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LATEST
Trending in China: Death of Giant Panda Cubs Sparks Concerns About Treatment of ‘National Treasure’
China CFO of Indian Oyo Quits to ‘Pursue Other Professional Opportunities’
Sequoia Capital Opens Its First Tech Incubation Center in Shanghai
Some 266 Foreign-Invested Firms Approved to Offer Telecom Services in China in First Half of 2020
Trending in China: Should Internet Celebrities Be Part of the School Curriculum?
Sequoia China Leads Nearly $100m Round in Storytelling App Kuaidian
Medical Robot Maker Finds Elixir in STAR Board’s Market Reforms
Trending in China: Outrage Ensues as Updated U.S. Student Visa Policies Force International Students into a Dilemma
Tencent’s PUBG Mobile Game Hits $3 Billion Milestone
Luckin Coffee Shareholders Vote to Remove Chairman, Bloomberg Reports
France Won’t Ban But Will Discourage Use of Huawei 5G Equipment, Official Says
Trending in China: ‘Lipstick King’ Li Jiaqi Settles in Shanghai, Prompting a Rethink of ‘Talent’
Tencent Plays in U.S. With California Game Studio Launch
Trending in China: Shenzhen Thinks Only Children Should Get Paid Leave to Look After Their Parents - Cue Heated Debate
German Drugmaker BI Launches Shanghai Center to Harness Chinese Expertise
Chinese Self-Driving Truck Firm Aims to Cover Most of U.S. by 2024
Trending in China: Chinese Netizens Tell Indian Prime Minister Modi To ‘Shut The Door On The Way Out’ As He Quits Weibo
Trending in China: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them – Why Tencent is Laughing At Itself
Meituan Eyes Robot-Enabled Deliveries with $14 Million Investment in PuduTech
India Ban Could Hit TikTok’s Parent Company to the Tune of $6 Billion
TRENDING STORIES

Yilin Chen / Jul 09, 2020 07:19 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province sparked an uproar on Tuesday following news of the death of two giant panda cubs. According to a press release, the two cubs died of multiple organ failure on May 11 and May 20 respectively. Outraged panda lovers have accused keepers of withholding the news from the public and prioritizing commercial gain over proper care of the pandas.

What’s the story?

Due to a serious allergic reaction to an unknown source, twin panda cubs Shunshun and Liuliu died at barely 7 months old. The severity of the allergies was a first in the history of breeding pandas in captivity and researchers are working hard to unravel the cause of death, the research base said.

As heartbroken netizens mourned the death of the two cubs, they demanded an explanation for the long-delayed announcement. The base runs livestream video service iPanda that delivers real-time footage of pandas to viewers around the world. In April, panda lovers had noticed via the livestream that certain cubs seemed ill, and some later disappeared from public sight altogether, including the two cubs that died. They said they repeatedly phoned the base to seek updates, but received mostly vague answers.

Panda fans argue that this is not the first time the base has acted in a less-than-transparent way. The base was silent about giant panda Xingqing’s death for three months before finally revealing it in March, all while using its photos to promote tourism during that period. Accused of prioritizing profit over the welfare of the pandas in its care, the base has been banned by Sichuan officials since 2015 from permitting tourists to have close contact with pandas over concerns about transmitting disease. But it is said that tourists can still discreetly pay around 2,000 yuan to pet a panda, and photos of celebrities hugging pandas continue to appear on social media.

What are people saying online?

Furious netizens have condemned the base for failing to reply to concerns on social media. “The base repeatedly made excuses before they finally disclosed the cubs’ deaths,” one user wrote. “If it weren’t for the dedicated panda fans who pressured the base to respond, the pandas would have passed away without people noticing.”

Other users have raised concerns over possible negligence and lack of regulations at panda breeding bases. At the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, a baby panda suffocated to death in April after dangling off a wooden rack for seven hours. Horrified panda lovers observed the accident on a livestreamed video before keepers discovered the cub. “If we call pandas our national treasure, we should give them the treatment they deserve,” one user wrote.

Contact editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jul 08, 2020 06:10 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Sprawling fields, adorable baby lambs, mouthwatering food, handmade bamboo furniture… Chinese vlogger Li Ziqi became an internet sensation thanks to her videos of idyllic rural life. Recently, a story about her appeared in a reading comprehension exam at a primary school in Zhejiang, triggering concerned parents to question her suitability in a school curriculum.

What’s the story?

Inspired by her experience of growing up in a village in Sichuan, Li started making short videos of a seemingly fairytale rural life in 2016. With aesthetic visuals and soothing background music, she makes traditional dishes, clothes, and household items from scratch. The vlogs soon exploded in popularity both domestically and abroad, helping Li amass almost 26 million followers on Weibo and 11.2 million subscribers on YouTube. She has also received the endorsement of state media including CCTV, which commented that “without explicitly praising China, Li tells an authentic story of Chinese culture.”

