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SOCIETY & CULTURE

By Huang Huizhao, Liu Lixin, Li Lanxin, and Ren Qiuyu / Nov 11, 2019 01:31 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese students face immense pressure in school, especially when it comes to the notorious college entrance examination, the gaokao. For many years, stories have abounded in the country’s media of time-consuming extracurricular classes and competitions, a focus on grades over recreation, and the sometimes-extreme effects of the stress students often feel, including mental health problems, suicides, and even murder.

In a magazine essay, Caixin lifts the curtain on one of China’s recent educational success stories: Dancheng County No. 1 High School in impoverished rural Henan province. Since 2012, Dancheng High has seen more than 20 students admitted to China’s top two universities, Tsinghua and Peking, each year. In 2016 and 2019, the school topped the nation for the number of students admitted to the top two institutions — with 44 and 43 students respectively.

But how, exactly, has a country school in a poor county transformed into such an educational powerhouse? How has it seemingly managed to reverse the rural-to-urban brain drain and attract thousands of students from across the region? Is it a model for other rural schools, or is there something else going on?

This story has been updated to correct the number of students that Dancheng High admits to China's top two universities each year.

Stay tuned for Caixin Global’s deep dive into Dancheng, which reveals how the school’s administration has charted a path to success by gaming government schemes and a public-private business model that has driven its rapid expansion.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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SOCIETY & CULTURE

By Isabelle Li, Flynn Murphy, and Ma Danmeng / Nov 07, 2019 01:30 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

News that China’s medical regulator approved a novel, locally made drug to treat some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease raised hopes and drew plenty of patriotic chest-thumping.

But while the drug’s mechanism sounds promising and reflects current trends in Alzheimer’s research, key questions persist over the limited evidence available for its effectiveness and safety, drawing skepticism from industry insiders and experts.

Oligomannate, or GV-971, was co-developed by Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical, the Ocean University of China, and scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM), an affiliate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The drug sprung from a posited link between eating seaweed and resistance to Alzheimer’s disease.

Its backers say a clinical trial on about 800 people in China “demonstrated solid and consistent cognition improvement,” but they have not published the findings.

In granting conditional approval on Saturday, China’s drug authority, the National Medical Products Administration, said the company needed to hand over additional clinical data and further research.

But that has not slowed down Green Valley’s marketing machine, which swung into action as company chairman Lü Songtao told a weekend press conference that the first batch of Oligomannate capsules would begin production on Thursday, with the aim of being available China-wide by Dec. 29.

At the same event, Shanghai’s city government backed the drug and flagged construction of a factory in Pudong New Area capable of supplying 2 million patients. “We will fully support pushing (the new drug) with our policymaking,” said Shanghai Vice Mayor Wu Qing.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporters Isabelle Li (liyi@caixin.com) and Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)

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By Ding Yi / Nov 04, 2019 12:34 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China has given a conditional nod to its first homegrown therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, a field where no new drugs have been approved globally since 2003.

China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) granted conditional approval for Green Valley Pharmaceuticals’ Oligomannate (GV-971), the drug regulator said in a statement on its website on Saturday.

In trials, the drug was linked with improved cognitive function of patients suffering from mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

There remains no cure for the neurodegenerative disorder, which is thought to affect as many as 35 million people worldwide. A handful of drugs are available to manage symptoms like memory loss, but research in the area has been characterized by a high rate of failure with Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Pfizer all abandoning projects in recent years.

Oligomannate, developed by a Chinese Academy of Sciences research team and Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals, incorporates extracts from marine brown algae, and is backed by several key national scientific research initiatives including the 863 Program, according to the NMPA statement.

Professor Geng Meiyu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica led the research which began 22 years ago. The drug works by targeting proteins linked with Alzheimer's, by reducing brain inflammation, and by reconditioning intestinal bacteria, Geng explained in a statement last year. Much recent research has focused on the role that gut microbiota might play in diseases of the brain.

Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals is prepared to mass-produce the drug which is expected to hit the market before the end of the year.

