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2018-09-14 07:56:23

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)

9 hours

Counterfeit condoms worth some 50 million yuan ($7.2 million) have been seized in Zhejiang province, local police announced Monday.

According to the Cangnan County public security bureau, 17 suspects have been detained on suspicion of producing and storing counterfeit contraceptives in unsanitary factories in Zhejiang. Most of the 500,000-plus boxes of condoms had big-name labels — including Durex, Okamoto and Jissbon — and were being sold to hotels and shops in 28 provinces. According to The Beijing News, fake condoms can damage the reproductive system and cause sexually transmitted infections.

Cases of counterfeit condoms occasionally make headlines in China. In January, around 1.7 million illegally manufactured condoms were seized by police in Shanxi province. (Image: From @央视新闻 on Weibo)

13 hours

Six people in Xinzhou, Shanxi province, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after visiting an illegal coal waste dump site, The Beijing News reported Tuesday.

On Nov. 4, a villager was found dead in a gully where a mine had been disposing of coal waste. The next day, five people — including relatives and at least one undertaker — went to the same spot to prepare the victim’s body for burial, only to be fatally poisoned themselves. Authorities later found that hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide levels exceeded safe limits due to the coal waste and lack of airflow in the gully.

Central environmental inspectors said the dump site did not go through proper approval channels, including an environmental impact assessment. The mining company responsible for the site now faces up to 237,000 yuan ($34,000) in fines. (Image: From @新浪视频 on Weibo)

1 day

A mall in southern China’s Hainan province has apologized for a sexist promotional stunt following public backlash, local media reported Tuesday.

At least one banner hung at the shopping center in the city of Haikou read, “To celebrate our 12th anniversary, if our WeChat articles are viewed over 880,000 times, 10 of our mall’s female employees will run around naked!” But the “naked run” was canceled after receiving criticism online, with organizers receiving a 900 yuan ($130) fine and verbal warning from the authorities.

Facing growing competition online, Chinese malls often employ bizarre tactics to attract customers. But past stunts — such as “husband pods,” “boyfriend sharing” services, and even a live polar bear exhibition — have garnered their share of criticism as well. (Image: From @海口日报 on Weibo)

1 day

The city of Ganzhou in Jiangxi province will implement a policy allowing dissatisfied patients to get refunds for hospital treatment, according to an official document leaked Monday. A few hospitals will offer the refund option from Feb. 1, 2019, and the pilot scheme, if successful, will be expanded to around 30 hospitals in 2020.

The policy purports to “build a harmonious patient-doctor relationship” — but to many netizens, it seems likely to place even greater pressure on doctors already at risk of violence at the hands of disgruntled patients.

“It makes no sense for patients to ask for refunds if they’re unsatisfied,” commented Ou Qian, a pediatrician and key opinion leader on Chinese social media. “The authorities are assuming that patients’ medical knowledge has surpassed that of doctors, and that patients can therefore judge those who treat them.” (Image: VCG)

2 days

China’s top procuratorate on Sunday published new guidelines calling for stricter punishments in cases involving the physical or sexual abuse of minors.

Zheng Xinjian, chief director of the juvenile prosecution office at the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said the new guidelines are intended to crack down on child abuse in China.

The guidelines clarify that in the absence of hard evidence, minors’ statements can be taken into account if they are consistent in timeline and logic. Zheng cited the case of a teacher who raped two girls and molested five others, calling the defendant’s initial six-year prison sentence “too light.” The sentence was later changed to life in prison.

In May, the procuratorate announced that such cases had risen in number for the fifth consecutive year. (Image: VCG)

2 days

A district in Shanxi province reversed its coal ban Monday after hundreds of households were found to lack adequate heating amid plummeting temperatures, The Beijing News reported.

The local government distributed bags of coal to over 400 households in Yingze District after the country’s top environmental watchdog criticized the blanket prohibition as a hasty move in the absence of feasible alternatives. More than 1,500 district residents were living under frigid conditions, unable to use gas or electric heaters.

In 2017, China’s central government ordered 28 northern cities to replace coal-powered heating units with eco-friendly substitutes to combat air pollution. The rash switch left thousands of households shivering, prompting authorities to undo the ban. (Image: CNS)

2 days

The producer of a viral video exposing unhygienic practices at five-star hotels has had their personal information circulated in hotel-employee chat groups.

A screenshot in a closed group for the Hilton Garden Inn in Guiyang, Guizhou province, shows that an employee shared the video creator’s passport information and told others to be vigilant if the whistleblower ever checked in. The hotel later apologized on Friday on microblogging platform Weibo, promising stricter privacy for their clients.

The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) also apologized for leaking the whistleblower’s information in IHG’s chat group, where employees called the whistleblower an “ugly troublemaker.” The apology was posted on the whistleblower’s Weibo. (Image: From @花总丢了金箍棒 on Weibo)

5 days

Hospitals treating dozens of students exposed for hours to ultraviolet light at a school in northern China say the children show “no obvious abnormalities,” The Beijing News reported Thursday.

According to multiple media outlets, 36 children were hospitalized Monday after returning home from Dagang English Experimental Primary School in Tianjin. The school found that a total of 48 students were present in a room with artificial UV light — used to sterilize surfaces — for over nine hours after a teacher forgot to switch it off. Long exposure to radiation from UV, according to experts, can damage the skin, eyes, and immune system.

Local authorities in Tianjin are currently investigating the case, while some of the affected children have already returned to school. (Image: VCG)

5 days

Two hospitals in northeastern China are being investigated by the National Health Commission after a CCTV report uncovered an alleged health insurance fraud.

According to the report, the two hospitals in Shenyang paid healthy seniors to come in for “surgeries” — procedures for which the hospitals could file claims for lucrative government subsidies. Doctors then assigned these elderly patients random afflictions ranging from tonsillitis to scoliosis. The report goes on to say that seniors stayed at the hospital all day without receiving any actual treatment — though they received free lunches and up to 50 yuan ($7.20) a visit. For each faux-patient, the hospital allegedly pocketed over 1,000 yuan.

The hospitals’ daily operations have been suspended, and all patients have been transferred as the investigation continues. (Image: VCG)

5 days

Police in southern China’s Guangdong province intend to fine or imprison a lawyer who accused them of assaulting her.

Guangzhou municipal public security officers sent lawyer Sun Shihua a notice Thursday morning accusing her of “disrupting order” at a police station in Liwan District in September and informing her that she’ll face “administrative punishment,” Sun told Caixin. But Sun has a very different account of that encounter. In October, she wrote in a WeChat post that police at the station had grabbed her by the neck and forced her to strip after she demanded to know an officer’s name and contact details. Sun had been accompanying a client, she said.

Sun said she met with police after receiving the notice on Thursday. Caixin was unable to contact Liwan Police Station. (Image: VCG)

Republished with permission from Caixin Global.

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