Beijingers Now Being Shamed on Giant Screens In a Bid to Curb to Jaywalking

Although the People's Republic of China doesn't hold political elections, its citizens nonetheless vote with their feet ... a clout they are using to jaywalk en masse, commonly disrupting the flow of traffic in cities all across China.

Chinese authorities have attempted to curtail this mass phenomenon with a multitude of traffic safety campaigns to little effect. With punishments like fines and warnings doing little to quell the stampede, Beijing has decided to take its enforcement of red light runners to the next level by publicly shaming them.

This past Monday, Beijing installed a giant video screen at a Tongzhou intersection that live broadcasts images of jaywalkers illegally crossing the road.

Pedestrians that dare to run the red light at Jingjingong Road will have their image put on a two-by-four-meter-wide electronic screen while receiving a stern scolding.

READ: Beijing to Slow Down Traffic by Confusing Drivers With Optical Illusions

"You have crossed against a red light, please return behind the pedestrian crossing line," blares a recorded voice for everyone in the intersection to hear.

Fear of shame is a powerful inhibitor in China's face-based society in which one's social standing is derived from the respect given by your peers. And yet, even though the threat of public humiliation looms over them, some Beijing pedestrians are still choosing to jaywalk anyways.

A reporter with Beijing Daily witnessed several people running against the red light despite the newly-installed video counter-measures. When stopped by traffic police afterwards, the violators pledged their ignorance when asked about the giant screen or simply demurred that they were "in a rush."

READ: Beijing Cracks Down on Car Horns With Automated Noise Detectors

Meanwhile, a reporter with Beijing Youth Daily counted 14 jaywalkers at the same intersection during a half-hour of Monday's evening rush hour.

Even as China welcomes facial recognition technology as part of its advancement into automation and widespread surveillance, the system is not currently being used as a punitive measure against jaywalkers, although local police say traffic violating pedestrians may have their social credit scores deducted by the system.

Publicly-shaming jaywalkers with a giant video screen is just one of the techniques employed by Chinese cities to try to keep Chinese pedestrians from disobeying traffic signals. Besides erecting gates that physically block pedestrians, Chinese cities have also installed "mist gates" that spray water to keep pedestrians at bay (shown above).

READ: Beijing to Stop Red Light Runners by Making Children Dance in the Middle of Traffic

These measures are in addition to the traffic safety warden, a person who enforces traffic order, and the traffic light, which determines the order of the intersection. 

Whether or not the public video screen is successful at deterring jaywalking, it seems like Andy Warhol's most famous quote has a slightly different meaning in the Celestial Kingdom: when it comes to jaywalking in Tongzhou, "Everybody has their 15 minutes of shame."

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Chinese Women Warned Against Using “Nose Cushions” to Make Their Schnozzes Pointier

As educated and affluent as they have become, China's women have still had to deal with a rapidly changing standard of beauty in which trends are set overnight. And now that well-defined noses have become de rigueur among South Korean and Chinese movie stars, Chinese women find themselves at a loss to try to recreate the shapely profiles of their style icons.

However, with plastic surgery exclusively reserved for those who can afford it, Chinese women have turned to an easier alternative, one that costs less than RMB 10 and never requires a medical procedure.

While it has been called a "nose cushion," the device is so well-regarded that it is more popularly known by its nickname: the "mystical nose beautifying device" (美鼻神器 měi bí shénqì).

READ: Cosmetic Changes: A Layman's Introduction to BB Cream for the Modern Beijing Man

For all the hype it receives, the "artifact" operates on a very simple premise: a stiff piece of plastic is shoved inside a nostril to make a nose stand out farther from a face. And yet, despite its popularity as a "facial tentpole," the device has been criticized by doctors as a potential health threat.

Meitan Hospital Director of Cosmetology Wang Chi said the device can cause infections and even be harmful if it was to be accidentally inhaled, reported China Daily.

After first appearing in the Chinese news last year, there has been one reported case in which a malfunctioning "mystical device" resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

Chongqing resident Miss Zeng was taken to the local hospital last November after the "nose cushion" she had bought online for RMB 13.8 disappeared up her nose, only to be discovered by doctors to have turned up in her stomach.

