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2020-01-16 04:59:21

Less than a week after CEO Elon Musk showed off his company’s first made-in-China vehicles, along with his own memorable dance moves, electric carmaker Tesla announced that it is planning to open a new design center in China with the aim of creating “designed in China” cars, according to an official post Wednesday on social app WeChat.

Tesla’s post described the plan to open a design studio in China as “a very cool thing” that Musk had proposed in order to shift gears from “made in China” to “designed in China.” The company hopes to incorporate “the most beautiful Chinese art into the future-facing Tesla,” and is already soliciting designs for original, “Chinese-style” vehicles, to be sent to an email address included in the post by Feb. 1.

Musk has high hopes for Tesla in the China market, thanks in part to his cozy relationship with top officials. Tesla was the first foreign carmaker allowed to set up an independent operation in China, and its Shanghai Gigafactory — the company’s first such facility outside the U.S. — took just 10 months to build, and has been cranking out Model 3 sedans since October. The company unveiled its first China-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Shanghai last week. (Image: From Tesla’s WeChat account)

22 hours

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport handed Chinese swimmer Sun Yang a unanimous eight-year ban from competition on Friday, effectively ending the Olympic gold medalist’s career.

“The CAS Panel unanimously determined, to its comfortable satisfaction, that the Athlete violated Article 2.5 FINA DC (Tampering with any part of Doping Control),” the court wrote in a statement explaining its ruling. Within hours, Sun announced he would appeal the decision.

The case stemmed from a September 2018 confrontation with anti-doping officials at Sun’s home, during which the swimmer’s bodyguard smashed vials containing already-collected blood samples. The World Anti-Doping Agency filed an appeal with CAS after FINA, swimming’s governing body, determined in January 2019 that Sun had not violated anti-doping rules.

Sun had previously been slapped with a three-month ban by Chinese swimming authorities after testing positive for a banned stimulant, trimetazidine, in 2014. Rival Australian swimmer Mack Horton later called him a “drug cheat” during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and refused to share a podium with him at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

The 28-year-old Sun will be eligible to compete again in February 2028. (Image: IC)

23 hours

A company in the central Hunan province has apologized for trying to trademark the name of the doctor who tried to sound the alarm about COVID-19 and later died from the virus, a local cyberspace department said Thursday.

A representative of Changsha Fuchatang Electronic Commerce Co. Ltd., surnamed Jiang, had filed four applications to trademark Li Wenliang’s name as soon as his death was officially announced Feb. 7, according to a district cyberspace department in the provincial capital of Changsha.

The death of the 34-year-old doctor sparked an outpouring of grief and anger on the Chinese internet, with many criticizing the authorities for punishing him when he was only trying to warn his colleagues about the then-unknown virus.

According to the statement, the company “violated social morality and caused an adverse impact on society.” Changsha’s intellectual property office and local market supervision administration had jointly ordered Changsha Fuchatang to withdraw the trademark applications and apologize.

In the apology letter posted together with Thursday’s statement, the company’s representative attributed their actions to “a lack of legal awareness” and said they regretted the harm caused to the deceased doctor’s family and the public. (Image: Weibo)

1 day

A popular mobile game in which players create a novel pathogen and try to wipe out humanity has been removed from app stores in China, where the first cases of COVID-19 were detected.

Ndemic Creations, the developers of Plague Inc., announced the news Thursday, saying the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) had informed them that the game “includes content that is illegal in China,” a market where the game has been largely successful for years.

In the game, players can choose from several modes that share a common theme: customizing a pathogen and infecting as many people as possible before humanity develops a cure.

In late January, Plague Inc. soared to the top of app stores in China as well as a number of other countries. At the time, the developers released a statement asking players to “please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people.”

In Thursday’s statement, Ndemic Creations said they did not know whether the game’s removal was linked to “the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing” and vowed to communicate with the CAC “to understand their concerns and work with them to find a resolution.” (Image: TechNode)

1 day

A man in southern China’s Guangdong province was detained 15 days after insulting top Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan on social media, a local procuratorate said Wednesday.

According to the procuratorate in Zhongshan City, the man, surnamed Tu, had made incendiary remarks about Zhong — who is also leading China’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 epidemic — in posts on social messaging app WeChat in January and February. Police detained Tu on Feb. 4 after his defamatory posts were reported.

“My New Year’s wish is, I hope more Chinese people will die, and Zhong Nanshan deserves to die the most,” Tu had posted, according to the local police department’s Douyin, or TikTok, account. “All Chinese deserve to die,” he added.

Tu was detained for “illegal speech” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to the procuratorate. In a photo posted by the judicial body, Tu is seen being reprimanded by two officials via conference call, and being made to write and sign an apology letter addressing Zhong and his fellow citizens.

Previously, authorities have detained people under a law that makes it illegal to criticize “heroes and martyrs” or sensitive historical events. In 2018, a man in the southwestern Sichuan province was detained over chat messages he wrote that insulted victims of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, while four people were detained last year for mocking firefighters killed in a forest fire. (Image: Xinhua)

2020-02-19 09:16:34

With the COVID-19 epidemic delaying the new school semester in China, education officials in the eastern city of Jinan have suggested that working women should apply for leave in order to stay home and care for their children.

