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SOCIETY & CULTURE

By Yang Rui and Ren Qiuyu / May 21, 2019 02:59 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

China’s burgeoning “danmei” novels have hit an obstacle. An author of the genre, which features homoerotic love stories between two men aimed at a young female audience online, has been sentenced to prison for “illegal publishing.”

The author, who writes under the name “Mr. Deep Sea,” was sentenced to a prison term of four years and fined 120,000 yuan ($17,350) for printing and selling copies of her online novels without the legally-required official book number, price and publisher’s name. She was first detained in December 2017 while signing copies of her latest self-published novel, “The Caged Emperor.”

Five associates received sentences as well. Two merchants who had sold her work on Taobao each received three years’ imprisonment and a 100,000 yuan fine, and three printers were sentenced to 2.5 years imprisonment and a 60,000 yuan fine.

The Wuhan court that held the trial said that the five defendants “each played an indispensable role” in the illegal publishing of the novels. Caixin learned that the author’s father was unhappy with the court’s decision and plans to appeal.

The defense lawyer of one of the Taobao operators pointed out that the law applied in this case is more than 20 years old. “The law often lags behind complexities in society,” he said. “The law should be adjusted and perfected according to new situations that appear in life.”

Related: Research Reveals Difficulties of China’s LGBTQ Students


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SOCIETY & CULTURE

By Timmy Shen / May 17, 2019 04:26 PM / Society & Culture

A march in support of same-sex marriage held in Taipei in 2015. Photo: IC Photo

A march in support of same-sex marriage held in Taipei in 2015. Photo: IC Photo

In a first for Asia, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage on Friday, which is also the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. 

Legislators in Taiwan voted in favor of a bill allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” with a clause that states same-sex couples would be able to “register for marriage” at household registration agencies. Same-sex couples will be able to register for marriage after May 24. 

In 2017, Taiwan’s top judicial body ruled that it was “unconstitutional” to restrict same-sex couples from getting married. It gave the legislature two years to work amend laws accordingly, and set May 24 as a deadline for the changes.  

LGBTQ rights supporters also gathered outside the legislature in Taipei on Friday. “I’m deeply moved,” said Liu Tzu-wei, waiting in the rain for the ruling outside the legislature. “It’s really emotional to see my gay friends finally have the right to get married.” 

Follow us for a full story on the landmark bill, to come soon.


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By Isabelle Li / May 17, 2019 03:48 PM / Society & Culture

I.M. Pei's famous Louvre Pyramid in Paris. Photo: VCG

I.M. Pei's famous Louvre Pyramid in Paris. Photo: VCG

Celebrated Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, who famously designed the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, passed away Thursday in the U.S. at the age of 102.

Pei won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is considered the field's highest honor. In addition to the once-controversial Pyramid, he designed the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, and, more recently, the Suzhou Museum in east China’s Jiangsu province.

Born in southern China’s Guangzhou, Pei spent his childhood in Hong Kong and adolescence in Shanghai before moving to the U.S. for college.

Follow us for a full story about his life, to come soon.


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By Ding Jie, Tang Peilan, Ji Siqi and Tang Ziyi / May 13, 2019 03:28 PM / Society & Culture

A village in Shangrao city, seen from above. Photo: VCG

A village in Shangrao city, seen from above. Photo: VCG

A man has confessed to stabbing a 10-year-old boy to death at a primary school in Southeastern China’s Jiangxi province, local police announced on Saturday.

The 41-year-old man, surnamed Wang, was arrested on the scene in Shangrao city just after the stabbing, local police said in a statement that day. The victim, Liu, was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment, but doctors were unable to save him.

Police said in the Friday statement that the incident came after a dispute between the suspect’s child and the victim. Screenshots Caixin acquired, which are believed to be from a WeChat group for the class’s parents, show that Wang accused Liu of continuing to bully his daughter the day before the incident despite being told not to several times already.

Caixin has also learned that the head teacher had planned a meeting with the parents of both children on the day of the incident, but Liu’s didn’t show up.

The school’s principal has been suspended and is under investigation, local police said.

Related: Stork That Never Came Haunts China School Builders
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By Su Huixian and Ren Qiuyu / May 10, 2019 01:43 PM / Society & Culture

China needs people to have more babies.

Yesterday, the State Council published plans to improve early childhood care and infant services to take some pressure off new parents. The “guiding opinions” encourage employers to allow parents to be more flexible with their working hours and parental leave, and also says China should create preferential policies for new private daycare centers.

With a sharply dropping birth rate and a shrinking work force, China is facing a population crisis. Due to tough working hours and the high cost of raising a child, many couples are deterred from having one child, let alone two, the new limit imposed by family planning laws.

