood as part of a misunderstood and mistreated disabled community, where he first began speaking out to demand change.

Answerable to no one

Just as China took a moment to enjoy Washington and Tokyo’s discomfort over Europe’s biggest economies declaring in favour of a new Chinese-led Asian investment bank, Washington and Tokyo took a moment to caution joiners to beware of governance standards. We say: beware of multilateral development banks in general.

Lawyer Xi Xiangdong: Record of a meeting with He Zhengjun of the Transition Institute, detained on suspicion of “operating an illegal business”

This record of a meeting between He Zhengjun, a member of the Beijing-based independent think-tank Transition Institute, and his lawyer, Xi Xiangdong, earlier this year, details the roadblocks thrown up by prison authorities in disregard of the regulations that should permit a lawyer access to his client within a certain time frame.