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2019-04-09 11:21:22

Authorities in China’s capital are investigating two companies selling “energy pyramid” products on suspicion of fake advertising and multilevel marketing, The Beijing News reported Monday.

According to the outlet, police in Beijing’s Fengtai District launched an investigation with the national-level State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Monday to look into the products’ manufacturer, Weihai Ruihong Energy Technology Co. Ltd., and distributor, Beijing Hongzheng Technology Co. Ltd. The companies allegedly advertised their pyramid-shaped wares — priced between 5,000 and 100,000 yuan ($740 and $14,900) — as having “healing” and “energy-absorbing” properties and attempted to recruit salespeople into a multilevel marketing operation.

In a statement Tuesday, Weihai Ruihong said it would terminate its relationship with Beijing Hongzheng, accusing the latter of false advertising. (Image: @凤凰网财经 on Weibo)

23 hours

Police in eastern Zhejiang province have arrested several people suspected of selling hacking software and compromising the security of thousands of home surveillance cameras, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Thursday.

A staff member from the Public Security Bureau in Wenzhou told the media outlet that between August and November, local police had arrested 32 suspects from across China for hacking “hundreds of thousands” of security cameras and selling surveillance footage from the compromised cameras. The hacked cameras were installed in “sensitive spots” across “a wide range” of locations, including bedrooms, beauty parlors, and private clubs.

The arrests are the latest in a series of voyeurism scandals that have recently made headlines in China. In June, a shopper at a Uniqlo clothing store in the southern city of Shenzhen discovered a hidden camera in the fitting room, prompting local authorities to launch an investigation. Two months earlier, a university in the eastern city of Nanjing also said it had improved the privacy of a bathhouse for female students after the pupils complained of men peeping from outside. (Image: Tuchong)

23 hours

The Chinese authors of two academic journals on Wednesday apologized for the “mixed up” data in their published papers following a U.S.-based independent researcher raising doubts in an online scientific research forum.

Hou Yujun, one of the authors of a paper on a traditional Chinese medicine formula for the treatment of memory deficits, said she had “inadvertently mixed up” the images showing the results of an experiment conducted on mice, but the “mix-up of the representative image does not affect the conclusion of this experiment.” On Tuesday, U.S.-based researcher Elisabeth Bik had flagged the “very similar” images from the 2014 research published on PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal.

Sun Bing, a corresponding author of another paper flagged by Bik, also apologized for mixing up films that presented incorrect data, adding the team will send a corrigendum to the Journal of Immunology, which published their research.

Pei Gang, who was called out by a high-profile neuroscientist for academic malpractice earlier this month, is one of the corresponding authors for both of the papers flagged by Bik.

Last month, Bik had also raised doubts over “possible image duplications” in academic papers written by prominent Chinese academician Cao Xuetao and his team. (Image: PubPeer)

1 day

Chinese authorities have vowed to strengthen treatment and preventive measures for pneumoconiosis, a lung disease common in certain industries.

In a joint notice Tuesday, the National Health Commission and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said that, from next year, workers in industries such as mining, metallurgy, and building materials will be covered under a three-year special work injury compensation insurance program. Workers who are diagnosed with pneumoconiosis should be compensated “in a timely manner,” according to the notice, and treated with drugs and medical procedures covered by the insurance scheme.

The announcement — which also proposes a three-year campaign to implement preventive measures in high-risk industries, including regular health checks — comes after a spate of recent protests across the country in which workers banded together to demand compensation for workplace-related ailments and injuries.

Pneumoconiosis is a lung disease caused by excessive inhalation of dust or other particulate matter, with symptoms including cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. At the end of 2018, some 873,000 people in China had been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, accounting for about 90% of the total domestic cases of occupational disease, according to the National Health Commission. (Image: The Paper)

2 days

China has executed a man who 17 years ago killed three officials as they prepared to force his pregnant wife to have an abortion in accordance with the now-scrapped family-planning initiative commonly known as the “one-child policy.”

Wang Changsheng of Suixi County in the eastern province of Anhui was put to death on Dec. 4, the Intermediate People’s Court of Huaibei City announced last week.

In 2000, four rural officials discovered that Wang and his wife, surnamed Li, were concealing an illegal pregnancy in her father’s home. At the time, family planning laws allowed rural couples to have a second child if their first was a daughter. Wang and Li already had two daughters but did not terminate the pregnancy, as Wang hoped for a son.

The officials planned to bring Wang and Li back to Suixi and arrange for Li to have an abortion. But during the journey, Wang attacked them with a metal hammer, killing three of them. He then absconded from justice for 17 years, changing his name to avoid detection for the murders.

The case is a reminder that the effects of China’s decadeslong one-child policy continue to haunt the country long after its abolition. In 2016, amid concerns of a looming demographic crisis, the policy was changed to allow all Chinese couples to have two children. (Image: VCG)

(Republished with permission from Caixin Global.)

2 days

China has launched a new national research institute that will focus on educating the country’s children about artificial intelligence from a young age and introduce more AI applications into the academic arena, The Beijing News reported Tuesday.

The China Children’s Artificial Intelligence Education Research Institute is a collaborative project of the China National Children’s Center, a nonprofit under the country’s Cabinet; the Ministry of Education; and top schools like Peking University. The institute aims to research how AI will change the way kids learn and to spark an interest in AI that will prepare them well for a technology-saturated future.

