News & Reports 2012-03-04

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2012-03-04

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

In This Edition

China's top political advisory body, CPPCC, opens its annual session in Beijing.

US President Barack Obama is set to hold talks over the Iranian nuclear issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

Georgia says it is ready to start dialogue with Russia on restoration of diplomatic relations but only if important conditions are met.

And the Organization of American States declares it will create a cooperation center to fight transnational organized crimes.

Hot Issue Reports

China's Top Political Advisory Body Starts its Annual Session
The Fifth Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC, the country's top political advisory body, has opened in Beijing.

Working for cultural reform, promoting social harmony, boosting exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and expanding international cooperation are topping the agenda of this year's session.

Wei Tong has more.

While delivering a work report at the opening ceremony, China's top political advisor, Jia Qinglin, said the CPPCC would make giving impetus to scientific development the top priority when carrying out its duties, vigorously develop the real economy and maintain steady and robust economic development.

"We will coordinate democratic parties, industry federations and related organizations in making proposals and suggestions about major economic issues such as expanding domestic consumer demand and maintaining price stability; increasing guarantees for the supply of agricultural products; strengthening innovation, energy conservation and emission reductions and deepening reforms in fiscal, taxation, financial and other priority areas and key links."

Jia Qinglin called promoting social harmony and stability a "bounden duty" of the CPPCC, which mainly includes reforms on the income distribution system, development of the social credit rating system as well as supervision of food safety.

Jia also pledged to promote cultural reform and development by taking advantage of the advisory body's rich think tank with outstanding cultural talent as well as its substantial quantity of cultural resources.

Other highlights that made the session's top agenda include developing pragmatic exchanges with Taiwan, and getting its people, especially young ones, to identify more closely with the Chinese nation and culture.

What's more, Jia said developing friendly external relations with other nations would create a favorable external environment and conditions for China's further development.

"We will actively exchange high-level visits with foreign countries, strengthen and develop traditional friendships, increase mutual political trust with relevant countries, and strive to win the international community's understanding of and support for China's concept of scientific, harmonious, peaceful, and cooperative development."

More than 2,000 political advisors will discuss these major issues concerning the country's development during the ten-day annual session.

More than 6,000 proposals were deliberated during last year's session, many of which were adopted and became the guiding principles for China's Twelfth Five-year Plan, which lasts from 2011 to 2015.

Founded in 1949, the CPPCC consists of elite figures from Chinese society who are willing to serve the think tank for the government and for the legislative and judicial bodies.

As an open forum where the ruling Communist Party of China, non-Communist parties and people with no party affiliation discuss state affairs freely and on an equal footing, the CPPCC is considered the manifestation of China's socialist democracy.

For CRI, this is Wei Tong.

Obama to Hold Key Talks with Netanyahu over Iran
US President Barack Obama is set to hold talks over the Iranian nuclear issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday.

Netanyahu is expected to press Obama to give the Iranian side a clear signal that it should not cross the red lines in its nuclear program.

Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

"I think Israel is looking for reassurance from the United States that we have its back. I think President Obama is likely to send that message, that we are going to be??with you."

There is an increasing speculation that Israel could attack Iran on its own in the coming months.

Washington has been working to convince the Israeli side that a go-it-alone attack cold further complicate the Middle East situation.

But at the same time, Obama issued his most direct threat to Iran so far last week, saying he does not bluff.

Monday's meeting is also expected to be a defining moment for the two leaders who have had trust deficit in recent years over the Middle East peace process.

Katulis with the Center for American Progress says the two leaders need to sort out their personal differences.

"?? they have to stay focused in the fundamental task and the task is making sure our countries are strategically aligned, making sure that nobody surprises anyone else here, because the Middle East is a tinderbox right now..."

Tensions between Iran and some western countries have been increasing in recent months, with the Iranian side threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz if its oil exports are cut.

Georgia Ready for Re-establishing Diplomatic Ties with Russia
Georgia says it is ready to start dialogue with Russia on restoration of diplomatic relations but only if important conditions are met.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili made the remarks responding to Russia's offer to re-establish diplomatic relation between the two nations after the 2008 brief war.

"We are always ready to have a dialogue with Russia on full-scale restorations of our relations without any preconditions, if it is based on Georgia's de-occupation, recognition of Georgia's territorial integrity and on giving the opportunity for the return of half a million of the Georgian displaced population to their homes."

Saakashvili spoke ahead of Russian presidential elections on Sunday, which will most likely return current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to presidency.

"Regardless of the fact who will be in the Russian government, who will win this election or who will be announced as the next Russian President, we are ready to sit down with any Russian government and to talk about these issues, but the issues are very specific."

The Kremlin has refused to have any contact with Saakashvili since Russia crushed Georgia's attempt to regain control over Russian-backed rebel region of South Ossetia and recognized it along with another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states.

