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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

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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Chinese Police Catches Hold of $1.5 Billion Money in Online Lending Scandal

The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved.

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Chinese policemen watch as depositors from Ezubao gather outside the State Bureau for Letters and Calls Reception Division office in Beijing, Jan. 1, 2016. China's policy ministry says it investigated 380 online lenders following an avalanche of scandals. VOA

Chinese police have investigated 380 online lenders and frozen $1.5 billion in assets following an avalanche of scandals in the huge but lightly regulated industry, the government announced Monday.

Beijing allowed a private finance industry to flourish in order to supply credit to entrepreneurs and households that aren’t served by the state-run banking system. But that threatens to become a liability for the ruling Communist Party after bankruptcies and fraud cases prompted protests and complaints of official indifference to small investors.

The police ministry said it launched the investigation because person-to-person, or P2P, lending was increasingly risky and rife with complaints about fraud, mismanagement and waste.

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The police ministry said it launched the investigation because person-to-person, or P2P, lending was increasingly risky and rife with complaints about fraud, mismanagement and waste. Pixabay

The ministry gave no details of arrests but said more than 100 executives were being sought by investigators and some had fled abroad. It said authorities seized or froze 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) but gave no indication how much might be returned to depositors.

Police say some lenders and investment vehicles were brazenly fraudulent, while others collapsed after inexperienced founders failed to manage risk.

Monday’s statement said P2P lenders were investigated for complaints including wasting money, reporting phony investment plans and using illegal tactics to raise money.

Lending through online platforms grew by triple digits annually until 2017 when regulators tightened controls.

Depositors lent 1.9 trillion yuan ($280 billion) last year, but that was down by 50 percent from 2017, according to the Shenzhen Qiancheng Internet Finance Research Institute.

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The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved. Pixabay

The outstanding loan balance stood at 1.2 trillion yuan ($177 billion) at the end of 2018, down 25 percent from a year earlier, according to Diyi Wangdai, a web site that reports on the industry.

P2P lenders are part of a privately run Chinese finance industry the national bank regulator estimated in 2015 had grown to $1.5 trillion.

The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved.

Many lend to factories and retailers or invest in restaurants, car washes and other businesses. But inexperience and poor risk control means a downturn in business conditions can bankrupt them.

Also Read: Sales of Smart Feature Phones Expected To Be About $28 Billion Over Next Three Years

Finance as a whole has come under tougher scrutiny after a 2015 plunge in stock prices led to accusations of insider trading and other offenses.

In one of China’s biggest financial scams, authorities say depositors lost 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) in online lender Ezubo before it was seized by regulators in 2015.

The founder and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2017. (VOA)