March 8, 2010 / 4:35 AM / in 8 years

Only one of 20 Beijing golf courses legal, says official

BEIJING (Reuters) - Only one of the some 20 golf courses in Beijing has been developed legally, a member of the law committee in China’s parliament said.

Amid concerns about land grabs of prime farming land, China’s government put a moratorium on the development of new golf courses in 2004 and reinforced the ban last year.

Development has continued, however, and the China Golf Association (CGA) puts the number of courses on the mainland at around 500, mainly clustered around the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“There are many golf courses in Beijing, but only the one close to the Ming Tombs has been legally approved,” Sun Anmin, deputy director of the National People’s Congress (NPC) law committee, told Monday’s Beijing Youth Daily.

The Beijing International Golf Club, which borders the Ming Tombs reservoir, was the first course built in Beijing in 1986.

The 19 other courses in Beijing include the sumptuous Jack Nicklaus-designed Pine Valley as well as championship courses, the Beijing Honghua and the CBD International, which have both hosted the European Tour sanctioned China Open in recent years.

Sun suggested the developments be given legal status retroactively, saying that golf courses helped China’s economy by providing employment and green spaces in urban areas helped improve the environment.

CGA Vice President Wang Liwei told Reuters last week that he backed the ban on developing good farmland but thought that courses might be legally built on wasteland in the future.

The annual NPC, China’s largely rubberstamp parliament, continues until Sunday.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney and Liu Zhen; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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