WEEK IN BRIEF

Shanghai Star. 2005-01-20

SHANGHAI

Exits blocked

GATE 2 of the People's Square metro station was blocked at about 3 pm on January 18 because an underground store reported gas leaking. All the stores between Gate 2 and 3 were required to close and people were evacuated. Tests revealed there was no gas leak and the gate was opened after an hour. The emergency did not affect the operation of the trains since the site was far from the platforms.

Gas leak

ABOUT 2,000 students and teachers evacuated from a school in Nanhui District in the early morning of January 17 due to a gas leak. The leak occurred in a pipe 20 centimetres in diametre that was 200 metres away from the school. Gas could be smelled as far away as one kilometre from the site. The police and firefighters helped evacuate students and teachers who lived inside the school. Gas company employees rushed to the site to make emergency repairs within an hour.

Tourist insurance

SHANGHAI tourists going to Phuket in Thailand between Februray 1 to April 30 will be offered three different types of insu-

rance from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, local travel agencies and ground handlers. Sources at local travel agencies said they would still promote trips to Southeast Asian countries during the Spring Festival. However, direct flights between Shanghai and Phuket have been grounded and the date when they will resume remains unknown.

Boy saved from well

A six-year-old boy who fell into a well was saved by a man, Zhou Mingquan, in Nanhui District. The boy, called Xiao Ji, was leaning over and looking into the five-metre-deep well when Zhou visited his mother on January 15. After the boy fell in, Zhou climbed into the well and seized his foot, pulling him out of the freezing water. Residents nearby then pulled both of them to safety with a rope. The unconscious boy recovered several minutes later. Zhou sustained abrasions of the skin.

Imaginative threat

THE chief representative of a Japanese company based in Kunshan of Jiangsu Province was sentenced to 18 months in jail by Shanghai Pudong New Area District People's Court for having fabricated terro-

rist information in order to delay a flight. Lu was caught in a traffic jam on October 29 last year while driving his friend to the Pudong International Airport. Realizing they were going to be late for his friend's flight, Lu made a call to the airline company, claiming that he heard two people in the airport toilet discussing plans to place a bomb on the flight Lu's friend was going to take. Police and airport staff expended time and resources in a futile search for the invented bomb. Lu was apprehended three days later.

Bird squabble

A fight between two neighbours after a pet bird died unexpectedly resulted in a lawsuit in the Yangpu District People's Court last week. Song found her pet bird dead on September 29, 2003 and suspected her neighbour surnamed Gao. In the ensuing fight Gao bit Song. Song then sued Gao, and demanded some 7,000 yuan (US$843) compensation for the value of the bird and the mental distress she suffered. The court ruled that Gao should be punished for the bite by paying 858 yuan (US$104) compensation to Song, but it did not support the mental distress claim.

Kids' garden

THE city's third Gymboree Centre was opened on the fifth floor at Ascendas Plaza in Xuhui District recently. Sources with Gymboree said they would focus on creative learning to help every child to maximize their cognitive, social and developmental skills through play, music and art. The head instructor from Singapore has training in early childhood development and experience in the preschool education industry.

Charm school

The June Yamada Acadamy held a grand opening ceremony on January 16 in Shanghai, marking the establishment of the first school of manners and fashion in China. The academy, located in the Garden Hotel, aims to provide wordshops and corporate training courses on fashion and manners for white-collars, business people and upper class Chinese who have frequent contacts with Westerners. Courses offered by its 30 teachers, including Yamada, cover table manners, proper dressing, communication skills and makeup. Teachers will observe the students' faux pas in dressing and conduct and correct them. The academy will also tailor courses for companies.

Food show

An annual food exhibition for local residents stocking up on food for the upcoming Chinese New Year will be held from January 21 to 25 at the Shanghai Agricultural Exhibition Centre. Farm produce and other goods from about 20 provinces and regions, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, will be displayed. The exhibition, first held in 2002, has done direct business worth about 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) with additional orders of about 1.5 billion yuan (US$181 million) in each of the past three years, according to Yan Shengxiong, an official from the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission. Fifty-two enterprises will be selling approximately 300 different varieties of agriculture produce, including many types of organic food.

