The public and media in Tianjin showed upset the city is
allowing two golf driving ranges to be built in a corner of a
Citizens expressed their discontent to the media claiming their
right to use the public park is being ignored by the park's pursuit
of profit. The park manager has leased the land to investors of the
While golfing is becoming increasingly popular in China with
hundreds of public courses and driving ranges being built, golf is
still considered a "luxury" benefiting only a wealthy minority.
"The park's financial troubles are only an excuse for eyeing an
high-end consumer market, at the expense of the public interests,"
said Li Jinran, a retired factory worker who was doing morning
exercises in the park.
The park argues that current government funding is not nearly
enough to pay for park maintenance and workers' salaries. The park
has a staff of 1,200, half of whom are retired and still receiving
payments from the park, said Pang Lianhua, an executive of the
The park will earn 800,000 yuan (US$100,000) a year by leasing
15,000 square meters of land to the two driving ranges. The leased
land only represents about one percent of the park's total
Founded in 1986, the Tianjin Aqua-Amusement Park used to occupy
2.1 million square meters in a green belt and water area in the
city's downtown. The park has already lost 300,000 square meters
allowing hotels and restaurants to be built as well as the
construction of the park's administrative office complex.
Despite media influence and public outcry, earth movers began
preparing the ground for the driving ranges after the deals won
approval from the city's Bureau of Parks and Woods.
As China's golf courses have increased rapidly in recent years,
many such projects have been criticized misusing land.
The Land Utilization Administration of the Ministry of Land and
Resources voiced concerns over the tight land supply in the real
estate sector, singling out the blind approval of villas and golf
courses for criticism.
Zhu Xufeng, an associate professor with Tianjin's prestigious
Nankai University, said that parks are public assets financed by
governments. They can earn some profits from commercial operating
of amusement facilities and ticket fees, but management of public
parks should not be profit-oriented.
So far, the local government has not made any move to respond to
the public request to terminate the driving range projects.
(Xinhua News Agency October 26, 2006)