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2019-04-30 07:19:55

China’s top health authority has said nearsightedness among the country’s young people increases at an alarming rate as they mature.

At a press conference Monday, representatives from the National Health Commission said that 81% of China’s high school students are affected by myopia, according to an official press release about the event. Nearsightedness is observed among just 14.5% of school children aged 6 in the country, yet it affects 36% of elementary schoolers and 71.6% of middle schoolers. The findings were based on a survey of over 1.1 million children and teenagers from 4,843 schools across China.

Reducing the rate of myopia among young people has become an important goal for the central government. Last year, eight government departments, including the National Health Commission, jointly released a guideline aiming to reduce the rate of myopia among 6-year-olds to around 3% by 2030, with a target rate of 70% set for high schoolers. (Image: IC)

22 hours

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)

22 hours

Chinese search engine Baidu has apologized after one of its news editors logged into the account of a man whose daughter died in a recent kidnapping to post a eulogy.

In a statement Saturday, Baidu said the editor from its news aggregation platform who posted a message earlier that day as a tribute to 9-year-old Zhang Zixin had been fired, adding that the company was “ashamed … for hurting the feelings of Zixin’s family members.” The editor had used the verified account of the girl’s father, Zhang Jun, on the platform’s news aggregation site to post the message without the family’s knowledge or consent.

Zixin had been missing since July 7, when her family lost contact with a couple that had asked to take the girl on a trip to Shanghai. On Sunday, authorities announced that the girl’s body had been found on Saturday afternoon off the coast of the eastern Zhejiang province, with a preliminary investigation suggesting she was forcibly drowned.

The couple — who were themselves found drowned in Zhejiang on July 8 in an apparent double suicide — have been identified as major suspects in the case, according to police. (Image: IC/The Paper)

24 hours

An unlicensed clinic in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin was found to be offering a one-week “training course” in plastic surgery, according to a report published Monday by The Beijing News.

Priced at 6,800 yuan ($990), the course enrolled 12 students concurrently and claimed to teach the theory and practical skills necessary to perform over 10 varieties of cosmetic procedures including face-lifts, jawline contouring, and double-eyelid surgeries. Upon completing the course, the students were awarded certificates and provided with contact information for vendors of cheap but “unlicensed” drugs, which would allow them to perform cosmetic surgeries on their own customers at home or in private studios, the report said.

Rampant malpractice in China’s cosmetic surgery industry can deter would-be customers. According to a 2018 white paper jointly issued by the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics and several collaborating institutions, there are around 17,000 licensed medical personnel in the country’s cosmetic surgery industry — compared with over 150,000 unlicensed workers. In early July, a separate report from The Beijing News revealed that an unlicensed training center in Beijing had been providing hair transplant “certifications” to pupils after just two days’ instruction. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Several state-run media outlets in China have slammed social media users for glibly citing sensitive historical events to express their adoration for celebrities.

People’s Daily, Global Times, and China Youth Daily were among those that wrote sharply worded posts on their respective Weibo microblogs on Friday, discouraging people from “ridiculing” historical events regarded as national tragedies. A recent internet trend has seen netizens penning online love letters to superstars that include allusions to the Cultural Revolution and other touchy periods from the past.

China Youth Daily shared screenshots of social media posts in which one netizen purportedly wrote to a celebrity, “You are my Treaty of Nanjing, you are the beginning of my downfall” — a reference to the 19th-century agreement that saw Hong Kong ceded from China to Britain.

Global Times said that internet posts “making light of national humiliations” are “proof of stupidity” among netizens. On Thursday, Weibo announced that it is clamping down on such content, adding that posts using the phrase “Treaty of Nanjing” would be barred from the microblogging platform for the next three days. (Image: @中国历史研究院 on Weibo)

3 days

Eight people are dead and 17 were injured after a tour bus was struck by a falling boulder Thursday in southwestern China.

Authorities in Songpan County, Sichuan province, said four of the victims were found under the boulder and confirmed dead at the scene. The tour bus had been transporting 30 people from Songpan to Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, when the rockslide occurred, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.