In recent years, parents have been further deterred by a string of controversies at young child and infant care centers. The plan, written last month but made public on May 9, follows on the National Health Commission’s calls during the annual meeting of the legislature in March for the government to provide better early childhood care.

The State Council’s policy plan aims to alleviate all of these issues, presumably with the hope that more options for well-regulated care for children under the age of 3 — along with better leave, subsidies for care, and parenting classes — will encourage couples to have more kids.

Related: National Health Commission Calls for Better Public Child Care


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By Isabelle Li / May 07, 2019 03:38 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

Chinese sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth" has concluded its three-month box office run, which makes it official: It is now the second highest-grossing film in China of all time, according to online ticketing platform Maoyan.

The film wasn’t quite able to best the top-ranked “Wolf Warrior,” the country’s most successful film ever.

“The Wandering Earth” earned a total of 4.65 billion yuan during its time in Chinese theaters, which began exactly 90 days ago on the first day of Chinese New Year.

The latest Hollywood blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame," however, is already giving "The Wandering Earth" a run for its money. The superhero film has earned 3.91 billion yuan so far, after only two weeks in Chinese theaters.

Related: 'Wandering Earth' Chases 'Wolf Warrior' for China's Top-Ever Box Office Crown

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By Peng Yanfeng and Tang Ziyi / May 06, 2019 03:34 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

China’s largest trade fair has seen drops in both orders and visitors this spring amid domestic headwinds and China-U.S. trade disputes.

The Canton Fair, which is widely seen as a barometer of China’s foreign trade, attracted 195,500 buyers in this spring’s three-week session, which closed on Sunday – down 3.9% from last spring’s session, a spokesperson said. The total value of export orders signed at the fair dropped 1.1%, to $29.7 billion.

The downturn comes amid this year’s unstable and complicated trade environment for China, both domestically and globally, the spokesperson, Xu Bing, said at the closing of the fair.

U.S. President Donald Trump indicated a further escalation of the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies on Sunday by saying in a tweet that he would increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

Related: Opinion: In Trade War, Intellectual Property Isn’t the Main Problem

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By Tang Ziyi / Apr 29, 2019 07:00 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A private hospital in China's Hainan province was forced to close after police found it gave 38 women unregulated HPV vaccines, the latest health scandal in the country to spark public debate about drug safety concerns.

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is easily preventable by pre-exposure vaccine.

A Weibo social media user who claimed to be one of the patients posted that she was told by police in March the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 she injected from a Hainan hospital was a "fake vaccine." Some of the vaccines in the hospital were smuggled from overseas before the medications were approved in mainland China, and some were illegally made in northeastern China's Jilin province, the user said police told her.

The post shed domestic media spotlight on the hospital. Local authorities responded in a statement on Sunday that it had revoked the hospital's medical institution business license and fined it 8,000 yuan ($1,200), for its "illegal proceeds of the fake vaccinations."

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing. It is not clear about the efficacy of the vaccines and any health issues they may have caused.

Related: China Proposes Larger Penalties on Counterfeit Vaccine-Makers

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By Wu Gang / Apr 26, 2019 03:26 PM / Society & Culture

A notice provided by Fuzhou police describing Wu Xieyu, the main suspect in the killing of his mother, Xie Tianqin

A notice provided by Fuzhou police describing Wu Xieyu, the main suspect in the killing of his mother, Xie Tianqin

After three years and nine months at large, a former Peking University student who shocked the country for allegedly killing his mother and hiding her body at home for months has finally been arrested.

Wu Xieyu, a 24-year-old from southeastern China’s Fujian province, was arrested on April 21 at an airport in southwestern China’s Chongqing, The Beijing News reported on Thursday night.

Police in Fujian declined to reveal details of the case, telling Caixin on late Thursday that they are still investigating it.

When he was arrested, Wu was carrying more than 30 ID cards he had bought online, the Beijing News report said. He had been wandering around within China for the past three years, the report said.

Caixin reported in 2016 that Wu had borrowed 1.44 million yuan from his relatives and friends, saying he was going to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and that his mother Xie Tianqin had also moved to the United States to live with him.

Xie’s body was found by police on Feb. 14, 2016 in her home in Fuzhou city, about seven months after the murder took place, sources close to the investigation told Caixin. The body was wrapped carefully with plastic, and activated charcoal, which absorbs odors, had been placed inside the wrapping.

Police issued a wanted notice on March 3, 2016, saying Wu had fled out of fear of punishment.

Wu’s former classmates at his high school and Peking University — one of the country’s top institutions — described him as “nice” and “always ready to help.”