Li was recently featured in a Chinese test at a primary school in Zhejiang. Students were given stories about three famous Chinese figures; Yuan Longping, renowned “Father of Hybrid Rice,” Lei Haiwei, a deliveryman and poetry competition champion, and Li Ziqi, the famous internet celebrity and vlogger, and asked to select and explain why one of them should be respected. Apart from discussing Li’s hard work and dedication to portraying a Chinese rural lifestyle, the text briefly mentioned the scale of her fan base.

Following the test, an upset parent commented on an online discussion forum that it is inappropriate to mention Li in the school curriculum. He questioned the impact of influencer marketing on children’s values, the validity of Li’s portrayal of rural life, and why teachers specifically chose Li over the countless other people working quietly to promote Chinese culture. When the topic started trending on Weibo, local education officials responded that all three people in the text embodied the ability to overcome adversity and that children should keep up with trends.

What are people saying online?

Several prominent media organizations and publications have come forward in support of the education authorities. Guangming Daily wrote, “Parents should realize that, instead of avoiding topics like online celebrities that are relevant to today’s world, students need to stay informed and learn to critically examine these phenomena… There’s no need to demonize fanbase statistics and to freak out whenever the word ‘influencer economy’ comes up.” Similarly, China Education Daily warned parents that they should not raise their kids in a vacuum fully insulated from the real world.

On Weibo, the controversy rages on as netizens debate whether online celebrities deserve a place in a school curriculum. Some users believe that parents are biased against influencers and too eager to oppose everything they do. “Whereas parents might only see commercial behavior, kids see a passion for life,” a user wrote. Meanwhile, others worry that highlighting Li’s fan base might mislead primary school students into a “superficial” career “defined by popularity.”

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jul 07, 2020 06:50 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In a news release on Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) outlined temporary exemptions for non-immigrant students taking online classes in fall 2020. Notably, international students will be prohibited from taking a fully online course load while remaining in the U.S. The notice has added another dose of uncertainty to the lot of Chinese students pursuing a degree in the U.S.

What’s the story?

A student visa (F or M) typically only allows international students in the U.S. to take up to one online class per semester. When the Covid-19 outbreak forced most U.S. colleges to switch to remote instruction in March, ICE temporarily made accommodations for online study in spring and summer of 2020. Under the modified policy, international students could take multiple online courses without risking losing their visa status.

Under the new guidelines for fall 2020, international students attending colleges operating entirely online will not be permitted to stay in the U.S. Moreover, unless they leave the country or transfer to a school with in-person teaching, they may face “immigration consequences” including “the initiation of removal proceedings.” For colleges with normal in-person programs, existing rules permitting no more than one online class apply. Lastly, for colleges adopting a hybrid model of online and in-person teaching, students can remain in the U.S. as long as they do not take on a fully online course load.

Some institutions such as Yale University have cited the ability to swiftly transition to remote instruction as an advantage of the hybrid model, in case the pandemic worsens. If this happens, international students might find themselves scrambling to leave or transfer, per ICE’s new policy. Meanwhile, for international students who wish to take full-time online classes from their home country, they can only maintain an active visa status if online instruction is the only choice offered by the school.

The ICE announcement aligns with the Trump administration’s broader push for schools to resume in-person instruction. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to officially publish ICE’s policy in the near future.

What are people saying online?

The topic has received over 50 million views on Weibo. Panicking Chinese students enrolled at U.S. universities have flooded social media with complaints that the policy has derailed their fall term plans. Some have already signed year-long apartment leases in the U.S. but are now barred from staying in the country, while some have trouble getting tickets to fly back to China, and others worry about the consequences of taking a gap year. Much uncertainty also surrounds the “study away” or “go local” options offered by colleges including Cornell and New York universities, which allow international students to temporarily enroll at a campus in their home country.

Other outraged netizens are condemning ICE’s new policy, saying that it is “inconsiderate” for international students and “has forced them into a dilemma.” They also worry that in-person classes or forced air travel to leave the U.S. will expose more Chinese students to Covid-19 infection.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jul 06, 2020 07:03 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In a little over four years, 28-year-old Li Jiaqi rose from being a shop assistant at a cosmetics store to become China’s top beauty influencer. With over 80 million followers across social media, Li has created an online empire that generates more revenue than many shopping malls and listed companies. At the end of June, Li obtained his new “hukou,” giving him permanent residence in Shanghai and greater access to the city’s public services, as part of the local government’s initiative to attract “special talents.”

What’s the story?

Dubbed the “Lipstick King” in Chinese, Li Jiaqi is primarily known for using livestreaming sessions to try on a variety of makeup items, especially lipstick. He set the record for selling 15,000 units of lipstick in five minutes in 2018, during the Nov. 11 shopping extravaganza known in China as Single’s Day.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Li collaborated with state broadcaster CCTV to promote agricultural products from Hubei province, the initial epicenter of the outbreak. He also frequently participates in promotional activities that aim to help farmers and alleviate poverty, which can generate tens of millions of yuan in sales per livestream session. His tireless charity work has boosted his reputation and strengthened his fan base.

