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China’s environment boss: He’s so bad they’ve promoted him

In 2005 we covered the nasty toxic spill in north east China that saw a river run red and the people of the city of Harbin go without drinking water.

The man who took the fall for the spill and the resultant ecological disaster was Xie Zhenhua, the head of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China’s toothless environmental watchdog. At the time he lied, delayed the release of information and
generally covered up.

Many of us China Watchers (who probably should have known better) thought that was the end of Mr Xie – but apparently not. Indeed Mr Xie has got a promotion roughly a year after he was sacked – he’s to be a Vice Minister at China’s extremely powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the body that oversees most aspects of economic policy, energy and investment. This post is several ranks higher than the one he was fired from. Not just that – his area of special responsibility will be environmental protection and energy saving!

Paul French, China Editor

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