China / Government

Watchdog cuts ties to assessment agencies to limit corruption

By Zheng Jinran ( Updated: 2016-02-02 18:20

The national environmental watchdog has cut ties to more than 140 agencies that provide environmental impact assessments, seeking to prevent corruption by affiliated agencies that have been found to trade money for favorable results.

Cheng Lifeng, head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's environmental impact assessment bureau, said it is critically important to cut the remaining ties between environmental authorities and agencies in a bid to prevent the illegal trading of money for influence.

The country's top anti-corruption authority sent an inspection team to the ministry last February and discovered widespread trading of money and influence in the environmental impact assessment sector. The team found some leaders and their relatives received kickbacks for helping companies obtain easy approval during the assessment process.

In 2015, all eight agencies affiliated to the ministry were transformed into independent commercial companies. After the ministry cut ties to the 140 agencies at the provincial and city-level bureaus, 87 canceled or changed their services and no longer will work in the industry.

Based on the ministry's plan, all affiliated agencies should cut ties with the environmental protection authorities by the end of 2016, becoming independent commercial agencies or pursuing other solutions. Agencies that fail to cut links within the year will be removed from the industry, the ministry said.

Cheng said the challenge of delinking the agencies will be difficult, so the ministry will supervise the local environmental watchdogs and release updates to the public.

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