China has some 10 million Alzheimer’s disease patients, a figure expected to reach 40 million by 2050 as the general population ages.

Flynn Murphy contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

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By Chen Zhuqin and Ren Qiuyu / Oct 24, 2019 11:44 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Respected Chinese-born American physicist Xiaoxing Xi was awarded the American Physical Society’s Andrei Sakharov Prize on Tuesday for “steadfast advocacy in support of the U.S. scientific community and open scientific exchange.”

In May 2015, Xi, a professor and former Chair of the Physics Department at Temple University in Philadelphia, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice on espionage charges. In an embarrassing mix-up for the justice department and the FBI, the blueprint they had accused Xi of illegally sharing with Chinese scientists was not for a pocket heater — used in superconductor research — but for a different device Xi had invented and shared as part of normal academic collaboration.

The case was dropped in September the same year. Xi is now suing the lead FBI agent involved in his case for falsifying evidence.

The award citation also noted Xi’s “efforts to clarify the nature of international scientific collaboration in cases involving allegations of scientific espionage.”

The prestigious biennial award of $10,000 to a Chinese-American physicist comes as growing tensions between China and United States are hitting science and technology scholars. The U.S. has ramped up scrutiny of visas for Chinese academics due to accusations of intellectual property theft.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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By Bloomberg / Oct 23, 2019 11:00 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — China’s aggressive campaign to bring down drug prices is leading to a “vicious cycle” and will prevent the emergence of a national pharmaceutical champion, said one of the country’s biggest drugmakers.

In some of the strongest criticism yet over a new policy that is likely to save China tens of billions of dollars, but has roiled healthcare stocks and led to widespread company profit warnings, Stephen Tse, vice president of Sino Biopharmaceutical, said that the program will undermine local firms’ ability to invest and grow.

“If prices are kept low, you won’t see the rise of any big pharmas on the horizon,” said Tse, who is also spokesperson for China’s third-largest drugmaker by market value. “It won’t work if you don’t have a high enough gross margin to support your research and development investment.”

The controversial policy has already caused the prices of 25 commonly used drugs — ranging from cholesterol treatments to chemotherapy — to drop more than 60% nationwide, and will expand. While the plan is to re-direct the cost savings towards covering top-of-the-line drugs and treatments, the program is rapidly eroding company profits, potentially hampering China’s goal of nurturing globally competitive companies in the scientific field.

Under the system, drugmakers compete for tenders to supply generic drugs to public hospitals nationwide, under-cutting one another to secure supply contracts. Although China has softened the terms of the exercise to allow for three suppliers and not just one, both local and foreign drug manufacturers are feeling the pressure.

Sino Biopharma chose not to continue to bid down the price of its own drugs in the program after the first round, said Tse. In the first round of bidding last December, it dropped prices for its hepatitis B treatment entecavir by more than 90%, only to be undercut by peers in the second round which took place last month. It could have gone lower in the latest round of bidding, but stopped short.

“We shouldn’t lead the sector into a vicious cycle, where firms won’t be financially strong enough to buy equipment or invest in research and development,” Tse said. “We did it in the first round to heed the country’s call, but for the second round we have to take the future of the sector into consideration — if we had done it again, the negative impact would have been huge.”

The company, whose ambition is to become a global pharmaceutical champion like Pfizer, sees revenue contribution from innovative drugs rising above 50% in the next five to 10 years, up from about 20% now. Tse also expects the company to release 1 to 2 innovative drugs annually from 2021; it has about 38 in clinical trials.

Sino Biopharmaceutical is the best performer on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index this year, with shares gaining 114%. Its strategy to disengage from the national price war seems to have been cheered by investors: its stock has risen 5.3% since the bidding exercise last month, while Fujian Cosunter Pharmaceutical Co. — one of the local drugmakers who won the contract for entecavir — has dropped 5.4%.

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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By Wang Mengyao, Xiang Siqi, Huang Yuxi and Ren Qiuyu / Oct 11, 2019 12:42 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A highway bridge in Wuxi city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province partly collapsed around 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, killing three and injuring two, officials from the city confirmed.

