News & Reports 2010-01-06

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-01-06

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

In This Edition

Chinese Foreign Ministry says that China's economy has successfully emerged into a global business power and has contributed much to the world's economy.

Coal industry consolidation in China's Shanxi Province will resolve a number of issues. Meanwhile, interest of private companies is also taken good care of in this process.

Iran says further sanctions against the country over its controversial nuclear program will be futile.

And the 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow festival opens in China's northeastern city of Harbin. It will last for three months.

Hot Issue Reports

Chinese FM Refutes Guardian Article

China's economy has successfully emerged into a global business power and has contributed much to the world's economy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu made the remarks at a regualr press conference in Beijing.

She refuted an article from the British newspaper, The Guardian, which blamed China for causing the world's economy to slip into recession from 2007 through 2009.

"The financial crisis last year started from the developed countries in Europe and North America, but some western economists never find themselves at fault, but blame others instead."

The spokesperson also stressed that China has made positive efforts to help the world economy, which does not depend on one country, saying it needs the joint efforts of the entire world.

Jiang Yu added that China, as a responsible member of the international community, would continue to strengthen cooperation with other nations and make its fair contribution to the sustained economic development of the world.

Shanxi's Coal Mine Restructuring Yields Positive Results

Shanxi, China's leading coal production province, is actively pushing forward the region's campaign to restructure its coal mines amidst concerns about the interest of private companies.

Iranian FM Spokesman: Further Sanctions Against Iran Futile

Iran says further sanctions against the country over its controversial nuclear program will be futile.

The country's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast made the remarks following U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement that the United States has been discussing with other major powers on fresh sanctions against Iran.

The spokesman also reiterated Iran's counterproposal to a UN-drafted nuclear plan to swap most of its enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.

According to Tehran's proposal, the West should either sell nuclear fuel to Iran, or swap its nuclear fuel for Iran's enriched uranium in smaller batches instead of at once as the U.N. plan requires.

Mehmanparast warned that otherwise Iran will produce reactor fuel at a higher level of enrichment on its own.

"Either they should provide us with this fuel and let us purchase it and cooperate with us in exchanging the fuel, or if they don't provide such situation for us we will continue our way to produce it by ourselves. Regarding the issue of fuel exchange, we have expressed our readiness, and if the opposite parties also express their readiness for gradual and multi-stage exchange then we will discuss it in detail with them."

Mehmanparast also said his country welcomes Clinton's comments that there is no hard-and-fast deadline for starting nuclear dialogue.

Saudi Arabia Reaffirms Support for Yemeni Government

Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed its support for the Yemeni government in its fight against militants.

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, made the pledge in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"We are defending our land, and we support the Yemeni government's efforts to defend its land as well. We support the Yemeni government's efforts to keep its unity, we are with Yemen."

The comments came a day after Yemeni security forces clashed with al-Qaida fighters, killing two.

A number of western nations tightened security at their embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, or closed them altogether.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry said it had increased security measures around embassies and residences of foreigners in anticipation of any attack by al-Qaida.

Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Sanaa resumed operations on Tuesday after a two-day closure as security concern eased following the successful crackdown by the Yemeni government forces against al-Qaida.

Iceland's President Refuses to Sign into Law a Bill to Repay More than $5 Billion to Britain and Neitherlands

Iceland's president has blocked a bill to pay Britain and the Netherlands more than 5 billion US dollars for losses from the collapse of one of its banks.

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson vetoed the legislation, which was narrowly passed last month by the country's parliament, after receiving a petition signed by a quarter of Iceland's population.

His rejection forced the bill to a referendum, which he said will be held as soon as possible.

"Now the people have the power and the responsibility in their hands. It is my sincere hope that this decision will lead to permanent reconciliation and prosperity for the people of Iceland, at the same time laying the foundations for good relations with all other nations."

The bill would repay the British and Dutch governments for the funds they have already paid out to their citizens who lost money when Internet bank Icesave collapsed.

After making bilateral agreements with both Britain and the Netherlands, the bill linked repayments to economic growth, beginning in 2016 and preserved Iceland's right to legally challenge its payment obligation. But public opposition has been strong, with critics arguing that it would force Iceland to make repayments it could not afford.

Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir said that the president has flung the island into uncertainty by refusing to sign the bill. She emphasized that Iceland will not run away from its commitments.

Meanwhile, Dutch finance minister Wouter Bos said that his government was "disappointed" with Iceland's decision over Icesave, which it deems "unacceptable".

He said the Netherlands had been very flexible towards Iceland and it was unfair to expect it to foot the bill for Icesave's collapse.

"We've been extremely mild in our negotiations, we have offered the Icelandic government a low interest rate and very, very long payback times, because we know that the Icelandic economy is in a fragile state so we can't ask too much of them. But what they cannot expect from us is that we let Dutch tax payers pay the bill for failure of Icelandic bankers and Icelandic supervisors."

