HK setting “two-can limit” regulation to restrict mainlanders’ milk powder purchases

A new regulation issued in Hong Kong on the export of infant formula will take effect on March 1. The rule requires that people departing Hong Kong can only carry two cans of milk powder. Violators will face a fine of 500,000 yuan ($80,000) and two years’ imprisonment.

Mainlanders waiting in lines at the border to go back home, after having bought boxes of canned milk powder in Hong Kong. Photo from Tencent News.

This is not the first time that Hong Kong complains about people from mainland China buying up all the infant formula, which results in price hikes and shortage in local milk powder market.

Mainlanders started to cross the border from Shenzhen to Hong Kong for infant formular right after the 2008 Chinese milk scandal came out. In September 2008, Sanlu Group, one of China’s largest milk powder producers, admitted that its infant formula had been contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

According to an article in The Guardian, by November 2008, the tainted milk led to at least six children dying from kidney stones, and caused illnesses in nearly 300,000 others.

These years, not only families living in southern cities in China tend to visit Hong Kong to buy infant formula for personal uses, but also smugglers have been taking advantages by smuggling milk powder from Hong Kong to mainland China and selling for a relatively higher price. According to Hong Kong Business, 10 yuan ($1.6) could be added to the price of smuggled milk powder.

Chinese netizens, as a result, are urging the government to take action on food safety inspection to make sure that kids in China have non-toxic milk.

Murongxuecun, famous Chinese author and commentator, discussing about the new regulation of HK milk powder on Weibo.

Murongxuecun, famous Chinese author and commentator, discussing about the new regulation of HK milk powder on Weibo.

Murongxuecun, famous author and commentator in China, said in his Weibo post:

What we should talk about is, as the world’s second-biggest economy, a so-called growing empire, a country spending hundreds of billions of dollars on stability maintenance and misuse of public funds, how come China is not even able to ensure the safety of a can of milk powder? It has been a long time since the 2008 milk scandal. What kind of improvements have been done in the milk industry? What has the government been doing? What has the Food Quality and Safety Department been doing? Have the governors ever concerned about their people?



Spring Festival travel rush in China kicks into high gear

China’s annual Spring Festival travel rush faced a new peak on Saturday, with 1.22 million passengers transported by the Shanghai Railway Authority, according to the Global Times, becoming “the largest single-day total of any Spring Festival travel season since 1956.”

It is said in the Global Times article that:

From February 10 to February 23, it transported 13.4 million passengers, 2.35 million more than in the same period last year.

The Spring Festival travel rush, also named Chunyun in Mandarin, usually takes 40 days, starting 15 days before Lunar New Year’s Eve and ending 25 days after. Migrant workers and college students always rush between cities and small towns during the time period for family reunions. 2013 Chunyun started from January 26 and will end on March 6.  According to China Daily, people will make 3.4 billion trips during this year’s Chunyun, setting a new record.

2009, Beijing West Railway Station during Chunyun – people are rushing to buy tickets and catch trains. Photo from Wikimedia Commons. No rights reserved.

Every year during Spring Festival, buying tickets for Chunyun is the hottest topic in China. Here is a news video from CCTV International News published on January 24, talking about the transportation and tickets problems of this “world’s largest human migration.”

Former Google China head Kai-Fu Lee banned from Weibo

Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China, posted on Twitter on Sunday saying that he was temporarily banned from two major Chinese microblogging sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

Photo of Kai-Fu Lee (cc) by Hubert Burda Media from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

With 30 million followers on Weibo, Kai-Fu Lee was picked by Sina as the 2012 most influential micro-blogger earlier. His being censored soon became a hot topic discussed on Weibo and other media platforms.

While people are guessing the reason why he got banned, Kai-Fu Lee wrote a post on LinkedIn, listed things he had been talked about on Weibo before the censorship with a sense of humor, saying that regardless of any setbacks and obstacles, he still believes in social media and the influential power of netizens in China.

According to an article in South China Morning Post, some of the Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo, however, linked the censorship with Lee’s critique on, a search engine company owned by China’s stated-run newspaper People’s Daily, and its chief executive, former Olympic table tennis champion Deng Yaping.

Caijing News published an article saying that:

CNZZ statistics showed Baidu led the home search engine market in January with a market share of over 70%, followed by 360, Google and SoSo. And less than 0.0001 percent users turned to Jike.

Here is a CNN article about Deng Yaping and the re-launch of

Kai-Fu Lee’s Weibo post about search engine Jike. The post was deleted due to censorship soon later.

In Kai-Fu Lee’s Weibo post, he simply questioned:

1. Why is China using taxpayer money to build a search engine company?

2. Is that possible to build a search engine company successfully without any willings to let the public get free flow of information?

