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2019-07-18 11:37:55

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)

20 hours

Sexual harassment will soon have a clear legal definition in China, a top official said Wednesday.

Zang Tiewei, the newly appointed spokesman for the legal affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, said that the Chinese public has specifically called for sexual harassment to be defined by law. According to Zang, research shows that workplace harassment occurs when people in high positions abuse their authority to commit inappropriate acts — and that such cases are not limited to the office.

According to The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, Zang’s comments pertain to a current draft regulation on personality rights, for which the National People’s Congress collected nearly 32,000 comments from some 20,000 citizens earlier this year.

Also during Wednesday’s press conference, Zang drew critical attention by effectively ruling out legalization of same-sex marriage on the Chinese mainland. (Image: VCG)

23 hours

A university in the southwestern Sichuan province has temporarily suspended one of its professors after he disparaged some of China’s proudest innovations, known as the “four great inventions,” domestic media reported Thursday.

Zheng Wenfeng, an assistant professor at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, had said to his students in June that the country’s four ancient advances — printing, papermaking, the compass, and gunpowder — were not “substantial innovations.” After Zheng sent the messages in a chat group on social app QQ, he reportedly began removing students who questioned his views.

One student claiming to have been in the chat group posted screenshots of the texts on Q&A platform Zhihu. Last month, the university announced that Zheng had “lost the professional ethics of a teacher” and would be suspended for two years.

Zheng told the domestic media outlet that he feels no need to clarify or defend his views, and agrees with the school’s decision. “I want to focus on my research,” he said. “This issue is over.” (Image: IC)

1 day

Same-sex weddings will not be legally recognized on the Chinese mainland, in accordance with the country’s conservative views on marriage, a top Chinese official said Wednesday.

Responding to a journalist’s question about marriage equality, Zang Tiewei, a spokesman for the legal affairs committee of China’s top legislative body, said during a press conference that marriage is defined by Chinese law as a union between a man and a woman. He further called this view of marriage “consistent with our country’s national circumstances, history, and culture.”

“As far as I know, most countries in the world do not legally recognize same-sex marriage,” Zang said.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from an official list of mental disorders in 2001. Despite legal and social challenges, the country’s LGBT community has become more visible and vocal in recent years. Earlier this month, Beijing legally recognized its first mutual guardianship agreement between two people of the same sex, in a historic first for the city. (Image: IC)

1 day

For many Chinese children, after-school schools are a fact of life. According to a recent survey of 14,000 families, nearly 60% said they send their school-age children to private training centers — also called cram schools — for 6.6 hours per week on average.

Jointly published Tuesday by the China National Children’s Center and the Social Sciences Academic Press, the 2019 China Children’s Development Report is a stark reminder of the pressure children in the country face to stand out academically. The families surveyed — who hail from 10 cities and villages not named in the report — said their children do 1.5 hours of homework on average per weekday and, of the 6.6 hours they spend at training schools each week, around two-thirds of this time is allocated to subjects they’re already studying at school. Finally, families who send their children to extracurricular classes spend an average of 9,211 yuan ($1,300) per month, or over 12% of their income, to do so.

In recent years, China’s central government has taken measures to alleviate the academic burden on children — and, by proxy, their parents. But the country’s so-called happy education policy aimed at reducing homework has created new problems, with many parents viewing a diminished school workload as a chance to cram in even more after-school classes. (Image: VCG)

2 days

A private traditional Chinese medicine hospital in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, is being investigated for allegedly requiring its staff to recruit new patients, The Beijing News reported Monday.

Administrators at Zhengzhou West Area Hospital of TCM reportedly ordered each staff member to bring in five additional patients to be hospitalized, and said those who failed to meet the quota would have their salaries docked by 200 yuan ($28). One staff member told a local TV station last week that she had even brought her father in to be “treated.”

According to a code of conduct published by the Ministry of Health in 2012, medical workers are required to “safeguard patients’ legitimate rights and interests” and are forbidden from exploiting their positions for personal gain.

Song Zhigang, the hospital’s vice president, has been suspended from his duties for “problematic management,” and a larger, public hospital that entered into a partnership with Zhengzhou West in late May has ordered its sister institution to make the necessary rectifications or see the cooperation agreement terminated. An administrator at the public hospital told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, that his staff are being mobilized to investigate Zhengzhou West.

