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2018-11-19 08:31:31

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

Shanghai Normal University has become the city’s first higher education institution to introduce a barrier-free study center for its visually impaired students, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Thursday.

The specialized study room at the school’s Fengxian Campus computer lab is equipped with accessible materials such as Braille textbooks, a refreshable Braille display, and a Braille embosser — all of which allow visually impaired students to read text output and print documents in Braille, according to the report. The university has also added tactile sidewalk paths, Braille buttons on elevators, and Braille signs outside rooms to make its facilities more accessible to all.

Shanghai Normal is one of the few universities in China that accommodates the visually impaired, having admitted 61 such students since 2002. The school inaugurated its accessible study center ahead of China’s National Day for Helping the Disabled, which this year falls on May 19. Earlier this week, Shanghai also launched a sign language video hotline for people with impaired hearing. (Image: IC)

3 days

A plastic surgery clinic in central China’s Henan province on Wednesday demanded that staff members post couples photos on their personal social media accounts or else be forced out of their jobs, local outlet Dahe News reported.

All employees of Puyang City’s Li Wei Professional Eye Plastic Surgery — except those who are currently single — were told to share photos of themselves with their partner on social app WeChat, according to an internal memo reportedly issued by the clinic. Those failing to do so before a private company event on May 20 — a date commonly celebrated like Valentine’s Day by young people in the country — would be “persuaded to resign,” the memo said.

Chinese netizens largely responded to news of the clinic’s requirement with outrage. “How can the company forcibly interfere with my personal life?” asked one user on microblogging platform Weibo. “It is none of their business if I want to show off my relationship or not.” (Image: VCG)

3 days

“Uncivilized behavior” such as eating or drinking on the Beijing subway can now affect passengers’ scores in China’s so-called social credit system, according to guidelines released Wednesday by the capital’s municipal transport commission.

The new document says transport law enforcement will “record bad credit information” in the system — introduced by China’s Cabinet in 2014 to track citizens’ behavior — for riders who have already been given verbal warnings about such offenses. Skipping fares, taking up more than one seat, and promoting products on the subway can also negatively impact scores, according to the guidelines.

In 2014, Beijing began punishing eating and drinking on the subway with fines, following similar prohibitions in other major Chinese cities. Shanghai’s fining system, however, was infamously unable to deter a woman who went viral on the country’s social media for eating chicken feet and carelessly discarding food waste onboard. (Image: VCG)

3 days

As rescue efforts concluded early Friday morning, 10 people were confirmed dead from a building that collapsed in Shanghai the previous day, according to the city’s work safety administration.

The incident happened around 11 o’clock Thursday morning in the city’s Changning District, when the walls of the building, which had been undergoing renovation, came crashing down. By the time rescue efforts were winding down at around 2 a.m. Friday morning, 25 people had been found trapped at the site, 10 of whom were pronounced dead at local hospitals.

The identities of the dead and injured have not been disclosed, though most are believed to be construction workers. The city’s work safety administration said it is investigating the cause of the incident.

According to local media, the 3,000-square-meter commercial complex was supposed to open for business by the end of May. About two-thirds of the structure remain standing. (Image: @中国消防 on Weibo)

4 days

China’s largest ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing, has established a support network specifically for its female drivers, The Paper reported Wednesday.

Dubbed the “Mulan-Didi Women Drivers Network” after China’s beloved historical heroine, the alliance was announced Tuesday in Shanghai, according to the report. The company said the gender-restrictive group will engage in discussions with women drivers in an online community to address problems and concerns, as well as arrange offline activities for the women and their children.

Women only account for around 7% of all drivers on Didi’s platform in China. Though the majority of women who drive for Didi are married, some single mothers also rely on the platform to make a living, even bringing their children along for the ride for want of a babysitter. (Image: The Paper)

4 days

Private Chinese rocket company iSpace is planning to launch its first carrier rocket around June 10, the company told Sixth Tone on Wednesday. If successful, iSpace will become the first commercial company in the country to deliver a satellite into low Earth orbit.

