China's Ministry of Environmental Protection was formally launched at 9 AM on Thursday in Beijing, China News Service reports.
Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian unveils the nameplate of his newly elevated ministry on March 27, 2008 in Beijing.
The new ministry aims "to step up environmental improvement and ecological protection and accelerate the building of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society."
The ministry was also 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.
The Chinese government decided to elevate the status of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) to ministry-level, among the 27 major ministries and commissions of the Cabinet, during the just-finished session of the 11th National People's Congress.
Minister Zhou Shengxian and five vice ministers attended the launch ceremony.
(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2008)