3. Why did the Communist Party appoint the CEO of a search engine company?

4. If the U.S. Democratic Party appointed Michael Phelps to be the CEO of Google, could have Google still beaten Yahoo to become the No.1 in search engine industry?

According to Kai-Fu Lee’s tweet, he will be back to Weibo after the three-day ban.

Photojournalism today: learn, practice, and be prepared

Mary Knox Merrill, Associate Director of Multimedia Communications and Staff Photographer at Northeastern University, visited class on Friday and shared her experience of photojournalism and multimedia.

Merrill started out doing photography, and then she saw the boom in the industry for multimedia, so she began to learn video shooting and editing. She spent five years as staff photographer for The Christian Science Monitor, travelling across the country and around the world taking photos and working on small documentaries.

Merrill pointed out that in today’s world, journalism students need to know how to do everything – not only to know how to write, but also to learn photo and video skills, to make themselves more marketable. As she mentioned, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is a great networking source providing workshops and conferences that journalism students can take advantages of.

Merrill shared some useful tips for taking photos and shooting videos with the class. She suggested to be aware of lights, to take variety of photos (wide, medium, detail), to change perspective (low-angle, overhead, close-up), and to shoot different types of action and motion. Also, always to obey the rule of third is a must.

I think Merrill came up with a good point that it is important for journalism students and professionals to see what the need is in the industry and to make yourself as necessary as possible.

“You never know who is going to open a door for you,” said Merrill.

Snowman party after the blizzard

Click on image for more photos

Blizzard Nemo hit Northeast during the weekend, left Somerville 28 inches of snow. On Saturday, while the storm was still going on, Banditos Misteriosos organized a snowman-building party called “Snowmandito” at Seven Hills Park. Over 100 people joined the event and made about 30 snowmen.

The next day, I went to the park for the second part of the event – a snowman after-party, and took a couple of photos.

Many people went to the park to build their own snowmen since they could not make it because of the heavy storm on Saturday. Chris Deery and his son, Alex Deery are two of them.

“We didn’t make it yesterday because we spent all day shovelling, trying to get out of our house. But my son was so inspired, so we decided to come today,” said Chris Deery.

Some, however, just showed up to take photos, walk their dogs, and simply enjoy the sunny day after the blizzard.

Amy Davis and her daughter, along with a few friends, came to play with the snow, meanwhile selling girl scout cookies.

“We actually planned to sell the cookies yesterday in front of the stop&shop, but got cancelled because of the storm. We thought there should be lots of people coming for the snowmen today, so we brought the cookies with us here,” she said.

KFC China scandal hits Yum Brand

Yum Brand reported results for the fourth quarter of 2012 on Monday, saying that China Division KFC same-store sales sharply slipped “as a result of adverse publicity from the poultry supply situation”.

According to the report, Yum Brand’s same-store sales declined 6% in China during the fourth quater, and the negative sales trend in its China KFC business will adversely impact 2013 EPS.

As one of the most popular fast-food chains, KFC has launched nearly 5,000 restaurants in more than 800 cities in China. Photo from SAMZ via Wikimedia. No rights reserved.

The scandal of KFC chicken in China has been drawing media attention in the past two months. Last December, China’s national television, CCTV, reported an investigation towards KFC, showing that some poultry suppliers were using excessive levels of antibiotics in chicken, which helped accelerate the growth cycle of the chickens from 100 days to just 40 days.

According to an article published in The Epoch Times, media in China found out that one of KFC’s Chinese poultry suppliers, Suhai Group, feeds the chickens “chemicals that are so toxic it even kills the flies that buzz around it”:

The chemical additives are produced inhouse by Suhai Group and are then handed to workers in feed processing factories, according to the report. Some 500 bags of the additives are produced per day, using chemical ingredients including silver nitrate, chloride, and a sterilization medicament.

In the process, around 5,000 chicks are kept in each shed—greatly increasing the risk for infectious diseases to spread—and are given the additive-laced feed and medicine to enhance their immune system. The idea is apparently to raise and kill them quickly enough, in 45 days, before the chemical additives start to adversely affect the chickens.

Hazardous smog chokes Beijing, China

Since last month, a heavy brown smog and extremely high level pollutions have been hitting Beijing’s sky. Flights were canceled and people are warned by Chinese government to stay indoors, because of the low visibility and toxic air.

According to The New York Times, on Jan. 12, 2013, the United States Embassy in Beijing claimed that the city’s Air Quality Index hit 755 at 8 p.m., which was far beyond the hazardous level since the top of the scale was supposed to be 500 when using the AQI standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It is the highest record since the embassy began its monitoring system in 2008.

During these days, not only the “Beijing Cough” has turned to be a hot term, but also Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese entrepreneur and multimillionaire, entered into the public eye. Photos of the thick smog in Beijing can be found everywhere on the web.

I created a story on storify to review what has been happening since January. Please take a look!