Underwater hockey making a splash

Players compete in an underwater hockey game in Chongqing.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Underwater hockey, a sport most Chinese have never heard of, is becoming popular among swimmers and divers in a dozen big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Players wear diving masks, snorkels and fins, and carry a short stick in one hand for playing the puck in a swimming pool. Two teams of up to 10 players compete, with six players in each team in play at any one time. In club matches, two of the six must be women.

The sport originated in England in 1954 when a group of divers wanted to keep active in the cold winter months. It is now a worldwide sport, mainly played in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

In China, the sport was originally played by foreign expats and young Chinese who had returned from overseas. Later, more Chinese swimmers started to join in.

There are now two underwater hockey clubs in Chongqing, a metropolis in southwestern China, with the first one formed last year and the second one this year.

New rule to protect female employees in Henan

A child holds a maternal health service card. [Photo/IC]

Central China’s Henan province announced a regulation on better protecting labor rights for female employees.

The regulation requires employers to issue a monthly health subsidy of no less than 35 yuan ($5.04) for each female employee. It also announced a special one to two day’s leave for female employees during the menstrual period.

Liu Chongling, deputy chief of Henan’s Department of Human Resources and Social Security, said the regulation is aimed to better protect female employees.

The subsidy of private companies will be raised on their own, while the subsidy of government departments and institutions will be covered by public financial funds.

The regulation also improves benefits and welfare for female employees during their pregnancy and maternity leave, ensuring them to be more secure and healthy at work.

Tian Zhenzhen, 29, a high school teacher in Zhengzhou, said she is interested in the implementation of the regulation.

The regulation will be effective on Nov 1.

Guizhou introduces regulations to protect Mount Fanjingshan

Mount Fanjingshan, in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. [Photo/VCG]

GUIYANG — The legislature in China’s southwestern province of Guizhou passed regulations to further protect Mount Fanjingshan, a newly-inscribed world heritage site.

Fireworks, barbecue, camping and swimming are banned, the regulations said. Administrations that fail to hire adequate safety staff or install enough safety equipment shall be punished. Tourists who damage the environment shall also be punished.

According to the regulations, the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve and its neighboring provincial-level nature reserves and scenic areas are within the scope of conservation.

Fanjingshan was inscribed to the World Heritage List in July at the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain.

Could emergence of new restaurants bring instant noodles back in vogue?

Instant noodles of different brands are seen on shelves in a supermarket. [Photo/IC]

YINCHUAN — Instant noodles, once the bedrock of China’s convenience food, have returned to the spotlight after a string of tiny noodle restaurants cropped up in the country.

After a day’s hard work, Du Zhenna and her husband walked into a small restaurant in a bustling street in Yinchuan, capital of northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

They stopped in front of a wall with over 100 global brands of instant noodles, from kimchi-flavored noodles from the Republic of Korea to Tom Yum Kung-flavored noodles from Thailand.

Du made a decision to try the signature dish, which is a far cry from ordinary cup noodles made by simply pouring in boiling water.

Dipped in tangy sauces and topped with thinly sliced mushrooms, vegetables and a heart-shaped fried egg, a steaming bowl of instant noodles pleases not only the mouth but also the eyes.

“It’s nice to try the flavors of different countries in one restaurant,” Du said. “The noodles are tasty and have good presentation. It’s just like what I saw online.”

Instant noodle restaurants have emerged across China in the past few months as short videos featuring different mouthwatering noodles went viral on popular Chinese video-sharing app Douyin in May.

Yinchuan is now home to 15 such restaurants, according to Dianping, a Yelp-like leading Chinese online city-guide.

Xu Hongli, owner of the restaurant that Du visited, was inspired by the videos and opened a similar snack shop in August.

“Our restaurant is often packed with customers, many of whom are active Douyin users,” he said. “Diners like taking selfies with the ‘wall of instant noodles’ and posting pictures and short videos online.”

Over 2,000 customers visited Xu’s restaurant during the week-long National Day holiday. “The bestsellers are spicy instant noodles from the Republic of Korea because they cater to the taste of the locals,” he said.

But in another instant noodle restaurant only 10 km away from Xu’s, few tables were occupied.

“Most of our customers never come back,” said Liu Facai, the shop owner. “Some people entered our restaurant out of curiosity, but left very soon after they found out we only sell instant noodles.”

In fact, instant noodles have seen a drastic decline in their popularity in China in recent years, due to the rise of food delivery services and the growing importance attached to healthy diets.

According to the World Instant Noodles Association, the sales of instant noodles in China dropped from 46.22 million packets in 2013 to 38.97 million in 2017, a decrease of 15.7 percent.

Usually high in fat and sodium and low in vitamins and minerals, instant noodles have been regarded by an increasing number of Chinese as junk food, even when they are topped with fresh vegetables and mushrooms.

“Another reason is price,” Liu said. A bowl of instant noodles in his restaurant costs around 25 yuan (about $3.6), more than five times the price of a packet of Chinese-made instant noodles sold in supermarkets.

But Xu, bustling around his restaurant to serve customers, was more optimistic. “Starting a business means taking risks. For me, things are looking good, at least for now.”