Li was granted a Shanghai “hukou” as part of a local initiative to attract quality talent. The list of those eligible includes tech and administrative personnel with advanced degrees, in-demand industry professionals, and people with high professional qualifications and other outstanding skills. Several cities have adopted similar incentives that target emerging internet celebrities.

Apart from e-commerce influencers, cities are also gearing up to reward other forms of talent. In Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, a deliveryman was credited as being a high-profile talent for his impressive ability to memorize zip codes and plan delivery routes. He will receive housing subsidies worth 1 million yuan as well as preferential treatment in health care and education.

What are people saying online?

News of Li Jiaqi officially receiving the coveted Shanghai “hukou” sparked heated debate on Weibo. Some netizens question whether livestreamers should really be classed as talented individuals, with one user saying, “I thought ‘talent’ applied to careers such as research or finance.” Another user wrote that delivery workers probably warrant more recognition than influencers.

At the same time, many people argue that Li deserves his title for his excellent sales skills. “This is not unexpected news,” one user wrote. “It’s not easy to rise to the top in the livestreaming business. Li has indeed shown enormous talent in marketing.” Others echoed this sentiment by saying that talent can shine in any industry.

Contact editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: How Internet Celebrities Changed China E-Commerce

 


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Yilin Chen / Jul 03, 2020 06:31 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

The Shenzhen government is soliciting public input on draft policy recommendations for improving older peoples’ quality of life. Notably, for those over the age of 60 who only have one child due to China’s one-child policy, their children should be entitled to up to 20 days of paid annual leave when a parent is hospitalized.

What’s the story?

Although the industrial megacity has a reputation of attracting ambitious young professionals, Shenzhen is also aging, with over 1 million permanent residents aged 60 and above. Additionally, the generation born under China’s one-child policy, which was effective across large parts of the nation from 1980 to 2015, now have to care for their aging parents without siblings to ease the burden.

Shenzhen hopes that the paid leave policy for only children will combat some of the problems associated with an aging population and improve the welfare of its seniors. Other suggestions in the government’s draft proposals address elderly services for long-term care and disabled seniors, and clarify the eligibility for government subsidies based on health conditions and socioeconomic status.

20 cities and provinces in China have already implemented varying paid leave plans for only children who need to care for their parents. In certain regions, the benefit also applies to carers with siblings, though the duration of leave is less generous. In practice, employees often find it difficult to take leave due to employers’ reluctance and inconsistency in the rules between cities. Labor law experts have argued for a nationwide paid leave policy for only children and government subsidies for employers who grant leave.

What are people saying online?

The topic has received almost 50 million views on Weibo and triggered heated debate. One main point of contention centers around the people without siblings versus people with siblings. Many people who are not only children argue that it is unfair to overlook their needs to care for their parents, while the counter argument seems to be that the burden is much heavier on only children. “You didn’t fulfill your obligation under the one-child policy, so why should you enjoy the privilege of paid leave?” an only-child user wrote.

Meanwhile, some people are skeptical of implementing paid parent-care leave when some employers currently cannot even guarantee basic weekends, public holidays, or maternity leave. Others worry that such a policy will create new obstacles when seeking employment, on top of discrimination based on marital and parental status. “Great, single women who are only children should just give up looking for a job at this point,” one comment said.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Heather Mowbray / Jul 02, 2020 07:38 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Ten million users on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, have read the news that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has dropped his Sina Weibo profile, depriving his 244,000 followers of future posts by the leader. On Thursday, Modi’s profile picture and 115 posts under the ‘Prime Minister Modi’ VIP account were removed, with the account since deleted at the request of the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

What’s the story?

As reported by South Asian multimedia site ANI, 113 posts were deleted manually, while the request for the account to be deleted was being processed by Sina Weibo. Prior to the account’s deletion, two images remained on the page, photos of Modi with China’s President Xi, which the Indian side said they could not remove without authorization.

Since joining the Chinese social media platform in 2015, Modi had marked key occasions with Chinese language posts and pictures. His first entry on May 4, 2015 read “Hello China! I’m looking forward to connecting with my Chinese friends on Weibo.” His final post was a traditional Chinese Lunar New Year greeting on Jan. 25 this year. In May 2019, an image of Modi at the foot of the Himalayan glaciers in celebration of his election victory was released on the platform.

Sina Weibo hosts VIP accounts of many world leaders and international celebrities seeking access to Chinese internet users. This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s mother joined Weibo, with a call for Chinese fans to purchase her upcoming memoir, instantly accruing thousands of followers.

What are people saying online?