Analysts said Grimsson's rejection of the unpopular bill put aid from international lenders and his country's aspirations to join the European Union in serious jeopardy.
Light News

1400 Passengers Evacuated from Snow-trapped Train

Beijing saw a smooth flow of traffic on Tuesday, after snow Sunday caused traffic troubles in the national capital.

Sunday's snowfall ended overnight but frigid winds and temperatures of - 16 degrees Celsius made for tough travel for millions of commuters.

On Monday, more than 1400 passengers were evacuated from a train trapped by heavy snow for more than 30 hours in China's Inner Mongolia.

All 15 carriages were buried in snow and passengers were stranded in the train without lighting and heating.

The heavy snow led to the delay of 13 passenger trains in Hohhot, the regional capital.

In South Korea, residents were slowly resuming their daily routine.

More than 28 centimetres of snow fell on Seoul, the heaviest in a single day since Korea began conducting meteorological surveys in 1937.

The Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul cancelled 224 flights Monday morning before resuming service in the afternoon when snowfall eased.

"I did worry when I came out. However, I asked the airport before I came out whether planes would depart. They said it was operating normally, so I wasn't too worried."

"I know since I've been walking on the streets yesterday. There was just too much snow to say that the snow removal operation started too late."

In Seoul city centre, commuters made their way to work in a city still covered in a thick blanket of snow.

To date, at least three people died in traffic accidents in South Korea.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival Takes International Stage

The 26th Harbin International Ice and Snow festival opens in China's northeastern city of Harbin Tuesday. This year's event surpasses all the previous ones by incorporating international elements into its common activities of ice and snow sculpting and other winter sports.

Pakistani Ambassador Says Expo Pavilion to Project Sino-Pak Close Ties

Pakistan's Ambassador to China, Masood Khan, says the Pakistan Pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo will not only show the world a combination of Pakistan's modern and ancient civilizations, but also project the close ties between Pakistan and China.

The Ambassador made the remarks in an interview with CRI at the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing.

"Pakistan has an ancient civilization, yet it is a modern country. What we want to showcase there and project is that Pakistan has this combination of modern and ancient. We also want to project close ties between Pakistan and China, there is a geographical continuity between the two countries, we are joined by mountains and rivers, but more importantly, we are joined by civilization fault lines and this is what we want to show there."

The ambassador also said that a large delegation from Pakistan will attend the Shanghai Expo, which is scheduled to last six months.

They will hold a series of events, such as performances by Pakistani cultural troupes, business negotiations, and the Pakistani head of state may celebrate Pakistani Independence Day together with the Chinese people.

"Avatar" Sweeps Chinese Cinemas

While the blockbuster film "Avatar" enters its third week in the United States, the movie finally opened in China on January 4th.

Although the state-of-the-art movie has already raked in more than one billion U.S. dollars worldwide, it is expected to dominate China's big screens with estimated box office earnings of 500 million yuan.

Lava Continues Spewing from Volcano in Congo

A volcanologist from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo says the Nyamulagira volcano which erupted in Virunga National Park early is still spewing lava.

Celestin Keasereka Mahinda is a researcher from Volcanic Observatory of Goma.

"The mountain is found inside the Virunga National Park and we are not sure when it will stop spilling lava or when it will go off."

So far the lava flows are not known to have threatened any large populated areas.

However, wildlife officials say it is home to about 40 endangered chimpanzees.

A wildlife official says government observers are monitoring the situation with help from U.N. helicopters.

Virunga National Park is home to 200 of the world's 720 remaining mountain gorillas.
Media Digest Local Officials Should Not Rush Construction Projects

An under-construction bridge in front of the new airport in Kunming collapsed on Sunday as workers poured concrete, killing seven people and injuring more than 30.

It is believed that the accident resulted from construction workers sacrificing quality to complete the project in a hurry.

A commentary on the web forum site says similar tragedies are not rare in China, and they have occurred in many other places. But it argues that relevant local government departments should investigate the reasons behind the Kunming airport construction accident instead of simply blaming the construction team.

The commentary points out that some government officials have been eager to advance in their careers by approving the construction of what many consider to be vanity projects. These projects, which are intended to showcase the officials' job performance, are usually expected to be completed as quickly as possible and sometimes with little regard for structural quality and soundness.

Many construction teams have had to sacrifice project quality to appeal to the officials, which has eventually led to disasters.

The commentary concludes that although the central government has issued regulations to enhance the quality of construction projects, it seems that local officials are still not complying with them.

Chinadaily: The PowerPoint of Change

The local government has ordered chief administrators in districts and counties under the jurisdiction of Chongqing Municipality to present their performance reports exclusively in PowerPoint form, and has even developed a scoring and ranking system for the PowerPoint reports.

An editorial in the China Daily says that though some high officials are proud of their proficiency in using the popular software, it doesn't suffice to make it the official farmat or tool for public officials' performance reports.

The new policy may actually just be meaningless and wasteful.

But the editorial also points out that the public is more interested in changes in the way officials carry out their duties than in how they report to their superiors. It makes more sense for officials to concentrate on serving their communities instead of wasting time picking pictures and compiling tables for a PowerPoint presentation.