n 2015, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) launched supervision campaigns in 33 cities, talked with 15 citylevel officials about tightening pollution controls, and imposed a total of 4.25 billion yuan (US$653.8m) in fines, an amount 34 percent higher than that of 2014. The MEP also shut down several plants that have been polluting the environment for years in defiance of multiple warnings. On top of the new, harsher environmental protection law effective as of January 1, 2015, new environmental minister Chen Jining is believed to have made great contributions toward the MEP’s efficacy. Although he worked at Tsinghua University for 17 years, Chen, unlike traditional academics, has been voicing great concern over pollution disasters nationwide.
Before he was promoted to the position of minister, he led several well-known environmental appraisals and was renowned in his field. Chen is now restructuring the ministry to improve the supervision of different types of pollutants, and preparing to crack some “hard nuts,” such as the emissions of State-owned petroleum giants SINOPEC and CNPC, something his predecessors have been reluctant to tackle.