News & Reports 2010-01-02

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-01-02

Hello and Welcome to News and Reports on China Radio International.

In This Edition

Officials from China and ASEAN countries say the newly established Free Trade Area will hugely benefit both sides.

The US is working with Yemen intelligence sources to combat the growing presence of al-Qaidi in Yemen.

And online bookstores are overtaking traditional ones in China.

Hot Issue Reports

Officials: China-ASEAN FTA Will Benefit Both Sides

China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will be officially established on January 1st. In a joint statement, a senior official from China's Ministry of Commerce and diplomat from Thailand said the Free Trade Area will hugely benefit both sides by promoting economic and trade development.

Zhang Kening, an official with the Ministry's Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs and Warawudh Chuwiruch, from the Thai Embassy to China made the comment in a news conference in Beijing days before the launch.

US to Work with Yemen Tackling Terrorist Threats

US General David Petraeus says the United States is working in close association with Yemen intelligence sources to combat the growing presence of al-Qaidi in Yemen.

The remarks came just days after the failed terrorist attack by a Nigerian man, who tried to blow up a US jetliner en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Speaking in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Friday, Petraeus said Yemen may have become a source of terrorist plots, including one which resulted in the failed attack on an airliner.

Petraeus said the US is working with Yemen and other countries in the region to address the threat.

"So very important indeed that Yemen has taken the actions that it has and indeed, not just the United States, but countries in the region, its neighbours and so forth, they in particular have provided significant assistance over the course of this past year in particular. And all want to join to help Yemen as it deals with this emerging al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula challenge in particular."

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old passenger, was arrested after he allegedly tried to bring down the Northwest Airlines flight, carrying 289 people.

US investigators have said the botched bomb suspect told them he received training from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's group, claimed it was behind the attempt to bomb the Detroit-bound airliner.

Suicide Bomber Kills over 70 in NW Pakistan

A suicide car bomber set off a blast in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 75 and wounding 60 others.

The bomber on Friday rammed his explosive-packed car into a volleyball ground in Lakki Marwat district in a North West Frontier Province.

An eye witness described what he has seen.

"Volleyball matches take place everyday. Today, everyone was gathered together watching when suddenly a Pajero came in the middle of the field and blew up."

Police sources said that about 300 kg of explosives were used in the blast.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

But police suspected that Taliban militants may be behind the attack as people of the area cooperated with government security forces in recent operations.
Light News

Shanghai Welcomes First Visitors in Expo Year

Shanghai has welcomed its first round of visitors in the World Expo year. Sixty South Korean tourists got Expo 2010 souvenirs in a welcoming ceremony held by the Chinese National Tourism Administration on the New Years' day.

One visitor says he will come to visit the city again with his family this year.

"It was pretty cold when I left Seoul, but now I am feeling so warm in Shanghai. I never thought there would be such a good ceremony. I definitely will come back this year with my family."

Shao Qiwei, the tourism minister, says Expo 2010 offers a platform for boosting the tourism industry.

Expo 2010 will be held in Shanghai between May 1st and October 31st, and is expected to attract up to 35 million overseas visitors and 70 million in total.

Online Bookstores Overtake Traditional Ones

Online shopping is growing rapidly in China, and more and more Chinese are buying books on the net. At the same time, traditional book stores are facing new challenges.

Russia Set Minimum Price for Vodka to Tackle Alcoholism

Russia has set a minimum price for vodka in an effort to tackle alcoholism.

The minimum price is about 3 US dollars for a half litre of vodka, doubling the cost of the cheapest vodka on the market.

The government aims to reduce the extraordinary number of deaths caused by drinking in Russia, but locals seem to be skeptical.

"Those people who drunk good vodka before will continue to drink good vodka, and those who have been poisoning themselves will continue to do it. It won't help. "

"People have been drinking and will continue to do it, and it doesn't matter how much it costs."

The price came into effect on Friday, the start of the 12-day New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holiday, when alcohol consumption is at its highest in the country.

A study published last year in The Lancet medical journal said drinking has caused more than half of deaths among Russians aged 15 to 54 since the 1991.