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2018-09-10 02:34:05

Jack Ma has announced that he will step down as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce platform which he co-founded 19 years ago.

In a letter Monday — which is also Ma’s 54th birthday — Ma said the company’s CEO Daniel Zhang would succeed him as chairman of the board, starting September 10 next year. Ma said he would like to return to education and would continue contributing to Alibaba Group as the founding partner. 

The news follows a New York Times report on Friday that Ma was set to retire on Monday. On Saturday, Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post quoted an Alibaba spokesman who said “the Times story was factually wrong.” (Image: VCG)

2 days

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment on Thursday summoned the mayors of six northern Chinese cities for talks related to the “obvious worsening” of air quality within their jurisdictions last fall and winter, reported The Beijing News.

According to the report, the mayors of cities in Henan, Shanxi, and Hebei provinces expressed their “sorrow, guilt, self-reproach,” and even “heart-piercing grief” after inspectors said they had failed to achieve targets outlined in the central government’s “battle for blue skies” action plan, a three-year drive to improve air quality.

“People have not done their utmost, they’ve relaxed,” the ministry’s head of air pollution control, Liu Bingjiang, said at the meeting, adding that the worsening air quality was due to lax administration.

In one of numerous examples given in The Beijing News’ report, the city of Baoding in Hebei province failed to supervise coal burning last fall and winter and neglected to provide funding for gas- and electricity-powered heating in a timely manner. Over the same period, P.M 2.5 levels in the city of Langfang, Hebei province, rose by 15.5% year-on-year. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Mobile payment giant Alipay is recruiting 1,000 volunteers to participate in a campaign aimed at educating the Chinese public about online scams.

Focusing on performing arts native to 10 cities and provinces, Alipay on Thursday appealed to kunqu opera singers, crosstalk comedians, rhythmic kuaiban performers and errenzhuan dancers to join the company in giving special fraud-fighting performances in several cities.

In the notice, Alipay stated that the volunteers would be required to plan their own “lively and understandable performances” incorporating tips for uncovering scams targeting the elderly, laborers, and college students. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Researchers have discovered evidence of ritual cannabis smoking in western China from 2,500 years ago, suggesting the earliest use of the drug for its psychoactive effects.

A study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances analyzed archaeological artifacts from burial grounds on the Pamir Plateau, with a chemical analysis of burn marks on the objects indicating cannabis with “high levels of psychoactive compounds.” Meanwhile, human bones and a harp also discovered at the site, among other artifacts, suggest that ritual and religious practices took place at the grounds.

Researchers say these clues show that cannabis smoking played an important role in burial rituals. “We can start to piece together an image of funerary rites that included flames, rhythmic music, and hallucinogen smoke,” they wrote, “all intended to guide people into an altered state of mind.” (Image: Science Advances)

3 days

A new securities market for registration-based initial public offerings was launched at a financial forum in Shanghai on Thursday, according to domestic media reports.

First announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the China International Import Expo last November, the SSE STAR market is intended to support the development of domestic firms in high-tech and emerging sectors. The new exchange will depart from the country’s current IPO system — which requires official approval for new shares — to a market-based registration system like the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The first batch of companies will be listed on the market and start trading within the next two months, said Huang Hongyuan, chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Huang said that six companies had been shortlisted from 122 applicants in fields such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, and biomedicine. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Two men have been detained in southern China for claiming that domestic authorities discovered and arrested CIA spies working undercover at tech giant Huawei, according to an official announcement Wednesday.

The detentions — 10 days for a 48-year-old surnamed Wu and three days for a 51-year-old surnamed Ni — were handed down by police in the city of Shenzhen for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to the announcement from the ruling Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission. The commission said the two men had made the claim in chat groups on popular social app WeChat.

A third man, surnamed Han, was not detained but was issued a warning by Beijing police for the same offense, Wednesday’s announcement said.

Espionage between the U.S. and China has been an ongoing concern amid the American government’s spat with Huawei. Earlier this week, Huawei told the U.K. Parliament that it is not obliged to spy on behalf of the Chinese government, pushing back against earlier warnings from the CIA that the Chinese state had provided funding to the company. (Image: VCG)

4 days

To ensure a stable talent pool for western and central China, the country’s most developed cities should not use cash incentives and special benefits to lure bright minds from these areas, according to a central government document released Tuesday.

The General Office of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, the country’s Cabinet, addressed the talent issue along with various other opinions aimed at boosting the integrity and reputation of Chinese scientists. With ongoing concerns over a so-called brain drain in China’s western and northeastern regions, the document said such areas should not have to worry about having their best and brightest plucked away by urban centers with greater resources at their disposal.

