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Environmental body gets ministerial status
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The new ministry aims "to step up environmental improvement and ecological protection and accelerate the building of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society," said Hua.

He added the ministry is responsible for drafting and implementing programs, policies and standards concerning environmental protection, working out environmental functions in different regions, supervising pollution prevention and treatment, and tackling major environmental issues.

Environmental protection has been highlighted in recent years, as China's economic miracle has brought in its wake severe challenges to the environment.

In 2007, for the first time in recent years, the country reported a fall in both chemical oxygen demand, a main index of water pollution, and the total emission of sulphur dioxide, a main air pollutant, because of tightened pollution control.

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