In videos spread on social media, a section of an overpass at a busy intersection of the 312 national highway appeared to sway before toppling to one side, apparently crushing at least three cars making left turns, as well as one parked vehicle.

The owner of a dumpling restaurant near the site of the incident, surnamed Yu, witnessed the scene. He told Caixin that many large vehicles were present on the bridge at the time, one of which was a truck carrying six large coils of steel. Yu speculated that the truck caused the collapse.

A staff member in a nearby hotel, surnamed Wang, told Caixin that the vehicles on the bridge were logistics trucks carrying heavy steel plates. Local residents of Wuxi said that the vehicles along the overpass often appeared to be overloaded. The city is the largest stainless steel distribution center in East China and one of the largest in the whole country.

Local authorities confirmed Friday morning that three people had been killed and two were injured. Officials said Thursday evening that the bridge may have collapsed due to a heavily overloaded truck, Chinese state media reported.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Ren Qiuyu (qiuyuren@caixin.com)

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By Mo Yelin and Liu Shuangshuang / Oct 10, 2019 04:36 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A groundswell of patriotic releases significantly boosted China’s box office during the past Golden Week holiday, as the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Over the seven-day holiday through Oct. 7, Chinese people splashed out 4.4 billion yuan ($619 million) at the box office, more than double the total for last year’s holiday, according to industry data tracker Entgroup.

Three patriotic titles — “My People, My Country,” “The Captain,” and “The Climbers” — contributed 97% of those ticket sales and occupied more than 90% of theater screens during the holiday.

A total of 117 million people went to the movies during Golden Week, the first time the number exceeded 100 million during the holiday, according to Entgroup.

Read the full story later on the main site of Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

Related: National Day Provides Small Boost for Troubled Film Industry

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By Flynn Murphy and Matthew Walsh / Sep 30, 2019 01:33 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

For many Chinese people, nothing completes a festive dinner quite like a juicy cut of pork. But as the country gears up to celebrate the weeklong National Day holiday — and with it the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic — pigging out is becoming costly.

That’s because China’s swine herd continues to be decimated by a deadly pig disease. Since it was first reported in China last summer, African swine fever has killed around one-third of the country’s hogs and caused an estimated $140 billion of direct losses.

The crisis has prompted renewed interest in China’s vast strategic reserves of pork meat and hogs, after authorities released thousands of tons of pork onto the market to guarantee supply ahead of the holiday.

That’s right: The Chinese government considers pork so important to social and economic stability that it maintains a special supply of it. But where does this system come from, and why does it exist? And can it really help alleviate the pressure of the swine fever crisis?

Read our explainer on the subject later today on Caixin Global to find out.

Contact reporters Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com) and Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Deadly Pig Disease Has Cost China More Than $140 Billion: Professor

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By Bloomberg / Sep 30, 2019 01:26 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — Tencent Holdings’ homage to modern China has topped the gaming charts days after its debut, riding a groundswell of patriotism as the Communist Party prepares to celebrate 70 years in power.

“Homeland Dream,” the world-building title akin to the iconic “SimCity” of yesteryear, has become the most downloaded free game on the Chinese Apple iOS store since its Sept. 24 launch, beating out money-spinners like Tencent’s own mainstay “Honour of Kings.” The title — developed in partnership with the state-run People’s Daily — lets players build a virtual metropolis from scratch while collecting cartoonish images of Communist slogans, national landmarks and politically tinged buzzwords such as “One Country, Two Systems.”

The government is prepping to celebrate on Tuesday the 70th birthday of the People’s Republic of China, at a time it’s grappling with major challenges to its authority from unrest in Hong Kong to a worsening economy buffeted by U.S. tensions. To whip up nationalistic fervor, the country plans to screen a string of patriotic films and televise a parade of military might through the heart of Beijing.

