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2019-08-15 09:58:59

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said Wednesday that it is considering lowering the minimum age for its passengers from 18 to 16, allowing some minors to use the service independently.

According to the proposed rule, passengers aged 16 and over would be able to order vehicles through the Didi app as long as they had designated an emergency contact before prior traveling alone. If the new age limit is implemented — Didi has not given a timeline — passengers between 16 and 18 will only be matched with drivers with exemplary ratings.

The platform’s announcement comes nearly a year after it barred individual passengers under 18 years of age in October. However, according to a poll the company conducted in February, over half of nearly 700,000 respondents were in favor of allowing minors to travel alone.

China has been tightening regulations on ride-hailing companies after murder cases involving Didi drivers in Henan and Zhejiang provinces sparked safety concerns among customers last year. While Didi has introduced a host of added safety measures in the months since, China’s transport ministry said in May 2018 that a new review system would be implemented to hold ride-hailing drivers to the same standards as taxi drivers. (Image: VCG)

13 hours

The Chinese Embassy in the U.K. has scheduled a chartered flight Thursday for less than 200 underage Chinese students who have yet to leave the country, according to financial outlet Caixin.

The flight was arranged parents from over 160 families — none of whom are permitted on board — petitioned the embassy in mid-March to help send their children home. Earlier the same month, the Chinese ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming said there were around 15,000 Chinese minors studying in the country.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Tuesday that another group of 200-plus overseas students who were stranded in Ethiopia during transit had returned to China after a special flight was arranged. Also this week, a top official from China’s Ministry of Education said that just 180,000 out of 1.6 million Chinese students abroad have returned home. (Image: Xinhua)

15 hours

As of Tuesday, there were 1,367 asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus under medical observation in China, marking the first time data for this group has been publicly disclosed.

According to a notice from the National Health Commission, two previously asymptomatic carriers were designated “confirmed cases” on Tuesday, while another 302 finished their 14-day quarantine periods and were discharged from medical observation. The notice said Tuesday’s figure of 1,367 asymptomatic carriers was lower than the previous day’s total by 174 cases.

The Chinese public has become increasingly concerned about the risk of so-called silent carriers spreading the virus after several recently documented infections pointed to this group as a possible source of infection.

On March 29, the central Henan province reported a diagnosed case of COVID-19 after 30 days of no new infections. By tracking the movements of that patient, authorities were able to identify an asymptomatic carrier. A recent study from the eastern city of Ningbo suggested that asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus may be just as infectious as sick patients.

The National Health Commission said Tuesday that it will release daily updates on the number of new asymptomatic carriers from April 1. According to the commission, these carriers are mostly being identified through screenings of confirmed patients’ close contacts or investigations of COVID-19 clusters. (Image: Xinhua)

17 hours

The highest court in central China’s Henan province on Wednesday declared a man innocent after he was handed a suspended death sentence in 2006 for poisoning two children.

In November 2004, two children in a Henan village were found poisoned with tetramine, a common rodenticide. One child recovered; the other died. Wu Chunhong, a villager who had been involved in trivial disputes with the children’s family, was arrested and charged with homicide.

Wu’s family pleaded his innocence for over a decade, filing appeal after appeal. In September 2018, the Supreme People’s Court ruled there had been insufficient evidence to convict Wu of homicide and ordered a retrial in the Henan High People’s Court.

In an earlier interview with Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper, Wu’s daughter said her father never confessed to his alleged crime, and even refused to accept a commuted sentence.

In 2018, China’s courts corrected the verdicts of 1,821 criminal cases, reversing guilty decisions in the cases of 819 convicted criminals. (Image: The Paper)

1 day

Commuters across China may need to change some of their eyebrow-raising behaviors thanks to a new set of subway etiquette rules.

From April 1, passengers on subways nationwide will be prohibited from consuming food or using speakers on their electronic devices, according to the country’s Ministry of Transport. The notice, initially published in October 2019, also forbids hawkers and performers, lying across multiple train seats, and live animals, with the exception of service and police dogs.

Whether violators will be subject to punishment is not yet clear.

On microblogging platform Weibo, the speaker ban has been particularly well-received, with many users complaining of being subjected to bad music or loud conversations. Some have suggested that the same rule should also be applied to long-distance trains and buses. (Image: VCG)

1 day

A dam leak at a molybdenum mine in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province is at risk of contaminating the water supply of nearby residents, local authorities said at a press conference Monday.

The leak occurred Saturday at a tailings pond of the Yichun Luming Mining Co. Ltd., located more than 200 kilometers from the provincial capital of Harbin. Tailings are usually a liquid slurry consisting of unwanted ground minerals separated by ore extraction.

