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China opens first environmental court

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[May 23, 2014]  BEIJING (Reuters) - China opened its first environmental court on Friday, state media reported, as the country looks for new ways to tackle crippling air, water and soil pollution.

The court established in the southern province of Fujian has appointed 12 specialist consultants who will assist litigators on technical issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

Environmental scandals have plagued China in recent years as the country pursued a strategy of high growth and rapid industrialization. Faced with growing anger over pollution, Beijing has adopted a more environmentally-friendly strategy.

A new environmental law approved last month is expected to give the government power to impose tougher penalties on polluters when it enters into force on Jan. 1 next year.

Hitherto, many companies found it cheaper to pay fines rather than clean up production methods.

(Reporting by Stian Reklev; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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