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2018-11-27 08:43:17

When the People’s Bank of China on Friday began issuing 50-yuan ($7.20) banknotes to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the renminbi, it probably didn’t expect the move to elicit such a strong reaction from netizens.

Over the weekend, comments about the gold color scheme and image of the People’s Bank building were in the minority: Instead, most netizens seemed far more eager to observe that in China’s major cities at least, cash is fast becoming obsolete. As of Tuesday afternoon, the hashtag “I haven’t used cash in a long time” had been viewed over 170 million times on Weibo. Some of the more colorful comments include “I only go out with my mobile phone” and “I never carry so much as a coin.”

Mobile payment apps WeChat and Alipay — owned by Tencent and Alibaba, respectively — are largely responsible for the country trending toward a cashless future. As of July, an estimated 890 million people in China were using at least one mobile payment platform. (Image: From @顺德发布 on Weibo)

13 hours

The world’s second-largest language family originated not in India as many have theorized, but in what is now northern China, according to an article published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

The more than 400 tongues known collectively as the Sino-Tibetan language family emerged from the Yellow River basin around 6,000 years ago, a team of researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai concluded. Sino-Tibetan — which includes Mandarin, Tibetan, and Burmese — is spoken by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, more than any other language family apart from Indo-European, which includes English and Spanish.

The East Asian languages were disseminated through agricultural expansion over the course of several millennia. The researchers determined their Chinese origin by comparing computer-based language data and anthropological studies, according to the report. (Image: IC)

17 hours

Need to talk about the final “Avengers” movie without spoiling it for others? In China, there’s a way to do just that.

Merchants on one of the country’s largest e-commerce sites, Taobao, are selling membership to “Avengers: Endgame” discussion groups for as little as 0.1 yuan, or around 1 cent. In some cases, would-be customers must offer proof that they’ve seen the film — such as a photo of their ticket stub — before they’re allowed to join the groups on social app WeChat.

On Tuesday, Marvel had urged fans to refrain from posting spoilers that might ruin the cinematic experience for others.

“Avengers: Endgame” has shattered presale records in China, collecting over 240 million yuan ($35.7 million) at the domestic box office before premiering Tuesday — when it raked in 179 million yuan from some 3 million moviegoers.

This isn’t the first case of entertainment-specific chat groups being advertised on Taobao. Last month, the platform’s retailers offered a similar service for people who wanted to complain about the chauvinistic male characters on the hit TV drama “All Is Well.” (Image: @漫威影业 on Weibo)

1 day

A well-known indie record label in China has apologized for promoting a music festival with a cheeky online image parodying the country’s push for higher birthrates.

In a post Tuesday on microblogging platform Weibo, Modern Sky Entertainment said it was sorry for the “inappropriate picture” that it had shared the previous day in a now-deleted post on the social media platform to promote its Strawberry Music Festival. The image, originally of a government slogan promoting the country’s so-called two-child policy, had been digitally manipulated to read, “It is Strawberry’s inescapable responsibility to ensure that the whole village bears second children.” Following Monday’s post, many Weibo users criticized the sexually suggestive edit under a hashtag translating to “Modern Sky copywriting,” which received over 7.6 million views by Wednesday afternoon.

The label’s statement came just days after a similar mea culpa was issued by another Chinese company criticized for vulgarity. On Saturday, popular tea shop chain Heytea apologized for its role in a frisky marketing campaign undertaken with condom brand Durex for April 19, a date popularly associated with one-night stands. (Image: @锦宝liliya on Weibo)

1 day

Shenzhen lawmakers are discussing plans to amend the southern Chinese city’s smoking regulations with a ban on e-cigarettes in public places, local media reported Tuesday.

According to a draft policy released for public feedback in January, the Shenzhen government may prohibit the use of e-cigarettes due to growing health concerns. The draft policy would also restrict the sale of tobacco products within 50 meters of primary and secondary schools, as well as prohibit smoking within 5 meters of public transport hubs. The local government said last week that the changes would further tighten a 2014 regulation that it described as the “strictest tobacco control law in history.”

Home to companies producing about 95% of the world’s e-cigarettes, Shenzhen is the latest city to consider a vaping ban after Hangzhou in eastern China prohibited the activity in public spaces earlier this year. (Image: IC)

1 day

The final chapter of Marvel’s most successful film franchise has reaped enormous rewards for its grand opening in China late Tuesday night, shattering domestic box office records.

According to ticketing app Maoyan, “Avengers: Endgame” raked in an estimated 179 million yuan ($26.6 million) last night — meaning over 3 million people stayed out until around 3 a.m. to see the film in theaters.

