China bans more than 100 golf courses to safeguard resources

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has ordered the closure of more than 100 golf courses, the powerful state planner said on Sunday, after a multi-year campaign to tackle illegal development in the sector.

Beijing banned new golf courses in 2004 to protect scarce arable land and water resources but new projects continued to be built to meet growing demand from China’s wealthy.

Of a total 683 courses in the country, 111 have been ordered to close following a crackdown launched in 2011, said the National Development and Reform Commission.

It cited illegal use of arable land, extraction of groundwater in prohibited areas and construction on nature reserves among the infractions by developers.

A further 18 golf courses have been ordered to return illegally occupied land, and 47 have been told to stop construction.

Golf courses were also popular among Chinese officials but amid a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown in recent years, the sport has been added to a list of Communist Party disciplinary violations, and is frequently cited in cases of alleged graft.

Reporting by Dominique Patton and Yawen Chen; Editing by Mark Potter