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2019-11-18 09:05:52

A court in Shanghai has given a man a suspended prison sentence of three years and a 30,000 yuan ($4,300) fine for selling unapproved cancer drugs to patients in China, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Monday.

Zhai Yiping was charged with operating an illegal business that sold unauthorized drugs worth over 4.7 million yuan between February and July of last year, according to the verdict from the Shanghai Railway Transport Court dated Oct. 17. The 47-year-old was detained in July 2018 on suspicion of selling the cancer medications, including one called Opdivo, which was not approved until June of that year — meaning Zhai had sold it illicitly for several months. He had teamed up with another man, surnamed Guo, who bought the drugs from Germany, with Zhai then reselling them to patients in China at a 5% markup.

Following Zhai’s detention, more than 100 cancer patients begged authorities to release the man who had helped provide them with medicine. He was formally arrested in August of last year and released on bail three months later.

Shortages of critical drugs have led many patients in China to seek middlemen who help secure cheaper alternatives from abroad, though such medications typically aren’t approved by the country’s health authorities and are often considered “fake.” In August, Chinese policymakers enacted a revised version of the country’s Pharmaceutical Administration Law, which stopped defining drugs widely available in overseas markets as “fake” and stipulated lighter or even no punishments for the import and sale of such drugs. (Image: @检查日报 on Weibo)

17 hours

Authorities in the eastern Anhui province have come to the conclusion that wearing pajamas in public isn’t a fashion faux pas — or uncivilized, for that matter.

In a statement Monday, the city administration bureau of Suzhou said it had “withdrawn” an article that shamed seven pajama-wearing people for “uncivilized behavior,” along with their photos and personal information. The bureau said the article posted on its social media platform was published after an “inadequate review process.”

In August 2019, the bureau had announced it was soliciting photographs of so-called uncivilized behaviors from the public, with each approved photo awarded 10 yuan ($1.50).

In recent years, local officials have increased their efforts to police citizens’ behavior and improve their cities’ images. In July of last year, authorities in the eastern city of Jinan issued a guideline against the “Beijing bikini,” barring men from rolling up their shirts and baring their midriffs in public.

A month later, Beijing issued a survey asking residents to select 10 out of 20 uncivilized behaviors — which included spitting in public, petty vandalism, and cutting in line — that they would want to see punished. (Image: @宿州城管服务超市 on WeChat)

17 hours

A hospital in eastern China’s Zhejiang province has angered some online by installing urinals in women’s toilets.

The Hangzhou First People’s Hospital had intended for the urinals to be a convenience for mothers of young boys, local media outlet Qianjiang Evening News reported Sunday. A hospital staff member told domestic outlet Red Star News that the urinals have actually been in use since 2015.

Years-old or not, the urinals have gone viral this week on Chinese social media. Some have supported the initiative for aiming to make mothers’ lives easier, while others have expressed concerns about privacy and children’s gender awareness, suggesting unisex bathrooms as an alternative.

The employee said the hospital might consider introducing gender-neutral bathrooms in the future to cater to people with special needs, including those with disabilities, pregnant women, or parents with children of the opposite sex. (Image: @小时视频 on Weibo)

1 day

An institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences has suspended a researcher who made “false statements” about his supposedly self-designed programming language.

In a statement Sunday, the Institute of Computing Technology said it had suspended the researcher, Liu Lei, and launched an investigation after Liu was accused of ripping off an open-source version of the widely used Python programming language and calling his version Module Unit Language, or “Mulan.”

According to media reports, the institute had announced the release of the purportedly self-designed programming language on Jan. 15. However, the Sunday statement claimed that Mulan — a product that was allegedly “completely autonomous,” even though its development kit includes the Python open source compiler — was not developed by the institute, but rather by a company Liu founded.

“This behavior constitutes scientific misconduct (in the form of) deception and false statements,” the institute said.

A day earlier, Liu had apologized in a public letter for making “exaggerated statements” about his work. He initially said that the programming language had been independently created, and that it could help further the development of the Internet of Things — the increasingly diverse array of internet-connected devices, from phones and fridges to cars and home assistants.

The scandal reminds some people of a previous high-profile case of technological fraud. In 2003, a scientist at a Chinese university claimed to have designed a microchip he had dubbed “Hanxin,” or “the Chinese chip” — but three years later, the chip was found to have come from the United States.

And in April 2018, Chinese netizens discovered that the source files of what was supposedly the country’s first and only fully homegrown web browser appeared to have been copied from Google Chrome. (Image: CNS)

2 days

The Palace Museum has apologized after photos surfaced online of two women posing with a Mercedes vehicle parked on the grounds of the Forbidden City, Beijing’s iconic, centuries-old tourist site.

In a statement Friday, the Palace Museum — which is located within the Forbidden City — said it was “deeply distressed,” “sincerely apologizes to the public,” and “will strengthen management to prevent such cases in the future.”

In a now-deleted post on microblogging platform Weibo that included the photos, one of the women, Gao Lu, said the incident had taken place Monday, when the Forbidden City was closed for maintenance. The post quickly went viral: A related hashtag had been viewed over 1 billion times by Sunday afternoon, with many criticizing rich elites who believe they are entitled to special treatment.

In an interview with The Beijing News, a man claiming to be the owner of the vehicle said Gao had been invited to attend an event at the tourist site.

The Forbidden City has banned vehicles from entering its grounds since 2013. However, amid the online furor over Gao’s photos, numerous reports emerged of other people driving their vehicles into the city in recent years. (Image: From @露小宝LL on Weibo)

2 days

Local authorities in several Chinese cities will work overtime to accommodate couples hoping to get married on Feb. 2, a date some believe to be auspicious because it forms a palindrome when written out sequentially: 20200202.