“Homeland Dream” was Tencent’s latest attempt to cozy up to a government increasingly intolerant of its bread-and-butter business of gaming. The title was unveiled last month at the country’s largest gaming expo along with another patriotic offering in partnership with the government of Guangdong province, its home base. Following a bruising 2018 crackdown, Tencent in May swapped its popular Battle Royale shooter “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” with a gore-free version that lionized the Chinese military. The revamp, “Peacekeeper Elite,” could generate $1 billion of gross revenue by the end of this year, Niko Partners estimated in June.

As of Monday, Homeland Dream had garnered an App Store rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 from nearly 5,000 reviews. But it’s not uncommon for game studios to benefit from fake downloads and ratings: Homeland Dream has dozens of nearly identical or irrelevant reviews giving it five stars.

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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By Teng Jing Xuan / Sep 19, 2019 02:53 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The trial of a journalist accused of fabricating stories has raised concerns over local governments stretching the definition of criminal “disorderly conduct” to silence dissent.

Li Xiaogen, also known as Li Gen, has been accused of offenses including disorderly conduct and “provoking trouble” for articles he wrote for the Hunan Contemporary Business Daily in 2018.

Li published stories about the seizure of a village-owned coal mine based on documents provided by villagers in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.

Those documents were forged, but Li claims he didn’t know this when he published his stories.

Prosecutors argue he caused damage to the government’s reputation and online “chaos,” during a trial that took place between the end of August and early September this year at a court in Shenmu, a county-level city under the administration of Yulin, Shaanxi.

A judgment has yet to be reached, but Li and other defendants involved in this case argue that they were themselves victims of fraud, while a prominent academic says Li’s actions aren’t severe enough to constitute a criminal offense.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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By Zhao Runhua / Sep 16, 2019 02:25 PM / Society & Culture

China’s annual national internet safety week has kicked off with a report on the lamentable state of data protection in the country.

According to the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC), China’s official agency for anti-virus internet security, several apps, including some backed by the country’s internet giants, are collecting user data without authorization, state broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday.

Iciba, one of the country’s most-downloaded digital dictionaries; iWan, Tencent’s gaming service app; Moji Weather, a popular forecasting app; and Fenqibao, an online micro-lending and paid-in-installments shopping app, all fail to specify the terms of data collection terms in their user agreements, CVERC said.

Meanwhile, dating app Momo, Bytedance-owned news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, e-commerce giant JD.com’s financial services app, and a UnionPay-backed mobile payment app are all suspected of harvesting user information beyond that specified in their user agreements, according to CVERC.

Other apps and software development kits may also be charging illegal service fees, damaging smartphone operating systems, or harboring severe vulnerabilities, CVERC said.

In August, the Chinese government published a draft regulation aiming to standardize data collection amid increasing public concern about online data leakage. A report published later the same month showed that many mobile apps continued to illegally acquire user information.  

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: ‘Deepfake’ App That Puts Your Face in the Movies Sparks Privacy Concerns

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By Han Wei and Matthew Walsh / Sep 16, 2019 09:50 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

In six weeks on the big screen through Sept. 10, the animated film “Ne Zha” generated 4.8 billion yuan ($6.8 billion) in box-office sales, making it the second-highest grossing film in China so far and marking an impressive milestone for China’s home-grown animated films.

But to most Chinese, the rebellious, fearsome boy depicted in the movie isn’t exactly the protection deity they would expect based on the well-known folk hero on which he is based. But that hasn’t stopped the unconventionally adapted movie from becoming a booming success.

Off the big screen, Chinese audiences’ enthusiasm for domestic animated series has also heated up following the launch on major internet platforms of several popular shows such as “Mo Dao Zu Shi,” an animated fantasy.

The wave of successful productions led by “Ne Zha” is fueling expectations that the long-awaited takeoff of China’s domestic animation industry is approaching. Investors and market players have been betting on a boom since 2015 as private equity investment funds poured into the animation sector.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Smash Hit ‘Nezha’ Poised to Break Record for Animated Films

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By Zhao Runhua / Sep 04, 2019 11:17 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

After public outcry, dating app Momo’s face-swapping video app Zao apologized on Tuesday for concerns it had caused regarding controversial user privacy terms and data safety.

