China environment watchdog closes 400 heavy polluters

China's top environmental agency ordered 400 firms to close and some 350 companies to improve their environmental standards following a two-month campaign to clean up the country's rivers, China Daily reported on Tuesday.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) launched the campaign in July, which focused on the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers.

The campaign investigated 1,162 firms. Of these, 400 were closed down, 249 had their operations suspended "while improvements were made to their environmental facilities", and 102 were given a deadline to clean up, the report said.

Pan Yue, deputy minister of the SEPA said: "Punishment is not our aim. We want to push local industries to restructure their operations."

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