ZHEJIANG

Gamblers netted

AFTER an investigation that lasted more than four months, the police of Xihu District in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, cracked down on four gambling groups in the Shangsi area. More than 120 suspects were arrested and more than 5 million yuan (US$610,000) was confiscated. Last September, the local police became aware of the activities organized by these gambling groups. They set up a special team composed of 20 policemen to spy on them. During their investigation, the police learned that most gamblers were farmers who were unemployed because of land confiscation.

POS retreat

FIFTY hotels in Wenzhou of East China's Zhejing Province presented a request to the local China Unionpay to terminate POS machine services and have all POS machines removed from these hotels within 15 days. Hu Xuejun of Wenzhou Lucheng District Dining Association said that the net pro-

fits of local hotels have decreased to between 2-5 per cent, and they could not endure the 2 per cent handling fees. They said they would continue negotiating with local banks to reduce the commission fees. Wenzhou attracts many foreigners and business people who are accustomed to using credit cards.

BEIJING

Bank targets women

THE WANGJING branch of the Bank of Beijing formally announced special services catering to women clients. The finance consultants said they mainly served clients who were cultivated professional women, senior women managers and private women entrepreneurs whose annual salary is over 200,000 yuan (US$24,390) with family wealth of over 2 million yuan (US$244,000). In accordance with the age, profession, income and consumption habits of these women, the branch planned five types of financing services, and value-added services like shopping, fitness and social skills.

SICHUAN

Canine hero

A FAMILY of three living in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province escaped death thanks to the loyalty of their German shepherd dog named Lingling. Around 9 pm on January 16, no one in the family noticed the gas leaking before all of them slipped into coma. The father surnamed Dan was roused by Lingling biting his clothes and pulling him out the door. When the father regained consciousness, he hurried to the neighbouring hospital to seek help. Both his wife and daughter are out of danger after receiving timely medical treatment.

Gatekeeper duty

CHENGDU People's Procuratorate announced a new policy that allows news units and reporters who have suspicions regarding corruption and breach of duty to report their suspicions directly to the procuratorate. Lei Jianchang, the spokesman of Chengdu People's Procuratorate, said that before the policy was approved, if reporters discovered serious crimes in their process of doing interviews, they had no way to report the information.

GUANGDONG

AIDS kids protected

THE PROVINCIAL Education Department of South China's Guangdong Province issued a notice on January 17 that AIDS orphans would be guaranteed admission to schools. Schools are not allowed to discriminate against children with AIDS or who have parents with AIDS. Those students will have their miscellaneous fees exempted during the period of compulsory education if they are living in poverty. School staff are forbidden to disclose the AIDS status of these students under penalty of law.

WORLD

Tsunami warning system

KOBE, Japan - As the Asian tsunami focuses world attention on natural disasters, experts on January 19 called for an early warning system as soon as possible to help to halve deaths from such catastrophes over the next decade.

While too late for the more than 175,000 people who died in the massive December 26 tsunami, such a system for the Indian Ocean is top of the agenda at a United Nations-sponsored conference this week in the Japanese city of Kobe.

"Natural hazards will always occur, but they don't need to turn into disasters if the proper measures are taken. There is a heavy cost in doing nothing," said Michel Jarraud, head of the UN World Meteorological Organisation.

Forces deployed

to halt attacks

GAZA - Palestinian security forces will deploy to the Gaza Strip's borders with Israel within days to enforce President Mahmoud Abbas order to halt militant attacks, their top commander said on January 19.

Abbas met security chiefs and leaders of Hamas militants overnight in the shadow of a suicide bombing that evoked the obstacles he faces in persuading gunmen to halt violence so he can start talks on a Palestinian state on Israeli-occupied land.

He is caught between the militants and Israeli demands for an end to attacks as a condition for peace negotiations. Israel cut ties after a deadly assault at the border last week. (Agencies via Xinhua)



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