News & Reports 2011-11-12

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-11-12

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

In This Edition

Chinese president Hu Jintao promises that China will expand imports in the next five years, and urges the US side to loosen export restrictions on high-tech products to China during his talks with US business leaders in Hawaii ahead of APEC ministers' meeting.

The new prime minister Papademos promises that Greece's new national unity government would do its utmost to deal with the crisis-stricken country's problems.

The Italian senate holds a debate - followed by a vote - on austerity measures designed to avoid a bailout of the eurozone's third largest economy.

At least two people are killed between rival militias near Libyan capital Tripoli, raising concerns that armed groups are now vying for power in the absence of a national army.

Hot Issue Reports

APEC Slogan: Get Stuff Done
APEC Ministers' meeting is under way Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii, where trade and foreign ministers of the 21 member states are gathering in a hope to reach agreement on key issues so that they may present Leaders with concrete and meaningful outcomes. The United States, as the host nation, says it has welcomed the cooperation and support APEC member economies to strengthen APEC and transform it from a talk shop to a forum that provides practical leadership and innovative policies. This mood is observed in the unofficial slogan of the APEC meeting, "Get stuff done".

Our US correspondent Wang Shanshan has the story from Hawaii.

Trade and foreign ministers of the 21 APEC member states sit down for the APEC Ministers' Meeting Friday, for what is expected to be an active discussion to produce significant results for the upcoming Leaders' Meeting. The ongoing Ministers' Meeting is co-hosted by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi are among the attendees.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the senior officials have a formidable agenda to discuss.

"Global trends and world events have given us a full and formidable agenda, and the stakes are high for all of us. To accomplish these goals, we have to create a rules-based system that is open, free, transparent and fair. Working to make that system a reality has been a focus of all of our meetings this year. "

Clinton says tangible progress has been made in three areas, which are the main subjects of this year's APEC meetings.

"First, integrating market and expanding trade. Second, promoting green growth. Third, deepening our regulatory cooperation and convergence."

US Secretary Hillary Clinton labels these issues as "next-generation issues", and says the US hopes practical approaches could be made to address these issues.

"We even created an unofficial slogan, Get stuff done."

To be specific, Clinton says the US looks to address tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services; adopt policies that promote effective innovation by encouraging competition and open markets; and improve the quality of regulatory systems and better align regulatory approaches. Ministers are deliberating on these issues, giving their input to discussion.

Meanwhile, at a separate venue, business leaders are holding the APEC CEO summit, advising the APEC summit that a "volatile and uncertain economic environment" was discouraging private-sector investment and could spawn protectionist sentiment.

In a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, who will arrives for the Honolulu talks late on Friday, CEOs called on governments "to liaise closely with business as we work together to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in the short term, and work toward balanced growth in the long term."

I'll keep you updated on the two events.

For CRI, this is Wang Shanshan from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Chinese President Promises to Expand Imports, Urges US to Loosen High-tech Export Restrictions

Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao has met with US business leaders in Hawaii, ahead of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Hu Jintao promises that China will expand imports in the next five years, and urges the US side to loosen export restrictions on high-tech products to China.

Su Yi has more.

Hu Jintao points out that a deepening China-US economic and trade cooperation is in the interests of the two peoples as well as the world economy.

"The recovery of the world economy is becoming increasingly uncertain and unstable. Under such circumstances, dialogue between China and the U.S. is proving to be more important than ever."

Currently, the Chinese government is pursing an economic restructuring through boosting the country's domestic demands.

Hu Jintao says a larger Chinese domestic market will also help boost the manufacturing sector of the US economy and expand its exports.

"The sooner the US side loosens its restrictions on high-tech products to China, the earlier will it ease the trade imbalances between the two countries and benefit the US economy, particularly its job market."

The Chinese president says China's import volume is likely to hit 8 trillion US dollars in the next five years.

He also urges the two sides to handle trade frictions properly, saying efforts should be made to avoid politicizing economic and trade issues and trade protectionism.

President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, is among those present at the meeting.

"The US business community has been a long-standing supporter of US-China economic and commercial relationships. China remains a top priority for investment and exports for all American companies. And we are pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you today."

Other business leaders come from a broad cross-section of industries, including JP Morgan, GE, FedEx and Wal-Mart.

The Chinese President arrived in Honolulu earlier in the day for the APEC summit scheduled for this weekend.

At the annual meeting, leaders of the 21-member grouping will exchange views on economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade.

For CRI, I'm Su Yi.

Greek Power Transition Complete
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has met with his successor Lucas Papademos after Papademos was sworn in as caretaker prime minister of a new coalition government.

Outgoing prime minister Papandreou.