“For families comprised of two working spouses and a young child, we suggest that the women apply to their companies to take care of their children at home,” Wang Pinmu, the director of Jinan’s education bureau, said at a press conference Monday.

Jinan education officials have been in communication with local businesses about cooperating with this recommendation since Feb. 8, according to Wang.

The policy — and the implication that mothers bear a greater responsibility to care for their children than fathers — has sparked online backlash, with a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo viewed 11 million times.

“This news made me laugh,” wrote one Weibo user. “What would it have cost them to just say ‘one spouse can ask for leave’?” (Image: Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone)

2020-02-18 09:51:24

A conference-call app that has seen a surge in usage as China’s schools opt for distance learning to cope with the coronavirus epidemic has issued a heartfelt plea to its juvenile users: Please stop leaving one-star reviews.

Earlier this month, the Alibaba-owned app DingTalk had debuted a special feature called Zaijia Shangke, or “Homeschooling,” in response to governments and schools across the country announcing delays to resuming normal classes. But students who presumably don’t enjoy studying at home have review-bombed the app with one-star ratings and caustic comments like “Give a five-star rating in five installments.”

On Tuesday, DingTalk’s rating on Apple’s App Store was down to 2.6 out of 5. In a video the platform posted Sunday on microblogging platform Weibo, a tearful cartoon bird sings a catchy plea:

                         Please spare my life, young heroes,
                         you guys are my papas.
                         Please give five stars in one installment.
                         Can you do that, please? I beg you guys.

With the novel coronavirus being more easily transmitted in crowded spaces like classrooms, online teaching has become a widely adopted fallback plan. According to Alibaba, 50 million students in more than 300 Chinese cities are now using Zaijia Shangke for distance learning. (GIF: @钉钉 on Weibo)

2020-01-22 10:24:01

The Payment & Clearing Association of China on Tuesday issued a landmark guideline for strengthening the regulation of facial-recognition payment options available at some brick-and-mortar retailers.

The document claims to be the first regulation aimed at protecting users’ privacy when it comes to collecting, storing, and using facial data. According to the new guideline, users’ facial data must be encrypted, and merchants must provide additional payment methods so that users who opt to pay through facial recognition are consenting to doing so.

Merchants and any third parties involved in the payment process — such as WeChat or Alipay, China’s two dominant mobile payment platforms — are prohibited from storing users’ facial or other personal data, the guideline said.

As facial-recognition technology sees a widening range of applications in China, the public has become increasingly concerned with privacy and data security. Last year, the briefly popular “deepfake” app Zao came under fire for reserving the right to sell its users’ data. Afterward, Alipay — which has facial-recognition payment devices in over 100 cities — had to reassure users that its system could not be hacked using such face-swapping technology. (Image: Tuchong)

2020-01-22 07:58:26

Shanghai’s mayor is urging city officials to behave like “shop assistants” when serving foreign companies in a bid to improve the city’s business environment.

At a press conference Monday, Mayor Ying Yong said government departments should be serving enterprises like sales associates so that more companies — both foreign and domestic — will consider setting up operations in the country’s financial capital. Domestic media quoted him as saying that officials can do this by “not being arrogant, but rather responsive to all requests in order to fully activate the vitality of the market.”

The mayor’s remarks follow Chinese President Xi Jinping vowing to continue improving the country’s business environment at the opening ceremony of the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. Last year, the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranked China 31st out of 190 economies, up from 46th place in 2018 and 78th in 2017, and named the country among its “top 10 improvers.” (Image: The Paper)

2020-01-21 10:03:03

Authorities in the eastern Anhui province have come to the conclusion that wearing pajamas in public isn’t a fashion faux pas — or uncivilized, for that matter.

In a statement Monday, the city administration bureau of Suzhou said it had “withdrawn” an article that shamed seven pajama-wearing people for “uncivilized behavior,” along with their photos and personal information. The bureau said the article posted on its social media platform was published after an “inadequate review process.”

In August 2019, the bureau had announced it was soliciting photographs of so-called uncivilized behaviors from the public, with each approved photo awarded 10 yuan ($1.50).

In recent years, local officials have increased their efforts to police citizens’ behavior and improve their cities’ images. In July of last year, authorities in the eastern city of Jinan issued a guideline against the “Beijing bikini,” barring men from rolling up their shirts and baring their midriffs in public.

A month later, Beijing issued a survey asking residents to select 10 out of 20 uncivilized behaviors — which included spitting in public, petty vandalism, and cutting in line — that they would want to see punished. (Image: @宿州城管服务超市 on WeChat)

2020-01-21 09:30:48

A hospital in eastern China’s Zhejiang province has angered some online by installing urinals in women’s toilets.

The Hangzhou First People’s Hospital had intended for the urinals to be a convenience for mothers of young boys, local media outlet Qianjiang Evening News reported Sunday. A hospital staff member told domestic outlet Red Star News that the urinals have actually been in use since 2015.

Years-old or not, the urinals have gone viral this week on Chinese social media. Some have supported the initiative for aiming to make mothers’ lives easier, while others have expressed concerns about privacy and children’s gender awareness, suggesting unisex bathrooms as an alternative.

The employee said the hospital might consider introducing gender-neutral bathrooms in the future to cater to people with special needs, including those with disabilities, pregnant women, or parents with children of the opposite sex. (Image: @小时视频 on Weibo)