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By Zhang Qi and Isabelle Li / Apr 26, 2019 01:52 PM / Society & Culture

JD.com CEO Richard Liu. Photo: IC Photo

JD.com CEO Richard Liu. Photo: IC Photo

The 22-year-old woman suing the billionaire founder of e-commerce giant JD.com said the tycoon offered her a job with his company before their encounter that later led her to accuse him of rape last August.

In a phone interview, Jingyao Liu told Caixin she had barely spoken to billionaire Richard Liu before the boozy dinner followed by the alleged rape, and said that his assistant ignored her requests for help.

The pair met at the Carlson Management School at the University of Minnesota, where she was a student. At a networking dinner in August, Richard Liu told her he liked her a lot, and said he would like to fly with her to New York for a few days before his return to China, she tells Caixin. He also invited her to join JD.com as a management trainee right after graduation.

Jingyao Liu tells Caixin she sought help from Richard Liu’s assistant during dinner, telling her things he said that were making her nervous and scared, and asked the assistant to help her leave the dinner safely. But the assistant told Jingyao Liu: “I’m just an assistant, what can I do?”

Read the story in full here.


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By Huang Shulun, Fang Zuwang, Ge Shurun and Han Wei / Apr 25, 2019 03:22 AM / Society & Culture

Photo:IC

Photo:IC

Local health authorities launched an investigation of one of the biggest public hospitals in Shunde, Guangdong province, after reports of abnormal deaths of newborns, the hospital said in a statement.

News circulated online that at least three babies died of similar abrupt diseases at the Shunde Hospital of the Southern Medical University just few days after they were born.

A person claiming to be one of the babies’ fathers wrote online that his child was healthy before suddenly showing symptoms of infection. The father said he suspected that negligence by hospital staff caused the infection.

The father also accused Shunde Hospital of concealing the death of the babies and falsifying their medical records, an allegation denied by a doctor at the hospital.

Shunde Hospital said in a statement published on its official social media account that it reported related information to authorities and awaits the result of the investigation.


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By Zhao Runhua / Apr 24, 2019 05:26 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Chinese cinemas were packed Tuesday at midnight, as audiences swarmed the premiere of “Avengers: Endgame,” two days earlier than its opening in North America.

Some fans even took off work Tuesday, Caixin learned, to “prepare” for the screening by dressing up or getting together with friends. Hotels near cinemas had a surge of bookings as audiences who purchased tickets away from their homes preferred to sleep near the venues.

At the beginning of the film, when superheroes appeared onscreen, audiences burst into cheers and applause, attendees told Caixin.

According to Chinese box office monitoring platform Maoyan, the film’s ticket-sales revenue in the Chinese mainland surpassed 800 million yuan ($119 million), including presale tickets, as of Wednesday at 4: 30 p.m.

View more photos of fans at the Chinese premiere of the film

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By Huang Shulun, Li Mi and Zhao Runhua / Apr 23, 2019 02:42 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

In 2018, 132 graduate students at Shenzhen University dropped out of their degree programs as the school tightened its graduation requirements, the university announced Monday.

The university’s announcement is in line with a March notice by the Ministry of Education urging schools to “strictly tighten” degree requirements for postgraduate programs, which itself came on the heels of actor Zhai Tianlin’s viral academic dishonesty scandal.

Previously, it was rare for schools to demand that students halt their degrees, and in many Chinese universities, students can be awarded diplomas even if they fail key tests.

The students affected at Shenzhen University were mainly in popular programs, such as business management and software engineering, Caixin has learned. The school has roughly 8,400 masters and doctoral students in total.

Related: Like the U.S., China Has Its Own College Admissions Problems

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By Tanner Brown / Apr 22, 2019 07:18 PM / Society & Culture

China is undergoing massive, complex changes to its health-care system — with the government advocating a more active role for commercial providers.

Younger and more vulnerable Chinese are concerned about coverage for themselves and their families.

Caixin’s in-depth look at the issue breaks down what the problems are, what solutions are being proposed, and what’s likely to change in the gigantic industry over the next few years.

Read the full report here.

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By Tang Ziyi / Apr 22, 2019 05:08 PM / Society & Culture

Fans crowd around their idol in Shanghai on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: IC

Fans crowd around their idol in Shanghai on Dec. 4, 2015. Photo: IC

Lots of people have celebrity ”crushes,” but a group of idol fans in Shanghai last weekend appear to have taken the concept a little too literally.

A crowd of around a hundred people gathered around a pop group performer and smashed the glass panels of a moving walkway at Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport in an effort to get closer to their idol on Saturday, People’s Daily reported.

Photos of broken glass at the airport began circulating on Chinese social media platform Weibo Sunday morning. It's unclear who the pop star in question is.

