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2019-03-11 03:42:05

China’s aviation regulator ordered airlines operating within the country to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on Monday morning, the day after an Ethiopian Airlines plane of the same model crashed minutes after taking off.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said that airlines had until 6 p.m. Monday to ensure that their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes were grounded. According to the regulator’s statement, the suspension is in line with a “zero-tolerance for safety hazards.”

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed Sunday morning, killing all 157 people on board. Eight Chinese nationals were among the deceased.

This is the second fatal crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in less than six months. A Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff last October. In that case, too, there were no survivors. (Image: VCG)

5 hours

A Tencent-backed gaming studio is joining forces with The Pokémon Company to develop new video games.

Tencent announced the partnership between its TiMi Studio Group and The Pokémon Company — which is partially owned by Nintendo — in a post Monday on microblogging platform Weibo, without elaborating on the nature of the agreement.

Although China accounts for around a quarter of the world’s $152 billion video game market, international developers hoping to break into the mainland market are required to partner with domestic companies as joint ventures. In April, Tencent announced a partnership with Nintendo to bring the Japanese company’s Switch gaming console to the Chinese mainland. To the continued consternation of some Chinese gamers, however, popular titles including Pokémon Go remain inaccessible in the country.

In 2015, Tencent purchased American developer Riot Games, giving the Chinese company full ownership of the hugely popular battle arena game League of Legends. Tencent has also made lucrative investments in big-name companies like Epic Games and Activision Blizzard — the respective developers of Fortnite and Call of Duty, among other titles. With its star status solidified, Tencent has been ranked the world’s highest-earning app developer for the past three years. (Image: VCG)

7 hours

Twenty-two village doctors in a southwestern Chinese town have quit to protest unpaid compensation in the third such mass resignation reported on the mainland within the past month, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.

An official in Xihe Town, located in Guizhou province’s Zunyi City, told the outlet Monday that the group had resigned Thursday due to decreased wages and missing pension fund contributions. The official — who is not identified by name in The Paper’s report — attributed the reduced paychecks to a delay in the government subsidies that fund the doctors’ work but provided no explanation for the overdue pension contributions, saying only that the issue had been passed on to “upper-level government” to be resolved.

The Xihe labor dispute follows two other cases of collective resignations by so-called village doctors — a term for unlicensed medical practitioners in rural China. Complaints over unpaid wages led 36 village doctors in a central Chinese town to call it quits on June 28, and domestic media reported on July 13 that 63 others had left their posts in a northeastern town in a similar act of protest. (Image: VCG)

8 hours

Five people died from gas poisoning Monday while cleaning a sewage tank at a biochemical engineering plant in northern China.

In a statement Monday night, the Huailai County government in Hebei province confirmed the five deaths, as well as four people who survived but required medical attention, and said the source of the toxic gas is being investigated.

More than 38,000 people in China died from workplace-related deaths in 2017. In March of this year, an explosion at a chemical plant in Jiangsu province killed 78 people and injured over 600 more. And in May, 10 people died from a gas leak on a cargo ship in Shandong province. (Image: From the chemical company’s website)

13 hours

Authorities in southwestern China’s Yunnan province are defending punishments handed down to two government employees who passed on promotions, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Sunday.

Discipline watchdogs in Suijiang County had reprimanded one of the employees, surnamed Zhong, with a demerit and recommended that another employee, surnamed Wan, be fired for “shirking responsibility.”

A county official told The Paper on Saturday that the two female party members must accept the decisions. A day earlier, the official publication of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country’s top disciplinary body, had accused the two women of “pursuing their own interests at the cost of the greater good.”

Zhong and Wan, who worked at separate government offices in Suijiang County, had been promoted to leadership roles last August because of their outstanding performance, according to Friday’s article. While Zhong reportedly worried that the new position would mean less time with her family, Wan had cited health concerns when turning down the promotion. (Image: VCG)

1 day

Four hikers have been confirmed dead after a flash flood swept through a tourist site in eastern China’s Jiangxi province.

In a statement Monday, Jiangxi’s emergency management office said that 283 people visiting Lüyang Cave — a popular tourist destination nestled in the mountains near Yichun City — had become stranded amid the torrential rain.

Of the 53 people initially reported missing, four were found dead, the statement added, while the rest have since been accounted for.