Beijing’s civil affairs bureau said Friday that local marriage registration offices will be open for business on the upcoming Sunday. More than a dozen such offices in Shanghai will also remain open the same day, according to media reports.

When repeated together, the Mandarin words for “two” and “zero” sound similar to the phrase “love you.” The Sunday is also the ninth day of the lunar calendar, with “nine” being phonetically similar to “long” — leading some to believe that the date may guarantee a long-lasting marriage.

But some authorities are apparently disinclined to indulge such superstition. “A happy marriage has nothing to do with the auspicious day,” a senior official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Sunday. “As long as the relationship between two people is harmonious, each day is good and unique. I hope applicants will treat their wedding dates rationally.”

In 2018, China’s marriage rate fell to its lowest point in five years. On Friday, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that last year’s birth rate of just 10.5 newborns per 1,000 people was the lowest in the country’s 70-year history. (Image: Tuchong)

4 days

The People’s Republic of China has recorded its lowest birth rate since its founding over 70 years ago, according to data published Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Last year saw 10.5 births per 1,000 people. Some 14.6 million babies were born in China in 2019, down from 15.2 million in 2018. At the same time, the country’s total population eclipsed 1.4 billion for the first time at the end of last year — though the national population growth rate of 0.33% was also a record low.

Low fertility rates and an aging population have worried demographers and officials alike because of the risk these factors pose to the country’s future. Hoping to boost birth rates, China abolished the one-child policy in 2016 and proposed longer maternity leave for couples considering a second child — but so far these and other measures have achieved limited success due to changing social mentalities and the rising cost of childrearing. Meanwhile, birth restrictions continue to hang over some families’ heads, as couples who have more than two children can face harsh punishments.

4 days

Six months after becoming the first Chinese city to implement strict trash-sorting rules, Shanghai is planning to perfect the system and increase recycling efforts in the coming years, domestic media outlet Jiemian reported Thursday.

At a political gathering, Deng Jianping, director of the Shanghai Landscaping and City Appearance Administrative Bureau, said the city had completed the renovation of over 21,000 trash-sorting stations and built over 15,000 recycling stations as of January. Shanghai also recycled 4,049 tons of trash per day in 2019, a 431.8% increase compared with the previous year.

In 2020, Shanghai should improve its current sorting system to collect over 6,000 tons of recyclable waste and sort over 9,000 tons of wet waste daily, Deng said.

Shanghai also ranked No. 1 for three consecutive quarters among 46 major cities selected for trash-sorting inspections conducted by China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the country’s housing regulatory department, according to the media report. (Image: Tuchong)

5 days

Less than a week after CEO Elon Musk showed off his company’s first made-in-China vehicles, along with his own memorable dance moves, electric carmaker Tesla announced that it is planning to open a new design center in China with the aim of creating “designed in China” cars, according to an official post Wednesday on social app WeChat.

Tesla’s post described the plan to open a design studio in China as “a very cool thing” that Musk had proposed in order to shift gears from “made in China” to “designed in China.” The company hopes to incorporate “the most beautiful Chinese art into the future-facing Tesla,” and is already soliciting designs for original, “Chinese-style” vehicles, to be sent to an email address included in the post by Feb. 1.

Musk has high hopes for Tesla in the China market, thanks in part to his cozy relationship with top officials. Tesla was the first foreign carmaker allowed to set up an independent operation in China, and its Shanghai Gigafactory — the company’s first such facility outside the U.S. — took just 10 months to build, and has been cranking out Model 3 sedans since October. The company unveiled its first China-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Shanghai last week. (Image: From Tesla’s WeChat account)

5 days

Beijing Enlight Media, the studio behind last year’s animated smash hit “Ne Zha,” said it will invest about 1 billion yuan ($145 million) over the next five years to adapt comic content into animated productions.

Company president Wang Changtian said the investment will aim to create 10 productions.

The announcement was made Tuesday at a media event to launch a comic art platform mobile app, Yi Ben Man Hua. The app was launched by Beijing Enlight’s subsidiary, Caitiaowu, which was established in 2015 to focus on creating comic content and producing animated films.

Yi Ben Man Hua’s target will be to make comics suitable for adapting into animations, focusing on themes such as mythology and fantasy, according to Jiang Zibin, the app’s chief editor. The app currently has 21 comic creators with a total of 47 comic titles available, most of which are free, according to Jiang.

The market leader in this area is Tencent-backed tech giant Kuaikan Manhua, which boasts about 3,000 creators and more than 3,000 available titles. (Image: Weibo)

(Republished with permission from Caixin Global.)

6 days

The trailblazing woman featured on the third edition of China’s 1 yuan bill died Tuesday, domestic media reported. She was 90 years old.

Liang Jun, who is seated atop a tractor on the back of the banknote, was also the country’s first female tractor driver. She was widely viewed as a symbol of Mao Zedong’s popular proclamation, “Women hold up half the sky,” often invoked to urge women to work outside the domestic sphere.

Born in a small town in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, Liang was given away to a wealthy family who adopted her at the age of 12 as a future bride under an archaic tradition. However, she managed to break free from the arrangement and married a man she met at school.

At the age of 18, Liang joined a tractor-driving course in which she was the only woman in a class of 70-plus men, plowing the way for others to follow in her tracks. In 1950, China’s first female tractor-driving corps was established and named after her.

Liang’s legacy will live on in the third-generation 1 yuan notes, printed and circulated between 1962 and 2000. (Image: Taobao)

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