Songpan County is home to the Jiuzhai Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its pristine natural beauty. The area also lies along the Longmenshan fault: In 2017, a magnitude 7 earthquake in the Jiuzhai Valley killed 25 people and injured a further 525. (Image: @人民日报 on Weibo)

3 days

A Chinese government commission has named and shamed 30 apps — a number of which are state-backed or otherwise widely used — for violating users’ data privacy, according to an official notice released Thursday.

The notice listed the Bank of China and Beijing Transport apps, both from government-affiliated entities, alongside eight others for lacking data privacy policies, while Facebook-like social app Renren and Tinder-like dating app Tantan were among the 20 called out for requiring multiple forms of unnecessary data collection in order to access their platforms. The commission, whose members are culled from the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, ordered the apps’ developers to “rectify” their software within 30 days.

Concerns over data security and privacy are on the rise in China. National authorities unveiled a draft regulation earlier this year in a bid to combat apps’ misuse of user data, and domestic media reported last week that cyber-police in the southern Guangdong province had found 1,048 apps over-collecting such data. (Image: VCG)

4 days

A 55-year-old amateur dancer in eastern China has made headlines this week for an unlikely tale of infatuation, jealousy, and revenge.

According to a report Thursday by Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, police in Zhejiang province issued a five-day detention to the woman, surnamed Pan, for slandering three of her fellow “square dancers” — a Chinese term referring to the often middle-aged participants of group dancing sessions in the country’s public spaces.

Resentful that her usual partner had been dancing with others, Pan put up flyers around her neighborhood that accused the man of having “improper relationships” — a euphemism for sex — with two other square-dancing women. After police received a complaint from one of the two women on Sunday, Pan admitted to disseminating the disparaging materials.

Though square dancing to loud music is a popular pastime in Chinese cities, the noisy hobby has also inspired ire among onlookers and local residents. Hoping to cut back on dancers’ infiltration of certain spaces, authorities in 2017 introduced guidelines restricting square-dancing locations. (Image: VCG)

5 days

A man who plowed his vehicle into a group of schoolchildren in November, killing six, has been sentenced to death, a court in northeastern China’s Liaoning province ruled Tuesday.

The court said the defendant, Han Jihua, had “seriously endangered public safety” and should be “severely punished,” regardless of the circumstances leading up to the incident. An earlier trial had determined that the attack was motivated by financial pressure and a marital dispute, and that Han had intended to take his own life in the crash.

In May, another man was sentenced to death after stabbing three students and a parent outside a primary school in Shanghai. Earlier this year, the city published a guideline outlining new security requirements for local kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools. (Image: 红星新闻 on WeChat)

5 days

Multiple families of Chinese women forced into sex slavery during World War II are now seeking compensation for a successful documentary on the subject, despite the fact that their relatives had no involvement in the film.

The families have claimed that Guo Ke, the director of “Twenty-Two,” should provide them with payment because “there would be no such subject matter without the effort” of so-called comfort women in general, according to a report Tuesday by domestic outlet Red Star News. Guo reportedly dismissed the request because neither the families nor their comfort women relatives, who had already died prior to the film’s production, contributed to the project.

“Twenty-Two” achieved critical and commercial success following its 2017 release in mainland theaters, becoming the first Chinese documentary to rake in more than 100 million yuan (then $14.8 million) at the domestic box office. In 2018, Guo and thousands of crowdfunders raised over 10 million yuan to support survivors, their families, and research on the subject. (Image: Douban)

5 days

A Beijing court has ordered a beverage chain to compensate actor Yang Ying, popularly known as Angelababy, 1 million yuan ($145,300) for using her name to promote its brand without her permission, according to a court document published Monday.

The Chaoyang District People’s Court ruled that Hangzhou-based company QE Cup had misled the public by using the actor’s name and fame to promote its brand since September 2017. Angelababy had sued the company for unilaterally making her its brand ambassador and using her likeness for QE Cup promotions.

The court also ordered QE Cup to apologize to the actor from its official accounts on social platforms WeChat and Weibo for 10 consecutive days. However, as of Wednesday evening, the company had yet to issue a public apology.

In 2016, Angelababy’s use of — and apparent preference for — her English stage name sparked debate about the pros and cons of growing Western influence in China. (Image: @北京朝阳法院 on Weibo)

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