The crackdown on corruption has been a hallmark of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s reign.
Increasing corruption in the party was seen as one of the biggest threats to its survival, and Xi has made it clear that he will stomp it out.
So it isn’t surprising that top officials in China are wary of doing anything that could make it seem like they are corrupt in anyway.
And that, means officials are even wary of being caught playing golf.
Golf is largely considered the domain of the wealthy, since a round of golf in a Shanghai suburb can reportedly cost 1,000 yuan ($160), about 50% of the monthly minimum wage in Shanghai. Here’s an excerpt from Merkel:
From the book Prisoner of the State, Zhao Ziyang, even while in captivity was allowed to go golfing. Now, many in the Party distrusted Zhao because he had adopted too many Western habits and modes of thought. Has golf been legitimized for Party members to partake in, so long as they aren’t too flamboyant about it?
I don’t think so. Golf remains a taboo topic for China’s political elite, perhaps even more so now than in years past thanks to Xi Jinping’s ongoing crackdown on government corruption. Simply put, Chinese officials shouldn’t be able to afford to play golf in China. Their salaries are modest (last year, it was reported that President Xi’s annual salary is just $US19,000) and golf in China is extremely expensive (it can cost $US150, often more, to play 18 holes). So, while most Chinese assume that all government officials have other sources of income, playing golf on a regular basis would be a rather conspicuous admission of double-dealing. We all know some Chinese officials are filthy rich, and some indeed do play golf — but they still need to do so on the sly.
Anyone in two minds about Xi’s crackdown on corruption should read this excellent piece by Jamil Anderlini in the Financial Times that notes, that by going after Ling Zhengce, brother of Ling Jihua, a former top aide of Hu Jintao, Xi has taken an “autocratic turn.”
“But the assault on the Ling clan, and by extension Mr Hu, is just the latest jab at some of the most powerful ruling families in China, including some who were previously seen as patrons to Mr Xi,” writes Anderlini.
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