China’s all-in-one app WeChat introduced a new feature on Monday to combat plagiarism, a tech news outlet reported. Currently available only to selected users, the feature will invite credible content creators with no history of plagiarism to form a panel to review and resolve “article laundering” complaints. WeChat said it has received about 50,000 such complaints since April.
Plagiarism has plagued the social platform’s publishing service since self-publishing outlets, known as “WeMedia,” popularized article rewrites that were just slight enough to avoid detection. Since October, China’s cyberspace authority has closed 9,800 WeMedia accounts accused of article laundering. In May, an investment deal between WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, and WeMedia outlet Chaping fell apart amid accusations of plagiarism against the latter. (Image: VCG)
All of China’s 500,000-plus villages now have direct access to the country’s postal services, allowing courier companies to effectively deliver a growing number of parcels to remote regions, according to a top government official.
Ma Junsheng, head of the State Post Bureau, said during a press conference Tuesday that every township is now served by a designated post office, making it easier for the country’s villages to access postal services. Previously, residents without a post office in their area had to travel to a neighboring township — which administers a village — for their postal needs.
Online sales in rural areas have grown rapidly in recent years, with 2019’s midyear revenues totaling 777.1 billion yuan ($109 billion), an annual increase of 21%, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Ma said that domestic couriers are expected to handle over 60 billion parcels this year, with one-fourth of these originating or being delivered in rural areas.
However, courier companies have repeatedly complained about logistical challenges when it comes to making far-flung deliveries, with some even charging rural customers extra fees. According to a Xinhua report in May, about 74.9% of villages nationwide didn’t have local delivery stations. (Image: VCG)
A Shanghai-based cybersecurity expert has warned that flashing the “scissor hand” gesture — similar to the peace sign — for the camera may be giving criminals all the information they need to copy fingerprints, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, reported Sunday.
During an event promoting China’s annual cybersecurity week, Zhang Wei, the deputy director of the Shanghai Information Security Trade Association, said that magnification features and AI-enhanced technologies make it possible to extract 100% of a person’s fingerprints from a photo taken 1.5 meters away, while around 50% of fingerprints can be extracted from photos taken 3 meters away. Zhang advised people against uploading photos incorporating the popular hand gesture, as criminals could use them to make fingerprint molds and register fingerprint-activated smart locks or mobile payment accounts.
In recent years, fingerprint authentication has become widespread in China, especially since Alipay and WeChat — multifunctional apps that have become all but indispensable in China — introduced fingerprint-based mobile payment systems in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
But the uptick in fingerprint authentication has come with privacy concerns. Last November, a report by the China Consumers Association revealed that over 90% of 100 popular apps it assessed were “over-collecting” data, including users’ fingerprints. And in March, a Shenzhen elementary school sparked backlash by collecting students’ fingerprints without their parents’ consent, supposedly as part of an “intelligence test.” (Image: VCG)
China is considering introducing a national policy that would better shield whistleblowers — especially those in the food, pharmaceutical, and health care sectors — from punishment.
According to a draft regulation Thursday, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, could “reward and strictly protect” individuals who have reported serious legal and regulatory violations. Currently, there is no national law that protects whistleblowers, and while cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Suzhou have local regulations that reward industry insiders for exposing food safety violations, such measures typically lack guaranteed legal protection.
In recent years, Chinese whistleblowers have exposed a number of scandals, from a pharmaceutical company falsifying production data for a rabies vaccine to several cases of child abuse and environmental violations.
Throughout these cases, protecting the whistleblowers’ rights has been a source of concern, as many faced punishment for coming forward. One whistleblower who exposed a child abuse case in Shenzhen was fired from her job earlier this year and subjected to an unspecified “administrative penalty,” while another whistleblower was sentenced last year to 17 months in jail for “disturbing market order” after reporting industrial pollution in the central Henan province. (Image: IC)
More than half of Chinese people surveyed said they feel safe online, up 13% from last year, according to a report published Sunday as part of the country’s annual internet safety week.
Commissioned by the Network Security Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, the survey solicited responses from a total of 221,266 internet users, including tens of thousands of “industry insiders.” It showed that, though the public’s perceptions of internet safety have improved in recent years, privacy remains a pressing concern, with 37% of the 189,000 non-insider respondents saying they think personal information leaks occur “frequently.”
In addition, over half of the nearly 32,000 industry insiders surveyed decried what they perceive as the excessive collection of personal data — including government ID numbers and call and message logs — by China’s mobile apps.
The internet safety report is the largest such survey in the country to date, according to domestic media. (Image: VCG)
The skies above the Chinese capital are likely to be both blue and empty in the coming weeks, as the municipal government has prohibited residents from using certain airborne objects — which supposedly present safety risks — ahead of next month’s National Day celebrations.
In a notice published Sunday, the Beijing government said that flying pigeons, kites, drones, balloons, and lanterns would be banned in seven districts within the capital to “ensure the safety of the parade activities.” China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1 with a “mass parade” expected to be attended by some 100,000 people, according to state media.
