China will expand its scheme to carry out environmental spot checks on companies and local governments across the country this year to try to rein in pollution, state media reported. The Ministry of Environmental Protection was given powers to carry out inspections without warning last year and call local authorities or company officials to account. Inspections teams were sent to 16 cities and provinces in 2016, including Beijing and Shanghai, according to the South China Morning Post. Environmental Protection Minister Chen Jining told a forum on Sunday that the spot-check system would now be rolled out across the country. China is fighting an uphill battle with environmental degradation after decades of fast economic growth at the cost of polluted air and contaminated soil and water.