China’s social media platforms have been flooded with videos and photos of the late-night crowds. In honor of the film’s release, one Chinese media company even allowed its employees to take Wednesday morning off after the premiere — or as much as the whole day in the event of an especially depressing ending. (Image: IC)

2 days

Luckin Coffee, the Chinese chain challenging Starbucks, has filed an initial public offering application to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

A placeholder figure of $100 million was used to indicate the size of the IPO, according to the application submitted Monday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. On Thursday, the Beijing-based company said it had raised $150 million in funding, including $125 million from investment management firm BlackRock — Starbucks’ second-largest outside shareholder — despite continuing losses. In its IPO filing, Luckin reported net losses of 1.6 billion yuan ($238 million) in 2018 and 550 million yuan in the first quarter of 2019.

The company opened its first shop in Beijing in October 2017 and had established 2,370 other locations across 28 Chinese cities by March of this year, according to the filing. In January, the company said it plans to have over 4,500 shops in China by the end of 2019 — which would give it a more ubiquitous presence in the country than even Starbucks.

Last year, Luckin sued the American coffee giant for monopolistic behavior and creating an unfair domestic trade market, accusing Starbucks of signing exclusive contracts with commercial property owners and forcing suppliers to choose between the two chains. (Image: IC)

2 days

Chinese video-streaming platform Bilibili says user safety will not be affected following reports that source code and user data from the site had been leaked online.

In a statement Monday night, Bilibili confirmed this week’s leak but said that, because it was of a previous version of its code and since further “preventive measures” had been taken, user safety would not be negatively impacted. Earlier that same day, Chinese netizens found that a user on code-hosting platform GitHub had posted the Bilibili code, which contained usernames and passwords, according to domestic media. Bilibili did not comment directly on such user data in its statement about the leak.

The now-deleted GitHub repository had garnered about 6,000 stars and nearly the same number of forks — or likes and copies of the code, respectively — on the platform prior to its removal, domestic media said. By Tuesday afternoon, posts about the leak using a hashtag translating to “Bilibili back-end code revealed” had been removed from microblogging site Weibo. (Image: IC)

2 days

A popular Chinese actress has apologized to fans after facing criticism online for lip-syncing during a live musical performance in the eastern city of Ningbo.

In a statement Tuesday, Han Xue said she had agreed to the production company’s decision to use prerecorded audio for Saturday’s show after a sore throat caused her to lose her voice. The 36-year-old is the lead actress in “Into the White Night,” a musical currently on a multicity tour.

The show’s production company also apologized Tuesday for its decision to use the prerecorded audio and for failing to have an understudy lined up. Han had informed audience members that she would be lip-syncing before the start of Saturday’s show, and the company had offered to refund the tickets of dissatisfied guests.

Adapted from the Japanese novel “Journey Under the Midnight Sun” by Keigo Higashino, the musical kicked off its current tour in Shanghai in November of last year. The show has enjoyed immense popularity since then, with audiences praising Han’s acting and singing. (Image: @韩雪 on Weibo)

2 days

China’s official media watchdog, the State Administration of Press and Publication, is calling on the country’s game developers to set up dedicated offices for handling reports and complaints involving minors, state broadcaster China Central Television, or CCTV, reported Monday.

The move follows a previous CCTV report earlier this month revealing that the in-game chat function in Minecraft — a popular so-called sandbox game — was rife with sexual content. According to the report, a parent surnamed Li had tried to report the problem to the game’s developers but could not easily find out how or where to do so.

Last Wednesday, Shanghai’s anti-porn office met privately with tech giant NetEase, Minecraft’s distributor in China since 2017. Though NetEase had previously apologized to its customers and vowed to strengthen scrutiny of its content, the Minecraft case has been placed under investigation by local market regulators. (Image: @我的世界Minecraft on Weibo)

2 days

A number of Chinese apps for erotic voice chatting are still in operation — and even accessible to minors — despite a recent government crackdown on similar platforms, according to an investigative report Sunday by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The outlet identified four such voice-chatting apps — Xunhuan, Zhiya, Soul, and Chu CP — accessible to users on the mainland via Apple’s and Google’s app stores. According to the report, female hosts broadcast erotic audio livestreams and sell private conversations to users in exchange for virtual currency. Age ratings on the two app stores were sometimes nonexistent or indicated that the apps were appropriate for users younger than 18, and none of the apps required users to provide proof of age upon registration.

Last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced a crackdown on apps promoting sex work or the sale of erotic videos. (Image: IC)

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