In the past two years, China’s second-tier cities have been engaged in a fierce battle for workplace talent, offering incentives ranging from preferential homebuying policies to low-rent “talent apartments.” With the bright lights of megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen holding the attention of many promising young scholars, universities and research institutes in western and northeastern China have faced worsening staff and student shortages. (Image: IC)

4 days

A public security bureau’s show of support for a delivery worker who was mistreated by an irate customer has been widely shared online since being reported Tuesday by China News Service.

County-level police in the eastern Shandong province were alerted to an incident Monday night in which a YTO Express employee had knelt and begged forgiveness from a customer, the statement said. The worker — identified only by her surname, Nie — had already compensated the customer for damaging his shipment of mangoes. But after receiving “multiple malicious complaints” from the customer, YTO Express fined Nie 2,000 yuan ($290) and threatened to fire her if the complaints continued.

The police testament recommended that YTO Express cancel the fine and blacklist the customer, stating that she needn’t “abandon her dignity in begging for forgiveness.”

Copies of the statement accompanied by a hashtag translating to “female delivery worker kneels after malicious complaints” went viral on Weibo Tuesday afternoon, receiving over 250 million views by time of publication. “The police officer is right,” read one comment with over 26,000 likes. “(The customer) was already compensated for the box of mangoes. It’s hard to understand why he’s so unwilling to forgive.”

Shortly after the police weighed in, YTO Express posted its own statement saying Nie’s fine had been canceled and the company opposed “malicious complaints.” On Wednesday, the China Express Association, an industry trade group, reacted to the case by announcing that it would look into establishing a blacklist for “bad customers” and calling on companies to back their workers in such disputes. (Image: VCG)

5 days

After a popular Japanese eyedrops brand banned in Canada earlier this year was found on its platform, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com claimed the products in question meet Japanese health regulations, according to a report Tuesday by The Beijing News.

Third-party vendors on the Alibaba-owned site Tmall were found to be selling the eyedrops from Japanese brand Santen at discounts of up to 50% off, with some merchants claiming to sell over 35,000 bottles a month. One product, Sante FX NEO, claims to reduce tiredness and redness in the eyes.

Canada deemed Santen products to be unsafe in April, but China’s health authorities have yet to issue a warning to consumers. According to Canada’s safety alert, four Santen products had not been approved by local food and drug authorities, and contained ingredients that could cause blurred vision, cataracts, and nausea.

In December 2017, a well-known Chinese eyedrops brand, Shapuaisi, made headlines after claiming its products could treat cataracts. China’s Food and Drug Administration ordered the company to conduct further tests and eliminate any misleading advertising. (Image: Taobao)

5 days

Online shopping platform Pinduoduo says it will take legal action against three alleged smear campaigns waged against the company over the past two months, Beijing Youth Daily reported Tuesday.

Pinduoduo had previously launched poverty-relief projects to support three counties in Xinjiang, Hubei, and Henan, according to Jing Ran, the company’s vice president. However, several articles later published online dismissed the projects as failures and gimmicks, he said.

Jing further claimed that, based on Pinduoduo’s own investigation, the attacks had been coordinated by the company’s competitors. Pinduoduo alleges that a person posing as a provincial official went to the county in Hubei on May 10 to inquire about the financial situations of local villagers. However, the person’s contact phone number was actually that of an employee at a rival e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo claims. The same individual later showed up in the Henan county as a poverty relief officer to check on the progress of Pinduoduo’s project there, offering cash rewards to anyone willing to talk.

Founded in September 2015, Pinduoduo — a platform known for its mind-bogglingly cheap group deals — has surged in popularity, landing in the crosshairs of China’s more established e-commerce giants in the process. In January of last year, Alibaba claimed that vendors of counterfeit products had left Alibaba’s own platform, Taobao, and set up shop with Pinduoduo and other rivals where anti-fraud enforcement is purportedly more lax. (Image: VCG)

5 days

China’s market regulator is investigating home appliance maker Aux after Gree Electric accused the company of selling substandard air conditioners.

On Monday afternoon, Gree posted an open letter on its official Weibo microblog claiming that, after consumers had complained of Aux’s products being cheap and consuming too much electricity, Gree had enlisted a qualified third party to test the quality of select Aux air conditioning units. The results, the letter said, showed that the energy efficiency of Aux products did not match what the company advertises.

Aux responded Monday evening, calling Gree’s letter “untrue.” Aux further said it had reported the case to law enforcement and would sue Gree to “legally protect our company’s legal rights and maintain the market’s normal order.” (Image: VCG)

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