Weibo users wonder who is really losing out as the Hindu Nationalist Party leader says a quiet goodbye to his followers at a time of increased tensions after last month’s China-India border dispute. Since the deadly clash, Modi’s Weibo account had come under increasing attack by Chinese netizens. With India’s removal of Weibo and 58 other apps from local app stores on Monday, commentators have discussed the fate of existing Indian Weibo accounts which still seem to be accessible to users.

Some believe Modi should have been a little thicker skinned, comparing his action to that of the U.S. ambassador to China who maintains his Weibo page despite being the subject of longstanding criticism from Chinese netizens. One popular comment was that in the face of growing tensions, India should spit out and hand back the $750-million AIIB loan recently granted to assist the government in responding to the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A sliding scale of goodbyes from Chinese netizens from deferential to manzou busong, the equivalent of ‘shut the door on your way out’, make up most comments on the news. Several evidenced indifference to India with surprise that Modi had been on Weibo at all, given his lack of posts. “Some people leave and you never even knew they were there,” was one such comment. Another Weibo user was gearing up to make money by selling his account which was registered with the Chinese transliteration of Narendra Modi’s name.

Related: India Ban Could Hit Tiktok's Parent Company to the Tune of 6 Billion 

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (Marcusryder@caixin.com


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Yilin Chen / Jul 02, 2020 04:33 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In a bizarre twist of events after internet giant Tencent sued China’s best-known chili sauce brand Lao Gan Ma for unpaid advertising fees that stemmed from a March 2019 contract, police investigations revealed that Tencent was actually scammed by three people impersonating Lao Gan Ma marketing staff. Although Tencent has not issued a formal statement regarding the incident, it has resorted to self-deprecating humor as the best way to handle the public relations fallout across social media platforms.

What’s the story?

Tencent’s PR team has turned to self-mockery following the realization that they were swindled by impersonators. The company’s official account on Sina Weibo, China’s biggest social media site, jokingly encouraged netizens to message the account with tips and clues if they suspect a similar fraud in the future. “We’ll offer 1,000 bottles of Lao Gan Ma chili sauce as the reward for helpful tips,” the company wrote.

In an effort to win over netizens’ sympathy, the tech giant also used its logo of a chubby penguin to create a video titled “I’m the clueless penguin that ate fake chili sauce,” which mocks its own naivety. The video and other jokes were published across Tencent’s official accounts on multiple social media platforms, including video streaming site Bilibili and the Quora-style Zhihu.

The fact that three impersonators could fool Tencent has revealed problems in Tencent’s cooperation with commercial partners. Meanwhile, Lao Gan Ma staff claim that they were fully ignorant of the brand’s advertisements imbedded in Tencent games and were never notified of overdue payments before Tencent filed the lawsuit. The case is under further investigation.

What are people saying online?

Tencent’s PR move seemed to have resonated well with netizens. Amused users flocked to Tencent’s official account on Weibo and commented with puns and memes of penguins, laughing at the easily deceived company.

Jokes aside, some users argue that people should not be distracted from the problems that this case has exposed. While some say that Tencent should conduct thorough background checks of commercial partners, others question why Tencent and the initial court ruling were so hasty to freeze Lao Gan Ma’s 16.24 million yuan’s ($2.3 million) worth of assets without confirming the details of the dispute.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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By Yilin Chen / Jul 01, 2020 04:22 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A legal dispute between internet giant Tencent and China’s beloved chili sauce brand Lao Gan Ma (literally “Old Godmother”) has left netizens scratching their heads. Lao Gan Ma was sued for unpaid advertisement fees and ordered to freeze 16.24 million yuan’s ($2.3 million) worth of assets. However, subsequent plot twists might leave a blemish on Tencent’s formidable legal department’s record, that of 29 undefeated lawsuits since 2013.

What’s the story?

According to a statement that Tencent sent to the Global Times, Lao Gan Ma consistently failed to pay advertising fees to Tencent for promoting their chili sauce. Tencent said that the two companies signed a contract in March 2019 which was worth up to tens of millions of yuan. The media believes that Tencent is referring to its video game QQ Speed, which has incorporated customized visual elements of Lao Gan Ma into its interface.

In response, Lao Gan Ma quickly issued a statement saying that they have not personally or by proxy signed such a contract, nor have they engaged in any commercial cooperation with Tencent. After receiving the order to freeze their assets, Lao Gan Ma asked the police to step in.

A notice published today by the police in Guiyang, where Lao Gan Ma is headquartered, revealed more details of the case. Three people pretending to be marketing managers had forged the company’s seals and signed the contract with Tencent. Their goal was to obtain the gaming activation codes that Tencent distributed alongside the advertisements and resell them for profit.

As one of the most successful condiment brands in China, Lao Gan Ma reported a record revenue of 5.02 billion yuan ($710 million) in 2019, a 14% yearly increase. The brand has also been embraced by loyal customers in overseas markets.

What are people saying online?

Netizens are amused by the series of plot twists over the past two days. “This is great news for Lao Gan Ma,” one user wrote. “They are getting everyone’s attention and free promotion from Tencent.”