"Mr. Papademos you are taking over at a very difficult and critical time. A large part of the Greek people are united in this effort for this government to succeed, for the good of the next generation and the fact that this great burden that the Greek government has been carrying is being lifted,"

The new prime minister Papademos promises that Greece's new national unity government would do its utmost to deal with the crisis-stricken country's problems. And his coalition cabinet will seek unity to keep Greece in the eurozone.

"I believe, with the cooperation of all which this new wider coalition government underlines, this - the unity of all - we will succeed in our goal."

Greece's finance minister Evangelos Venizelos when attending Papademos' swearing-in ceremony says the country's first priority would be passing the EU bailout agreement of October 26 so as to secure the next international rescue loan and complete much needed reforms.

"The immediate priority is to begin as soon as possible negotiations with the troika in so that we can complete the new program, which includes the new bailout agreement, so that it can be validated by our parliament and other parliaments of member states required, before the end of December 2011 as the agreement of October 26 foresees."

The interim government of national unity, which has a bumper 48 ministers and their deputies, plans to announce its platform and then win a confidence vote in parliament next week.

New elections are agreed at earliest on Feb. 19.

But Athens also needs money fast from its IMF and EU lenders to meet big debt repayments due in December or face default, bankruptcy and the danger of leaving the euro zone.

Italian Senate to Vote on Austerity Measures
The Italian senate is holding a debate - followed by a vote - on austerity measures designed to avoid a bailout of the eurozone's third largest economy.

Experts are suggesting that the measures are likely to be approved, with the lower house voting this weekend and paving the way for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign.

Professor James Walson is a political analyst with American University of Rome.

"This will be one of the final moves. The bill goes to the Senate today, will go to the chamber tomorrow, will almost certainly be passed by Saturday evening and immediately afterwards Berlusconi will hand in his resignation to the President."

A technocrat government possibly led by former EU commissioner Mario Monti is being debated.

Earlier, Italy raised 5 billion euros from new government bonds.

But this was at an interest rate over 6 percent to borrow the money for one year.

Berlusconi lost his parliamentary majority in a vote on Tuesday. He has promised to resign after the austerity measures are passed by both houses of parliament.

US Defense Secretary Plays Down Strike against Iran
The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appears to be playing down speculations of a military strike against Iran.

"You've got to be careful of unintended consequences here. And those consequences could involve not only not really deterring Iran from what they want to do, but more importantly, it could have a serious impact in the region, and it could have a serious impact on US forces in the region, and I think all of these things need to be carefully considered."

Iran's Supreme leader Aya-tollah Kha-me-nei has said Iran will respond "powerfully" to any attack on the country by the United States and Israel.

A recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency claims there is "credible" information that Iran may be working to develop nuclear weapons.

The US State Department has said earlier that Washington is looking for ways to increase economic pressure on Iran.

In the meantime, the Chinese foreign ministry has said, sanctions cannot "fundamentally" resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

Over Extraction of Groundwater
The over-extraction of undergroundwater in China's Hua-bei Plain area has caused serious problems. Related departments are now putting more effort into easing water scarcity in the region and restoring groundwater supplies.

Li Dong has the story.

In the 1970s, in Cangzhou, a city situated on the Huabei Plains of Hebei Province, a 3-story hospital building was reduced to a 2-story building due to the over-extraction and consumption of undergroundwater.

Du Xingming is a senior engineer at Hebei Hydrogeology Team.

"At that time, it was a 3 story building. But the first floor essentially became a basement due to the sinking ground."
In 2009, the building was torn down and rebuilt.

Wu Aimin, with the China Institute of Geological Environmental Monitoring, says that Cangzhou's example is not an individual case.

Currently, on the Huabei Plains, an area of land covering more than 60 thousand square kilometers has experienced a 200mm change in volume as a result of subsidence. That's about half of the Huabei Plains in total.

Beijing and Tianjin suffer from the most severe ground subsidence phenomenon. Wu Aimin says one of the major causes is the over-extraction of underground water sources.

"Undergroundwater contributes about 75 to 80 percent of the total water supply in the Huabei Plains."

According to statistics, so far, over 100 billion cubic meters of undergroundwater has been extracted as a result of land exploration. It will take more than 10 thousand years to replenish the undergroundwater supplies in this region if the authorities were to rely on nature alone.

Wu Aimin adds, if the situation continues to deteriorate, it will cause more economic loss.

"If the situation worsens, it's very possible, that severe ground subsidence will pose a threat to the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, as well as the South to North Water Transfer Project."

Industrial agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the Huabei Plain area, using 80 percent of the total volume.

