| BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — A new regulation on holding officials accountable for environmental hazards will better define their professional responsibilities, according to Communist Party of China (CPC) experts. The general offices of the CPC Central Committee, and the State Council on Monday published the regulation, which promises to trace environmental problems to whoever was originally responsible. Officials will be held accountable for serious environmental problems resulting from improper implementation of central authorities’ policies, as well as violations of laws and regulations. Central- and local-Party officials, and governmental officials at county level and above will be subject to a lifelong-liability system, meaning any corruption or dereliction of duty that caused serious environmental harm can be punished retroactively, according to the document.
Officials will be held responsible if they fail to effectively carry out supervision, or approve environmentally disqualified projects, or attempt to shirk the responsibility of protecting the environment.
Moreover, the regulation banned promotion for officials found guilty of misconduct, and officials will receive an unfavorable appraisal in their performance assessment.
Xia Guang, director of the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the new regulation clearly defines the official “dos and don’ts”.
Moreover, according to Zhang Yuxing, a chief engineer with the Survey Scheme Designing Institute under the State Forestry Administration, the conduct of both Party and government officials will now be under equal scrutiny.
“This will force officials to give environment issues greater consideration,” he said.
It was noted that the new regulation not only promises retrospective punishment but will also identify violations before too much damage is done.
However, observers have warned that the regulation needs more specifications if it is to be effectively enforced.
Wang Yi, director of the Institute of Policy and Management under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stressed that detailed issues such as basic data collection and verification needed more attention.
Published on Monday, the new regulation took effect on Aug. 9, just days before massive warehouse explosions in Tianjin, which are thought to have contaminated the surrounding area with dangerous chemicals.
China’s State Council on Tuesday announced a team had been assigned to “investigate the cause of the explosions” and “determine liability.” Enditem