Other people are surprised by Tencent’s apparent carelessness in signing the contract. “It’s so rare to see Tencent mess up,” one person said. They also wondered why it seemed perfectly normal to Tencent that a chili sauce brand would wish to advertise in a video game.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jun 30, 2020 06:14 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A 2019 study by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that only 23% of people aged 60 and above in China know how to access the internet. Citing this number, a recent TV program by state-broadcaster CCTV outlined typical difficulties that old people face in the digital era and urged young people to teach smartphone skills to their parents and grandparents.

What’s the story?

CCTV points out that it has become increasingly hard for old people in China to carry out simple tasks in their daily lives which are now done increasingly online. Whether paying at a shop that doesn’t accept cash, hailing a taxi without a ride-hailing app, or making an appointment at a hospital that relies on online registrations, senior citizens are being left behind as smartphones bring convenience to the younger generation.

The topic has received renewed attention during the Covid-19 pandemic. In cooperation with internet giants, the Chinese government launched an expansive network of color-coded “health QR codes” that track people’s health status. The codes are often mandatory for using public transportation or entering buildings. Following numerous incidents of old people being barred from riding buses because they could not show QR codes, some cities have offered more accommodating measures such as paper health forms. Nevertheless, old people still face considerable difficulties as they navigate the unfamiliar territory of QR codes, mobile payments, and digitized information.

What are people saying online?

While CCTV called on young people to teach digital literacy to their elderly loved ones, many people argue that it should instead be the service industry’s responsibility to be more accommodating of people without smartphones. “I wish society could leave some room for these old people,” one user wrote.

Other people feel that it is still necessary to try to teach old people. “When we get old and can no longer keep up with technological developments, I hope that someone will be there to teach us,” one user commented.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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By Yilin Chen / Jun 29, 2020 04:09 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Chinese smart mobility start-up WeRide is rolling out its self-driving taxi service in Guangzhou in collaboration with Alibaba’s Amap (also known as AutoNavi). WeRide plans to offer the service free of charge for the first month, starting from June 23. Residents of Guangzhou can hail a robotaxi through either the Amap app or WeRide’s own app “WeRide Go.”

What’s the story?

As China’s first self-driving taxi service available to the public, WeRide has been conducting a pilot program in Guangzhou since late last year. In December 2019, the program’s first month, a total of 8,396 robotaxi rides were completed with zero accidents, according to a report released by the company.

By launching a partnership with Amap, WeRide hopes to expand its market and adapt to existing ride-hailing platforms. WeRide’s robotaxi service operates from 8am to 10pm every day, covering 144 square kilometers in the Guangzhou area. Users can choose from almost 200 pick-up and drop-off locations. For now, robotaxis are not strictly driverless—a human safety driver will sit at the wheel to monitor the ride, trained to quickly switch to manual control in case of an emergency. These human drivers will eventually be phased out.

In China’s emerging self-driving taxi market, WeRide faces fierce competition from several domestic companies including Didi Chuxing, Baidu, Pony.ai, and AutoX. They have each selected suitable cities in China to launch their own pilot programs.

What are people saying online?

Some people have embraced the new technology and hailed autonomous cars as the future of driving. One user said that they would love to try a robotaxis purely out of curiosity.

Other people, apart from questioning the safety of robotaxis, worry about their potentially disruptive impact on traditional taxi and ride-hailing industries. “Will more and more drivers become unemployed?” one user wrote.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Robo-Taxis Have a Long Road Ahead of Them in China


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Yilin Chen / Jun 23, 2020 04:08 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

On Monday, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism modified guidelines for reopening China’s entertainment venues including theaters, nightclubs, cybercafes and karaoke lounges. In addition to specifying public health measures, the guidelines put a series of time and capacity limits on the use of indoor venues.

What’s the story?

According to the “consumer protection” section of the new guidelines, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside an indoor venue. Entertainment venues are only allowed to operate at 50% of normal capacity as a whole and in individual rooms. Theaters can only use 30% of their seating capacity and must leave at least one seat empty between every two people in the audience.

Strikingly, the new guidelines make no mention of the fate of cinemas. Most of China’s movie theaters have been closed since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in January, with the national box office making only 12% of its expected value in the first quarter of 2020, according to a report by the China Film Association. As other businesses reopen, cinemas lag far behind due to concerns that people sitting in close proximity will drive transmission of the virus.

What are people saying online?

The new guidelines sparked heated debate among internet users regarding the best way forward for China’s entertainment sector. Some users argue that the 2-hour time limit may actually backfire by speeding up the flow of customers, while others question how such a time limit could be strictly enforced.

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Other people are clamoring for the government to reopen movie theaters. They believe that it is much safer and more practical to monitor customers and maintain social distance at cinemas than in cybercafes and party venues.