China has ambitious plans to become a global AI superpower, but research shows it’s still lagging behind developed nations in terms of AI talent. With an aim to developing the domestic AI sector, Chinese authorities in 2017 announced a plan to get education institutions to expand the AI talent pool by encouraging children to learn techniques such as coding and improving the current education system through “intelligent education,” which entails using AI in teaching and implementing technologies like facial recognition in the classroom(Image: The Paper)

2 days

China Customs has issued an import ban on cattle from India as the South Asian country grapples with several recent outbreaks of “lumpy skin disease,” an infection related to smallpox that causes weakness, reduced milk production, infertility, and sometimes death in affected animals.

The ban, published Wednesday on China Customs’ official WeChat account, went into effect last Friday. It calls for an indefinite prohibition on importing cattle or related products from India, either directly or indirectly. Any such products of Indian origin found on inbound ships, aircraft, or other means of transport will be “sealed up,” while any illegal imports will be “destroyed,” the notice said.

On Nov. 18, India’s animal husbandry department reported three recent outbreaks of lumpy skin disease, the first occurring in August, to the World Organisation for Animal Health. The virus that causes lumpy skin disease is highly infectious in cattle but does not affect humans.

So far this year, India has been the world’s second-largest exporter of beef, trailing only Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. China, meanwhile, is the world’s second-largest beef importer behind the U.S. and is currently experiencing a spike in beef and poultry consumption in part due to African swine fever ravaging the country’s pork supply over the past year, driving up prices. (Image: The Paper)

3 days

Schools and offices should be equipped with air purifiers to limit people’s exposure to indoor pollutants, China’s National Health Commission said in a guideline published Tuesday.

The guideline, which was sent to provincial-level health commissions last week, also recommends that indoor areas including kindergartens, schools, and gyms, install ventilation systems that reduce carbon dioxide levels. On heavy smog days, people should stay indoors or wear protective masks if they must go outside, the guideline said.

As coal-fueled heaters fire up each winter to combat the cold, China’s northern cities frequently become enveloped in toxic smog. In 2017, an undisclosed number of schools in Beijing received funding to install air-purification systems after the city’s education commission received numerous complaints from concerned parents. This year, central environmental authorities set stricter emissions targets for highly polluted cities in a bid to improve air quality. (Image: The Paper)

3 days

The southern province of Guangdong has drafted a new domestic violence regulation that would expand the scope of abuse and add measures to protect minors from such acts, Beijing Youth Daily reported Sunday.

According to the draft regulation, behaviors such as humiliation, slander, privacy violations, threats, stalking, and harassment have been defined as non-physical domestic violence. The draft also classifies minors who witness domestic violence as victims of such acts.

Chen Yongkang, vice director of the provincial government body that drafted the regulation, said the scope of the law would be broadened due to growing instances of abuse on the internet, adding that disgruntled partners leaking private information or abusing each other online has become common.

Since China enacted its first domestic violence law in March 2016, provincial governments have also issued their own regulations. This March, the All-China Women’s Federation branch in the central Hunan province announced it would help male victims of domestic violence secure personal protection orders, expanding their application to include all victims irrespective of gender. (Image: VCG)

3 days

China’s cyberspace regulator has ordered two of the country’s leading photo agencies to temporarily suspend operations after they allegedly cooperated with foreign companies without authorization.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said Tuesday that it had instructed local officials to meet with representatives of Visual China Group (VCG) and IC Photo to convey word of the indefinite suspension. The authority accused the two companies of “illegally providing news information services without a license, as well as illegally cooperating with overseas firms without a security assessment.”

The websites for the two companies are currently down, instead displaying a message saying that they have started the “self-examination and rectification” process as mandated by the Cyberspace Administration.

This is not the first time the photo agencies have faced scrutiny from the authorities. In April, VCG shut down its website and apologized after being caught claiming the license to public-domain images, including the first-ever photo of a black hole. Internet regulators in the northern city of Tianjin later fined the agency 300,000 yuan ($42,600) over the offense. (Image: Sixth Tone)

3 days

Two and a half years after its international release, the Nintendo Switch is now officially available in China.

Tuesday’s product launch comes months after the Japanese gaming pioneer in April announced a partnership with Chinese tech giant and game developer Tencent to introduce Nintendo products to the world’s second-largest gaming market. The Switch bundle, currently available on domestic e-commerce platforms Tmall and JD.com, is priced at 2,099 yuan ($300), consistent with the product’s price in countries like Japan and the U.S.

The Chinese Switch bundle includes a copy of Nintendo’s hit game New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, sold separately for 299 yuan. Two other games — Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey — will be released in China soon. At a press conference last week, Tencent also confirmed the upcoming launch of the Switch Lite, a no-frills model at a lower price.

To stave off video gaming addiction in children, China in 2000 imposed a ban on the domestic sale of portable game consoles — though Nintendo DS and PlayStation Pocket imports, as well as locally produced imitations, were still readily available to the resourceful consumer. Despite the lifting of the handheld console ban in 2014, PCs and mobile phones have continued to dominate China’s gaming market.

The partnership with Tencent is not Nintendo’s first foray into China. In 2002, the Japanese company inked a joint venture with a local partner to sell a gaming console on the China market. That product, the iQue Player, was discontinued in 2016. (Image: @腾讯NintendoSwitch on Weibo)

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