Earlier last week, Tbilisi took the initiative to improve ties with Moscow by abolishing visa requirements for Russian visitors and promising backing Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

Libya's Muslim Brotherhood to Set up a New Political Party with Other Islamists
Libya's Muslim Brotherhood has joined forces with other Islamists to establish a new political party that is set to be a leading player in the country's first elections since the end of Muammar Gaddafi's regime last October.

Islamist and secular parties will vie in June elections for seats in a national assembly that will draft a new constitution for Libya.

Political analysts say Libya's Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge as the most organized political force and a leading player in Libya.

Lamine Belhadj, who heads the committee that is working to set up the new party, said it would bring together Islamists of different stripes.

"This is the founding conference of a national, civil party with an Islamic frame of reference. It is being established by the Muslim Brotherhood and many independents who are not affiliated with any Islamic organizations."

Belhadj, a senior official in the National Transitional Council, said the new party had yet to be named and its leaders had not been chosen as consultations were under way between the Brotherhood and other groups.

Abdullah Shamia, an economics professor and member of the Brotherhood, said the new party would be independent.

"This is not a religious party, please make the distinction between religious and a civil party - a party of civil liberties which speaks about freedom of speech and economic freedom and speaks about the devolution of powers. This is not a religious party."

Post-uprising elections have already brought Islamists into government in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco since October. They are also expected to perform well in Libya.

"Fight" with Nuclear Accident Far from over: Japanese PM
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has suggested his country's "fight" with the ongoing nuclear crisis will last until the removal of the damaged reactors.

Noda made the comment ahead of the one-year anniversary on next Sunday of the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami.

"We declared the nuclear plant to be in cold shutdown last year, but the fight with the nuclear accident will not end until the complete removal of the reactors."

The disaster knocked out the cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and triggered meltdowns of nuclear fuel.

The nuclear meltdown forced tens of thousands of local residents to leave their homes.

Noda says people's thinking in terms of how to manage disasters has changed after the crisis.

"It's not going to be possible to use 'something unexpected happened' as an excuse any more. Predicting even the unpredictable is indeed what danger management means."

Nearly 16-thousand people were confirmed dead in the disaster with more than three-thousand others still listed as missing.

Italy Goes ahead with High-speed Project despite Protests
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Rome to protest against the construction of a high speed rail linking Turin to Lyon, France.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse demonstrators who blocked motorways and erected road blocks.

Critics say the project will damage the environment, spoil the landscape and waste public money.

"It's a problem of survival for a whole people, against economic interests that now have no meaning even from a purely economic point of view."

The demonstration in Rome is relatively peaceful compared with the earlier one in Susa Valley which turned violent.

Despite the protests, the Italian government has vowed to go ahead with plans for the 15-billion-euro project, signed off by Italy and France in 2001.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says the line is a "physical link with Europe" for future generations.

OAS to Fight Transnational Organized Crime
The Organization of American States has announced that it will create a cooperation center to fight transnational organized crime, one of the biggest threats to the stability of American states.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Inzulza made the announcement during the closing ceremony of a two-day meeting of prosecutors and attorney generals from the organization's 34 active members in Mexico City.

Mexico's Attorney General Marisela Morales said prosecutors agreed to develop a new system of cooperation, including the OAS center.

"OAS members have reiterated the need to reinforce various aspects of cooperation such as extradition, mutual judicial assistance, exchange of information and intelligence, investigation techniques and mutual training through innovative and efficient hemispheric mechanisms."

Prosecutors and attorney generals from the 34 active members of the OAS had gathered to analyze new cooperation mechanisms against organized crime, which has caused an increase in violence in different regions of Mexico and Central America.

Chinese Films' Journey to the West
China is now one of the world's largest film markets.

Over the past few years, China's film industry has exploded in terms of quantity and box office, but films have not made a strong presence in the international market. Experts and filmmakers carefully discuss this fact and try to figure out ways to achieve wider acclaim.

During 2011, China produced nearly 800 movies, which generated box office revenues of more than more than 2 billion US dollars, nearly a 29 percent increase from 2010.

In a nod to the film industry's success, Teng Jimeng, a film expert at Beijing Foreign Studies University, has attributed the enhanced performance at the box office to many factors.

"Firstly, success is based on large quantity and diversity. The second reason is the developing of cinema infrastructure. Some cinemas are increasingly modern, close to the forefront of international theaters. The third reason is favorable policy support, such as capital investment."

Though many cheer these successes, Director Feng Xiaoning, a member of the current Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, expressed concern about the blind pursuit of the box office in the domestic market, something that may send the development of the film industry off track.

"When it comes to films, people think of box offices. I think it is not comprehensive thinking, and it is wrong to judge a film only by the box office because it may promote the film producers who are bent solely on profit."

Feng calls for Chinese filmmakers to concentrate on producing high-quality films to win a more international audience.