Public hospitals have long dominated China’s health care sector, but they’ve also earned a reputation for being resource-strapped and overburdened. Following a series of major health reforms in 2017, the central government has begun encouraging the development of the private health care industry to ease the burden on both public hospitals and welfare funds. (Image: 郑州楼市 on WeChat)

2 days

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or UIUC, on Monday announced a financial aid program to honor Zhang Yingying, a visiting scholar at the school who was abducted and murdered in June 2017.

The university will use Yingying’s Fund — founded with the support of Zhang’s family — to help international students and their families “during times of hardship,” according to the campaign’s official crowdfunding page. The more than $58,000 donated so far can be allocated toward international students at UIUC who find themselves “in urgent need of access to funds.”

Zhang was 26 when security footage showed her get into a car at a bus stop in June 2017, just two months into her studies at the university. It was the last time she was seen alive. On July 18, an Illinois court convicted Brendt Christensen of murdering Zhang and sentenced him to life in prison(Image: From the Yingying’s Fund crowdfunding page)

2 days

Shanghai on Tuesday inaugurated an expansion of its free trade zone, according to a report by Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper.

The added area, Lingang New City, is located along the southeastern coast of the municipality and covers an area of nearly 120 square kilometers. It also includes the site of a Tesla “gigafactory” that is expected to begin production by the end of the year. According to the State Council, China’s Cabinet, the expansion to the free trade zone will “facilitate overseas investment” and the “free flow of goods.”

Established in Pudong New Area in September 2013, the Shanghai free trade zone initially covered 29 square kilometers before being slated for expansion to 120 square kilometers in late 2014. During the first China International Import Expo last November, President Xi Jinping announced plans for the expansion “to capitalize on the important role of Shanghai and other areas in China’s opening-up.” (Image: Chen Zhengbao for Sixth Tone)

3 days

Authorities in eastern China’s Fujian province are investigating a parcel shipped from the United States after it was found to contain a firearm.

In a statement Sunday, the Jin’an District branch of Fuzhou’s public security bureau said the parcel was mailed from an American client using FedEx’s courier service to a local sporting goods company, without elaborating. Police have taken custody of the weapon as they continue their investigation.

The incident involving FedEx comes over two months after the American logistics company apologized to Chinese telecom giant Huawei for rerouting several of its packages without authorization. State-run news outlet Global Times reported last month that FedEx had delayed the delivery of more than 100 Huawei packages to the company’s offices in China, slights that could warrant inclusion on the Ministry of Commerce’s “unreliable entities” list. (Image: VCG)

3 days

Elkeson, the Brazilian forward for powerhouse Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, has earned a roster spot with the country’s national team and will suit up for FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the Maldives next month, according to an announcement Sunday from the Asian Football Confederation.

The 30-year-old Elkeson — who, under FIFA rules, is eligible to play for China after having lived in the country for over six years — is the first-ever foreign-born player with no Chinese ancestry to be included on China’s top squad.

Earlier this year, Team China also added its first naturalized citizen, Nico Yennaris, to its ranks in May. The Londoner with mixed Cypriot-Chinese ancestry — who is widely known in the country by his Chinese name, Li Ke — gave up his British nationality to become a Chinese citizen in January. (Image: IC)

3 days

A man who was caught sticking flyers on hundreds of shared bikes in eastern China has opted to undo his handiwork rather than pay a fine.

After a court in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, fined the unnamed man 1,500 yuan ($210) for pasting ads on blue Hellobikes throughout the city, the shared-bike company offered to accept restitution in lieu of money, according to a report Friday by China News Service. The same day, a staff member from the company supervised the man as he removed illegal flyers from 200 of the company’s bikes.

The man — who told the authorities he earned just 0.01 yuan per ad and admitted to having pasted hundreds on the day he was caught in February — had already been fined 400 yuan by the Hefei Urban Administrative Bureau.

Shared bikes have become popular targets for illegal ads. Last August, a Shanghai court ordered a business that had pasted flyers promoting car seat covers and hotel apps on Mobikes to pay the shared-bike company 100,000 yuan, in the country’s first judicial ruling involving such ads. (Image: China News Service)

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