READ: More than a Pretty Face: Ugly Chemicals in Cosmetics

And although Miss Zeng turned out okay from the ordeal, CCTV nevertheless tried to dissuade women who have put their faith in the product. In its report, CCTV pointed out that the imported product used for sticking inside your nose was not covered by any Chinese regulations. And, to convince any viewers left with lingering doubts, even went so far as to quote Zhou Xin, director of the ear nose and throat department of the Chongqing Chinese Medicine Hospital that the nose cushion was "without scientific merit."

As it were, several versions of the "mystical nose beautifying device" are available for purchase online, many of which use external devices to beautify their noses.

Pointed noses are just the latest trend in Asian beauty standards that have popularized larger colored eyes, double-lidded eyelids, fairer skin, and colored hair. As numerous as these Western traits are in Eastern aesthetics, we're still waiting for English to make the jump from T-shirts to conversations.

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Beijing’s Newest 24-Hour Bookstore to Serve as Sanlitun’s “Quiet Cultural Sanctuary”

Late-night Sanlitun denizens and aficionados in need of a destination after closing time can now muse over their sobering thoughts at Beijing's newest 24-hour bookstore located on the site of Sanlitun's former "dirty bar street."

At over 600sqm, the 50,000 book-strong bookstore is the latest retail franchise by Sanlian Taofen that looks to serve customers from its optimal downtown location just north of Taikooli Mall. Featuring bookshelves that tower two-stories high, the bookstore is also home to one of modern China's most culturally-significant destinations: a café. 

Beijing has experienced a glut of new bookstore openings lately, many of which are touted as offering 24-hour service. In fact, this new bookstore happens to sit adjacent to yet another Sanlitun bookstore that opened last year as well as the more foreigner-friendly but slowly dying Page One branch in Taikooli Mall.

Among all this competition in what can only be described as a "buyer's market," this latest of a string of openings has been heralded by local media as a major event for the city with wide-reaching consequences.

READ: When Automated Meets "Spiritual Nourishment": First 24-Hour Staffless Bookstore Opens in Beijing

Ostensibly a box with elevated catwalks, the new bookstore's layout was inspired by a northern Song dynasty map that allows shoppers to experience a "meandering journey through cultural knowledge."

But that's not all. Qianlong hails the Sanlitun 24-hour bookstore as "a quiet cultural sanctuary" that will usher in greater changes to come.

READ: China to Provide "Spiritual Nourishment" With Multiple 24-Hour Bookstores Opening in Beijing

"In an area as international, diversified, and fashionable as Sanlitun, the bookstore will spread Chinese culture to the world as well as allowing readers a better understanding of China and the world," reported Qianlong, which went on to say that "such a bookstore is vital towards the construction of a 'cultural Sanlitun'" and will help turn the neighborhood into an "international communication center."

There may be a place for yet another bookstore in Beijing, maybe even one that runs all day long. But it remains that Sanlitun's reputation as an "international communication center" has already long been established, one where relationships are forged by reading between the lines.

Sanlian Taofen
Daily 24-hours. 43 Bei Sanlitun Lu, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
三里屯朝阳区北三里屯路南43号

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Beijing Park Bee Sting Fatality Prompts Family to Sue City RMB 2M

Although it signals an end to dreary winter chills, spring in Beijing also brings with it the dangerous aerial concoction of air pollution, sandstorms, and flying catkins. And, if Beijing's skies weren't already full enough, there is a new threat to contend with: killer bees.

A Haidian court is currently conducting a trial in which the bereaved family is suing the city for RMB 2 million (USD 317,600) after a man named Zhao died from a bee sting while visiting a Beijing park.

The victim's family are accusing the Beijing park of not having implemented any preventative measures that could have prevented the death while also naming the city's ambulance dispatch as a co-defendant in the case for not arriving in time to save the victim.

Police say Zhao died from an allergic reaction to the bee sting that immediately incapacitated him, causing his death minutes later.

Wang Xueyan, director of the allergy department at Beijing Shijitan Hospital, described Zhao's death as "a classic allergy case" during the trial.

Wang said Zhao had exhibited common symptoms of allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock and swelling of the throat and lungs that restricted his air flow and suffocated him to death.

The case is still underway; no verdict has yet been reached.

