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2019-07-10 10:58:50

A man who plowed his vehicle into a group of schoolchildren in November, killing six, has been sentenced to death, a court in northeastern China’s Liaoning province ruled Tuesday.

The court said the defendant, Han Jihua, had “seriously endangered public safety” and should be “severely punished,” regardless of the circumstances leading up to the incident. An earlier trial had determined that the attack was motivated by financial pressure and a marital dispute, and that Han had intended to take his own life in the crash.

In May, another man was sentenced to death after stabbing three students and a parent outside a primary school in Shanghai. Earlier this year, the city published a guideline outlining new security requirements for local kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools. (Image: 红星新闻 on WeChat)

15 hours

A horticultural organization in China has launched an online poll on whether to designate the peony as the country’s national flower.

“Experts all agree that our country should (follow) ‘one country, one flower’ and endorse the peony,” reads the introductory text of the China Flower Association’s poll, which opened for public voting on Monday and closes Friday. According to the association, the peony is the best choice to represent China because of its domestic origins, ties to the Tang dynasty, and “auspicious” symbolism representing “national stability, prosperity, and political integrity,” among other justifications.

The association cites the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China as the impetus for the initiative. The gesture coincides with another act of floral patriotism — a five-month flower festival currently underway in the nation’s capital — as well as other commemorations in the country, including a prisoner amnesty order and a smattering of party-friendly films(Image: VCG)

1 day

China’s State Council introduced an action plan Monday aimed at improving public health and health-related education by 2030.

Smoking, excessive drinking, and poor health knowledge were cited as preventable causes for chronic illnesses — including diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, and respiratory disorders — which together account for 88% of all deaths in the country. The guideline, dubbed Healthy China 2030, lays out specific targets that should be achieved over the next 10 years.

By 2030, the country hopes to reduce infant mortality and malnutrition rates to below 5%, while also strengthening supervision of diabetics and at-risk groups to over 70%. To prevent the spread of diseases, 9 out of 10 children living in rural areas should be vaccinated by 2030.

The Healthy China 2030 blueprint targeting the domestic health care sector was first announced in 2016. (Image: VCG)

1 day
A driver who unintentionally hit and killed five people in eastern China has been handed a six-year prison sentence, which many in the country are characterizing as too lenient.

The announcement Monday by the Xihu District People’s Court, located in Zhejiang’s provincial capital of Hangzhou, led to heated discussion online, with a trending hashtag about the case viewed 540 million times by Tuesday afternoon. The driver, surnamed Chen, had inadvertently barreled through an intersection in the city after confusing the gas pedal for the brakes in July 2018, killing five pedestrians.

Since the tragedy occurred, social media users have chastised the driver in vitriolic comments beneath news reports about the story. Many netizens have blamed the accident on Chen’s gender, claiming she was unable to safely operate her SUV because she is female. Others, meanwhile, have criticized Chen for wearing flip-flops at the time of the deadly incident, which is prohibited under Zhejiang’s traffic laws. (Image: VCG)

2 days

Chinese authorities have released a guideline to regulate extracurricular online classes for elementary and middle schoolers.

Jointly issued Monday by six national-level government bodies including the Ministry of Education, the guideline prohibits such courses from exceeding 40 minutes in length or teaching content beyond the grade level of the students enrolled, among other rules. It adds that a nationwide compliance inspection of online courses is set to be conducted by the end of this year.

Public concerns over unregulated online courses arose after a crackdown last year on offline supplementary classes — those offered by unapproved private training centers or so-called cram schools — prompted a boom in online education.

Earlier this month, a separate national guideline directed schools to refrain from overburdening students with extracurricular activities or excessive homework. (Image: VCG)

2 days

Chinese search engine Baidu has apologized after one of its news editors logged into the account of a man whose daughter died in a recent kidnapping to post a eulogy.

In a statement Saturday, Baidu said the editor from its news aggregation platform who posted a message earlier that day as a tribute to 9-year-old Zhang Zixin had been fired, adding that the company was “ashamed … for hurting the feelings of Zixin’s family members.” The editor had used the verified account of the girl’s father, Zhang Jun, on the platform’s news aggregation site to post the message without the family’s knowledge or consent.

Zixin had been missing since July 7, when her family lost contact with a couple that had asked to take the girl on a trip to Shanghai. On Sunday, authorities announced that the girl’s body had been found on Saturday afternoon off the coast of the eastern Zhejiang province, with a preliminary investigation suggesting she was forcibly drowned.

