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Building Golf Courses in China: An Illegal and Booming Industry

Clearing the way for a golf course in China's southern Hainan province early in 2103
Clearing the way for a golf course in China's southern Hainan province early in 2103Photograph by Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

Like the U.S., China has an extensive national park system. Still, its designated parklands aren’t always protected from economic development. On Tuesday, Beijing Youth Daily published an investigation into how 20,000 acres of protected land in southern China’s Guizhou Forest Park were converted into golf courses, padding the pockets of local developers.

A  telling note: Since 2004, construction of new golf courses has been illegal in China, following a directive of the State Council. The poorly enforced regulation hasn’t stopped the number of golf courses from multiplying from 170 in 2004 to more than 1,000 today—a more than fivefold increase in a decade, according to the paper.