Beijing Water

Beijing building golf courses despite disastrous droughts

(February 17, 2011)  The latest edition of The Economist featured an article on the golf course building frenzy that is taking place in Beijing, despite catastrophic water shortages.  Below is an excerpt of The Economist piece, and links to related stories.

AN ACUTE shortage of water, say Beijing officials, is one important reason for limiting the city’s growth. Rarely in recent memory has water scarcity been so apparent as this winter, which saw 108 dry days before snowfall on February 9th—the latest to arrive in 60 years. When it comes to water-hungry golf courses, however, a blind eye is turned.

Golf has been a favoured sport of the elite since the 1980s, when Zhao Ziyang, then Communist Party chief, played at one of the city’s first clubs. To make the pursuit more palatable to xenophobes, the state media ran stories brazenly claiming that the game was invented in China hundreds of years before the Scots had ever heard of it.

By 2004, the golf craze was getting embarrassing. Not just in the capital, perennially afflicted by drought, but nationwide a profusion of golf courses was eating up scarce farmland. The government banned the building of new courses. Beijing already boasted 38, but they appear to have been far from enough to satisfy demand. In January Southern Weekend reported that construction in the capital, as elsewhere, defiantly continues apace.

Read the full story here.

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