Golf enthusiasts in a hole as China brands sport ‘green opium’

During difficult moments in talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme, China’s chief negotiator, Wu Dawei, sometimes slipped away to thrash out problems over a round of golf with his South Korean counterpart.
Such out-of-work encounters should come as no surprise. More than anywhere, golf is the Asian political and business networking sport of choice, and a staple of top-level dealmaking.
But Mr Wu’s games, disclosed to the Financial times by participants in the talks, have gone unpublicised in China, for good reason. Golf has a severe image problem in China, and no senior official would dare be caught playing the game in public.
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A senior official, Hao Heping, who had been in charge of government purchases of medical equipment, was recently convicted of taking bribes of about US$64,000 solely in the from of golf course memberships.

The deadpan report on his case by Xinhua, the official news agency, dryly noted that unlike other corrupt party members, Hao had not kept a mistress. “His only hobby was golf, and he traveled around the country to play with public funds or money taken in bribes, “ Xinhua reported.
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