Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra became the No. 2 trending topic on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo after the CEO of the company behind it testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
During the hearing, David Marcus, CEO of Calibra, the Facebook subsidiary tasked with developing Libra, told the committee that Libra will compete with Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two ubiquitous mobile payment platforms, each boasting roughly 1 billion active users.
Some Chinese netizens reacted to Marcus’ remarks with skepticism. “Can it (Libra) compete? How will they push for competition when we can’t even use Facebook?” one Weibo user commented under a related media post, referring to the social platform being inaccessible on the Chinese mainland. Other netizens, meanwhile, saw Libra as a boon to the country’s mobile payment industry, which they reason would only be improved with greater competition.
Since the release of the Libra White Paper on June 18, a storm of debate has surrounded the idea of a Facebook-sponsored digital currency, in particular because it would allow for the flow of financial resources across international borders — an act the Chinese authorities would prefer to keep strictly regulated.
The People’s Bank of China has been researching cryptocurrencies since 2014, driving speculation that it may be aiming to develop its own digital coin. As of last December, the central bank’s software developers had registered over 70 cryptocurrency patents in the country. (Image: IC)
A private traditional Chinese medicine hospital in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, is being investigated for allegedly requiring its staff to recruit new patients, The Beijing News reported Monday.
Administrators at Zhengzhou West Area Hospital of TCM reportedly ordered each staff member to bring in five additional patients to be hospitalized, and said those who failed to meet the quota would have their salaries docked by 200 yuan ($28). One staff member told a local TV station last week that she had even brought her father in to be “treated.”
According to a code of conduct published by the Ministry of Health in 2012, medical workers are required to “safeguard patients’ legitimate rights and interests” and are forbidden from exploiting their positions for personal gain.
Song Zhigang, the hospital’s vice president, has been suspended from his duties for “problematic management,” and a larger, public hospital that entered into a partnership with Zhengzhou West in late May has ordered its sister institution to make the necessary rectifications or see the cooperation agreement terminated. An administrator at the public hospital told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, that his staff are being mobilized to investigate Zhengzhou West.
Public hospitals have long dominated China’s health care sector, but they’ve also earned a reputation for being resource-strapped and overburdened. Following a series of major health reforms in 2017, the central government has begun encouraging the development of the private health care industry to ease the burden on both public hospitals and welfare funds. (Image: 郑州楼市 on WeChat)
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or UIUC, on Monday announced a financial aid program to honor Zhang Yingying, a visiting scholar at the school who was abducted and murdered in June 2017.
The university will use Yingying’s Fund — founded with the support of Zhang’s family — to help international students and their families “during times of hardship,” according to the campaign’s official crowdfunding page. The more than $58,000 donated so far can be allocated toward international students at UIUC who find themselves “in urgent need of access to funds.”
Zhang was 26 when security footage showed her get into a car at a bus stop in June 2017, just two months into her studies at the university. It was the last time she was seen alive. On July 18, an Illinois court convicted Brendt Christensen of murdering Zhang and sentenced him to life in prison. (Image: From the Yingying’s Fund crowdfunding page)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)