Authorities have already tightened security in and around Tiananmen Square, where part of the parade will take place, and restricted access to some tourist sites in the area: Major attractions such as the Forbidden City will be closed from Sept. 21 to Oct. 1. The city’s subway also said that several stations have been affected due to ongoing rehearsals for the parade. (Image: IC)
After undergoing medical treatment using the pioneering gene-editing technique CRISPR, a 27-year-old man is in remission from leukemia but remains infected with HIV, health news outlet STAT reported Wednesday.
The team behind the treatment, led by Deng Hongkui of Peking University, had been inspired by the 2007 case of Timothy Ray Brown, the first adult to be cured of AIDS after receiving a bone marrow transplant also meant to treat his leukemia. Brown’s bone marrow donor had a rare genetic mutation, CCR5, that blocks HIV from recognizing and hijacking the body’s immune cells.
Deng had hoped to replicate the success of Brown’s case by using CRISPR — a sort of copy-and-paste function for genes — to induce the CCR5 mutation in the bone marrow of a health donor. However, 19 months after the procedure, the percentage of bone marrow cells with the mutation remained too low to eliminate the patient’s HIV, though his leukemia went into remission as a result of the treatment. (Image: From STAT)
Short-video platform Kuaishou has become one of the most popular apps in Brazil, where it boasts over 3 million daily active users, financial news outlet Jiemian reported Thursday.
Marketed as Kwai in the South American country, the platform was the most-downloaded free app on Brazil’s Google Play store “for several consecutive days,” according to the report. With deep-pocketed tech giants like Tencent among its investors, Kuaishou had over 200 million active daily users in China as of May, and became immensely popular last year in countries like the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, and Turkey.
Chinese video apps are aggressively expanding their international footprints. Kuaishou’s top rival, Tiktok, has been downloaded by over 1.1 billion people worldwide and has millions of active users in countries like India and the United States, according to app monitoring firm Sensor Tower. (Image: IC)
Police in eastern China’s Jiangsu province have sniffed out a wanted fugitive thanks to his affinity for hot pot — a particularly pungent soup dish.
The man, surnamed Guo, is suspected of fraud and extortion and had been on the lam in the city of Nantong since police there cracked down on gang-related activity in late May, local media reported Tuesday. After months of searching, authorities located Guo’s apartment building but had not determined which unit he was living in. They noted that he went to a local market on Saturday afternoon and bought ingredients for hot pot — how they learned this was not disclosed in the report — and then went door to door that evening, following their noses to the distinctively savory aroma.
In the past few years, several fugitives in China have been caught in unconventional ways. In August 2017, over two dozen criminal suspects were identified by facial-recognition cameras at the Qingdao International Beer Festival in the eastern Shandong province. Beginning in April of last year, at least three fugitives were caught in similar fashion at separate concerts for Hong Kong pop star Jacky Cheung. And most recently, a murder suspect was nabbed by police in the eastern Fujian province in August after attempting to use his dead girlfriend’s face to apply for a loan. (Images: 江苏新闻 on WeChat & VCG)
A Japanese toymaker gave the Shanghai police what it described as a rare, gold-plated figurine from the Gundam universe of robot heroes in gratitude for their recent success in busting counterfeit toys, the city’s police authority said Friday on its official Weibo microblog.
Representatives from toy company Bandai delivered the shiny action figure to the Huangpu branch of Shanghai’s public security bureau last week to thank the authorities there for their efforts in combating counterfeit products, reported Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper. In August, Shanghai police had raided a factory in the southern city of Dongguan and seized over 1 million fraudulent toys — including ones featuring Ash and Pikachu of Pokémon fame — as well as more than 1,200 toymaking tools worth a combined 300 million yuan ($42 million).
The 25 suspects arrested over last month’s bust are currently awaiting trial, according to the report. (Image: @警民直通车-上海 on Weibo)
Chinese ride-hailing service Dida Chuxing — not to be confused with Didi Chuxing — has banned a driver from its platform after he molested a female passenger, the company said Sunday in a statement to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.
After arriving at the pick-up location in Meizhou, a city in the southern Guangdong province, the driver, surnamed Cai, proposed a mutually agreeable fare of 200 yuan ($28) to take the passenger to Guangzhou, the provincial capital, The Paper reported, citing local authorities. The driver later received a request to pick up two more passengers and take them to Shenzhen, a major city between Meizhou and Guangzhou. After dropping the two passengers off, the driver told the first passenger, surnamed Luo, that he did not want to take her to Guangzhou and touched her inappropriately.
Cai was detained for five days at a local police station for molesting Luo and fined 30,000 yuan for “illegal operations,” as the authorities also found that he did not have a permit required to provide ride-hailing services.
Passenger safety became a top priority for China’s ride-hailing industry after two women in Henan and Zhejiang provinces were killed by their Didi drivers last year. Didi — by far the most widely used ride-hailing service in China — introduced a raft of safety measures afterward, and the country’s transport ministry mandated in May of last year that ride-hailing drivers would be subject to a national review system that would hold them to the same standards as taxi drivers. (Image: IC)