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Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jun 19, 2020 07:24 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In March, the Ministry of Education decided to postpone this year’s gaokao, China’s college entrance exam, by a month to July 7-8. As the Covid-19 resurgence in Beijing continues to evolve, officials recently made modifications to gaokao arrangements in order to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers.

What’s the story?

With the exception of a few cities undergoing gaokao reform, the standardized exams last about 11 hours over a period of 2 days and largely determine students’ choice of college. According to the Ministry of Education, this year’s gaokao involves 10.7 million students and 945 thousand education officials and staff spread out over 7,000 test sites across the country. It will be “the largest organized mass gathering in China” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials have announced a series of public health precautions to be implemented at gaokao test sites. Notably, students and teachers must monitor and report their health conditions starting from 14 days prior to the test. Students in low-risk areas must wear a mask when entering test centers, while those in middle- and high-risk areas must do so throughout the exam. Students will be moved to separate classrooms if they display a fever or cough during the exam. Test centers must carry out temperature checks of all personnel and thoroughly disinfect all areas before the exams begin.

What are people saying online?

Netizens have widely characterized this year’s gaokao as “unprecedented” and this class of high school seniors as “facing the most difficulties.” They encourage students to relax and do their best in the exam that is the culmination of their high school education.

Others are slightly worried about how public health measures may add to students’ stress. They say that students now have to worry if they show symptoms of a common cold on top of answering test questions.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Jun 19, 2020 07:12 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

In recent years, Chinese gaming regulators have come up with many methods, from real-name registration to setting time and spending limits on mobile games, to curb young gamers’ “addiction” and excessive screen time. Now, a new rule from internet giant Tencent may help the anti-addiction campaigners achieve more effective results. And that is all because of facial recognition technology that is being widely used across many sectors of the country.

What’s the story?

Tencent has started adopting what it calls a harsher anti-addiction measure aimed at preventing minors from stealing their parents’ accounts to play its mobile games.

For adult accounts suspected of being used by minors, players will be required to scan their faces for identity verification when they log in to mobile games, with their scanned faces then matched with data collected by the government.

Those who refuse to accept the rule, or are identified as minors after the identity verification, will be subject to a previously set national guidelines that limit players aged 18 or below to playing online games only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., with no more than 1.5 hours each day or three hours on holidays.

In addition, the gaming platform will also raise the face scanning requirement on “suspicious accounts” if the player spends more than 400 yuan ($57) for in-game payment purposes in any single month. However, Tencent did not explain how it would detect such “suspicious accounts”.

Currently Tencent is piloting the new rule on its popular titles, “Peacekeeper Elite” and “Honor of Kings”, and plans to expand it to all of its mobile games.

What are people saying online?

The new anti-addiction rule has sparked heated discussions in China’s internet world. While many internet users have thrown their support, some have voiced concerns over data security problems. “Hope the public security departments and Tencent could use our facial data in a way that would not cause damage to us,” a Weibo user wrote.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jun 17, 2020 06:49 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Recently, multiple cities in China have adopted policies that provide incentives to emerging online celebrities and e-commerce influencers. The aim is for these livestreamers to become part of the cities’ “talent recruitment” projects, and to lure them to live in the respective cities they have been given preferential housing options.

What’s the story?

Pitching products via livestreaming platforms has taken off in China in recent years. The market for livestreamed e-commerce grew to 433.8 billion yuan ($61 billion) in 2019, according to a report by China Consumers Association. Its rapid growth was further fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, as people tuned in to livestreams while stuck at home.

Several cities including Guangzhou, Jinan, Sichuan, and Chongqing are vying to take advantage of this lucrative market through a series of monetary incentives. Notably, Huadu District in Guangzhou has promised to offer up to 500 thousand yuan ($70,000) in housing subsidies for successful influencers and a 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) reward for livestreaming e-commerce companies that list on the mainland. Guangzhou hopes to transform itself into “the livestreaming e-commerce capital of China.” The other three cities have each committed to grow their number of influencers by 10,000 in hopes of significantly boosting their online and offline revenue.

What are people saying online?

Many netizens feel puzzled by the new policies. One user suggested that local governments should instead spend their resources helping cinemas, hotels, and travel agencies, as sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

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Others poke fun at the policies saying that there’s no point in going to school now. “Soon, primary school students will all say, ‘I want to be a livestream influencer when I grow up,” one user wrote.

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Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jun 16, 2020 04:57 PM / Trending Stories

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In July 2019, Shanghai police arrested a man surnamed Wang on allegations of child molestation. Chinese state media quickly identified the man as billionaire Wang Zhenhua, founder and former chairman of Future Land Development Holdings Ltd. After 11 months of near silence, the trial began today in Shanghai.

What’s the story?