The iSpace rocket — known as the Hyperbola 1 Y1, or SQX-1 Y1 — is 21 meters long and weighs 31 tons, making it longer and heavier than the carrier rockets from two private companies that previously attempted the historic flight: Both LandSpace and OneSpace were unsuccessful in those launches, which took place in October 2018 and March of this year, respectively.

China’s private space industry is a new yet already booming sector. Of the country’s 123 private companies specializing in various space fields — such as rocket building and satellite manufacturing — roughly half were established within the past three years. In 2018, over 3.5 billion yuan ($510 million) was funneled into China’s private space industry, a 62% increase compared with the previous year. (Image: Courtesy of iSpace)

5 days

Police in eastern China’s Anhui province have detained a man who named his pet dogs after two categories of city officials.

According to media reports, the man, surnamed Ban, was served 10 days’ detention on Monday over naming his canine companions Chengguan and Xieguan — meaning “city management official” and “traffic warden,” respectively. Ban was accused of disturbing the peace after he posted several playful messages on social app WeChat, one of which read: “Chengguan went to steal shoes; when Xieguan showed up, they began fighting.”

While the fluffy Chengguan might not have minded the tongue-in-cheek role-playing, it may have struck a nerve with real-life chengguan. Such officials maintain law and order in the city streets and often have fraught relationships with the public, sometimes resulting in violent, even deadly clashes. (Image: Yingzhou Evening News)

5 days

China’s all-in-one app WeChat announced Monday that it will crack down on “abnormal promotion methods,” including vendors who ask users to share or advertise their goods on the platform in exchange for discounts or other incentives.

In an official statement, WeChat warned public accounts and operators of so-called mini apps to stop trying to entice users to share promotional links on their WeChat Moments timeline, a feature similar to Facebook’s social feed. WeChat further said it would block such promotional links and even suspend the vendor accounts responsible for them.

Each month, over 1 billion people use WeChat to message their friends and family, order food, and make mobile payments, among dozens of other functions. Its large user base and multifunctionality have turned the platform into a lucrative marketplace for businesses seeking to promote their products and services, which can sometimes manifest as users being bombarded with spam messages and annoying pop-ups. (Image: IC)

6 days

A South Korean violinist and a North Korean soprano shared a Shanghai stage on Sunday for an unlikely performance aimed at improving diplomatic relations on the Korean Peninsula, according to a report by The Associated Press.

At an annual charity event benefiting autistic children, the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra backed the two musicians — singer Kim Song Mi and violinist Won Hyung Joon, who is known for his commitment to improving relations between the Koreas — in a rendition of “Songs My Mother Taught Me” by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák.

Performances featuring members of the two rival countries are uncommon, AP notes, as “North and South Koreans can’t exchange phone calls, letter (sic) or emails without special government approval.” In discussing the intention of the event, Won told the outlet that “I can’t help but think maybe, just maybe, it’ll bring more opportunities like this in the future.”

In April 2018, a historic handshake between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in was heralded as a breakthrough in diplomatic relations between the two countries. But such progress has been punctuated by moments of renewed tension, including a missile test last week that left the South “very worried,” according to a government spokesperson. (Image: AP)

6 days

China’s new multibillion-dollar airport completed its first test flights of passenger planes Monday ahead of its scheduled opening in September, according to domestic media reports.

Four airlines — Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and XiamenAir — landed planes at Beijing Daxing International Airport between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., the reports said. The upcoming opening of the $12 billion airport, located just over 40 kilometers south of the capital, aims to reduce the strain on Beijing Capital International Airport, the second-busiest airport in the world.

With four runways and passenger terminals covering over 700,000 square meters, the new megastructure is expected to serve 75 million passengers a year by 2025. China is projected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market by around 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association. (Video: Xinhua, re-edited by Sixth Tone)