HANGZHOU, March 19 (Xinhua) -- East China's Zhejiang Province has issued a ban on new land reclamation projects to protect the marine environment, local authorities said.
Apart from key national strategic projects, Zhejiang will stop approving new land reclamation projects and strengthen the protection of coastal wetlands, according to a guideline issued by the provincial government.
The provincial government will also launch a probe into existing land reclamation projects, aiming to target real estate and low-standard tourism and recreational projects, as well as those that have polluted the marine environment.
Through the move, Zhejiang vowed to keep the ratio of natural coastline above 35 percent by 2020.
The ban came after a 2017 inspection by the State Oceanic Administration found improper and illegal land reclamation practices in 11 provincial-level coastal regions. The vacancy rate of reclamation land in regions including Zhejiang and Shandong provinces was found to be above 40 percent.
Environmental protection has been high on the agenda of the Chinese government, with authorities stepping up efforts to punish those who violate environmental laws.
In January 2017, China introduced its toughest regulation on coastal land reclamation, vowing to demolish illegally reclaimed land and stop approving general reclamation projects.