According to Shanghai police, in June 2019, a woman surnamed Zhou took the 9-year-old daughter of a friend to a local five-star hotel, where the girl was molested by Wang. Zhou and Wang were subsequently detained by the police. The 57-year-old Wang heads a real estate empire consisting of Future Land, its Shanghai-listed subsidiary Seazen Holdings, and real estate management firm S-Enjoy. News of Wang’s detention triggered nation-wide outrage and sent stocks of Future Land and its related companies crashing.

Over a period of 11 months, no new details about the case were disclosed to the public. According to an insider familiar with the case, Wang has attempted to retract a confession he allegedly made during police investigations (source: Economic Observer). Wang’s trial finally began today in Shanghai. Wang’s lawyer said that the trial would not be open to the public because it involves minors.

What are people saying online?

Netizens are glad to see that the trial of Wang has finally begun. At the same time, they are worried that Wang’s case is only the tip of the iceberg of more underlying issues. “I can’t even imagine how many underage minors are sexually assaulted in China. This is terrifying,” one user wrote.

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Wang’s case also reminded many of Bao Yuming, the former non-executive director of Chinese telecom equipment giant ZTE Corp., accused of sexually assaulting his foster daughter in April. They urge officials to expedite legal proceedings in Bao’s case.

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Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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Yilin Chen / Jun 16, 2020 09:28 AM / Trending Stories

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Last Friday, Mango TV, the online video platform affiliated with Hunan Broadcasting System, launched the reality talent show whose Chinese name translates to “Sisters Who Brave Winds and Waves.” The first episode has received 400 million views so far and sparked a rally for shares of Mango Excellent Media Co. Ltd., operator of Mango TV.

What’s the story?

Music talent shows have been all the rage in China in recent years, but viewers are slowly getting tired of young hopefuls who largely fall into the same formula. In contrast, Mango TV’s new show is an outlier, featuring 30 established female celebrities aged 30 and above competing for a spot in the five-person winning group at the end.

Apart from the female stars’ musical talent, Mango TV hopes to showcase their youthful attitudes in a world in which most female entertainers have a short “shelf life” (Source: NetEase Entertainment). The new concept instantly grabbed the attention of Chinese viewers who anxiously awaited the show’s debut. The first episode aired last Friday after limited official publicity and received 10 million views within the first 20 minutes.

Following the initial success, Mango Excellent Media’s stock rose by nearly 9% on Friday and another 7% on Monday. The company’s market value has now surpassed 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) (Shanghai Securities News).

What are people saying online?

Netizens have embraced the new show. One wrote, “Of course, young stars in their late teens and early 20s are beautiful. But I feel more impressed by these celebrities over the age of 30.” She went on to say that their confidence and ambition make them shine, and that age is just a number.

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Other people said that they are not surprised by Mango TV’s success. In comparison with other video platforms such as Tencent, Youku, and iQiyi, Mango TV’s shows are “much more interesting and interactive,” one user commented.

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By Heather Mowbray / Jun 15, 2020 08:46 PM / Trending Stories

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He Xiangjian, the 78-year-old retired billionaire founder of global home appliance giant Midea Group, has been rescued after being held hostage with his family at their mansion in the South China city of Foshan city for over 24 hours.

What’s the story?

Over the weekend, the news of He’s ordeal was trending on Weibo, with 10 million views and 1,000 comments. On Monday Foshan police issued a statement saying five suspects were arrested and the victim surnamed He was safe. The businessman and his family were freed in a nighttime raid on Sunday, after the alarm was raised by He’s 53-year-old son Jianfeng, who reportedly swam 1 kilometer across a moat and crossed a golf course to reach police. Video on Weibo show the intruders and police tussling inside the Classical-style villa in the exclusive suburban Junlan International Golf Life Village.

He founded Midea in 1968, and retired in 2012 with an estimated personal fortune of $25 billion, making him China’s sixth wealthiest man today, according to Forbes. His company has been in the Fortune 500 for four consecutive years through 2019.

What are people saying online?

Commentators were comparing the failed kidnapping to that of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s son in 1994, in which kidnapper Cheung Tze-keung, known as “Big Spender,” came away with HK$1 billion ($129 million) before eventually being caught and executed in Guangdong several years later. One user pointed out that the kidnappers had not listened to Cheung Tze-keung, who had advised, “Tie up the son, and the father will definitely pay. Tie up the father, and the son will call the cops.”

Others characterized the Midea boss as one of an earlier generation of billionaires. “China has more and more tycoons, not just in traditional industries, but also in the internet sector, and top security personnel will be even more in demand going forward,” said one user.

“His home in Junlan International Golf Life Village is an early style mansion, and pretty old now. It needs upgraded security and management. Of course, as a Foshan local, He Xiangjian probably underestimated the dangers on his doorstep,” another said.

Contact editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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By Yilin Chen / Jun 15, 2020 08:44 PM / Trending Stories

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A woman claimed 3 million yuan ($423,600) in insurance payouts on almost 900 instances of flight delay. China’s domestic passenger flights are notorious for being late. According to a recent notice issued by Nanjing police, the woman, surnamed Li, fabricated proof of flight delays in order to receive compensation, and has now been charged with insurance fraud. The notice contradicts a previous version of the story which led many people to believe that Li was merely exploiting insurance loopholes by legal means.

