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2019-07-19 07:49:21

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)

2 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)

2 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)

2 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)

3 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)

3 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)

3 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)

4 days

Authorities in Shanghai have issued fines to Didi Chuxing and Meituan Dianping after the two ride-hailing platforms failed inspections for the second time this year.

In a statement Tuesday, the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission said it had ordered Didi and Meituan to pay 200,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan ($28,500 and $4,300), respectively, for not passing recent inspections. Both companies risk having their services suspended if they flunk future checks, according to the statement.

The commission had previously fined Didi 5.5 million yuan and Meituan 1.47 million yuan for failing similar inspections last month. Despite this, Tuesday’s statement indicated that both platforms still had a large number of violations.

Though the authorities did not outline the specific reasons the platforms had failed the two rounds of inspections, all cars used for ride-hailing in Shanghai must be registered as commercial vehicles and have local license plates, while their drivers must have permanent residency in Shanghai or household registration documents for the city. (Image: VCG)

4 days

A Shanghai court on Wednesday began hearing the case of a Henan couple who are suing a well-known entertainment commentator over her claims that they misappropriated publicly raised funds while treating their dying 3-year-old daughter.

The family of the now-deceased girl, Wang Fengya, filed the lawsuit with the Minhang District People’s Court last September, accusing the writer, Chen Lan, of defamation. They have asked that she apologize publicly in domestic newspapers and on microblogging platform Weibo, where she has over 900,000 followers, and pay a minimum of 130,000 yuan ($18,500) in damages. In April of last year, the family faced a barrage of online criticism after Chen alleged on Weibo that they had scammed users of crowdfunding platform Shuidichou who had donated toward their daughter’s medical expenses.

In September 2017, Fengya was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare malignant eye cancer. The mother, Yang Meiqin, took to crowdfunding platforms to help raise 150,000 yuan for her daughter’s treatment. Fengya died in May 2018, just eight months after her diagnosis. A police investigation later found that nearly all of the 38,638 yuan her parents had managed to raise had been spent on their daughter’s treatment. (Image: @作家陈岚 on Weibo)

4 days

Authorities in eastern China’s Shandong province have detained a man for five days after he allegedly spread false information online about a deadly typhoon, an official statement said Tuesday.

According to police in the city of Dongying, the man had written a post on internet forum Baidu Tieba that caused “panic” among locals as Typhoon Lekima moved up the country’s east coast over the weekend. The post falsely claimed that a person had been electrocuted to death during the tropical cyclone, the official statement said.

Over the past few days, others in China’s eastern provinces have also wound up in custody for similar offenses. Police in Zhejiang arrested two men on Saturday for allegedly spreading false information about a dam collapse caused by the typhoon and the hundreds of people who went missing in its aftermath, while Jiangsu police said Sunday that they had arrested a man for disparaging people and places affected by the typhoon.

Even before Lekima, Chinese authorities have been known to punish people for insulting victims of natural disasters. In April, four people were detained for mocking firefighters killed during a forest fire in the southwestern Sichuan province. And last year, a man was detained in Sichuan for 15 days over chat messages that insulted the victims of a deadly 2008 earthquake. (Image: VCG)

5 days

A motorist who gained online notoriety for slapping another driver and later trumpeting her husband’s high position in the police force has apologized for her “arrogant” behavior.

A viral video of the July 30 incident appears to show a Porsche driver named Li Yue slapping a man in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, an incident police said ensued after the man refused to make room on the road for Li to make an illegal U-turn. After the man slapped back, Li bragged about her husband’s position as chief of a police station in the city’s Yubei District and claimed he had helped her get away with past traffic violations.

“I said a lot of irresponsible things due to my arrogance, vanity, and temper,” Li said in an apology letter Monday. “I was a disgrace to the Chongqing people, and I feel truly guilty and regretful.”

Li’s husband, Tong Xiaohua, was suspended from work on Aug. 1 and later removed from his post after Chongqing authorities opened an investigation into Li. In a statement Monday, police said that Li has been held accountable for all of her traffic offenses since receiving a driver’s license in 2016. (Image: Weibo)

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