China reprimands 130 people during second round of environmental audits: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has reprimanded 130 people and summoned more than a thousand company and government officials during a second round of nationwide environmental audits, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

The Communist Party launched the latest round of inspections last month, with eight teams led by retired government ministers or provincial heads given the authority to visit any site or summon any official to explain their conduct.

Between July 10-15, the teams looked into the environmental compliance record of six provinces and municipalities including Shanghai, Chongqing, Fujian and Hainan, as well as state-owned metals conglomerate China Minmetals Corp Ltd [CHMIN.UL] and China National Chemical Corp Ltd [CNNCC.UL], Xinhua said.

The southwest city of Chongqing reported the most breaches of environmental protection rules with 3,016 cases.

Subsidiaries owned by Minmetals and ChemChina had failed to properly rectify previous failings, Xinhua cited an officialfrom the inspection team as saying.

Minmetals and ChemChina could not immediately be reached for comment outside business hours.

A total of 1,165 companies were “punished” and fined a total 65.1 million yuan ($9.24 million), while 41 people were detained, Xinhua said.

The second round of inspections prioritised the performance of state-owned firms.

The central government environmental inspection program was launched in late 2015 with the full authority of the Communist Party’s top leadership. Thousands of government and state enterprise officials were held to account during its first round of inspections.

Reporting by Min Zhang and David Stanway; Editing by Kirsten Donovan