Media reports of the case omit major details such as the date of the incident, at which park it happened, and whether or not Zhao is a Beijing resident. Furthermore, Chinese news is vague about the specific type of insect that administered the fatal sting; most reports are seen using a broad term that could mean "bee," "wasp," or "hornet."

According to Wang, only a tiny minority of the public is extremely sensitive to bee stings resulting in death. In 2016, a visitor to a Shenzhen park died from a bee sting.

Bee attacks have been an issue for Beijing parks before when three people were injured by bees in the city's east-end Yunhe Park back in 2014. And although they didn't have to defend themselves in court, city parks have also tried to avoid the blame for such incidents.

In another bee attack, in that same year on a family of 10, a Chaoyang Park worker explained that the city's waterways department is responsible for the incident since it occurred by the lakeside.

Beijing courts have seen a number of litigation recently in which victims are suing for large damages.

A Beijing woman is suing IKEA for RMB 1 million after one of their glasses allegedly exploded, knocking her unconscious. Last year, the victim of a tiger mauling sued Badaling Animal Park for RMB 1.5 million after she got out of her car while driving through the dangerous animal exhibit.

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China’s Peak Travel High-Speed Train Ticket Prices to Increase Nearly 50%

The difference between taking a plane and taking a train in China has just about disappeared: The cost of high-speed train tickets are set to fluctuate widely this year as China's railway fully embraces the open market.

China's railway ministry said it will begin following a new pricing scheme on Apr 28 that will provide off-peak travel discounts while simultaneously introducing price hikes of nearly 50 percent on the same route within days of each other.

Effective until the end of the year, the new plan will see 28 inter-city routes begin offering ticket discounts of 20 percent during weekdays and non-holiday periods.

At the same time, train ticket prices will rise exorbitantly during peak travel periods.

During the upcoming Labor Day long weekend, the price of a soft sleeper ticket on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed corridor will increase to RMB 860 on Apr 28, whereas the same ticket will cost RMB 740 the next day and fall further still to RMB 560 on Apr 30.

At present, a ticket for a soft sleeper berth on the Beijing-Shanghai D312 costs RMB 650 during the week and RMB 740 on the weekends.

The new pricing scheme will not affect all train tickets; non-sleeper train seats are not expected to change in price.

Beijing Transportation University deputy professor Ma Minshu lauded the price fluctuations, saying that the "public at large will benefit." Ma said the fluctuating prices will encourage people to travel during off-peak seasons, thereby allowing vacancies for those who need it.

Meanwhile, CCTV television broadcaster Voice of China reminded its readers that some people fully expect China's railway to uphold a sense of "public welfare" and reduce prices to ensure publicly accessible travel.

Vacations in China normally occur during the country's few holiday seasons during which travel and tourism peak overnight.

China introduced fluctuating train ticket prices in 2015, allowing for an airline-style marketplace that changed according to consumer supply and demand. 

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Final Stop on the Great Brickening Shows Beijing Hutongs Have Become Sterile, Tepid Alleys

Last year, many of us were dismayed to witness a brutal urban rejuvenation campaign that dismantled many of our favorite Beijing hutong F&B establishments. Dubbed the "Great Brickening," the city-wide campaign took few prisoners as it rendered some place unrecognizable and shut others down.

At the time, the Beijinger posted a jarring before-and-after photo comparison, but because the enforced makeover was made to be compliant instead of aethetically pleasing, it may not have been a proper portrayal of how Beijing ideally wanted to look like.

READ: Beijing Hutong Culture Reaches Crisis Point as Fangjia Hutong Becomes Care Home

Now, almost a year later, a Beijing newspaper has proclaimed the city's urban rejuvenation campaign to be a success by posting its own before-and-after hutong photo comparison. And although its tone is celebratory and exuberant, hutong-nostalgic expats probably aren't as likely to share the feeling.

Underneath the headline "Old Beijing resident hutongs have returned," the Beijing Daily displayed through a series of photos that the new government-standard renovated hutongs have been duly stripped of their personality.

Mainly focusing upon the changes made to Beijing's Jingshan hutong neighborhood, the photo comparisons show the renovations to have eradicated commercial interests and personal flourishes from each example, reverting the hutong to a basic, non-descript wall.

But where expats and overseas tourists have enjoyed Beijing hutongs for their personality and charm, the report claims that the changes are best for everyone.