Zao said in a statement on its official Weibo account that the app will not store any of the users’ facial information. Backed by machine-learning techniques, Zao allows users to upload their photos and overlay them onto the faces of characters in movies or TV shows.

Zao said the edited faces in the new clips will not be valid in real-world situations and cannot meet existing facial recognition technologies’ standards — therefore, Zao’s clips or technologies won’t be able to be used for online payment purposes, the statement said.

The company also said once a user decides to uninstall Zao or delete their account, the app will remove related information as regulations require, and will “ensure the safety of personal information and data in every possible way.”

The concerns started over the weekend when people noticed the user agreement said the app has the right to use any image or video created on the platform globally for free. The panic even had leading cashless payment platform Alipay clarify that Zao’s technology won’t threaten facial-recognition payments or other scenarios.

Zao later amended the user agreement under pressure.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it had talked to Momo to demand it to strictly perform inspection for privacy concerns users expressed.

Related: ‘Deepfake’ App That Puts Your Face in the Movies Sparks Privacy Concerns

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By Liu Yanfei, Wen Simin and Zhao Runhua / Sep 02, 2019 05:34 PM / Society & Culture

Ma Xuezheng. Photo: IC Photo

Ma Xuezheng. Photo: IC Photo

Ma Xuezheng, also known as Mary Ma, co-founder and partner at China’s well-known investment fund Boyu Capital, died Monday at the age of 66, multiple sources close to the matter told Caixin.

The cause of death provided was pancreatic cancer.

Ma was an interpreter to high-level government officials, including Deng Xiaoping, and in 1990 joined Lenovo, gradually becoming one of the company’s leading executives and orchestrating its 2005 acquisition of IBM’s personal computer business. In 2007, Ma joined private equity firm TPC and around 2011 co-founded Boyu.

Boyu is active in China’s private equity sector and has invested in companies including Alibaba and Megvii.

Ma also served as independent nonexecutive director at a few companies, including the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. She was previously selected as one of the world’s most powerful businesswomen by Forbes and Fortune magazines.

Related: Senior Party Official at Shanghai Futures Exchange Dies

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By Liu Denghui, Wang Lijun and Tang Ziyi / Aug 21, 2019 04:00 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China on Tuesday added 148 drugs to a list of medicines eligible for reimbursement under government-backed insurance plans, its latest move to ease the financial burden on Chinese patients.

The updated catalog, released by the National Healthcare Security Administration, includes 47 foreign drugs and 101 traditional Chinese medicines. Notable additions involve global names such as AstraZeneca’s Kombiglyze and Merck & Co’s Janumet, both treatments for diabetes.

Five of the medicines are for rare diseases, 36 for chronic diseases such as diabetes, and 38 for pediatric use.

At the same time, the authority removed 150 drugs from the reimbursable list, ones that have relatively lower clinical value or can be substituted with better alternatives, said Xiong Xianjun, director of the Medical Service Department at the insurance administration.

Read the full report on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Tanner Brown / Aug 19, 2019 09:51 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: Caixin

Photo: Caixin

At the foot of a mountain covered in green and surrounded by farmland, Dashuidong village in central China’s Hunan province has long been known for longevity endowed by nature. But nowadays, simply staying healthy has become a distant dream for many in the village.

Dashuidong, in Fuqiushan county, has been haunted by the highly contagious Hepatitis C virus (HCV) over the past decade. Along with two neighboring towns — Huangheqiao and Tanshanqian — the mountain villages are now notorious as Hepatitis C villages, keeping people away.

There are no accurate statistics on villagers infected by the virus because of people’s lack of awareness of early symptoms and unwillingness to report and because of frequent outflows of young people seeking urban jobs. Several villagers in Dashuidong told Caixin they think 30% to 40% of the 3,000 people there have been infected with HCV. A local disease control official said the actual figure couldn’t be that high, but he said about 2.8% of the 55,000 people in Fuqiudong county have been diagnosed with HCV infection, nearly triple the national average of 1%.