The couple — who were themselves found drowned in Zhejiang on July 8 in an apparent double suicide — have been identified as major suspects in the case, according to police. (Image: IC/The Paper)

2 days

An unlicensed clinic in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin was found to be offering a one-week “training course” in plastic surgery, according to a report published Monday by The Beijing News.

Priced at 6,800 yuan ($990), the course enrolled 12 students concurrently and claimed to teach the theory and practical skills necessary to perform over 10 varieties of cosmetic procedures including face-lifts, jawline contouring, and double-eyelid surgeries. Upon completing the course, the students were awarded certificates and provided with contact information for vendors of cheap but “unlicensed” drugs, which would allow them to perform cosmetic surgeries on their own customers at home or in private studios, the report said.

Rampant malpractice in China’s cosmetic surgery industry can deter would-be customers. According to a 2018 white paper jointly issued by the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics and several collaborating institutions, there are around 17,000 licensed medical personnel in the country’s cosmetic surgery industry — compared with over 150,000 unlicensed workers. In early July, a separate report from The Beijing News revealed that an unlicensed training center in Beijing had been providing hair transplant “certifications” to pupils after just two days’ instruction. (Image: VCG)

5 days

Several state-run media outlets in China have slammed social media users for glibly citing sensitive historical events to express their adoration for celebrities.

People’s Daily, Global Times, and China Youth Daily were among those that wrote sharply worded posts on their respective Weibo microblogs on Friday, discouraging people from “ridiculing” historical events regarded as national tragedies. A recent internet trend has seen netizens penning online love letters to superstars that include allusions to the Cultural Revolution and other touchy periods from the past.

China Youth Daily shared screenshots of social media posts in which one netizen purportedly wrote to a celebrity, “You are my Treaty of Nanjing, you are the beginning of my downfall” — a reference to the 19th-century agreement that saw Hong Kong ceded from China to Britain.

Global Times said that internet posts “making light of national humiliations” are “proof of stupidity” among netizens. On Thursday, Weibo announced that it is clamping down on such content, adding that posts using the phrase “Treaty of Nanjing” would be barred from the microblogging platform for the next three days. (Image: @中国历史研究院 on Weibo)

5 days

Eight people are dead and 17 were injured after a tour bus was struck by a falling boulder Thursday in southwestern China.

Authorities in Songpan County, Sichuan province, said four of the victims were found under the boulder and confirmed dead at the scene. The tour bus had been transporting 30 people from Songpan to Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, when the rockslide occurred, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.

Songpan County is home to the Jiuzhai Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its pristine natural beauty. The area also lies along the Longmenshan fault: In 2017, a magnitude 7 earthquake in the Jiuzhai Valley killed 25 people and injured a further 525. (Image: @人民日报 on Weibo)

5 days

A Chinese government commission has named and shamed 30 apps — a number of which are state-backed or otherwise widely used — for violating users’ data privacy, according to an official notice released Thursday.

The notice listed the Bank of China and Beijing Transport apps, both from government-affiliated entities, alongside eight others for lacking data privacy policies, while Facebook-like social app Renren and Tinder-like dating app Tantan were among the 20 called out for requiring multiple forms of unnecessary data collection in order to access their platforms. The commission, whose members are culled from the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, ordered the apps’ developers to “rectify” their software within 30 days.

Concerns over data security and privacy are on the rise in China. National authorities unveiled a draft regulation earlier this year in a bid to combat apps’ misuse of user data, and domestic media reported last week that cyber-police in the southern Guangdong province had found 1,048 apps over-collecting such data. (Image: VCG)

6 days

A 55-year-old amateur dancer in eastern China has made headlines this week for an unlikely tale of infatuation, jealousy, and revenge.

According to a report Thursday by Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, police in Zhejiang province issued a five-day detention to the woman, surnamed Pan, for slandering three of her fellow “square dancers” — a Chinese term referring to the often middle-aged participants of group dancing sessions in the country’s public spaces.

Resentful that her usual partner had been dancing with others, Pan put up flyers around her neighborhood that accused the man of having “improper relationships” — a euphemism for sex — with two other square-dancing women. After police received a complaint from one of the two women on Sunday, Pan admitted to disseminating the disparaging materials.

Though square dancing to loud music is a popular pastime in Chinese cities, the noisy hobby has also inspired ire among onlookers and local residents. Hoping to cut back on dancers’ infiltration of certain spaces, authorities in 2017 introduced guidelines restricting square-dancing locations. (Image: VCG)