"Before, this hutong was very chaotic with souvenir sellers on both sides of the street and tourists passing through on three-wheeled bikes," elderly Jingshan hutong resident Zhang Junbo told the Beijing Daily. "It was so busy and frantic, it wasn't at all suitable for living in."

READ: Modernista Turns 6, Standing Tall as a "Great Brickening Survivor" With Gigs Aplenty Nov 10-12 and Nov 24-26

Now that the city had implemented its urban renewal campaign, things are much different for Zhang. "The hutong has been reverted to its clean and original state, just like how it was in my childhood memories. As well, tourists can now finally see the real Beijing."

Deputy director of the Jingshan local affairs unit Tian Guoming feels the same way. "By renovating the hutongs, we can strengthen local residents' sense of belonging as well as properly tell the story of Jingshan."  

In response to the story, some netizens have taken a contrary view.

READ: Can't Keep Me Down: The Tenacious Beijing Venues That Survived and Reopened After the Brickening

Describing it as "really ugly," one comment complained that "They tore down the real city wall and put up a fake one."

Others complained about the new hutong's sterile nature by writing comments like: "It looks cold and half-hearted," "There's no vitality," and "This is the 'authentic' old Beijing? As a native resident, I don't believe so!"

Another comment complained that authorities seem not to favor their own decisions. "Before they wanted to develop the local economy, but then the local culture died out as the economy improved," said one person. "Now they want to develop their culture again!"

READ: Cleaning Up Nice: City Bookstore Opens on Sanlitun's Formerly 'Dirty' Bar Street

Beijing's current urban renewal campaign focuses heavily upon culture and history by creating neo-classic versions of traditional architecture as well as building a plethora of book stores

Last September, a new tourist center that opened near the famous Silk Streets loudly proclaimed itself to be Beijing's "one stop" destination for tourists. Now that Beijing's hutongs all share the same lukewarm, homogeneous appearance, it really does seem as though tourists visiting Beijing won't have any reason to go anywhere else. 

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Horns to Be Mild: Beijing Cracks Down on Car Horns With Automated Noise Detectors

Beijing's noisy streets are set to become a lot quieter as the city begins punishing violators of its rarely-enforced car horn ban through the use of automated detectors.

Currently implemented in 20 areas throughout the city, violators caught improperly using their horn will be fined RMB 100 (USD 15).

First unveiled last summer, the automated detectors use a sonar system to accurately pinpoint the specific vehicle that made the offending honk. From there, the detectors use a camera system to record the vehicle's license plate, which authorities will use to track down the owner of the vehicle. 

A third system comprising of an LED sign will notify the violating driver in real-time that their offense has been recorded by the automated setup. 

The system is said to be so precise that it can identify violators within two seconds as well as distinguish between two vehicles traveling side-by-side.

"Parallel vehicles can also be identified based on their position in each lane; the recognition locator feature can reflect the direction the honks are coming from, so there will be no misjudgment," said Li Jianfeng, deputy director of the Scientific and Technical Information Department of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

So far, the system has been very effective at its job, capturing nearly 30,000 violators during a pilot project that started at the beginning of the year.

By law, horn use is prohibited within Beijing's Fifth Ring Road and near special schools and hospitals except in the case of an emergency. Dating back to 2007, the current ban has been difficult to enforce because it required the presence of a traffic officer to both verify the violation and then immediately issue a ticket. 

Will your neighborhood be affected? The automated noise detectors are designated for these twenty Beijing areas:

Dongcheng District (东城):

  • Xihe Hospital west gate (协和医院西门)
  • Zhengyi road intersection (正义路路口)
  • Taijiguang Boulevard (台基厂大街)

Xicheng (西城):

  • Zhongda'an Hutong (中大安胡同)
  • Xihuang Chenggen North Street (西黄城根北街)
  • Fuyou North Street Beikouhuang (府右街北口)
  • Intersection of Chang'an Road and Fuyou Street (长安街与府右街交会口)
  • Zhenwumiao Toutiao (真武庙头条)
  • Intersection at Xijiaomin Alley and the Great Hall of the People (西交民巷与人民大会堂路交会口)
  • North entrance to Beichang Street (北长街北口)
  • Taipingqiao Boulevard (太平桥大街)
  • North side of Fendou Elementary School 奋斗小学北侧路口