Authorities said that about 2.5 million cubic meters of wastewater had leaked into the province’s Yijimi River, a surface water source for some 300,000 people in Tieli City. The city suspended its surface water intake on Sunday and switched to extracting groundwater.

Molybdenum is a metal used in making steel and other alloys. It is unclear if excessive exposure to molybdenum could present health risks for humans. (Image: From @新华视点 on Weibo)

2 days

Luo Yonghao, the founder of debt-ridden Chinese smartphone brand Smartisan, said Thursday that he will start selling products on the widely used short video platform Douyin — the Chinese name for TikTok — via livestreams, just a week after announcing more general plans to move into e-commerce via livestreaming.

The first livestream will take place April 1, when some “affordable and fancy products” will go on sale, Luo said in a video published to his personal account on social app WeChat. Previously, the tech entrepreneur had said that his team would focus on selling digital gadgets, “cultural” and “creative” products, books, groceries, and snacks.

Livestreaming sales are Luo’s latest business venture after he met substantial setbacks in his previous businesses, including e-cigarettes and synthetic shark skins. His new venture also comes as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many of China’s brick-and-mortar retailers to turn to livestreaming to promote and sell their products to offset virus-linked losses.

ByteDance-owned Douyin is one of the major players in China’s commercial livestreaming market, along with Alibaba’s Taobao Live and Kuaishou. In January, it was the fifth most downloaded non-game app on Apple’s China app store, according to research firm App Annie. (Image: IC)

Republished with permission from Caixin Global.

5 days

A biotech company in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen is under fire for allegedly producing and selling inaccurate COVID-19 test kits.

The city’s market regulator said Friday that the company, Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology Co. Ltd., is under investigation after multiple media outlets reported that its test kits were far less accurate than anticipated.

A report Friday by the Spanish newspaper El País said test kits the Spanish government had purchased from Bioeasy were only 30% sensitive — far lower than the 80% sensitivity the company had promised. Bioeasy responded Friday, saying that if the accuracy was that low, it was because the tests were not being used correctly.

“The sampling, extraction, and operation of nasopharyngeal swab samples may not be strictly followed in accordance with our operating instructions, resulting in a decline in the accuracy of sample detection,” the notice said.

Bioeasy added that it would replace the allegedly unreliable batch of test kits and further evaluate its product’s accuracy in the coming days. (Image: Xinhua)

5 days

A total of 205 movie theaters in Shanghai will resume business from Saturday and start screening old movies as the local film industry attempts to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, local authorities announced Thursday.

The cinemas will screen nearly 20 old titles, including Oscar-winning American drama “Green Book,” Chinese animated blockbuster “Ne Zha,” and teen drama “Better Days,” which have been rereleased by China Film Co. Ltd. for screenings nationwide. For one month starting from Saturday, Shanghai moviegoers who purchase box office tickets online will receive one 10-yuan ($1.40) voucher per ticket. A total of 600,000 tickets are slated to be subsidized, according to the statement.

Compared with other industries, China’s movie theaters are recovering at a slower pace as audiences remain cautious of confined, crowded spaces. Over the weekend, more than 500 of the country’s cinemas reopened; however, the total box office revenue for the two days was just 72,400 yuan. (Image: From @瞭望智库 on Weibo)

5 days

A woman in Beijing is under investigation for contacting police after an argument with her boyfriend and telling them he was infected with the COVID-19 virus, The Beijing News reported Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the woman, surnamed Shao, falsely reported to local police that her boyfriend, surnamed Wang, was infected with the coronavirus and traveling by train from the capital to the city of Jincheng in the northern Shanxi province. Authorities later found Wang on the train but deduced that he was unlikely to be infected after checking his temperature and documents proving he had recently observed quarantine.

Shao later admitted that she was only trying to locate Wang, as he had not been answering her phone calls after their argument. She is now under investigation for “lying to the police and creating panic,” the report said.

As of Thursday, China has investigated over 22,000 coronavirus-related crimes and arrested over 4,200 suspects, according to the country’s Ministry of Public Security. (Image: Beijing police)

2020-03-25 06:48:08

Beijing border authorities have barred four foreigners from entering China due to unspecified violations of COVID-19 prevention and control policies.

Ji Lixia, deputy chief of the city’s border inspection, said Tuesday that incoming passengers may be refused entry to China if they violate quarantine protocol, though she did not say whether this was the case for the four foreigners.

On Tuesday, the Beijing government announced that, in addition to mandatory 14-day quarantines at designated locations, all incoming passengers would also be tested for COVID-19.

Last week, Beijing police canceled the work permit of an Australian national who flouted her home quarantine order to go jogging. (Image: Sixth Tone)