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2018-07-26 08:28:49

Chinese ride-hailing platform Didi is testing a function that will allow passengers to record their trips.

When a passenger enters a Didi vehicle equipped with a camera, an app notification will pop up to ask whether they want to record the trip, according to a statement the company sent to Sixth Tone. All footage will be stored on a chip that cannot be accessed by drivers. Of the 20 cities where Didi is currently testing the function, five — including Shenzhen and Nanjing — have made it compulsory for ride-hailing companies to monitor trips.

The move comes two months after the death of a flight attendant believed murdered by her Didi Hitch driver, who was himself later found dead in a river. The grisly crime raised public concerns and prompted Didi to overhaul safety measures. (Image: VCG)

2 hours

China’s leading e-commerce company, Alibaba, is adding a new item to its annual shopping bonanza this year: real estate.

The company said that over 10,000 properties will be listed on its auction site for the upcoming “Double Eleven” shopping festival on Nov. 11, The Beijing News reported Tuesday. Some of the houses being auctioned are near subway stops, scenic spots, and top public schools — any one of which makes for a prime location.

Now in its 11th year, Double Eleven is China’s biggest online shopping day. Last year, Alibaba-owned shopping platform Tmall raked in a record 213.5 billion yuan ($30.8 billion) in purchases in 24 hours. While Tmall mostly sells everyday goods such as clothing, the auction platform offers houses, cars, and even swaths of ocean. Many of the auctioned items are confiscated from criminals and sold on behalf of the government. (Image: VCG)

2 hours

A step-tracking app that claimed to reward its users for going that extra mile has been removed from Chinese app stores and is under investigation for alleged fraud, state broadcaster China National Radio reported Monday.

Qubu — or “interesting step” in Chinese — purports to allow users to trade in their steps for products or monetary rewards, similar to redeeming airline miles. However, to join Qubu users must provide a number of personal details, including government ID numbers and bank account information, as well as a special invitation code. The app’s developers host talks across the country, encouraging users to invite new members into the community so they can become “future shareholders” in the company, according to domestic media reports.

The app’s Hunan-based developer is currently being investigated by authorities in Changsha, the capital of the central province. In June of last year, a clever gadget that helped couch potatoes artificially inflate their step counts and brag about it on WeChat became briefly popular, despite a spokesperson for the messaging app expressing distaste for the dishonest device. (Image: @三明中院 on Weibo)

4 hours

Individuals who have been blacklisted under China’s social credit system or expelled from the Communist Party are ineligible to register for next year’s administration of the national civil service examination, the State Bureau of Civil Servants announced Monday.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, some 550 government departments are aiming to recruit over 24,000 civil servants in the next highly competitive exam, which candidates could sign up to take beginning Tuesday. This marks the first time a state-level office has barred blacklisted citizens and expelled party cadres from the exam.

Li Manqing, the director of Huatu Education, a company that offers training courses for the civil service exam, told Beijing Youth Daily that, as representatives of the government, civil servants must be held to a high standard of integrity and “purity.”

National blacklists have been expanded in China since the country introduced an early version of its social credit system in 2014. Citizens who engage in tax fraud, drunk driving, loan defaulting, or violence against medical workers run the risk of being restricted from taking out loans or traveling by plane or high-speed rail. (Image: VCG)

4 hours

China’s internet regulator has ordered over two dozen online platforms to introduce a “teenage anti-addiction mode” to prevent addiction among young users, according to a statement Monday.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said 24 livestreaming platforms and nine video platforms have started offering the feature, which imposes age restrictions and limits screen time for children and teens, while also prohibiting them from tipping livestreamers.

In March, the administration started a pilot program under which popular short-video platforms such as Douyin, Kuaishou, and Huoshan were ordered to add the teenager anti-addiction mode, and streaming sites including Bilibili, Tencent Video, and iQiyi followed suit in May.

As China’s online video industry has continued to grow, it has also sparked concerns over increasing addiction and money-management issues among children. In 2017, a 14-year-old boy from the southwestern Sichuan province reportedly spent his parents’ life savings to shower a livestreamer with virtual gifts. And last year, a 10-year-old boy in central China’s Henan province spent 50,000 yuan ($7,900) — money that was intended for his father’s funeral — to reward a gamer on Kuaishou. (Image: IC)

5 hours

Beijing is considering imposing fines on businesses that provide disposable cutlery and toiletries to consumers by default, according to a draft regulation released Monday.

The regulation, which will likely be incorporated into the capital’s existing rules on waste management, proposes a fine from 1,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan ($140 to $700) for restaurants, food delivery companies, and hotels that continue to provide disposable cutlery or single-use toiletries when consumers have not explicitly requested them.