Haidian District (海淀):

  • Taipingzhuang bridge, North third ring auxiliary road (北三环辅路太平庄桥)
  • North entrance to Yangfangdian West Road (羊坊店西路北口)
  • Huangzhuang Road entrance (海淀黄庄路口)

Shijingshan District (石景山):

  • No. 51 Elementary School, Bajiaodong Street (八角东街五一小学)

Tongzhou District (通州):

  • Luhe Hospital, Xinhua South Street (新华南路潞河医院

Changping District (昌平):

  • Changping Traffic Detachment entrance, Fuxue Road (府学路昌平交通支队门口)

Fengtai District (丰台):

  • Qunxing Road (群星路18中门前)

Fangshan District (房山):

  • Area of Jingshen Road and Changyang International Road 京深路长阳国际路段

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Horns to Be Mild: Beijing Cracks Down on Car Horns With Automated Noise Detectors

Beijing's noisy streets are set to become a lot quieter as the city begins punishing violators of its rarely-enforced car horn ban through the use of automated detectors.

Currently implemented in 20 areas throughout the city, violators caught improperly using their horn will be fined RMB 100 (USD 15).

First unveiled last summer, the automated detectors use a sonar system to accurately pinpoint the specific vehicle that made the offending honk. From there, the detectors use a camera system to record the vehicle's license plate, which authorities will use to track down the owner of the vehicle. 

A third system comprising of an LED sign will notify the violating driver in real-time that their offense has been recorded by the automated setup. 

The system is said to be so precise that it can identify violators within two seconds as well as distinguish between two vehicles traveling side-by-side.

"Parallel vehicles can also be identified based on their position in each lane; the recognition locator feature can reflect the direction the honks are coming from, so there will be no misjudgment," said Li Jianfeng, deputy director of the Scientific and Technical Information Department of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.

So far, the system has been very effective at its job, capturing nearly 30,000 violators during a pilot project that started at the beginning of the year.

By law, horn use is prohibited within Beijing's Fifth Ring Road and near special schools and hospitals except in the case of an emergency. Dating back to 2007, the current ban has been difficult to enforce because it required the presence of a traffic officer to both verify the violation and then immediately issue a ticket. 

Will your neighborhood be affected? The automated noise detectors are designated for these twenty Beijing areas:

Dongcheng District (东城):

  • Xihe Hospital west gate (协和医院西门)
  • Zhengyi road intersection (正义路路口)
  • Taijiguang Boulevard (台基厂大街)

Xicheng (西城):

  • Zhongda'an Hutong (中大安胡同)
  • Xihuang Chenggen North Street (西黄城根北街)
  • Fuyou North Street Beikouhuang (府右街北口)
  • Intersection of Chang'an Road and Fuyou Street (长安街与府右街交会口)
  • Zhenwumiao Toutiao (真武庙头条)
  • Intersection at Xijiaomin Alley and the Great Hall of the People (西交民巷与人民大会堂路交会口)
  • North entrance to Beichang Street (北长街北口)
  • Taipingqiao Boulevard (太平桥大街)
  • North side of Fendou Elementary School 奋斗小学北侧路口

Haidian District (海淀):

  • Taipingzhuang bridge, North third ring auxiliary road (北三环辅路太平庄桥)
  • North entrance to Yangfangdian West Road (羊坊店西路北口)
  • Huangzhuang Road entrance (海淀黄庄路口)

Shijingshan District (石景山):

  • No. 51 Elementary School, Bajiaodong Street (八角东街五一小学)

Tongzhou District (通州):

  • Luhe Hospital, Xinhua South Street (新华南路潞河医院

Changping District (昌平):

  • Changping Traffic Detachment entrance, Fuxue Road (府学路昌平交通支队门口)

Fengtai District (丰台):

  • Qunxing Road (群星路18中门前)

Fangshan District (房山):

  • Area of Jingshen Road and Changyang International Road 京深路长阳国际路段

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Tourists are Taking Photos In Front of a Fake Tsinghua Landmark… In Front of the Real Tsinghua Landmark

In China, true power resides in symbols — so much that symbols sometimes supercede the people or institutions they represent. So when Tsinghua University decided to renovate its iconic gated entrance earlier this month, they knew that they couldn't hide it from millions of tourists that specifically come to its campus to see it. Instead, they did the next best thing: cover it up with an exact copy of itself.