During China’s rainy summer months, floods displace residents and destroy property. Last month, at least 61 people were killed and 356,000 were evacuated from parts of central and southern China due to storms, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management. (Image: VCG)

1 day

The Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu has been tapped to star in the upcoming superhero film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Marvel Studios announced Saturday, becoming the first Asian actor to win a lead role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the film, which is slated to hit cinemas in February 2021, the 30-year-old Liu will share the spotlight with comedian Awkwafina of “Crazy Rich Asians” as well as veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, who has been cast as Shang-Chi’s nemesis, The Mandarin. Shang-Chi first appeared in Marvel comics in the 1970s as a superhero trained in the arts of kung fu and determined to thwart the world domination plans of his evil father, Fu Manchu.

Since “Shang-Chi” was announced last December, the film has courted controversy because the villain from the comic books, Fu Manchu, has long been viewed as an embodiment of Western xenophobia. However, Shang-Chi’s creator, Jim Starlin, said Thursday that he didn’t want to see the offensive character in the upcoming film — which could explain The Mandarin being subbed in as an alternate antagonist. (Image: IC)

1 day

Four people were detained in northeast China and two others were lectured for posting poems that disparaged a city’s image in online chat groups, domestic media outlet reported Monday.

The six individuals — all residents of Yichun in Heilongjiang province — were punished for “causing a significant negative impact on society,” according to the report, which cited an announcement from Yichun’s political and legal affairs commission dated July 18. In the announcement, city authorities warned that “anyone posting rumors (or) derogatory content shall be strictly punished under the law” and asserted that the internet is not “lawless territory.”

The content of the poems has not been disclosed. (Image: 伊春发布 on WeChat)

4 days

The world’s most invasive mosquito has been “nearly eliminated” from two islands in a river in southern China, according to study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

Xi Zhiyong, a medical entomologist at Michigan State University, led a team of researchers who used a bacterium to sterilize the Asian tiger mosquitos — which can transmit the Zika virus, dengue, and yellow fever — and effectively eradicate them from the two islands. According to the World Health Organization, sustained mosquito population control is an important step toward preventing outbreaks of these diseases.

In their study, the researchers infected laboratory mosquitos with a bacterium called Wolbachia. When male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes mated with uninfected females, no offspring were produced, causing the overall Asian tiger mosquito population to steadily decline.

During peak breeding seasons in 2016 and 2017, the researchers released over 160,000 Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes per hectare per week in residential areas of two islands located in a river near Guangzhou — the Chinese city with the highest rate of dengue. The team then tracked population decline in adult female mosquitoes, since males do not transmit disease. According to the study, the population of wild adult females fell by 83% in 2016 and 94% in 2017. (Image: VCG)

4 days

Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra became the No. 2 trending topic on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo after the CEO of the company behind it testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

During the hearing, David Marcus, CEO of Calibra, the Facebook subsidiary tasked with developing Libra, told the committee that Libra will compete with Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two ubiquitous mobile payment platforms, each boasting roughly 1 billion active users.

Some Chinese netizens reacted to Marcus’ remarks with skepticism. “Can it (Libra) compete? How will they push for competition when we can’t even use Facebook?” one Weibo user commented under a related media post, referring to the social platform being inaccessible on the Chinese mainland. Other netizens, meanwhile, saw Libra as a boon to the country’s mobile payment industry, which they reason would only be improved with greater competition.

Since the release of the Libra White Paper on June 18, a storm of debate has surrounded the idea of a Facebook-sponsored digital currency, in particular because it would allow for the flow of financial resources across international borders — an act the Chinese authorities would prefer to keep strictly regulated.

The People’s Bank of China has been researching cryptocurrencies since 2014, driving speculation that it may be aiming to develop its own digital coin. As of last December, the central bank’s software developers had registered over 70 cryptocurrency patents in the country. (Image: IC)

4 days

An American court has issued a life sentence to 30-year-old Brendt Christensen in a closely followed legal case over the death of Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying.

On Thursday afternoon local time, a U.S. attorney for central Illinois announced that Christensen had been handed the prison term for killing Zhang, who was 26 years old at the time of her death. A federal jury found last month that Christensen had committed the act after abducting Zhang from a bus stop in June 2017, just two months into her stay as a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois. As with other sensational murders of mainlanders abroad, the story has received significant attention in China since it was first reported.

Following the sentencing, Zhang’s family delivered a public plea for Christensen to reveal the location of the woman’s body, which has yet to be found. “If you have any humanity left in your soul, please help end our torment,” Zhang’s father said through a translator at a press conference Thursday. “Please let us bring Yingying home.” (Image: @央视新闻 on Weibo)