China nursery blast: Bomber died in explosion that killed eight
China / June 19, 2017

An explosion at the gates of a Chinese kindergarten that killed eight people was caused by a 22-year-old man who died in the blast, police say. Bomb-making materials were found in the flat where the man, named as Xu, lived, and the words “die” and “death” had been scrawled on the walls. The blast happened just as parents in Fengxian in the eastern province of Jiangsu were picking up their children at the end of the day. It is being treated as a criminal act. Xu had suffered from health problems and had dropped out of school but was employed, police said. More than 60 people were injured in the explosion, including eight who are in a serious condition, the authorities say. A survivor told Chinese state TV that the kindergarten gate had just opened for children to leave but none had come out when the blast happened. Fengxian officials said none of the children or teachers at the kindergarten were among the casualties. The Fengxian blast is the second tragedy to strike a Chinese kindergarten in recent weeks. Last month, 11 children died when a bus packed with kindergarten pupils burst into flames inside a tunnel in eastern Shandong…

‘US rethinks Chinese investment in AI start-ups’
China / June 19, 2017

The Pentagon has raised concerns about China’s access to artificial-intelligence-based technology developed in the US, according to Reuters. The news agency says a leaked report proposes that export controls be updated to stop Chinese organisations being able to invest in some start-ups. It suggests the move is needed to prevent their advanced algorithms being repurposed for the military by Beijing. One expert said the report sounded credible. “Quite a few people in the US security establishment see China as a likely potential adversary,” Prof Trevor Taylor, from the UK’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, told the BBC. “A message that’s come through clearly from the Pentagon is that artificial intelligence and man-machine interfaces are going to be crucial for the US to restore the gap between its capabilities and that of others. “So, it’s understandable that they would not want the Chinese to get access to American expertise. “And that innovation is widely associated with small firms that are seeking to secure funding.” Reuters’ report follows an appearance by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. “For decades, the United States enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain or realm… today,…

China cracks down on moneylenders targeting students
China / June 19, 2017

China is cracking down on online moneylenders who target university students, following concerns about the largely unregulated industry. A recent government directive has ordered such lenders to suspend all activities wooing student borrowers. The move follows reports of exorbitant interest rates and unsavoury practices in the industry, including demanding “nude selfies” as collateral. Online peer-to-peer moneylending has grown popular in China in recent years. Known as “wang dai” in Chinese, it sees strangers providing small loans to others via websites and phone apps. ‘Severely harmed their safety’ The directive (in Chinese) was made by China’s banking, education and social security authorities, according to a copy released by the Jiangxi provincial government on its website on Friday. It said the measures were needed to address moneylenders “making extortionate loans” and other behaviour that has “severely harmed the safety of university students”.

Turbulence on Paris-China flight injures 26
China / June 19, 2017

At least 26 people were injured, four seriously, when turbulence hit a China Eastern Airlines flight from Paris on Sunday, state media reports. The turbulence struck as flight MU774 was on its way to Kunming, in the southern Yunnan province. Passengers suffered broken bones, cuts to the scalp and soft tissue injuries, the Xinhua state news agency reported. China Eastern Airlines later said it was crucial passengers wear seatbelts as flights descend. “I was on the flight, and I felt like I would not survive,” the Hong Kong- based South China Morning Post quoted one passenger as saying on the Weibo microblogging site. “Many people were injured, and among them, many had not buckled up.” Xinhua said (in Chinese) that two violent bumps and many small bumps occurred over about 10 minutes. It said that during the turbulence, several passengers’ heads and shoulders collided with the luggage racks, some luggage racks broke from the impact, and some luggage fell off the racks and hit customers. The airline said on its Weibo account (in Chinese) that the Airbus A330, that had taken off from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, landed safely in Kunming.