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4 days

Members of China’s parliament and top advisory body have called for primary and middle schools to improve classroom lighting, in order to protect students’ eyesight, The Paper reported.

Bad classroom lighting is a major factor in students’ deteriorating eyesight, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2016 report found that the prevalence of shortsightedness had increased in recent years to exceed 70 percent among high school and university students.

But previous inspections have found that many provinces do not meet national standards for classroom lighting. A 2014 study in Guangzhou and a 2016 inspection in Sichuan both found that over 90 percent of schools failed national requirements.

1 day

Railway police in Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, have started wearing glasses with cameras that can check people’s faces against a database of wanted suspects.

The new equipment came just in time for the lunar new year season, when China’s railways transport millions of passengers every day, authorities said.

The high-tech eyewear debuted earlier this month in Zhengzhou, where police said it had helped catch seven suspects. Kunming police appear to be using the same model, which is linked to a tablet loaded with a database of passengers’ personal information. (Image: From the public WeChat account of Kunming police)

2 days

Beijing has not seen any rain or snow since Oct. 23, breaking the previous record of 114 consecutive days without precipitation set in the early 1970s, The Beijing News reported Wednesday.

A climate center official told the outlet that Beijing has mostly received dry air from Siberia this winter due to La Niña conditions above the Pacific Ocean. Forecasts say Beijing will see dry weather for at least another week.

Northern China suffers severe water shortages. The government has taken several, far-reaching measures to mitigate the lack of water, including digging giant canals to transport water from southern China, and recently expanding a taxation scheme that should limit water use.

3 days

Police in Hebei have detained two people who spread rumors on WeChat that the magnitude-4.3 earthquake which hit near Beijing on Monday evening would be followed by an aftershock in the middle of the night.

A woman surnamed Xie said that between 2 and 4 a.m., another earthquake with magnitude 6.8 had been predicted. A man surnamed Che, meanwhile, had made up that local authorities had been put on notice for a possible aftershock late at night. Both were detained for causing panic and disturbing public order, respectively.

3 days

Six natural reserves have been upgraded to national level, opening up more funding, the State Council announced Tuesday.

The areas — two in Sichuan, and one each in Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Shaanxi (pictured) provinces, all habitats for a variety of protected animals and plants — will join an existing list of about 450 national reserves. Missing among the additions is another reserve in Sichuan, which was part of an earlier provisional list.

Reserve status restricts commercial activities in the areas. But, in part due to a lack of funding, such rules are frequently flaunted. The central government has recently become stricter in its oversight of reserves. A nationwide investigation in late 2017 uncovered over 20,000 issues, for which more than 1,100 people have been held responsible. (Image: IC)

3 days

Police in Hangzhou have caught a group of seven who they say scammed people out of money by faking traffic accidents, The Paper reported Tuesday.

Employing a scam known as pengci — “bumping into porcelain” — one person driving a car would force another motorist to drive close to a cyclist on a shared bicycle, who would feign injury. Police say the group caused over 40 such incidents, extorting more than 70,000 yuan ($11,000) from their victims. They were arrested on Jan. 29 and remain in criminal detention.

Police were tipped off by at least two supicious motorists. In both cases, the would-be victims insisted the cyclist accompany them to the police station, prompting the swindler to hop into a getaway car — which the police eventually tracked down. (Image: City Express WeChat account)

3 days

A village Party secretary in Hubei province has been apprehended after ordering the demolition of a balcony that was preventing motorists from seeing the road ahead, The Paper reported Tuesday. Police in Jianshi County said that six individuals — including the Party secretary, surnamed Wang — have been detained.

The demolition took place on Jan. 17, when Wang invited over 20 villagers to bring whatever tools they had handy and accompany him to meet with the property’s owner, surnamed Yang. When negotiations failed, Wang’s gang began tearing the balcony apart.

Police soon arrived at the scene to stop the destruction, but later the same day, Wang and his people resumed their work. Given the 3,820 yuan ($600) in damage to Yang’s property, a village council on Jan. 31 ordered the arrests of Wang and several others responsible. They were given 10 to 15 days’ detention, and the case is still being investigated. (Image: Courtesy of Jianshi County police)

4 days

Members of China’s parliament and top advisory body have called for primary and middle schools to improve classroom lighting, in order to protect students’ eyesight, The Paper reported.

Bad classroom lighting is a major factor in students’ deteriorating eyesight, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2016 report found that the prevalence of shortsightedness had increased in recent years to exceed 70 percent among high school and university students.

But previous inspections have found that many provinces do not meet national standards for classroom lighting. A 2014 study in Guangzhou and a 2016 inspection in Sichuan both found that over 90 percent of schools failed national requirements.

4 days

Eight officials in Hebei province have been penalized for inadequate supervision of polluting businesses, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday.

A provincial investigation found that 16 of 68 businesses in Wenan County that had been told to suspend production ignored official orders and continued operating through the winter. Three were plastics factories, whose owners were put in administrative detention. Eight officials — including the county head — were held accountable with various penalties, such as demerits.

In China’s northeast, air pollution typically peaks in the winter, but the country has introduced an array of anti-pollution measures including limiting coal consumption and suspending production in heavily polluting industries between November and March.

4 days

A Kuaishou livestreamer has been detained for posting more than 200 videos showing himself hunting wild animals, according to China National Radio.

The livestreamer, a Jiangxi resident surnamed Zhou, told police that he sometimes purchases animals online for his videos. His account, titled “Chief Outdoor War God,” was dedicated to now-deleted videos showing hunting acts and skinned animals.

China’s wildlife protection law forbids hunting wild animals, and the country’s criminal law stipulates that hunting endangered animals can be punished with up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The State Forestry Administration announced a crackdown on livestreamed hunting last March, and in April, Guangdong police apprehended a 24-year-old man for livestreaming himself catching protected snakes.

5 days

Netizens are flooding social platforms with personalized cartoon portraits to celebrate the coming Year of the Dog, thanks to an online collage game produced by Beijing-based children’s brand Pupupula. The game offers a choice of customizable characters, as well as furniture and pets — including a now-familiar frog.

As many millennial Chinese prepare for an onslaught of holiday nagging about marriage and children, millions have embraced the collage for allowing them to represent all sorts of families — solo households, same-sex couples, or even a forest of pot plants. Pupupula’s co-founder told local media that the company wanted to provide “diverse choices.” The savvy marketing tactic has seen 100 million web visitors since it launched Friday.

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