Shandong Province

China’s all-girl pop band crushes hopes of besotted female fans

Just a little under a year ago, Min Junqian was an unknown art student in China’s eastern province of Shandong, dreaming of becoming a star and hitting the big time.

Fast-forward a year and the 23-year-old is a member of Acrush, China’s first all-girl “boy band”, which released its debut single last week, but already has hundreds of thousands of fans.

“Our fathers’ generation still holds the idea that girls should dress in a feminine manner, something I was never comfortable with,” Min told Reuters. “I just like to dress in a unisex way.”

Min wasn’t expecting to be picked when she went to the band’s audition last year.

But her boyish appearance and androgynous style were exactly what entertainment startup Zhejiang Huati Culture Communication, backed by Tencent Holdings, was looking for.

Marketed as a pop band that encourages girls to pursue their own identities and shake up female conventions, Acrush has won more than 749,000 followers on Chinese social networking site Weibo.

Acrush goes against the grain in China’s still-evolving music industry, where girl bands are marketed as sweet young things to appeal to a male audience.

“I left home when I was young,” said the band’s lead singer, 21-year-old Peng Xichen. “To comfort my parents, I told them my boyish appearance would keep me safe.”

Some fans, most of them millennials born after the mid-1990s, have called the band members their “husbands”. Some have sent love letters, which the band cannot answer, bound by contract.

“We are not allowed to disclose our gender preferences or have romantic relationships,” said Lu Keran, the band’s leader.

From day one, Zhejiang Huati has created individual identities for the women.

Min is supposed to be the band’s comedian, while Peng is a “gentle romantic”, and the 21-year-old Lu is portrayed as an energetic dancer with a sunny disposition.

She wears long-sleeved outfits to shield from the public eye a dragon tattoo on her arm, and is reluctant to talk about it, saying only, “I did it when I was an ignorant girl.”

But she did admit to sometimes dressing in pink and behaving like a little girl.

The Chinese blogosphere is ablaze with questions about Acrush’s leanings. Asked if they supported feminism and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, the band said they had no idea what the abbreviation LGBT stood for.

“We’re just ‘handsome’ girls,” said Min.

(Source: Reuters; Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Thomas Sun in BEIJING; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Imam Du Shuzheng rebelled against her family more than 50 years ago to become a female imam in China. She has trained more than 70 women to become imams, but now there are few girls who want to enter the profession because of its low pay. Chinese Muslims have an age old tradition of female imams and female-only mosques run by women for women as spiritual, social, and charitable centers.

Women’s mosques began as a Quranic school for girls. These sprang up in the late 17th century in central China, including Shanxi and Shandong provinces. They morphed into women’s mosques about 100 years ago, starting in Henan province.

Chinese company fines employee for having child without permission

A company in China slapped a 2,000 yuan (£225, €266, $290) fine on one of its female employees for failing to have her second child according to an agreed pregnancy schedule.

The company has a policy that allows only two women to be pregnant in a year and strictly on a specific schedule - in April and October. Under the rule, the employee was only entitled to become pregnant in 2020.

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The 31-year-old woman, who signed an agreement with the company based in Jinan, in the Shandong province, had agreed to the new rules imposed by the company, the Beijing Youth Daily reported, according to South China Morning Post.

She however found out she was pregnant soon after agreeing to the new policy but decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. She had her second child in 2016.

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The woman, whose identity was not revealed, took maternity leave but was later told by the company that she would be fined 2,000 yuan for not following the schedule.

The company, when contacted by local media, said that there were no bans on having a second child, but that it only wanted its employees to plan the pregnancy according to the agreed schedule.

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The Chinese company has 25 staff - with 17 women of child-bearing age - an official told Beijing Youth Daily. “The company could not function if they all had babies at the same time,” the officer said.

Company has refunded the fine imposed on the employee, the newspaper said.

Pregnancy schedule unlawful

A lawyer in Beijing, Han Xiao was quoted by the paper as saying that employers cannot regulate when female staff can given birth.

Imposing fines for violating such rules were against women’s reproductive rights, Han said.

China introduced a one-child policy in the 1970s. However, an ageing population and shrinking labour force, saw the communist country rethink the policy and lifting the restriction. Couples are now allowed to have two children with effect from 1 January 2016.

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You might be overcome with joy after seeing this tree located in Xia Park in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, thinking that you may have discovered some secret martial arts techniques like the Wuxia novels have described. But unfortunately, they are simply some Tai Chi movements recently painted on the tree. The artwork was created by a group of designers after the gardeners at the park removed the decayed bark to restore the tree’s health.