What’s the story?

A targeted insurance company notified the Nanjing police when they suspected Li of insurance fraud. Li had previously worked in the airline industry and was familiar with the process of claiming flight delay compensation, using her experience to exploit the system after becoming unemployed (Source: Yangtse Evening Post). According to interviews with police officials, she deliberately chose flights with a high rate of delays, borrowed IDs from family and friends to buy multiple plane tickets, and either kept or canceled her reservations depending on the weather. As soon as a flight was delayed, she would file an insurance claim.

The latest official notice from the police clarified Li’s methods of defrauding insurance companies. It revealed that the woman had been fabricating proof of flight delays and directly lying about flight information since 2015. The police said they would continue to investigate the issue and expected to press charges soon.

What are people saying online?

At first, many people characterized Li’s behavior as a clever but legal “gambling game,” arguing that Li was simply taking advantage of existing rules with luck on her side. “It’s perfectly legal to buy 900 plane tickets and flight delay insurance every time,” one person commented.

The public attitude took a twist with the police notice. While many people feel indignant that Li had indeed committed insurance fraud, they wonder how one person lying about flight delays was able to fool the insurers for so long.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

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By Yilin Chen / Jun 15, 2020 08:41 PM / Trending Stories

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Sixteen years ago, Chen Chunxiu, a woman from a village in Shandong province, gave up her dream of a college education after taking the national entrance exam but failing to receive an admission letter. Recently, she discovered that she had, in fact, been admitted to Shandong University of Technology (SDUT), but that an imposter had stolen her identity and registered at the university in her place.

What’s the story?

Chen completed her gaokao, or China’s national college entrance exam, in 2004. But after she didn’t hear from any college, she decided to leave her village and look for work. Over the years she has worked in an electronics factory and in restaurants as a waitress, before becoming a kindergarten teacher.

This month, she discovered via an online search that she had in fact been accepted as an international economics and trade major at SDUT back in 2004. An imposter from the same county had assumed her identity to get her admission letter and enrolled at SDUT. After graduation, the imposter worked as an auditor at a local district office. The imposter’s relatives said her father bought Chen’s student identity from an intermediary agency for 2,000 yuan ($280).

Local authorities and education officials have launched an investigation into the incident. In particular, they have been urged to evaluate possible negligence, abuse of power, and corruption among all parties involved. The imposter has been suspended from her job and her SDUT diploma information has been permanently deleted. Meanwhile, Chen has appealed to authorities have her education resumed. According to Chen, SDUT has rejected her request, citing “a lack of precedent” (Source: Beijing News).

What are people saying online?

The incident has sparked widespread indignation on social media. One person wrote that “What was stolen was not her admissions offer. It was a completely different life that she could have had.”

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Other people have reminded officials that Chen’s story is not an isolated incident. “They must fix loopholes in the system so that people with connections and money can’t steal the bright futures of those without,” one user wrote.

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Contact editor Heather Mowbray, heathermobray@caixin.com

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Heather Mowbray / Jun 12, 2020 07:14 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Li Wenliang’s wife has given birth to a second child – four months after the whistleblower doctor lost his life to Covid-19, aged 34, amid massive social media attention.

What’s the story?

On Friday, Li Wenliang’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy in Wuhan. A screenshot of Fu Xuejie’s announcement on her WeChat moments has been commented on by 20,000 Weibo users and the “Li Wenliang’s wife gives birth in Wuhan” hashtag has been viewed 52 million times. “Is my husband looking down on us from heaven? His last present to me was born today. I will make sure to love and care for them.”

Wuhan ophthalmologist Li Wenliang died in the early hours of Feb. 7 after several weeks of serious illness with Covid-19. His pregnant wife Fu Xuejie suffered bleeding and low blood pressure following news of her husband’s death, resting in hospital until she had stabilised. She revealed that the family has been telling the couple’s kindergarten-aged first child, “Dad has gone overseas.” (Litchi News)

In his last weeks, before being ventilated and eventually given ECMO treatment in an attempt to circumvent the damage the disease had done, Li Wenliang, who had been reprimanded by local police in January for breaking news of the spread of viral pneumonia to his medical school classmates, called for a country where "there should be more than one voice in a healthy society".

What people are saying online?

Li Wenliang shot to fame due to Covid-19 but his life also struck a chord with many urban Chinese who could relate to his regular food photo postings and ordinary depictions of family life on Weibo. Many posts and comments wish the family and newborn well, calling the child an angel sent from heaven. Some Weibo commentators however worry that if Fu Xuejie remarries, she will face flack online.

Related stories: Gallery: China Mourns Death of ‘Heroic’ Whistleblower Doctor

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)


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