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The Great Wall Sleepover Competition by Airbnb Gets Cancelled

There are no laws banning people from spending the night on the wall and some tourist companies also offer packages for camping on it, but this was the first offer of its kind, according to Airbnb.

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr
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US-based home rental website Airbnb has called off a contest offering its users a chance to spend a night on the iconic Great Wall of China, official Chinese media reported on Wednesday.

The accommodation site asked people to write a 500-word essay on overcoming cultural boundaries in a bid to win a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. But the plan sparked mixed response and concerns that it could contribute to the historic structure being damaged, the BBC reported.

According to state-owned China Daily, the company decided not to go ahead with the plan out of respect for public opinion.

Airbnb claimed that the event, called “Night at the Great Wall”, had permission from authorities. But the cultural commission in Beijing’s Yanqing district — in charge of the famous Badaling stretch of the wall where the stay was to take place — said it was not aware of the event and no approval had been given.

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The company launched the contest on its website on August 2. Wikimedia Commons

The company launched the contest on its website on August 2, offering eight selected travellers the opportunity to stay on the Great Wall, a Unesco World Heritage site considered one of the biggest feats of ancient architecture.

The organizers had planned to convert a watchtower of the 2600-year-old monument situated close to Beijing in the Badaling section into a double room with a bed, decor, candles and a bathroom, although without electricity and other related amenities.

There are no laws banning people from spending the night on the wall and some tourist companies also offer packages for camping on it, but this was the first offer of its kind, according to Airbnb.

Laws for protection and conservation of the monument, which stretches for thousands of kilometres, date back to 2006 and strictly ban installations not meant for conservation.

Also Read:Seven Wonders of the Worls: Ancient and Modern

Although the US-based company said it would not put so much as a new nail into the monument during the event, the campaign generated strong public backlash, leading to the cancellation of the contest. (IANS)

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China, US Set To Take Action Against Each Other

US business executives are now bracing for further retaliation from China due to Meng's arrest

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President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting, Dec. 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. VOA

China and the US are set to take action against each other as tensions escalate over trade, cyber hacking and espionage as senior American law enforcement officials identified Beijing as the most serious threat to Washington’s national security, officials said.

China’s methods of non-traditional espionage, including their use of ordinary Chinese expatriates instead of spies at universities and businesses, and intellectual property theft, were explained by the officials from the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security who briefed US lawmakers on Wednesday, CNN reported.

“As the US proceeds a whole of society response to this threat, we must address the vulnerabilities within our system while preserving our values and the open, free and fair principles that have made us thrive,” E.W. Priestap, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Assistant Director of Counter-intelligence told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“What hangs in the balance is not just the future of the US, but the future of the world.”

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) top national security official told lawmakers on Wednesday the administration was reacting to China’s “steadily increasing” economic espionage activity, which costs the US an estimated $225 billion a year.

From 2011 to 2018, more than 90 per cent of the DOJ’s cases alleging economic espionage by a state have involved China, and more than two-thirds of trade secret thefts have a nexus to China, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.

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U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

“From underwater drones and autonomous vehicles to critical chemical compounds and inbred corn seeds, China has targeted advanced technology across sectors that align with China’s publicly announced strategic goals,” Demers said. “The play book is simple: rob, replicate and replace.”

Priestap and his colleagues testified hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in an interview with Fox News that the US believes Beijing was behind the massive cyber-attack on the Marriott hotel chain, CNN reported.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the assault was part of a broader Chinese operation that also targeted health insurers and the security clearance files of millions of Americans.

Also Read- Bug Spotted in Microsoft Office 365, Outlook

Those disclosures came a day after President Donald Trump said that he would be willing to use Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Canada for violating US sanctions on Iran as a bargaining chip in his trade war with Beijing, which for now is in a 90-day pause.

A Canadian judge on Tuesday night granted Meng a $7.5 million bail, while she awaits extradition to the US.

US business executives are now bracing for further retaliation from China due to Meng’s arrest. (IANS)