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2018-08-08 08:44:06

As Google eyes a possible return to China, Baidu CEO Robin Li has a few suggestions for his Silicon Valley rival.

“Chinese tech companies are ahead of the rest of the world in terms of spotting new problems and meeting new demands,” Li posted Tuesday on WeChat. “This is what every international company should consider if it hopes to enter the Chinese market.” With 74 percent market share, Baidu is China’s dominant search engine — and Li is confident his company can best Google with home-turf advantage.

Though Google’s return to China has long been rumored, an Aug. 1 scoop sparked heated debate by suggesting the company may soon launch a China-specific version of its search engine. (Image: Reuters/VCG)

5 hours

The forestry bureau of Guangdong province on Wednesday announced a five-year ban on the hunting of all wild birds, effective from next year.

The ban aims to prevent wild birds from being served as exotic restaurant dishes. In some parts of China, the manufacture of so-called clap nets for hunting birds is a thriving, though illicit, industry. In December of last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature uplisted the yellow-breasted bunting — one of the wild birds that’s most often consumed as food in southern China — to “critically endangered”; prior to 2004, the species had been classified as being of “least concern.”

Beginning in January, the southern province will ban all bird-hunting tools and prohibit restaurants from promoting the consumption of wild animals. Other Chinese provinces, including Henan and Hubei, have implemented similar bans in the past. (Image: VCG)

5 hours

A driver for ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing has filed a lawsuit against the company after he was restricted from picking up female passengers and working nighttime hours, The Beijing News reported Wednesday.

The driver, surnamed Yang, said the constraints were imposed after Didi received a complaint that a user’s cellphone had been broken during an incident in early November. A drunken passenger had fallen unconscious in Yang’s car, prompting the driver to contact police to have the person physically removed from the vehicle. But Yang said Didi did not carefully arbitrate the case before limiting his service, thereby causing him significant financial losses.

Didi began regulating its drivers more strictly after female passengers were killed in May and August. Since then, the app has banned misbehaving drivers and even allowed users to block them. (Image: VCG)

1 day

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment criticized 267 companies on Tuesday for not heeding emergency measures to curb emissions. The measures were implemented after an especially smoggy November prompted many local governments to issue pollution alerts. Nearly two-thirds of the culprits — none of which have been named — are based in Hebei province, a major industrial hub that sees some of the worst air pollution in China.

The emergency emissions reduction scheme was included in China’s five-year action plan, issued in 2013, and aims to prevent and control air pollution. In February, the country’s environment ministry declared that the goals of the action plan had been fulfilled, and in July, the country issued a three-year action plan to “win the battle for blue skies.” But earlier this month, Caixin reported that China’s carbon footprint is as large as it’s ever been. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Employees at an office building in Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park, also known as China’s Silicon Valley, have resumed work after a massive fire was extinguished on Wednesday, The Paper reported.

Videos circulated on social media show the building — which houses the Google China headquarters, among other companies — in flames at around 11 a.m. The local fire department told The Beijing News that the blaze had started from a cooling unit for the building’s air conditioners. No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire is under further investigation.

Though Google has a physical presence in China, its search engine is blocked virtually. On Tuesday, the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, said that Google has no plans to launch in China following backlash over a censored search engine — code-named Project Dragonfly — reportedly being developed for the country, (Image: From @中国交通广播 on Weibo)

1 day

China’s Foreign Ministry responded Wednesday to questions about former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig — whom the Canadian government confirmed on Tuesday had been detained in China — by saying it was unable to provide information regarding reports of Kovrig’s disappearance.

But Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at his regular press briefing that to his understanding, Kovrig’s employer — the International Crisis Group — had not registered itself in China, and that if this was indeed the case, its staff were breaking a recent Chinese law on nongovernmental organizations by working in the country, Beijing Youth Daily reported. (Image: VCG)

Republished with permission from Caixin Global.

1 day

Chinese question-and-answer site Zhihu has denied suggestions that it is planning to lay off hundreds of workers, The Paper reported Wednesday.

According to social media posts on Tuesday from multiple Zhihu employees, the Quora-like platform is letting go of 300 employees amid a budget cut. One employee told The Paper that several teams had already been disbanded, and that members of such teams were “awaiting rearrangement.” Rebutting the claims, Zhihu said staff evaluations and restructuring are an annual procedure, without any further elaboration.

Media reports of layoffs at Zhihu come at a time of mounting concern over a slowdown in China’s information technology sector. Job openings at Chinese IT companies were down by 51 percent in the third quarter of 2018 compared with the same period last year. (Image: VCG)

2 days

Chinese people spent more time on paid work last year compared with those in other major countries, according to a new time-use survey.

From a sample of 30,591 individuals, researchers at Inner Mongolia University found that 42 percent said they worked more than the standard eight-hour shift over a 24-hour period. China topped a list of 15 countries — including Japan and the U.S. — in terms of time spent on paid work, with an average of 5.44 hours per day across the general population.

Though Chinese people worked nearly a half-hour less on average compared with a similar survey in 2008, cases of work-related exhaustion are widely reported in domestic media. In 2016, the deaths of doctors, journalists, and an engineer who frequently worked overtime sparked discussions on healthy work practices in China. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Beijing saw a decrease in its resident population in 2017, the first such dip in 20 years, according to a report co-published Sunday by the Beijing Municipal Party Committee School and the Social Sciences Academic Press.

The report found that the capital’s resident population decreased by 22,000 between 2016 and 2017 to reach just over 21.7 million, while the city’s migrant population — a subset of the resident population — declined by 132,000 over the same period.

Beijing’s 20-year plan for 2016-2035 states that the resident population must not exceed 23 million. In 2016, the removal of “low-end” workers and labor-intensive industries by the municipal government led to a decrease of 151,000 in the city’s migrant population compared with 2015. Forced relocations sped up at the end of last year after a tenement fire in a Beijing suburb where migrant workers lived killed 19 people. (Image: VCG)

3 days

A county government in Hebei province apologized for a publicity mistake on Saturday after its statement that two locals had been detained for burning prohibited low-grade coal stoked public concerns over officials’ abuse of power.

According to a now-deleted statement published Friday, two residents in Quyang County were detained for using inferior-quality coal, which is banned under a clean heating campaign implemented across much of northern China. The news attracted wide attention online, with netizens questioning the appropriateness of the detention, especially in the context of many households in northern China being left with no heating during last year’s coal-to-gas initiative.

In a response on Saturday, the county government said that its initial statement had been incorrect due to human error, and that the offenders had been “educated” rather than detained. (Image: VCG)

3 days

At least three people have been confirmed dead after a landslide in Sichuan province buried three homes on Sunday.

According to the Weibo account of Xuyong County, where the landslide occurred, 12 people were buried near a highway construction site. In addition to the three deceased, a rescue team recovered seven victims who are now receiving medical care. An 11th victim has been located but not yet rescued, and a 12th victim remains missing.

Though the landslide’s cause has not been announced, development projects and mining operations are often blamed for China’s geological disasters. In December 2015, a construction-related landslide in Shenzhen killed 69 people, and in August 2017, the head of a coal bureau in Shanxi province was fired after a mining company tried to cover up a landslide that killed at least four. (Image: Xinhua)

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