China's top court on Friday pledged to strengthen ecological protection in major areas, including along the Yangtze River, Yellow River and on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and to stringently punish polluters in those regions.
Chinese courts have also been ordered to intensify efforts to fight crimes involving harm to endangered or rare wild animals and plants.
"We'll issue judicial guidelines on biodiversity protection at the appropriate time," said Yang Linping, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court.
She made the remark on Friday at a news conference on judicial protection of the ecology and the environment, requiring courts nationwide to maintain the ecological balance, serve low-carbon development and beautify rural areas by improving the handling of relevant cases.
In 2020, courts across the country resolved 253,000 environment-related disputes, of which, 38,000 were criminal cases, up 2.9 percent year-on-year, she said.
Last year, Chinese courts also concluded 103 public interest environmental lawsuits initiated by social organizations, and another 3,454 cases brought by prosecutors, she said, adding that both figures saw a rapid year-on-year rise.
To resolve environmental cases more professionally and efficiently, the country had established 1,993 judicial institutes specialized in handling such lawsuits, including divisions, circuit courts and panels by 2020, she added.
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