Younger ministers for 2 new ministries

Two younger ministers will head new ministries with sweeping powers over the country's environment and natural resources.

Heilongjiang governor Lu Hao, 50, will lead the Ministry of Natural Resources. Environment minister Li Ganjie, 53, will take on an expanded portfolio, heading the Ministry of Ecological Environment.

Both were elected yesterday by the National People's Congress.

Mr Lu is a rising political star. He became Beijing's youngest vice-mayor in 2003 at the age of 35, and China's youngest minister-level official when he was made first secretary of the Communist Youth League at 41. The league, or tuanpai, is a powerful faction within the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr Lu became Heilongjiang governor in 2013. His new ministry has control over grasslands, forests, wetlands, water and maritime resources, and urban and township planning. It replaces the Ministry of Land and Resources, the State Oceanic Administration and the surveying and mapping bureau.

Mr Li previously led the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which will be absorbed by the new Ministry of Ecological Environment. The new ministry will be responsible for major environmental matters, including climate change and emission reduction policies, agricultural pollution and marine conservation.

Both ministries will be at the forefront of China's efforts to protect its environment and curb pollution, a "critical battle" outlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Dr Lin Boqiang of Xiamen University said the appointments underscore the faith that the central leadership has in both ministers. "In the next five to 10 years, the environment will be one of the most important focuses for the government," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'Younger ministers for 2 new ministries'. Print Edition | Subscribe