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2019-04-12 07:34:54

Seven people have died and four remain missing after a flash flood struck parts of the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, local authorities announced Friday.

In a social media post, the city’s emergency management bureau wrote that two more workers had been confirmed dead, adding to the five that had been declared dead in a statement from earlier that same day. The latter statement had also said all the deceased were municipal employees who had been cleaning and surveying drainage systems during the torrential downpour Thursday that led to the flash flood.

Rescue operations to locate the four workers still missing are currently underway, according to authorities. (Image: IC)

20 hours

Millions of pieces of “harmful information” are being scrubbed from the Chinese internet thanks to a growing number of netizens who are flagging such content for hosting platforms, the latest data from the country’s cyberspace watchdog suggests.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said Friday that in the first half of 2019, the country’s netizens reported 68.58 million bits of online content they believed were inappropriate or harmful, up 8.9% from the same period last year.

In January, the administration announced a six-month campaign targeting 12 types of “harmful information,” including that which regulators consider pornographic, vulgar, violent, superstitious, rumorous, or sensational. Authorities further said they had established 21 offices across the country and over 2,600 websites at which individuals could report suspected violations.

China’s internet regulators have been ramping up efforts to sanitize various web platforms in recent months, including popular WeMedia accounts on WeChat and Weibo. Last year, Chinese netizens reported over 165 million bits of inappropriate content, according to Friday’s statement — far more than the 74 million and 40 million they reported in 2017 and 2016, respectively. (Image: VCG)

20 hours

Shares of Jinzi Ham rose sharply on Monday after the food company announced over the weekend that it will begin offering plant-based meat products in China.

On Oct. 11, Jinzi announced a partnership with American chemical giant DuPont to make synthetic meat with non-GMO soy protein. The Chinese company also said it had begun preselling its first faux-beef patties on e-commerce site Tmall: A special two-box deal with four patties is priced at 118 yuan and slated to begin shipping in late October.

Over the weekend, the share price of the Shenzhen-listed company rose by 10% — the daily maximum for exchanges on the Chinese mainland — from 5.62 to 6.18 yuan ($0.80 to $0.88).

Jinzi is among the latest players to join China’s still-nascent plant-based meat movement. Founded in 1994, the Zhejiang-based company has become a household brand, largely thanks to a dry-cured ham product named after the city of Jinhua. By time of publication, Jinzi’s Tmall shop had received 590 preorders for the plant-based burgers. (Image: VCG)

23 hours

Days after a highway overpass collapsed in Wuxi, killing three people, the city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province is back in the national spotlight because of a fatal gas explosion Sunday at a local restaurant.

The incident claimed nine lives and left 10 people injured, according to an official announcement from the city government. The restaurant — which specializes in Chinese soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao — is located in a three-story commercial building, the announcement said, adding that several neighboring businesses have been impacted by the explosion.

The Beijing News reported Sunday night that at least two of the injured remain in critical condition at local intensive care units. The restaurant has reportedly been operating for over three years. At around 1.3 meters tall, the gas canister it had been using was larger than those found in most households. (Image: VCG)

2 days

A court in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has ordered a traveling circus to pay a man with a developmental disability 205,000 yuan ($29,000) after he was bitten by a tiger and had to have his hand amputated in late 2016, local media outlet Red Star News reported Friday.

The Leshan Intermediate People’s Court determined that the circus — which hailed from the eastern Shandong province and had been holding daily performances in Sichuan’s Qianwei County — should bear the lion’s share of the responsibility because it had been negligent in supervising its animals.

In December 2016, a tiger that was locked in a cage on a truck outside the performance venue bit the man, surnamed Yang, who was not accompanied by a guardian. Yang’s mother sued both the circus and the local sports and culture bureau, demanding over 600,000 yuan in compensation. The court ruled against the circus but absolved the bureau of any responsibility to ensure the safety of animal performances.

Accidents involving zoo or circus animals occasionally make headlines in China. In November 2017, a tiger from a circus in the northern Shanxi province escaped from its cage and attacked two children. And last month, another tiger escaped during a live performance in the central Henan province, causing chaos among the terrified audience.

Following a series of animal abuse scandals and welfare campaigns, there is now a growing movement in the country to boycott such performances as cruel and inhumane. (Image: VCG)

2 days

A court in eastern China has sentenced eight people to up to four and a half years in prison each for mismanaging and attempting to cover up a high-profile chemical spill last year, The Beijing News reported Friday.

In November, 69 tons of C9 fraction — a byproduct of oil refining that is potentially harmful to humans — spilled into the sea by the coastal city of Quanzhou as a vessel was transporting the chemical from a factory owned by Fujian Donggang Petrochemical Industry Company to a tanker ship docked at a local harbor. The company initially told the local government that just 6.9 tons of the chemical had leaked — but the cover-up was soon exposed, triggering a wave of backlash from Quanzhou residents and the wider public.

Eight people, including Fujian Donggang’s legal representative and staff in charge of transporting the C9 fraction, were arrested and prosecuted, and several local officials were held accountable for dereliction of duty.

At Friday’s trial, the eight were sentenced to between 18 and 54 months in prison. The legal representative was also barred from working in a work safety-related role for a four-year period following his release from prison. (Image: IC)

3 days

China’s dominant mobile payment platforms, Alipay and WeChat, have denied a cryptocurrency exchange founder’s assertion that they can be used to buy bitcoin, according to a Sina Technology report Thursday.

