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2018-04-08 04:37:23

A 63-year-old woman in rural Sichuan province has been found dead from a fire she is believed to have started during China’s annual Tomb-Sweeping Festival holiday, local media reported Saturday.

In China, it is common practice to burn candles, incense, and joss paper at the burial sites of one’s ancestors, or leave food and other offerings to aid them in the afterlife, especially around the early April festival.

The woman, surnamed Zhou, had been paying tribute to her ancestors in a mountainous area outside Minxing Village on Wednesday. The fire, which spread to cover 67 square kilometers, was eventually put out by locals. According to the local government, Zhou’s body was found among the ashes. (Image: Chengdu Business Daily)

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Zhou died Thursday; it was Wednesday.

4 hours

According to a new survey, China’s younger generations are experiencing a decline in Chinese language proficiency — and they say the internet is largely responsible.

More than 75 percent of the 2,002 people surveyed by the Social Investigation Center of state-owned newspaper China Youth Daily said they felt “increasingly deficient” in their knowledge of Chinese, the news outlet reported Thursday. More than half of respondents under the age of 40 blamed the internet for encouraging “homogenous thinking” that stifles creative expression.

“Although the internet has enriched our vocabulary by creating new lingo and cultural trends, it has also simplified the way we communicate,” Shen Xiaolong, a professor of Chinese language at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the newspaper.

Over 98 percent of China’s youth were connected digitally by the end of 2017, and 72 percent of children under 10 had access to the internet, according to official data. The increased use of electronic gadgets and the prevalence of online gaming have also been blamed for myopia affecting the country’s children and teens. (Image: VCG)

7 hours

This is a developing story; it will be updated as more information becomes available.

An explosion occurred at a chemical plant in eastern China’s Jiangsu province at around 2 p.m. on Thursday, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

The outlet reported that people injured during the incident in the city of Yancheng have been sent to a local hospital for medical treatment. Local firefighters and additional rescue personnel from nearby cities have arrived at the scene, with 12 people rescued so far. Video footage shared by domestic news media shows a fiery blast and a building with the windows blown out.

Meanwhile, the China Earthquake Administration announced on its official Weibo account that two earthquakes had been detected in the area at 2:48 p.m. this afternoon: one in Yancheng and a second in the nearby city of Lianyungang. In February of last year, a safety check at the Yancheng chemical plant identified 13 security risks. (Image: @中国长安网 on Weibo)

9 hours

Alibaba has launched a 100 million-yuan ($15 million) initiative aimed at preserving Chinese dialects, the e-commerce giant’s AI Labs division announced Wednesday, according to a report by The Beijing News.

Beginning with dialects spoken in Sichuan province, Alibaba hopes to gradually build a complete database that encompasses all 130 or so dialects found nationwide. Samples will be collected by mobile apps and devices such as Alibaba’s smart speaker, the Tmall Genie — though the company has not elaborated on how.

After decades of pushing Mandarin as China’s common tongue, the central government has gradually accepted the value of preserving local and regional languages and dialects, including Manchu in the north and Yi in the south. (Image: VCG)

9 hours

Online vendors are providing an outlet for viewers of the hit Chinese television show “All Is Well” to vent their frustrations — in exchange for a small fee.

For as little as 0.5 yuan (7 cents), users on e-commerce platform Taobao can pay to chat online with vendors who will lend a sympathetic ear to their complaints about the show, Hongxing News reported Wednesday. One such vendor, surnamed Wang, told the Sichuan-based news outlet that he has more than 300 customers who message him to gripe about the show’s chauvinistic male characters.

“All Is Well” tells the story of a modern-day Chinese family with sons who are praised and a daughter who is shunned, and many viewers have slammed the show’s sexist overtones since its March 1 premiere. A hashtag about the TV program had been viewed nearly 3.4 billion times on microblogging platform Weibo by Thursday afternoon. (Image: Taobao)

9 hours

A man who planted a dead rat in his meal at China’s most popular hot pot chain pleaded guilty to extortion on Wednesday, Beijing Evening News reported.