The South to North Water Transfer Project is expected to begin operations in 2014. By that time, the project is expected to supply more than 10 billion cubic meters of water to the Huabei Plain every year.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.

Economists Disagree on How to Tackle Crisis
Over the last few days, some of the world's top economic experts have been in Beijing to attend the International Finance Forum. They've been discussing global economic reform and how to tackle financial crises.

Ding Lulu has more.

"I've said it before, and I say it again, we believe that the world economy has entered a dangerous and uncertain phase."
Head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Legarde kicked off the International Finance Forum in Beijing. But she came with some sobering words.

"Our sense is that if we do not act boldly, and if we do not act together the economy around the world runs the risk of a downward spiral of uncertainty??"

Most of the experts at the forum are in agreement that the world is facing another economic crisis. One of the regions suffering most is Europe.

Changyong Rhee is Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank and was the vice Chairman of the Financial Services Commission in South Korea during Asia's economic problems in the nineties. He knows a financial crisis when he sees one.

"No doubt about it now, the eurozone is on fire. But the debt is not just a eurozone problem. If the eurozone has a significant problem I think it will definitely affect Asia quite significantly."

So what's to be done? Some believe that China, with all its financial clout can come to the rescue. But not all agree. Domingo Cavallo was Finance Minister for Argentina during their own financial crisis.

"You know, you have a country like German, or France, they're very strong financially speaking and they have enough financial strength to cope with the crisis in Europe. I don't think that they should rely on China to help them cope with the financial crisis, I think the role of China is preserving growth for the global economy. That is the key role of China this very moment."

However others disagree. Alicia Garcia Herrero is Chief Economist for Emerging Markets at the Spanish bank BBVA. She says Europe needs outside help ?C but not just for Europe's sake.

"Frankly speaking, this is the world's problem. At the end of the day, it's like when you have a neighbor. Maybe you don't like your neighbor but you want your building to be strong. If you have a neighbor that's not taking care of the expenses to repair the lift, at the end of the day you want a lift, don't you?"

As the world lurches from one crisis to another ever more frequently, many call for fundamental reform of the global financial system. But with so much disagreement on how to deal with the crisis we're facing today, it may be wishful thinking that a wider solution can be found any time soon.

For CRI, I'm Ding Lulu.

The iPhone 4S Goes on Sale in Hong Kong
After days of camping outside, thousands of Apple fans finally got their hands on the much-awaited iPhone 4S today at Hong Kong's flagship Apple store.

The iPhone 4S launched in Hong Kong at 7 this morning, in the latest phase of its rollout, which will also see it debut in South Korea and 13 other countries.

Local reports say people waiting in line on behalf of others could earn as much as 500 Hong Kong dollars, or 64 US dollars per day.

"I have to say, okay, I hire you, pay you some money to queue for me. I have a job to do. It is okay if it was on the weekend, but today is a Friday. I haven't worked for four or five days since I came here on November 8th."

Customers were allowed to buy up to five handsets each and people were seen re-selling them right outside the Apple store.

Apple says more than four million iPhone 4S have been sold since its world debut in markets including Germany, Britain, France, Japan and Australia last month.

Fighting Erupts between Libyan Militias outside Tripoli
At least two people have been killed between rival militias near Libyan capital Tripoli, raising concerns that armed groups are now vying for power in the absence of a national army.

Fighters from the coastal town of Zawiya revealed the fighting occurred at a makeshift road checkpoint 30km west of Tripoli.

They claimed the fighting came after a rival militia set up roadblocks, started confiscating their weapons and smashing cars.

"At the beginning of the liberation we combed the military camp. There were some light weapons. We were fired upon yesterday at around 11 at night, clashes continued until the morning so we entered the camp again and found heavy weapons. We don't even know the source of the weapons and how they got here. The people who were firing at us were chanting pro-tyrant chants."

Zawiya fighters accused the Wershifanna tribe of supporting former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and of now setting out to seek revenge.

Three weeks since Libya's interim leaders declared liberation, analysts are warning that violence might erupt as armed factions struggle for influence.

The interim leadership has promised to disarm militias and set up a national army, but has yet to announce a concrete timetable or form a government.

US and European Stock Market

U.S. stocks have soared, as signs of stabilization in Europe fueled a second straight day of triple-digit gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Dow surged 259 points, or 2.3%, to 12170.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 24, or 1.9%, to 1263.

The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite jumped 52, or 2%, to 2677.

European stock markets closed sharply higher.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 2.4% to 240.98, edging up 0.5% for the week. London's FTSE 100 index rose 100.56 points, or 1.8%, to close at 5,545.38.

The DAX 30 index advanced 3.2% to 6,057.03.

France's CAC-40 index jumped 2.8% to 3,149.38.