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2019-03-13 06:55:44

Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has banned over a dozen user accounts for vilifying a victim of this week’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, the social media site announced Tuesday.

In a statement, Weibo said it deleted the accounts for “personally abusing” a 22-year-old college student from the eastern Zhejiang province, one of eight Chinese nationals killed in Sunday’s crash. The now-banned users had written insulting comments under the most recent post on the student’s Weibo account, targeting her appearance and wealth.

The aircraft — a Boeing 737 Max 8 — crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. The incident is the second fatal crash involving the airplane model in less than six months. Several countries around the world, including China, have since grounded their 737 Max 8 fleet. (Image: VCG)

1 day

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Twenty-six people have died and a further 28 have been injured in a bus fire in the central Chinese province of Hunan, state news agency Xinhua reported Saturday.

The incident occurred at around 7:15 p.m. on Friday evening near the city of Changde in the northwestern part of the province, when a diesel-powered tourist bus suddenly caught fire, according to the provincial Party committee’s publicity department. Fifty-six people were on board at the time.

Emergency services were quickly dispatched to the scene, the Xinhua report said. The cause of the fire is being investigated. (Image: Xinhua)

2 days

Many in China have begun lining up their travel plans following an official announcement that the country would be extending its May Day holiday for 2019.

On Friday, the central government said the national holiday would stretch this year from Wednesday, May 1, to Saturday, May 4. At the same time, the two adjacent Sundays — April 28 and May 5 — have been changed to working days, meaning that the total number of days off will be the same as in previous years. The notice added that the domestic tourism industry could expect an “influx of activity” during the lengthened holiday.

The move may already be giving a much-needed boost to the country’s slowing economy. Within two hours of the announcement, domestic flight bookings on Alibaba-owned travel platform Fliggy saw a week-over-week increase of 50 percent, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper. (Image: VCG)

2 days

Six people have died after a car plowed into pedestrians in the central Chinese city of Zaoyang early Friday, according to a statement from the local government.

Eight others who were injured in the incident — which occurred at around 6 a.m. in Hubei province — are being treated at a local hospital, the statement said. Police shot the driver soon after arriving on the scene, and an official investigation is underway. (Image: VCG)

2 days

Shanghai’s top-scoring professional basketball player may be heading back to the U.S. next season.

The Phoenix Suns of the NBA have reached a two-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks’ Jimmer Fredette, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The 30-year-old Fredette was the 2011 Naismith College Player of the Year at Brigham Young University in Utah, and he last played in the NBA during the 2015–16 season.

The Suns may have the worst record in the Western Conference, but league insiders say they are optimistic about the future of the franchise thanks to a talented young core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, and Kelly Oubre Jr.

Fredette will likely be expected to shoulder some of the offensive load for Phoenix, who rank among the league’s bottom 10 in points per game. During his three seasons in the Chinese Basketball Association, Fredette has never averaged fewer than 36 points per game, putting him among the league’s scoring leaders. (Image:VCG)

2 days

A pair of government agencies have denounced two Chinese cities for demolishing their historic sites and replacing them with replicas, according to an official announcement.

In a joint statement dated March 14 but only published Thursday, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development castigated Datong in the northern Shanxi province and Luoyang in the central Henan province for the “large-scale demolition and construction work, including the construction of fakes” in their historic areas. The document also criticized other cities for various demolition and property development projects that have resulted in pollution and the relocation of residents.

Datong in particular is infamous for its reconstruction efforts. Between 2008 and 2012, the city had reportedly invested 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in projects such as rebuilding historic sites as part of an effort to boost the local tourism industry. (Image: VCG)

2 days

A court in northeastern China is reconsidering a verdict issued by a judge after he had been diagnosed with “mental illness,” The Beijing News reported Thursday.

The judge from the intermediate people’s court in Baishan, Jilin province, ruled in 2014 that Huang Zhifa — who had previously been convicted of fraud — was innocent. Two years later, the court said that the ruling had been an “invalid verdict” considering the mental state of the judge, whose real name was not used in the report.

The court did not provide any details about the diagnosis or elaborate on when it would issue another verdict on Huang’s case. The judge has presided over more than 300 court cases since his diagnosis, according to The Beijing News.

Huang, now 79, was initially sentenced to 18 years in prison, though he has always maintained his innocence: Since his release from prison in 2000, he has been appealing to clear his name. (The Image Bank/VCG)

2 days

Following a media investigation on unsanitary factory conditions, a city in Fujian province has banned the sale of latiao — the spicy dough sticks consumed as snacks all over China — within a 200-meter radius of school campuses, local media reported Thursday. The move follows two similar province-wide bans in Qinghai and Gansu, both announced Tuesday.

Though latiao seems to have a special place in the hearts of China’s children, the product’s lack of nutrition and frequent sanitation-related scandals have given parents pause. Last Friday, China Central Television aired an exposé during its annual World Consumer Rights Day gala about factories in Henan and Hunan provinces that were producing latiao under poor sanitary conditions, using dirty containers for ingredients and dragging sticks of dough along the ground.

The same day, the State Administration for Market Regulation asked local authorities in the two provinces to close the factories involved and remove their products from store shelves. The administration also demanded that all provinces inspect the production and sale of latiao to ensure that food safety and production standards were being met. (Image: VCG)

3 days

According to a new survey, China’s younger generations are experiencing a decline in Chinese language proficiency — and they say the internet is largely responsible.

More than 75 percent of the 2,002 people surveyed by the Social Investigation Center of state-owned newspaper China Youth Daily said they felt “increasingly deficient” in their knowledge of Chinese, the news outlet reported Thursday. More than half of respondents under the age of 40 blamed the internet for encouraging “homogenous thinking” that stifles creative expression.

“Although the internet has enriched our vocabulary by creating new lingo and cultural trends, it has also simplified the way we communicate,” Shen Xiaolong, a professor of Chinese language at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the newspaper.

Over 98 percent of China’s youth were connected digitally by the end of 2017, and 72 percent of children under 10 had access to the internet, according to official data. The increased use of electronic gadgets and the prevalence of online gaming have also been blamed for myopia affecting the country’s children and teens. (Image: VCG)

3 days

This is a developing story; it will be updated as more information becomes available.

An explosion occurred at a chemical plant in eastern China’s Jiangsu province at around 2 p.m. on Thursday, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

The outlet reported that people injured during the incident in the city of Yancheng have been sent to a local hospital for medical treatment. Local firefighters and additional rescue personnel from nearby cities have arrived at the scene, with 12 people rescued so far. Video footage shared by domestic news media shows a fiery blast and a building with the windows blown out.

Meanwhile, the China Earthquake Administration announced on its official Weibo account that two earthquakes had been detected in the area at 2:48 p.m. this afternoon: one in Yancheng and a second in the nearby city of Lianyungang. In February of last year, a safety check at the Yancheng chemical plant identified 13 security risks. (Image: @中国长安网 on Weibo)

3 days

Alibaba has launched a 100 million-yuan ($15 million) initiative aimed at preserving Chinese dialects, the e-commerce giant’s AI Labs division announced Wednesday, according to a report by The Beijing News.

Beginning with dialects spoken in Sichuan province, Alibaba hopes to gradually build a complete database that encompasses all 130 or so dialects found nationwide. Samples will be collected by mobile apps and devices such as Alibaba’s smart speaker, the Tmall Genie — though the company has not elaborated on how.

After decades of pushing Mandarin as China’s common tongue, the central government has gradually accepted the value of preserving local and regional languages and dialects, including Manchu in the north and Yi in the south. (Image: VCG)