Beijing will finish rolling out a citywide trash-sorting policy by 2020, following in the footsteps of Shanghai, where a similar plan went into effect July 1. The capital classifies its trash into four categories — food waste, general waste, recyclables, and hazardous materials — and individual violators would be subject to fines of 200 yuan. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Millions of pieces of “harmful information” are being scrubbed from the Chinese internet thanks to a growing number of netizens who are flagging such content for hosting platforms, the latest data from the country’s cyberspace watchdog suggests.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said Friday that in the first half of 2019, the country’s netizens reported 68.58 million bits of online content they believed were inappropriate or harmful, up 8.9% from the same period last year.

In January, the administration announced a six-month campaign targeting 12 types of “harmful information,” including that which regulators consider pornographic, vulgar, violent, superstitious, rumorous, or sensational. Authorities further said they had established 21 offices across the country and over 2,600 websites at which individuals could report suspected violations.

China’s internet regulators have been ramping up efforts to sanitize various web platforms in recent months, including popular WeMedia accounts on WeChat and Weibo. Last year, Chinese netizens reported over 165 million bits of inappropriate content, according to Friday’s statement — far more than the 74 million and 40 million they reported in 2017 and 2016, respectively. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Shares of Jinzi Ham rose sharply on Monday after the food company announced over the weekend that it will begin offering plant-based meat products in China.

On Oct. 11, Jinzi announced a partnership with American chemical giant DuPont to make synthetic meat with non-GMO soy protein. The Chinese company also said it had begun preselling its first faux-beef patties on e-commerce site Tmall: A special two-box deal with four patties is priced at 118 yuan and slated to begin shipping in late October.

Over the weekend, the share price of the Shenzhen-listed company rose by 10% — the daily maximum for exchanges on the Chinese mainland — from 5.62 to 6.18 yuan ($0.80 to $0.88).

Jinzi is among the latest players to join China’s still-nascent plant-based meat movement. Founded in 1994, the Zhejiang-based company has become a household brand, largely thanks to a dry-cured ham product named after the city of Jinhua. By time of publication, Jinzi’s Tmall shop had received 590 preorders for the plant-based burgers. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Days after a highway overpass collapsed in Wuxi, killing three people, the city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province is back in the national spotlight because of a fatal gas explosion Sunday at a local restaurant.

The incident claimed nine lives and left 10 people injured, according to an official announcement from the city government. The restaurant — which specializes in Chinese soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao — is located in a three-story commercial building, the announcement said, adding that several neighboring businesses have been impacted by the explosion.

The Beijing News reported Sunday night that at least two of the injured remain in critical condition at local intensive care units. The restaurant has reportedly been operating for over three years. At around 1.3 meters tall, the gas canister it had been using was larger than those found in most households. (Image: VCG)

3 days

A court in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has ordered a traveling circus to pay a man with a developmental disability 205,000 yuan ($29,000) after he was bitten by a tiger and had to have his hand amputated in late 2016, local media outlet Red Star News reported Friday.

The Leshan Intermediate People’s Court determined that the circus — which hailed from the eastern Shandong province and had been holding daily performances in Sichuan’s Qianwei County — should bear the lion’s share of the responsibility because it had been negligent in supervising its animals.

In December 2016, a tiger that was locked in a cage on a truck outside the performance venue bit the man, surnamed Yang, who was not accompanied by a guardian. Yang’s mother sued both the circus and the local sports and culture bureau, demanding over 600,000 yuan in compensation. The court ruled against the circus but absolved the bureau of any responsibility to ensure the safety of animal performances.

Accidents involving zoo or circus animals occasionally make headlines in China. In November 2017, a tiger from a circus in the northern Shanxi province escaped from its cage and attacked two children. And last month, another tiger escaped during a live performance in the central Henan province, causing chaos among the terrified audience.

Following a series of animal abuse scandals and welfare campaigns, there is now a growing movement in the country to boycott such performances as cruel and inhumane. (Image: VCG)

3 days

A court in eastern China has sentenced eight people to up to four and a half years in prison each for mismanaging and attempting to cover up a high-profile chemical spill last year, The Beijing News reported Friday.

In November, 69 tons of C9 fraction — a byproduct of oil refining that is potentially harmful to humans — spilled into the sea by the coastal city of Quanzhou as a vessel was transporting the chemical from a factory owned by Fujian Donggang Petrochemical Industry Company to a tanker ship docked at a local harbor. The company initially told the local government that just 6.9 tons of the chemical had leaked — but the cover-up was soon exposed, triggering a wave of backlash from Quanzhou residents and the wider public.

Eight people, including Fujian Donggang’s legal representative and staff in charge of transporting the C9 fraction, were arrested and prosecuted, and several local officials were held accountable for dereliction of duty.

At Friday’s trial, the eight were sentenced to between 18 and 54 months in prison. The legal representative was also barred from working in a work safety-related role for a four-year period following his release from prison. (Image: IC)

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