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2 days

The world’s most invasive mosquito has been “nearly eliminated” from two islands in a river in southern China, according to study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.

Xi Zhiyong, a medical entomologist at Michigan State University, led a team of researchers who used a bacterium to sterilize the Asian tiger mosquitos — which can transmit the Zika virus, dengue, and yellow fever — and effectively eradicate them from the two islands. According to the World Health Organization, sustained mosquito population control is an important step toward preventing outbreaks of these diseases.

In their study, the researchers infected laboratory mosquitos with a bacterium called Wolbachia. When male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes mated with uninfected females, no offspring were produced, causing the overall Asian tiger mosquito population to steadily decline.

During peak breeding seasons in 2016 and 2017, the researchers released over 160,000 Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes per hectare per week in residential areas of two islands located in a river near Guangzhou — the Chinese city with the highest rate of dengue. The team then tracked population decline in adult female mosquitoes, since males do not transmit disease. According to the study, the population of wild adult females fell by 83% in 2016 and 94% in 2017. (Image: VCG)

2 days

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)

2 days

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)

3 days

China’s Cabinet has imposed new time limits for reviewing trademark and patent applications as part of the country’s ongoing effort to protect intellectual property rights in platform economies.

The State Council determined that the approval process for trademark applications should take no longer than five months, while the process for patents should take no longer than 17 1/2 months, according to a statement Wednesday by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The time limits, Li added, are specifically intended to “support the healthy development” of businesses such as Meituan, Pinduoduo, and Hellobike, which are representative of China’s emerging platform economies.

The move comes as China seeks to shed its image as a violator of intellectual property rights — a longstanding criticism that has received increased attention amid the ongoing tensions with the U.S. In October, a trademark office for defending Chinese businesses’ intellectual property abroad opened its doors. Two months later, the State Council outlined higher fines in cases of patent infringement. (Image: VCG)

3 days

More than 100 unexploded bombs, believed to be remnants of the Second Sino-Japanese War, were discovered under an elementary school in central China’s Henan province on Tuesday, according to local police.

In a notice issued Wednesday, authorities in Xinyang City said workers found the explosives while doing construction work at a school in the city’s Shihe District. A preliminary investigation identified the devices as undetonated Japanese bombs from China’s 1937–1945 conflict with that country.

According to the notice, bomb disposal personnel are currently in the process of removing the weapons, which are set to be destroyed once the area is fully cleared. Similar disposals of unexploded World War II-era bombs have been undertaken in northern China and Hong Kong in recent years, as well as undetonated land mines from a 1984 conflict with Vietnam that remained buried along China’s southern border. (Image: Xinyang police)

3 days

Google has removed around 60 apps developed by the Shanghai-based, U.S.-listed software firm CooTek from its Google Play store and banned the company from its Google AdMob advertising platform for allegedly engaging in malicious ad practices.

CooTek, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and known for products like the popular TouchPal Keyboard, denies the allegations but confirmed in a press release Wednesday that some of its apps have been “temporarily disabled” on Google’s platforms.

The move will not affect current users of CooTek’s apps, versions of which will remain available on Chinese app markets, the company added. “CooTek remains committed to upholding the highest standards in the industry and complying with Google Play developer policies,” the company’s press release said. A spokesperson told financial news outlet Caixin that CooTek has been negotiating with Google but has not yet received any feedback.

This isn’t the first time Google has taken action against developers with ties to China. DO Global — which is partly owned by tech giant Baidu Inc. — and Cheetah Mobile were hit with similar bans in April and November, respectively. (Image: IC)

Republished with permission from Caixin Global.

4 days

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)

5 days

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)

5 days
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)

6 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)