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China revamps regulator for stronger environmental protection

Heavy air pollution in Shanghai on January 30, 2018.
Heavy smog in Shanghai on January 30, 2018, when the Air Pollution Index reached 235, a level considerred "very unhealthy." Photo: VCG via Getty Images

This week China formally inaugurated its new Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) to replace the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The MEE consolidates regulatory functions that were spread over seven or eight different ministries and administrations.

Why it matters: The fragmentation of regulatory authority is a major reason China has struggled to combat the severe environmental degradation that has attended its rapid economic rise. The consolidation, part of a larger government reorganization announced in March, aims to address that deficiency by making the Chinese government more coherent and effective.