News & Reports 2010-02-13

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-02-13

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

In This Edition

hina has urged the United States to immediately cancel plans for US President Barack Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama next week.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says that European countries will not issue Greece a blank cheque.

Chinese people prepare for the traditional Spring Festival holiday.

Hot Issue Reports

China urges U.S. to immediately withdraw decision on Obama-Dalai Lama meeting

China has urged the United States to immediately cancel plans for US President Barack Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama next week.

German FM: Europe Will not Issue Greece Blank Cheque

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said that European countries will not issue Greece a blank cheque, adding that Athens must implement its budgetary reforms swiftly.

"Europe is showing that it is expressing solidarity. We appeal to Greece and also to the people of Greece to quickly implement the necessary structural measures presented by the government. This is not only important for Greece, it is important for Europe."

European leaders had reached an agreement during their summit, saying members would be prepared to step in if needed to help Greece solve its debt issues.

No further details were expected to be finalized until early next week when EU finance ministers meet, but the EU leaders suggested it could include some form of loans to Greece to help it service its debt and avoid a damaging default.

Regarding Iran, the German foreign minister said the west's hand "is and remains stretched out".

"So far, it is reaching into empty space. Accordingly, the international community will not display endless patience but take the steps to counter a nuclear armament of Iran."

Westerwelle added that Germany would discuss "expanding sanctions at the United Nations in New York."

Iraq Officially Kicks Off Campaign Season

Iraq has officially kicked off the campaign season, just hours after an appeals panel banned a number of candidates from running in March nationwide elections.

Campaign posters have been plastered across Baghdad and other cities, urging people to go to the polls.

Raad abu Ammar is among the people who handed out leaflets for the campaign.

"Regardless of the election results, win or lose, our goal is to help the Iraqi people who suffered a lot, and to achieve the Iraqi people's ambition."

However, the row over banned candidates has not been resolved. The state-run Iraqiya TV reported that two most prominent Sunni politicians have been barred from standing in the election by an appeals panel.

Salah al-Mutlak and Dhafir al-Ani, both key members of a political coalition contesting the election, were banned over links to the Baath party.

According to Iraq media reports, some 170 barred candidates filed appeals to the seven-judge panel, but the final results for the rest of them have not been announced.

The controversial Accountability and Justice Commission in charge of vetting the candidates, compiled a ban list of some 500 candidates over links to now-outlawed Baath party. The blacklist raised concerns about possible sectarian violence.

15 Died in Suicide Bombing in Northwest Pakistan

Fifteen people have been reported dead, including at least nine policemen, after a double suicide bombing in the northwest Pakistan town of Bannu.

Thirty people were also wounded in the attacks, including Bannu's police chief, according to hospital officials.

Officials say the second blast went off as rescuers responded to the first blast, a militant tactic rarely seen before in Pakistan.

Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, the Chief Minister for Pakistan's northwest Frontier Province, attended the funerals for the officers, saying that the bomb victims were "the price to pay" for war with militants.

"There is a price to pay for war, and we have already paid this price, and we have to pay this price again in the future. The attack on the police barracks was another instance where we have paid the ultimate price."

Militants have carried out numerous attacks on security forces over the past several years to undermine the public's confidence in the already-weak state.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The city of Bannu lies just outside North Waziristan, a major militant stronghold.

UN advisory group on climate change financing launched

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have launched a United Nations advisory group on climate change financing.

The new group plans to create "transparent" structures for the flow of financing from developed to developing countries in the effort to help the latter combat effects of climate change.

While announcing the launch of the group, Ban Ki-moon said providing resources for adaptation is a moral imperative.

"Billions of people in Africa and around the globe are suffering from the effects of climate change. Providing resources for adaptation is a moral imperative. It is also smart investment in a safer, more sustainable world forum."

The aim of the group is to raise 30 billion US dollars over the next three years, eventually rising to 100 billion dollars annually by 2020 in order to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change while also helping them reduce their contribution to global warming.

Light News

Chinese Prepare for Spring Festival Holiday

China's biggest shopping season is in full swing in cities around the country as families are stocking up on decorations, food and fireworks to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Public security official stresses firework safety before Spring Festival

Fireworks are also a tradition during the Chinese New Year's eve.

The sound of fireworks will drown out the cheers in restaurants and music from the television festival gala. But this happy time is also probably the busiest night of the year for firefighters and emergency room workers. Metro police all around China have been taking steps to enforce firework limits and ensure holiday safety.

Vancouver ready for Olympic Games

Turning to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, as the the flame will be lit at Vancouver's BC Place in just a few hours, is Vancouver ready for the Olympic Games?

Newspaper Picks

Xinhuanet: Traditional Chinese culture is important

Economic globalization has brought about cultural diversity in China. As a result, many young people prefer to celebrate Christmas, Valentine's Day and other Western festivals instead of traditional Chinese festivals.

An article on Xinhuanet says it is important to teach the Chinese culture to such people if we don't want the traditional festivals to become history.

Coincidently, this year's lunar new year starts on Feb the 14th, celebrated as Valentine's Day only in the West untill a few years ago but now a sort of craze among youth in China's cities.

The article says competition among countries today is no longer a simple affair. It transcends economics and military power, and includes cultural soft power. The article says some developed countries are using their cultural soft power to promote their values and ways of life across the world.

The article notes under such circumstances, it is essential for China to strengthen the influence of its traditional culture and enhance China's sense of identity and national pride.

Global Times: CCTV's New Year Gala Part of Collective Historical Memory

Tonight, most people in China will turn on their TV sets for chunwan, CCTV's Gala on China's Lunar New Year's Eve.

Launched in 1982, the yearly four-hour-long song and dance extravaganza celebrating the Chinese Spring Festival is the most watched program in China, with more than a 93 percent audience share.

Some critics have called for a cancellation of the gala. They say that the program holds no value, that it is outdated and will gradually become part of the past.

An article in the Global Times has a different opinion, saying chunwan will be part of China's collective memory. It says as families are becoming smaller, and some young people may choose their own way to celebrate the event by traveling, surfing the Internet, or sending SMS messages, chunwan is a cultural bridge between generations. It is an evening that connects urban with rural areas, links common values and provides shared experience in China's collective national heritage and oral history.

The article further elaborates that there is nothing wrong with a variety of choices. They are all part of the celebration and they pose no danger.

In conclusion, the article says the program has become synonymous with family tradition and an important part of the Chinese national culture.