China’s pop music industry has recently taken over by "idols"-- performers whose images are carefully cultivated for maximum fan devotion. But some fans have caused embarrassment for their idols, with performers like Kris Wu, who is under investigation for music sales fraud in the U.S., partly blaming their predicaments on Chinese fans.

Saturday’s fiasco has even attracted official attention. The Ministry of Public Security wrote on Weibo on Sunday that fans of pop stars should be more “rational” and “civilized,” and reiterated that people who disturb the public order should be punished.

Related: China’s Teen-Idol Obsession

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By Zhao Runhua / Apr 19, 2019 05:37 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hit 400 million yuan ($59.69 million) in ticket sales on Friday, according to Chinese box office monitoring platform Maoyan – and it hasn’t even been released yet.

The previous installment of the franchise, “Avengers: Infinity War,” which was released in China last year, had not made 400 million yuan until roughly 20 hours after its mainland debut, including the money made from presale tickets, Maoyan data shows.

Cinemas on the Chinese mainland began selling presale tickets for this year’s “Avengers" on April 12, and seized over 131 million yuan that day alone.

It’s an impressive showing – but altogether not a huge surprise for Marvel fans in China. Reports circulated widely last weekend that third-party ticket companies were selling tickets to the film’s April 24 premiere in Shanghai for over 460 yuan.

Tickets for non-IMAX tickets on opening night in Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun district are now priced at just under 150 yuan – slightly higher than other blockbusters’ premiere prices, according to leading ticket platform Gewara.

Related: Hollywood Blockbusters Do Better in China Than U.S. in Recent Weeks

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By Isabelle Li / Apr 17, 2019 01:40 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Debate over China’s “996” labor culture — a work schedule of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days per week — continues to rage, after two tech gurus romanticized the arduous hours in outrage-stoking statements last week.

But what about workers who choose to 996? Is a 996 schedule ever justifiable?

Even a voluntary 996 schedule is unfair, because it puts others at risk of falling into the schedule involuntarily, argues Chen Jie, a professor at the China Institute for Urban Governance of Shanghai Jiaotong University, in a commentary for Caixin.

If a society doesn’t restrict this practice, and continues to promote the prioritization of career over family and personal happiness, more and more employees will be forced into a 996 in order to stay competitive on the job market, Chen writes.

Chen advocates that the government intervene in order to protect lower-level employees by instating a legal limit for working hours and a minimum wage.

Only when employees’ schedules are truly optional can they stop being made anxious and over-competitive by the toxic culture of 996, Chen says.

Related: Jack Ma and Richard Liu Voice Support for Intense ‘996’ Work Culture – and People Are Not Happy About It

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By Qu Hui and Jason Tan / Apr 13, 2019 08:59 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Eleven drainage workers were confirmed dead on Friday, one day after flash floods hit the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The victims were among 16 people cleaning drainage systems in the Luohu and Futian districts of the city when the downpour hit, triggering flash floods. Nine workers were confirmed dead on Thursday night. Five were rescued and two missing workers were confirmed dead on Friday after a day of searching, putting the death toll at 11.

The incident came despite the city government having issued a weather alert to construction companies, asking them to handle the cofferdams carefully.

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By Zhao Runhua / Apr 09, 2019 05:39 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Authorities have detained 88 people for suspected involvement in an investment scam targeting retirees, the public security department of Beijing’s Haidian district said Tuesday.

The detained people are suspected of “illegal fundraising” in connection with Zhongan Minsheng Elderly Service Co. Ltd, a company that promoted itself to elderly customers as a “reverse mortgage” provider.

Caixin reported Monday that the company had asked retirees to pledge their Beijing homes to borrow money for investment in Zhongan-managed projects, in exchange for attractive returns. But instead of receiving the promised returns, customers soon found themselves hounded by debt collectors, as Zhongan had put their names on the company's deals with other entities. The business model marketed by Zhongan doesn’t appear to be in line with the reverse mortgage concept approved by the government, an industry expert told Caixin.

The public security department said in its Tuesday statement that those involved in the scheme must voluntarily surrender and return any illegal gains. An investigation into Zhongan is ongoing.

Related: In Depth: ‘Reverse Mortgage’ Trap for Retirees

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By Zhao Runhua / Apr 09, 2019 10:44 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese people consume tea all year round, but domestic demand for the beverage — especially for green tea — is now entering the annual peak season.

Tea planters in China are busy harvesting and packaging the first batches of tea leaves of the year to sell as  "tea harvested before Tomb-Sweeping Day (明前茶)," and "spring tea (春茶)," which is also known as "new tea (新茶)."

See more photos here.

Related: China's Demand for Tea Is Boiling Over

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