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2019-04-25 08:55:29

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)

2 hours

Shanghai on Tuesday inaugurated an expansion of its free trade zone, according to a report by Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.

The added area, Lingang New City, is located along the southeastern coast of the municipality and covers an area of nearly 120 square kilometers. It also includes the site of a Tesla “gigafactory” that is expected to begin production by the end of the year. According to the State Council, China’s Cabinet, the expansion to the free trade zone will “facilitate overseas investment” and the “free flow of goods.”

Established in Pudong New Area in September 2013, the Shanghai free trade zone initially covered 29 square kilometers before being slated for expansion to 120 square kilometers in late 2014. During the first China International Import Expo last November, President Xi Jinping announced plans for the expansion “to capitalize on the important role of Shanghai and other areas in China’s opening-up.” (Image: Chen Zhengbao for Sixth Tone)

21 hours

Authorities in eastern China’s Fujian province are investigating a parcel shipped from the United States after it was found to contain a firearm.

In a statement Sunday, the Jin’an District branch of Fuzhou’s public security bureau said the parcel was mailed from an American client using FedEx’s courier service to a local sporting goods company, without elaborating. Police have taken custody of the weapon as they continue their investigation.

The incident involving FedEx comes over two months after the American logistics company apologized to Chinese telecom giant Huawei for rerouting several of its packages without authorization. State-run news outlet Global Times reported last month that FedEx had delayed the delivery of more than 100 Huawei packages to the company’s offices in China, slights that could warrant inclusion on the Ministry of Commerce’s “unreliable entities” list. (Image: VCG)

22 hours

Elkeson, the Brazilian forward for powerhouse Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, has earned a roster spot with the country’s national team and will suit up for FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the Maldives next month, according to an announcement Sunday from the Asian Football Confederation.

The 30-year-old Elkeson — who, under FIFA rules, is eligible to play for China after having lived in the country for over six years — is the first-ever foreign-born player with no Chinese ancestry to be included on China’s top squad.

Earlier this year, Team China also added its first naturalized citizen, Nico Yennaris, to its ranks in May. The Londoner with mixed Cypriot-Chinese ancestry — who is widely known in the country by his Chinese name, Li Ke — gave up his British nationality to become a Chinese citizen in January. (Image: IC)

1 day

A man who was caught sticking flyers on hundreds of shared bikes in eastern China has opted to undo his handiwork rather than pay a fine.

After a court in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, fined the unnamed man 1,500 yuan ($210) for pasting ads on blue Hellobikes throughout the city, the shared-bike company offered to accept restitution in lieu of money, according to a report Friday by China News Service. The same day, a staff member from the company supervised the man as he removed illegal flyers from 200 of the company’s bikes.

The man — who told the authorities he earned just 0.01 yuan per ad and admitted to having pasted hundreds on the day he was caught in February — had already been fined 400 yuan by the Hefei Urban Administrative Bureau.

Shared bikes have become popular targets for illegal ads. Last August, a Shanghai court ordered a business that had pasted flyers promoting car seat covers and hotel apps on Mobikes to pay the shared-bike company 100,000 yuan, in the country’s first judicial ruling involving such ads. (Image: China News Service)

3 days

A local congressman from China’s eastern Fujian province was arrested Thursday for drunk driving, nearly a month after a problematic traffic incident resulted from a parking ticket, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Thursday.

The man, surnamed Su, is a deputy with the Xiapu County people’s congress, a local policymaking body. According to the report, he had been involved in an argument with traffic police on July 17 after receiving a parking ticket. When the officers asked him to leave the scene, Su reportedly boasted of his government position and taunted the officers by saying they didn’t have the authority to punish him. After the officers had taken Su into custody, a blood test revealed that he had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Xiapu County people’s congress announced Thursday that it had approved an arrest warrant for Su and suspended him from his post. Under Chinese law, congressional delegates have diplomatic immunity and cannot be arrested or otherwise criminally punished unless their affiliated bodies expressly allow such action to be taken. (Image:VCG)

4 days

In the wake of Typhoon Lekima’s destruction along the Chinese coast last weekend, a Beijing-based emergency relief charity has been accused of fraudulently collecting donations for a “post-disaster reconstruction project” in an affected area of Zhejiang province, domestic media outlet Beijing Youth Daily reported Friday. Three days earlier, a netizen had raised concerns over the project’s large budget, as well as discrepancies between the charity’s public statements and those of local disaster relief teams.