Alipay, owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, said in a microblog post that using its platform to buy cryptocurrency is “prohibited,” while WeChat also said that it “does not support” transactions involving digital currencies and encouraged users to report such illicit activity.

The rival platforms’ statements followed a tweet by Zhao Changpeng, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, suggesting that his business now accepts purchases through Alipay and WeChat. In a comment beneath Zhao’s tweet answering “YES” to another user’s question about whether Binance is now accepting the two mobile payment options, Alipay’s official account replied: “NO, you cannot.”

China’s central bank outlawed buying bitcoin in September 2017, bursting bubbles among speculators. However, some cryptocurrency exchanges offer coin-to-coin trading that can be exploited to skirt the ban(Image: VCG)

3 days

At least a few pig peddlers seem to be cashing in on China’s swine fever epidemic.

Soaring pork prices have catapulted the heads of China’s largest pig farming company to the top echelon of the country’s richest people, financial news outlet Nikkei Asian Review reported Thursday.

Qin Yinglin and Qian Ying, the couple that founded pork producers Muyuan Foods, were ranked 15th on this year’s Hurun Rich List, an annual assessment of the wealthiest people and families in China, published Thursday. After being ranked 70th on last year’s list, Qin and Qian saw their net worth triple to 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) in 2019, with Muyuan selling 5.8 million pigs at up to 30 yuan per kilogram — the country’s highest pork price in the last decade.

The top of the Hurun Rich List consisted of mostly familiar figures, with Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma, NetEase’s Ding Lei, and Wanda’s Wang Jianlin ranked first, second, eighth, and ninth, respectively. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Web International English — one of the first English training companies in China, established in 1998 — is facing bankruptcy and has shut down some of its centers in Beijing and Chengdu, domestic media reported Thursday.

Though the company’s Shanghai centers are still operating, staff in the city told local outlet Xinmin Weekly on Wednesday that they’ve not been paid for two months but have continued giving classes for the sake of their students.

According to its official website, Web International has 154 training centers in 62 cities across China. The closures of three centers in Chengdu have reportedly impacted 800 students paying over 20 million yuan ($2.8 million) in tuition. In addition to the potential losses facing customers, nearly 100 Web International employees in Beijing filed complaints with the city’s labor arbitration office last month demanding that the company pay their salaries.

Web International’s sudden financial crisis isn’t the first such case involving an education franchise. In July alone, the consumer council of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area received 27 complaints related to the shutdown of early childhood education center KariBaby, plus another 25 complaints about a defunct dance studio. (Image: VCG)

4 days

A recent report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) singles out China for the country’s high rates of vision impairment, financial news outlet Caixin reported Wednesday.

Eye conditions such as pterygium, dry eye syndrome, and nearsightedness affect a greater proportion of China’s population compared with other countries, according to the WHO’s first world report on vision, published Tuesday. Pterygium prevalence rates are at 33% in rural China — 22.8% higher than global figures — while myopia affects 67% of urban Chinese adolescents, higher than overall myopia rates in the Asia-Pacific and East Asia regions, which stand at 53.4% and 51.6% respectively.

The report noted a reluctance among Chinese children to use free or low-cost prescription glasses due to their parents’ doubts about quality. The study also cited urban-rural lifestyle differences as a significant factor for higher childhood myopia rates in China’s cities; those living in rural areas, meanwhile, were found to be at a higher risk of distance vision impairment and blindness.

In April, China’s top health authority reported that 81% of the country’s high school students were affected by nearsightedness. In a bid to reduce childhood myopia rates, eight government departments jointly released a guideline in August of last year aiming to keep myopia rates among 6-year-olds and high schoolers at around 3% and 70% respectively through 2030. (Image: IC)

4 days

 A staff member at a road race event company in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou issued a public apology Tuesday after he had posted a Pokémon-themed joke on social media about the Houston Rockets — the NBA franchise at the center of an escalating backlash in the country.

The Rockets fell into hot water last week after their general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong last Friday — and before long the rest of the league had been dragged in as well, to the extent that virtually all NBA game broadcasts, celebrity endorsement deals, and commercial partnerships in China have been canceled.

On Tuesday afternoon, Qiu Guanrong of Zhongti Marathon posted on his WeChat Moments social feed to profess his admiration for “Team Rocket” — which could be interpreted as referring to either the gang of bumbling baddies from the Pokémon series or the Texas basketball team. The message, addressed to “Jessie, James, and Meowth,” thanked the scheming trio — who always manage to fall just short of making good on their nefarious plots — for their dogged persistence in the face of adversity.

Later that evening, Zhongti Marathon’s public WeChat account posted a letter in which Qiu purportedly apologized for his “inappropriate” message that had “hurt everyone’s feelings.” The post — which has been viewed over 100,000 times, the maximum number displayed by WeChat — also included an apology from the company’s president in the comments section below the post, though this was later deleted.

Elsewhere on Chinese social media, bloggers have questioned whether the patriotic fervor surrounding the China-NBA clash might be going too far, with even state-run newspaper Global Times suggesting that companies completely severing ties with the NBA “doesn’t need to become some kind of trend.” (Image: 中体马拉松 on WeChat)