The 41-year-old defendant, surnamed Guo, was investigated after a HaiDiLao restaurant in Beijing’s Fengtai District reported him to police on suspicion that he had planted the dead rodent in order to extort the company for 5 million yuan ($750,000). According to Guo’s court testimony, he had found the dead rat while visiting his home in Henan province and taken it back to Beijing with him in a plastic bottle.

Restaurant staff initially offered to change Guo’s hot pot and give him dining vouchers. When he refused, a staff member offered him 20,000 yuan in compensation — but Guo demanded 5 million yuan instead. According to evidence presented during the trial, Guo threatened a HaiDiLao staff member that he would take his case to the media.

With its legendary customer service and quirky offerings like manicures, shoe-shining, and board games, HaiDiLao is beloved by many in China. But the hot pot chain has also faced its share of food safety scares — some of them rat-related — and responded with improvements such as installing webcams in their kitchens.

The Fengtai District court has not said when it plans to issue a verdict. According to Article 274 of China’s criminal law, Guo faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. (Image: VCG)

12 hours

A Shanghai company on Wednesday launched the country’s first digital monitoring system that uses artificial intelligence to improve household waste management, The Paper reported.

Shanghai Chengtou Group Corporation, which handles over 70 percent of the city’s waste, now uses real-time data to track waste collection and transportation, allowing the company to pinpoint sources of waste. High-resolution photos uploaded to a central database also help determine if waste materials have been properly sorted for recycling purposes.

In February, Shanghai announced a regulation on household waste management — going into effect July 1 — that aims to promote recycling and reduce waste in the city. Last year, Shanghai’s domestic households produced about 26,000 tons of garbage daily, among the most of any city in the country. (Image: The Paper)

1 day

Eight students who ran away from their homes in southwestern China because of pressure they faced at home and at school have been found safe, police in Chongqing’s Qianjiang District announced Tuesday.

At around noon on Sunday, a couple had reported their daughter missing after she hadn’t come home for 24 hours. According to police, the girl had run away with seven of her schoolmates: Fed-up with their parents’ nagging and their mediocre grades, the group had decided to leave home in search of jobs. The students’ ages were not disclosed.

Striving to stand out among their many peers can be a source of frustration for many Chinese young people. Last year, an education think tank found that domestic disputes and academic pressure were the leading causes of suicides and attempted suicides in children and teens aged 8 to 17.

According to the district government’s statement, local police have also called on both parents and the wider community to improve communication with young people and be more attentive to their mental health. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Police in southwestern China’s Yunnan province apologized Tuesday for releasing childhood photos of four suspects on their wanted list.

The Zhenxiong County police had published photos of 100 wanted suspects on Monday in a bid to obtain information that might lead to their arrests. However, photos of four of the suspects — now between 17 and 51 years old — were of them when they were kids.

Zhenxiong police explained that they had used the childhood photos because more recent ones had not been available, and that the photos had been removed following criticism from the public.

The wanted list is part of a local campaign to stamp out gang activity. All 100 wanted suspects hail from Zhenxiong County. (Image: @中国新闻社 on Weibo)

1 day

Four people are dead and 15 are injured after a passenger bus collided with a truck Wednesday in Henan province, the Gushi County government announced on Weibo.

The accident — which occurred at the intersection of a county road and a provincial road at around 8 a.m — caused the bus to turn over. All of the injured were sent to a local hospital for treatment, the statement said.

The total number of passengers on the bus at the time of the accident has yet to be determined, and local police are investigating the cause of the accident. (Image: @博陵文心雕龙 on Weibo)

1 day

China’s marriage rate in 2018 sunk to a level not seen since 2013, according to multiple domestic media reports on Tuesday.

Last year’s national average marriage rate reached just 0.72 percent, markedly lower than the 2013 rate of 0.99 percent. Meanwhile, the local figures in more economically developed areas of the country turned out to be even lower in 2018, with the marriage rates for Zhejiang province and Shanghai municipality reaching only 0.59 and 0.44 percent, respectively. Tuesday’s reports pointed to marrying at a later age and the increased cost of living as reasons for the fall.

Following the news, a hashtag translating to “record-low marriage rate in 2018” went viral on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, receiving 430 million views by Wednesday afternoon. (Image: VCG)

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