China's new environment minister urges "protracted war" on pollution

BEIJING: China on Tuesday appointed a new environment minister who has promised a "protracted battle" to clean up the nation's notoriously polluted air, water and soil.

Xinhua news agency named the minister as Li Ganjie, 52, who takes up the job less than a month after he was named the new party chief of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

On his first day in that job, he told staff to take environmental protection to "a new level" and wage a "protracted battle" against pollution. He takes over the job from Chen Jining, who was appointed acting mayor of Beijing last month.

A former masters student in nuclear reactor engineering at Tsinghua University, Li spent nine years as a vice-minister in charge of nuclear safety at the ministry before leaving to become deputy party secretary of Hebei province in October last year.

Hebei, the location of six of China's 10 smoggiest cities in the first five months of this year and one of the front lines of China's war on pollution, is likely to remain a key focus of Li's work.

Hebei has promised to put in place the "strictest environmental protection system" by 2020, with targets to cut air pollution and improve soil and water quality throughout the province.