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2018-07-09 08:47:42

Five people were arrested for unauthorized usage of hail cannons in Inner Mongolia’s Chifeng last Wednesday, The Paper reported. Hail cannons, which generate shockwaves to stop hailstones from forming, were seized by local police after residents alerted authorities.

Hailstorms often hit hard in China’s northwestern regions, killing citizens and damaging crops and property. For some years now, the government has used cloud-seeding and hail cannons as an artificial measure to control weather events. But one man’s death at the hands of a hail cannon in 2005 led authorities to clamp down on such machinery, making it illegal for non-authorised personnel to use weather influencing technologies. (Image: VCG)

14 hours

Netizens can now watch Discovery Channel shows on Bilibili, one of the most popular video-streaming platforms among Chinese millennials.

On Monday, Bilibili reached an agreement with the U.S. network to both introduce existing content and co-produce new content, according to Qdaily. Previously, Bilibili users could find Discovery shows on the platform, but these were typically uploaded by individual users in violation of copyright. On Discovery’s Bilibili channel, Chinese netizens can now binge shows like “Man Vs. Wild” and “Pit Bulls & Parolees.”

This is not the first time Discovery has partnered with a Chinese streaming service. In August, the network authorized iQiyi to broadcast programming from “Shark Week” — a cult phenomenon in North America. (Image: VCG)

14 hours

An education bureau in eastern China's Jiangxi province is investigating a kindergarten after several parents claimed that toxic classrooms were making their children sick, local media reported Tuesday.

Some 50 of the 120 students enrolled at a private school in Nanchang have suffered from coughing and nosebleeds, which parents said were linked to excessive formaldehyde levels in classrooms. As a protest, many parents have unenrolled their children from the kindergarten. However, school employees have accused parents of rumormongering and refused to conduct any tests.

There have been several reports in Chinese media of school children falling victim to hazardous indoor air. This month, parents in Shenzhen and Wuhan claimed that poisonous classrooms and playgrounds had made their children ill. (Image: VCG)

15 hours

One of the top tourist attractions in northern China apologized on Monday for requesting exorbitant donations from visitors hoping to burn incense, according to The Paper.

“If you donate more than 10,000 yuan [$1,500], you can be our VIP and receive generous treatment,” Wahuang Palace in Hebei wrote in a now-deleted post on WeChat. The palace is named after Nüwa, the goddess who, according to Chinese mythology, created humankind, and as such it draws crowds of pilgrims hoping to curry favor and fortune.

In November 2017, the Chinese government banned for-profit religion, and on Monday, a commentary in Party newspaper Guangming Daily called out the palace and other similarly materialistic sites: “Stop trying to make money by underhanded means,” it wrote. (Image: VCG)

18 hours

A lawyer with over 2 million followers on Weibo has been lambasted by netizens after he complained that two young men refused to trade their lower berths on a long-distance train for his children’s cheaper upper berths, China News Service reported Monday.

“I totally understand how you feel, and I think you’re right,” wrote one netizen. “I bought a standing ticket, and I feel uncomfortable standing — can we swap?” The lawyer, Yi Shenghua, disabled the comments section under his post after it had attracted over 44,000 comments, most of them similarly sarcastic.

Though Yi posted about his experience on Sept. 1, the case is still being widely debated, with Chinese millennials rebelling against the notion that they are obliged to make special concessions for the young and old in every situation. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Millions of pet penguins died in China on Saturday — and the oldest ones were just over 13 years old.

The penguins were the hallmark of Tencent’s QQ Pets — a popular online game launched in 2005 — that the tech giant shut over the weekend following a sharp decline in active players. Over the years, millions of users have fed and raised the penguins on their digital screens, even helping the birds to get married and reproduce. But now, even a “resurrection medicine” — an in-game potion that allowed users to revive their ailing animals — can’t save the penguins from extinction. Tencent said that it will clear all user data by the end of September, wiping out some of Chinese millennials’ most cherished memories.

Rest in peace, QQ Pets. (Image: IC)

1 day

China’s media regulator said Sunday that it will investigate viewership data for television shows after a director claimed to be a victim of “fake ratings.”

In a lengthy Weibo post, Guo Jingyu wrote about his encounter with an unnamed person who demanded a 900,000 yuan ($131,000) fee per episode to boost his show’s ratings. The director, whose latest drama “Mother’s Life” is aired on two major networks, said he is being targeted for disagreeing to pay the amount, resulting in a flurry of negative reviews online.

Inflated ratings and viewership have plagued China’s media industry for a long time. Earlier this month, iQiyi, dubbed as China’s Netflix, said it would stop displaying the number of views on its user interface. (Image: IC)

1 day

The publishing arm of Alibaba Group fired an editor and a writer Thursday for insulting the deceased wife of online fantasy novelist Zhang Wei in a private messaging group.

In a Weibo post, Zhang, one of China’s most prolific writers, condemned the pair from Alibaba Literature for their boorish behavior. Screenshots of the chat logs show the pair saying that the death of Zhang's wife, Li Mo, “isn’t a big deal” and that he could “easily get another wife.” Li died on Sept. 11 after battling breast cancer for three years. Alibaba apologized to Zhang on Saturday for the duo's behavior.

Zhang is China's wealthiest writer — he earned 130 million yuan ($19 million) last year — and has more than 150 titles to his name. The 37-year-old publishes his works under the pen name Tang Jia San Shao. (Image: IC) 

4 days

A county in Henan has removed a primary school principal after parents discovered that the school was not following the government’s Nutritional Improvement Program, The Cover reported Thursday.

A video recorded by a parent in a primary school cafeteria in Shangshui County shows students being served bowls of dry noodles for lunch. But according to national nutrition guidelines, schools must provide students with a balanced diet from foods like chicken, steamed buns, and vegetables. After investigating, the county removed the school’s principal, a superintendent, and a nutrition director who had been hired by local education authorities.

Introduced in 2011, the Nutritional Improvement Program aims to provide students in poor and underserved areas with healthier government-sponsored meals. (Image: Weibo user @haitaode)

4 days

A clothing retailer has applied to trademark WeChat’s most popular emoji: the versatile facepalm.

According to Shangyou News, the Zhejiang-based company filed the application with the central trademark office in November 2017 — but only last month did the window for third parties to dispute the claim open. The company hopes to legally use the iconic image on 25 categories of clothing items, including T-shirts, shoes, ties, and baby clothes. A spokesperson for Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, told the paper that they plan to dispute the application on the grounds of copyright infringement.

Though once lax in China, enforcement of trademarks and copyrights has grown stricter in recent years, with cases involving fonts, songs, TV drama plots, and even plagiarism databases all making headlines. (Image: WeChat)

5 days

While Chinese state media outlets are attacking “effeminate” male idols, their stardom has gained global attention.

Wang Yuan of TFBoys will throw the honorary first pitch at the New York Mets game on Sept. 28, the team said Wednesday local time. Beloved by millions at home and abroad, the 17-year-old’s stardom has transcended his singing career. Last year, the United Nations Children’s Fund appointed him as a special advocate for education, while Time listed him in the magazine’s “30 Most Influential Teens of 2017” list.

In China, Wang is part of a league of young, handsome, and sometimes androgynous men who are referred as “little fresh meat.” Last week, Xinhua slammed them, saying: “This sick culture is having an inestimably adverse impact on teenagers.” (Image: VCG)