The fake was put up in front of the real landmark at the beginning of the month in order to accommodate renovations made in advance of Tsinghua University's 107th anniversary that will arrive on Apr 28.

Although a scaffold surrounding the gate can be seen in photographs taken from behind (shown below), the renovations are largely hidden from view from the front.

Even though the renovations would only take a couple of weeks, the school explained that the life-size facsimile was provided for visiting tourists. And, they did not disappoint.

READ: Tsinghua University Landmark Featured an English Mistake for Years Without Correction

On multiple Weibo micro-blogging accounts, tourists are seen happily taking photos with the fake version of the Tsinghua University landmark:

At the same time, local residents seem to be amused by the "face-saving" measure. One resident who made a drive-by video of the 2D landmark said, "I'm terrified what would happen if a big gust of wind came along."

As China's top academic institution, Tsinghua is the ultimate destination for millions of hopeful Chinese students who hope to increase their slim chances of enrollment by attending its campus.

READ: Sink or Swim: Tsinghua Students Must Pass Compulsory Swim Test in Order to Graduate

Literally "getting in through the back door," parents will line up for hours with their children just for a chance to take photos of them wearing mock graduation gowns on the Tsinghua campus. Meanwhile, other visitors signal their intentions by leaving graffiti with the common theme of "I will return."

As a symbol of power, the main Tsinghua entrance had traditionally been a target by tourists for vandalization. That's why it's all the more ironic that even though the facade was made to accommodate tourists, the gate renovations will actually serve to ward them off with a graffiti resistent coating.

It could be that Tsinghua University's iconic gate will begin to lose its potency as a symbol if tourists are denied the ability to harness it for their own purposes. And yet, the landmark that has been featured in so many tourists' photos isn't even the real school gates built in 1909, but a copy made in 1991 after the original was torn down by the school's own Red Guard in 1966.

But, symbols continue to hold power in China. 

Doorways lead to places; famous doorways lead to famous places. And for Tsinghua's fake backdrop of its iconic gate, a fake doorway is important for leading to an intangible goal in your mind. 

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Hidden Camera in Chaoyang Office Restroom Explained Away as “Fengshui”

Female employees at a Chaoyang internet company were recently shocked to discover a hidden high-definition camera in their office restroom. What's more, BTV News reports the firm's manager tried to justify the set-up as being "good fengshui" 

The manager of the unidentified company, named Zhang, had previously explained to employees that proper fengshui practices required lights to be always switched on in the dim, windowless bathroom.

But whereas the ancient practice usually advocates for reasonable solutions to orgainizing a living environment, Zhang's fengshui set-up made his employees very suspicious. 

Instead of being mounted on the ceiling or high up on the wall, the illumination in the women's bathroom came from two bright LED lights plugged into a wall socket (shown below).  

Placed adjacent to the LED lights was a wooden box, of which one side was made out of an opaque glass. (shown below)

Both the constantly-shining LED lights and the glass-walled box were placed immediately opposite from the elevated squat toilet stall, in front of which is a door with a 25 centimeter-high gap at its bottom (shown below). As well, the women's restroom has been discovered to be home to another hidden camera, this time a desk lamp that was mysteriously never turned on.

Some reports say the LED lights and the wooden box have been inside the women's restroom for nearly two years.

Female employees at the company are dismayed at Zhang, who they describe as a "well-mannered man" who doesn't act with the arrogance typically associated with his position. However, other details suggest Zhang may have harbored his sinister intentions for a long time.

Beijing police investigating the matter said the video camera can be remotely-controlled through a mobile phone app, allowing it to conveniently upload to social media platforms. 

Additionally, although technology and internet web companies are often male-dominated fields in China, BTV reports that Zhang's is an exception to the trend, comprised of 80 percent female workers. Although this may suggest that Zhang is an equal-opportunity employer, the high number of women employees may be part of Zhang's perverted conspiracy.

A sign on the door leading to the company's female restroom reads, "This way please, beautiful women." (shown below)

Zhang is currently being detained by police for questioning. An investigation is said to be underway.

A video of the news report can be seen here.

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