On Aug. 10, Peaceland Foundation launched a campaign on crowdfunding site Shuidichou to raise 2 million yuan for its typhoon relief project. A spokesman for the charity on Thursday denied any foul play, telling media that, due to the urgency of the initiative, the plan had been to collect donations first and coordinate with local relief teams later. The spokesman further said that allocation of the funds raised would be disclosed in a later report.

Shuidichou took to microblogging platform Weibo on Monday to address the situation, saying the campaign had been legally initiated by the China Social Welfare Foundation, a public fundraising foundation administered by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and that the reconstruction project had been approved by the relevant authorities.

The China Social Welfare Foundation later endorsed Shuidichou’s statement. However, the official body responsible for coordinating charity and relief efforts in Linhai — the city where the reconstruction project will supposedly take place — told Beijing Youth Daily on Thursday that it had yet to receive any donations, physical or monetary, from Peaceland. (Image: VCG)

4 days

The Chinese government is considering stricter rules for businesses that employ migrant workers, including charging interest on delayed payments.

In a draft regulation issued Wednesday, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security also proposed banning payment in goods or securities, requiring employers to pay their workers in full at least once a month, and designating responsible parties in ongoing wage arrears cases. According to The Beijing News, one ministry official has set a target of “no late payments to migrant workers” by 2020.

China’s central government has taken measures in recent years to prevent migrant workers — who may lack necessary certifications or residence permits, and thus often don’t sign labor contracts — from being exploited by unscrupulous employers. In January 2016, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, issued a guideline recommending standardized payment procedures for migrant workers, as well as a guarantor system to cover those whose employers do not pay them. The following year, the council passed a policy mandating “timely” payment for migrant workers. (Image: VCG)

4 days

A Chinese education association under the Ministry of Education has suspended the membership of Swiss international education company EF due to “recent public opinion.”

“EF is sorry to learn about the suspension,” a staff member from the company’s public relations department told media on Wednesday, a day after the announcement from the China Association for Non-Government Education. “However, this will not affect the company’s qualifications (as an education provider) and daily operations.”

The decision comes just over a month after seven English teachers working for EF in the eastern Chinese city of Xuzhou were detained after allegedly testing positive for drugs — a case that sparked heated discussion about the quality and character of foreign English teachers working in the country.

And in May, EF made headlines after several of its language students who thought they were signing contracts allowing them to pay for their courses in installments said they later learned that they had unknowingly consented to taking out loans via UMoney, Baidu’s online lending platform. The students further claimed that, when they tried to take advantage of EF’s money-back guarantee, they were denied refunds — and moreover, left on the hook to pay off loans for courses they would not complete. EF reportedly said at the time that the students had taken out the loans “voluntarily.” (Image: IC)

4 days

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said Wednesday that it is considering lowering the minimum age for its passengers from 18 to 16, allowing some minors to use the service independently.

According to the proposed rule, passengers aged 16 and over would be able to order vehicles through the Didi app as long as they had designated an emergency contact before prior traveling alone. If the new age limit is implemented — Didi has not given a timeline — passengers between 16 and 18 will only be matched with drivers with exemplary ratings.

The platform’s announcement comes nearly a year after it barred individual passengers under 18 years of age in October. However, according to a poll the company conducted in February, over half of nearly 700,000 respondents were in favor of allowing minors to travel alone.

China has been tightening regulations on ride-hailing companies after murder cases involving Didi drivers in Henan and Zhejiang provinces sparked safety concerns among customers last year. While Didi has introduced a host of added safety measures in the months since, China’s transport ministry said in May 2018 that a new review system would be implemented to hold ride-hailing drivers to the same standards as taxi drivers. (Image: VCG)

5 days

China’s largest insurance provider on Tuesday launched a new initiative that pairs individual customers with their own physicians.

Private Doctor — available through insurance giant Ping An’s health care platform, Ping An Good Doctor — provides one-on-one medical services, both online and offline, to adults for 499 yuan ($71) per year and to children for 999 yuan per year, according to an official announcement. Doctors from 100 leading hospitals across the country have signed on to participate, the company said.

Within five years, Private Doctor aims to serve some 10 million Chinese families, Ping An Good Doctor’s CEO, Wang Tao, said in Tuesday’s notice. And several leading businesses — including China Mobile, China CITIC Bank, and Wyeth Nutrition — have reportedly joined the initiative as “strategic partners.”

In an effort to ease the heavy burden on China’s public hospitals, 10 national-level government departments in June announced plans to make private health care services more streamlined and more accessible, effectively welcoming private providers to plug increasingly concerning holes in the market. (Image: IC)

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