Chinese President Xi Jinping has been driving a sweeping crackdown on deep-rooted graft since taking over the party's leadership in late 2012. Since then dozens of senior officials have been investigated or jailed.

Tales of corruption and officials' high living, including extravagant banquets and expensive rounds on golf courses, have stirred widespread public anger because bureaucrats are meant to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.

The new rules update existing regulations and are designed to codify more clearly what constitutes a violation of discipline, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday. They apply to all 88 million party members for the first time, and also include a new ethical code.

"Party members must separate public and private interests, put the public's interest first, and work selflessly," the Xinhua report said. Party members must also "champion simplicity and guard against extravagance".

"The new discipline regulation explicitly lists extravagant eating and drinking and playing golf as violations, which were not included previously," it said.

Explaining the new rules and underscoring golf's negative image, the party's corruption watchdog said on Thursday that golf was a game enjoyed by a former police chief who engaged in "massive" bribery. A vice mayor in a southeastern Chinese city was sacked this month for belonging to a golf club and playing the game when he should have been working.


The new rules are a blow to China's nascent market for golf, which is often seen as providing an opportunity for officials to make shady deals and an extravagance for government employees.

"In other countries golf is more about the sport, here it's about the social interaction. If a company boss can't play with a government official, there's little point in him spending his money," said the owner of a golf equipment store in Shanghai who only gave his surname as Huang.

Huang said his store's sales had dropped 30-40 percent last year. "This year, things are even more dismal. With our regular revenues we can no longer make ends meet." Party officials who play golf have already been targeted by Xi's crackdown. Last year, the government began more rigorously enforcing a decade-old ban on building new courses. In March this year, it shut down 66 golf courses.

There were more than 500 golf courses in China in 2013, according to state media reports, with up to 400,000 regular players. Clubs such as Wolong Lake and Nine Dragons host PGA Tour matches. Golf in China has also been seen as a possible growth area for foreign firms.

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