Over 300 love letters help women in ICU

The intensive care unit (ICU) of a maternal and child care center encourages husbands to write love letters to their wives for consolation and company in order to help them recover in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province.

“Patients in ICU are often vulnerable and sensitive as their condition is serious,” said Zhang Wenkai, a doctor with the ICU. The women worry about the newly born babies and also suffer from emotional issues.

Good mood is a better healer than anything else for their recovery, said Zhang, who has worked in the ICU for almost two years.

Writing letters is different from making phone calls or sending WeChat messages, said a husband surnamed Zhang. The process of writing with a pen calmed both my heart and mind and allowed me to play back my sweet days with my wife. “I followed the doctors’ advice to write to her, but every word I wrote is full of my deep feelings for her.”

More than 300 love letters have been written to the wives in the ICU, giving them the warmth and strength they urgently need.

Beijing to have more convenience stores

Two pedestrians pass by a closed store of Linjia, a Beijing-based convenience store chain, on Aug 2, 2018. [Photo provided to China Daily]

BEIJING – Beijing has introduced new policies to support the construction and development of more convenience stores, with the total number of stores in the city to reach 6,000 by 2021.

According to a plan of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce, every 1,000 residents will be served by a store of 10 to 20 square meters. Chain convenience stores will also be built near places such as schools, stadiums, hospitals, parks, railway stations and high-tech parks.

The municipality pledged financial support to the construction and development of the stores.

Beijing will also streamline the procedures for convenience stores to obtain food business licenses, while chain convenience stores will be allowed to sell some OTC medicines.

Beijing’s sub-center plans for 1.3 million permanent residents

A bird’s-eye view of Tongzhou, a suburban district of Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING — Beijing’s sub-center, which will sit in the east of the capital, aims to accommodate 1.3 million permanent residents by 2035, according to a detailed plan published Thursday.

The city sub-center will cover 155 square kilometers and be extended to the whole area of the current Tongzhou District, which totals about 906 square kilometers, according to the plan for the sub-center’s development for 2016 to 2035, approved by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

The population density will be 9,000 residents per square kilometer at most so as to maintain a comfortable living environment, the document said.

The plan pledged that the sub-center will be “an urban area without urban ills,” which will build an eco-friendly transport system focusing on public transport, adopt measures to control air, water and soil pollution, and develop strict management of water resources and intelligent urban management systems.

“The sub-center will not develop real estate projects on a large scale,” the document said, adding that the market will play a decisive role in resource allocation.

The plan also outlined the functions of the sub-center, measures for cultural development and coordinated development with surrounding areas in neighboring Hebei Province.

Beijing is shifting some of its administrative functions out of the city center into Tongzhou to help address problems including traffic congestion and air pollution. The move is also part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integrated development plan.

Beijing municipal government agencies have been moving their offices to Tongzhou since the end of 2017.

First book collection on top technical work methods launched

A screen grab of Gao Fenglin doing welding work on a rocket engine. [Photo/CNTV]

China’s first book collection on the work methods of top technical workers was introduced on Friday at the 2019 Beijing Book Fair.

The collection contains six volumes, and each volume is named after a top technical worker in the sector. In combination with the collection, a series of videos based on the books were also launched online.

Gao Fenglin, a senior technical worker who once won the National Science and Technology Progress Award, expressed his joy of sharing his experiences with readers at Friday’s introductory conference. His work methods were also turned into video clips which are available online.

“Everyone has the responsibility to share practical methods that are useful to the country’s development,” Gao said.

Gao, who is also the part-time vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, encouraged younger technical workers to adjust their learning methods and embrace the new internet era to improve their skills.

Written based on decades of practical experience, these books would be helpful in fostering more skilled technical workers for the country’s development, said Wang Jiaoping, chief of the China Worker Publishing House.

Wang Gaosheng, a member of the audience at the conference, expressed his excitement for these books and applauded the contributions of these technical workers.

“I am also a technical worker, and I can understand how much effort they have made for their achievements today,” said Wang. “I appreciate their willingness to share their experiences with us.”

Published by the China Worker Publishing House, these books detail the work methods of six national-level technical workers from sectors including manual welding, power transmission, and oil extraction.

Shop owner caught selling honor roll certificates

A shop owner was warned by police in Huai’an of Jiangsu province for selling fake honor roll certificates to students and encouraging them to lie to their parents for pocket money, Yangtze Evening News reported.

The shop owner’s business was exposed by a video clip posted online by unnamed netizens.

In the clip, the shop owner surnamed Xue hurriedly fills an honor roll certificate within a minute while hawking the product to students, saying parents will not find out the truth and will give them pocket money in Spring Festival.

He sold each certificate for 2 yuan. To make the certificate look authentic, Xue also stamped it.

Since Xue’s behavior was not criminal, he was only warned.

Some weibo users said if they had such certificates in childhood, they would have avoided lots of punishment. Others said such a behavior will encourage children to lie from a young age.

“When I was small, my parents would buy me such certificates and say teachers just forgot to give me one,” a netizen wrote, adding that his parents told white lies that were for his own good.

Xie Jianing contributed to this story.