Read the full story here

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By Zhao Runhua / Aug 16, 2019 04:22 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

It’s already the most successful Chinese animated movie off all time, raking in more than 3.8 billion yuan ($539.86 million) since its release on July 26.

Now, “Nezha” — the tale of an anti-authority hero from Chinese mythology — is hoping to wow audiences abroad like it has at home.

The film will debut in cinemas in Australia and New Zealand on Aug. 23 and Aug. 29, respectively, while North American moviegoers will also be able to watch it at an unspecified future date, according to official announcements on Chinese microblogging site Weibo.

“Nezha” has topped China’s daily box-office revenue list for 21 straight days since its release, making it the country’s fourth-highest grossing movie of all time, according to data by industry tracker Maoyan data.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: Smash Hit ‘Nezha’ Poised to Break Record for Animated Films

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By Liu Shuangshuang and Tang Ziyi / Aug 14, 2019 02:18 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s latest big-budget sci-fi movie has bombed at the box office, bringing those dubbing the country an emerging sci-fi powerhouse firmly back down to earth.

“Shanghai Fortress” took in 74 million yuan ($10.5 million) during its opening day at China’s box office on Friday, charting at No. 2., according to online ticketing platform Maoyan.

But the movie’s ticket sales soon plummeted amid withering online reviews. As of Tuesday, “Shanghai Fortress,” which was made on a budget of 360 million yuan, had only earned 115 million yuan over five days.

Those ticket sales lag far behind recent box office hit “Nezha,” which debuted on July 26 and raked in 1.1 billion yuan during its first five days. It had earned 3.7 billion yuan as of Tuesday.

In the longer term, investors in “Shanghai Fortress” might end up wishing they’d got out before the drawbridge was raised. Maoyan predicts the film will make just 125 million yuan by the end of its run, far less than the 950 million yuan needed to recoup investors’ costs after splitting the sales with theaters.

Read the full story on Caixin Global today.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Huang Shulun and Teng Jing Xuan / Aug 12, 2019 12:37 PM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Typhoon Lekima has killed at least 32 people in East China’s densely populated Zhejiang province after making landfall on Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Wenzhou, a city in southeastern Zhejiang, suffered the most casualties, with 23 people killed after heavy rains caused a landslide on the outskirts of the city, CCTV confirmed Sunday. At least 16 people are still unaccounted for across the province. One person was also killed in neighboring Anhui province, according to CCTV.

Lekima, which has also caused transport disruptions in Shanghai, moved northward on Sunday, hitting Shandong province and causing major damage to farmland and homes along the coast.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (jingxuanteng@caixin.com)


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By Qian Tong, Qu Yunxu, Qin Min, and Teng Jing Xuan / Aug 05, 2019 11:34 AM / Society & Culture

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

An intergenerational rivalry between two pop stars in July drew public attention to the vast network of fake traffic generators that underpins much of the Chinese internet.

It started with a comment on Douban, an entertainment review platform. “Why is it so hard to buy tickets for Jay Chou’s concerts even though his online numbers are so bad?” one commenter wrote.

That angered many of Taiwan-based singer Chou’s fans, who tend to be older millennials born in the 1980s and 1990s. The fans rallied together to publish posts and share content related to Chou on the Twitter-like Weibo social media platform. They eventually succeeded on July 21 in putting their 40-year-old idol at the top of Weibo’s popularity charts and pushing out previous chart topper Cai Xukun, a 21-year-old boy band leader.

But by July 22, an administrator for Chou’s community page was saying that many of the posts relating to Chou did not appear to be genuine and that posting on Chou’s page would now be restricted for some users. What started out as a show of enthusiasm by diehard fans had now been hijacked by fake online-traffic producers.

Just about every part of the Chinese internet that relies on mass engagement has developed a shadow ecosystem of fake engagement vendors and buyers. The motivation is simple: money. Numbers of clicks, followers, buyers, and sellers drive vast amounts of advertising revenue as well as investment.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

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