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A top Chinese official who walked out in disgust over the handling of the Songhua chemical spill in 2005 (see related story) has been invited back into the fold by the Communist Party as the government strives to show an eco-friendly face to the outside world.

Xie Zhenhua was well known in China before the spill for highlighting the inadequate powers of the Environmental Protection Agency to tackle the country’s pollution problems.

The political backlash led to his being effectively forced out of post. This week, however, he was appointed as minister with responsibility for environmental issues at China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Sate media have suggested the appointment reflects government’s increasing concern for environmental protection and energy efficiency.

Sam Bond

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