In 2011, 485 Chinese films were featured in 75 international exhibitions and promotions, and 55 films won 82 awards in various film festivals, according to official statistics, Teng said.

"China never slows down its race to go global, and Chinese films have participated in various international film festivals and won prizes. However, the problem is that easterners may accept Chinese films easily, but it is hard for westerners. For example, it happened in this year's Oscars."

Except for martial arts movies with super stars like Jack Chan and Bruce Lee, Western moviegoers are not familiar with contemporary Chinese films, according to Wendy Fung, a Chinese-American.

"The cinemas should play the movies at major cinemas, not in smaller or independent cinemas, so more people would be more interested. Right now, people who watch foreign films go to smaller cinemas that show only foreign films. It is very rare for Chinese films to get on the screen in the big cinemas."

Feng suggests that it will be a long and arduous journey for Chinese cinema to gain respect from Western viewers.

"There are ideological differences. They could easily accept these films if they matched their ideology, so we can use common themes in art and human nature, such as the pursuit of peace and hatred of war, to impress international audiences."

As a film director, Feng also says there is room for improvement in current storytelling methods, shooting techniques and making films that accord with international practices. He will continue to make suggestions to promote Chinese films in the international market.

Japan Finishes Second Tallest Building in the World
Japan has completed the construction of the world's second-tallest building in the capital Tokyo.

Tokyo Sky Tree stands at more than 630 meters tall, following the world's highest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at more than 800 meters.

Michiaki Suzuki is president of the company that runs the Tokyo Sky Tree.

"We intend to promote a new Tokyo and a new Japan to the world and show the latest in broadcasting technology. And we intend to work to accomplish these objectives and look towards our full opening on May 22nd."

Some Tokyo residents say seeing the new tower going up brought back childhood memories.

"When I was a child, there was the Tokyo Tower being built. Now this tower has a completely different look, and I have to wonder about how it is. So I want to see what Japan looks like now."

Tokyo Sky Tree is also the world's tallest freestanding broadcast tower ahead of the Canton Tower in China, which scales 600 meters.

China Daily: Philippines Makes Trouble Again in South China Sea

The government of the Philippines has opened a bid for some foreign oil companies to invest in 15 offshore oil and gas areas in the South China Sea.

The move comes amid an ongoing debate involving national differences of opinion about the territorial sovereignty of islands and reefs in the sea and the demarcation of part of the sea area.

An editorial in China Daily argues the move proves that the Philippines has opted to be a troublemaker again at a time when most countries in the region are trying to find peaceful solutions to the disputes involving the South China Sea area.

The commentary makes it clear that the Philippines has no right to invite foreign players to bid for exploration contracts in the region as all 15 areas are under Chinese maritime jurisdiction.

It also points out that the Philippines picked the wrong time to make such a move as China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have reached an agreement on guidelines to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

China's Foreign Ministry recently said no country, including China, could claim sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.

The China Daily editorial contends that while China tries to find a peaceful way to conduct dialogues with other South China Sea countries to resolve the territorial disputes, other countries should not take advantage of China's peaceful stance.


People's Daily: Political Dialogue the Right Solution to Syrian Crisis

The Syrian people aspire to immediately end all violence in their country and restore normal social order. Much of the media coverage of the Syrian crisis purports that political dialogue is the right solution to resolve the situation rather than military intervention.

A commentary in China's People's Daily newspaper rejects the U.S.'s criticism of what the Americans see as China's misdirected stance on the issue, which advocates that all stakeholders in Syria should return to the negotiating table. It calls the U.S. accusation "groundless" and "full of lies."

The Syrian government held a referendum on a new draft constitution, which is expected to guide the nation into a new era of political pluralism and multiple parties.

But the commentary points out that while some western powers have called the Syrian people's referendum "a farce," they have further exploited and supported the opposition at the same time.

Furthermore, the commentary argues that the goal of various western powers is by no means to promote domestic political dialogue or the democratic process, but rather to advocate regime change in Syria. It says that this will make it more difficult for Syria to achieve peace.

The article also cautions that the blind pursuit of forced regime changes in other countries is like opening a Pandora's box, which not only fosters warlike tendencies in international relations that run counter to tide of peace and development in the 21st century, but also complicates the Syrian issue and the regional situation.

Some analysts believe if western powers arm the Syrian opposition, it will mean indirect support for al-Qaeda and Hamas, as both groups strongly support the Syrian opposition. With the escalation of violence, Syria may slip into civil war.

Furthermore, the "spillover effect" of the Syrian situation appears to be a part of the larger regional hegemony and sectarian violence that ensues in Middle Eastern countries.

In conclusion, the People's Daily article points out that in recent years, military intervention by western powers in other countries has left terrible messes in the end in most cases. It says time has proved that choosing military force over negotiation usually has ended up on the wrong side of history.