China's environment minister says the country will not go back to its era of pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment despite its slowing economy.

Chen Jining told a news conference Friday that China would continue to restructure its economy away from heavily polluting companies to create more room for "good companies" to develop and focus on developing technology, for example.

He pointed, however, to the need to reign in local governments, some of whom are still unwilling to enforce environmental laws in hopes of boosting economic growth in their areas.

Last year, China's economic growth slowed to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent. This year, authorities have set a growth target of 6.5 to 7 percent.

Chen spoke during an annual meeting of the country's legislature.