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Last week, the Chinese government quietly went to war against golf — or, to be more specific, against golf courses. Two-thirds of the country’s approximately 600 fairways were allegedly built in violation of a 2004 national moratorium, and Beijing is no longer willing to look the other way. On Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources shut down 66 illegally built courses nationwide, including three in Beijing. More closures could happen anytime.

This isn’t China’s first golf crackdown. In 1949, Mao Zedong deemed the game a “bourgeois” excess and had all the country’s courses destroyed. (The Shanghai Zoo is located on a former fairway.) But today’s Chinese government has its own reasons for targeting the sport.

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