Beggars in China now accepting donations via mobile payments and QR codes

Don’t have any spare change? No problem – beggars in China now accept alms transferred via mobile payments by scanning QR codes with smartphones.

One case in point is Jinan, a city in Shandong province in eastern China, where beggars frequenting popular tourist areas like the Wangfu Pool have turned to mobile payments in order to increase their chances of receiving donations from the general public.

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The beggars place a printout of a QR code in their begging bowls. The QR codes enable anyone with a mobile payment app like Alibaba Group’s Alipay or Tencent’s WeChat Wallet to scan the code and send a certain sum to the beggar’s mobile payment account.

This would indicate that the beggars would need to be able to afford to have a mobile phone. According to Chinese state media, this is not as uncommon as you’d think.

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In the case of the beggar seen in Jinan, state media reported that the man was apparently suffering from a mental illness, and that his family had made the QR code to help him.

However, Chinese digital marketing firm China Channel claims that the practice of QR code begging is not merely altruistic. The firm claims that many of the beggars they encountered in Beijing are actually being paid by local businesses and startups to promote QR codes and entice passersby to scan them.

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The scans are used by the businesses to harvest user data on each person’s WeChat IDs. When compiled, the lists of WeChat IDs can be sold for a fair amount of money to small businesses, who use them to send out unsolicited advertisements in the app – the same way in the past companies used email addresses and phone numbers.

Apparently, the idea works by getting passersby to take pity on the beggars and scan the QR code. The user is not charged any money, but the QR code refers the user to a specific WeChat profile. The passersby are encouraged to support the beggars because they don’t need to pay any money – all they have to do is scan the QR code, and the beggar will be paid per scan they manage to achieve.

The beggars work a 45-hour work week and every QR code scan earns them between CN¥0.7 – CN¥1.5 ($0.10-$0.22, £0.08-£0.17). On average, the beggars are able to get one new scan every 2.5 minutes, which in a month works out to be CN¥4,536, which is not a huge amount of money, but a decent income comparable to minimum wage work in the country.

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beijing smog so bad that government is broadcasting virtual sunrise on immense LED screens.

cacotopian future-present.

edit (via androidnoises): No, Beijing residents are NOT watching fake sunrises on giant TVs because of pollution Over the weekend, a story that originated on the smut-ridden UK-based Daily Mail went viral among major media outlets across the world. Time, CBS, and the Huffington Post were among the dozens of online news media who published stories about Beijing residents flocking to giant TV screens to see fake sunrises during heavy pollution last week. Most of these stories were accompanied by the same photo of a massive TV screen in Tiananmen Square with a sunrise appearing on it. In truth, that sunrise was probably on the screen for less than 10 seconds at a time, as it was part of an ad for tourism in China’s Shandong province. The ad plays every day throughout the day all year round no matter how bad the pollution is. The photographer simply snapped the photo at the moment when the sunrise appeared. Look closely, and you can even see the Shandong tourism logo in the bottom right corner. The photo was credited to ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images, so a Daily Mail reporter did not take it. In fact, Daily Mail reporter James Nye, who apparently quoted a traffic coordinator in Beijing, lives in New York City, according to his Twitter profile. CBS went so far as to copy that quote. The quote, in which the man complained about the pollution, originally came from an unrelated Associated Press story published a day earlier. Yes, Beijing is polluted, as we at Tech in Asia have also been critical of, but this story is complete bullshit. International media should be embarrassed for not taking even a moment to second guess the Daily Mail, one of the least reputable news sources in the UK.

From the Wall Street Journal: Lemurs, their long, striped tails spread out like a pinwheel, eat at Qingdao Forest Wildlife World in Qingdao, Shandong province, China. REUTERS

Recording-breaking blooms of the algae Enteromorpha prolifera washed up on China’s beaches in Shandong province over the summer. It’s not toxic to people, but it is to other marine life, hogging most of the oxygen in the ecosystem and doing a fair amount of damage. (Source)

Chineasy Review by thelanguagelover

After attempting to learn Chinese on and off for years on my own, I was running out of ways to get any part of the language to stick. Written Chinese is undoubtedly the most difficult part, due to the vast amount of characters and the complexity of them. I was on the verge of giving up until a few months ago, when I heard about a new book being produced called Chineasy, and I knew that I had to get it as soon as possible to check it out for myself. So today I’m here to tell you what’s great (and not so great) about Chineasy by ShaoLan Hsueh.

(P.S. This post is long and picture heavy!)

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