News & Reports 2012-04-08


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

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

In This Edition

China urges for calm and restraint amid escalating regional tension days before a planned North Korean satellite launch.

Pakistani military says 124 soldiers and 11 civilians were buried when a huge avalanche hit an army camp near the Indian border, with no sign of survivors 17 hours later.

Malawi's Vice President Joyce Banda is sworn in as southern Africa's first female head of state following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

And supporters of Syria's President Bashar Assad rally in central Damascus to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the foundation of his ruling Baath party.


Hot Issue Reports

China Urges for Calm ahead of Planned North Korean Satellite Launch
China is urging for calm and restraint amid escalating regional tension days before a planned North Korean satellite launch.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with his counterparts of Japan and South Korea respectively in the city of Ningbo on Saturday.

The trio is scheduled to meet for their annual trilateral meeting on Sunday during which North Korea is set to be high on the agenda.

Pyongyang said it plans to send a weather satellite into space between April 12 to 16, a launch that South Korea and the United States claim is a disguised ballistic missile test, which is banned under United Nations sanctions.

After a day of bilateral meetings between the three foreign ministers, China said it had urged restraint and dialogue between all parties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang.

"For now, I do not know and I cannot predict the trajectory of the North Korean satellite launch. But we hope and urge all relevant parties to remain calm and restrained under the current situation."

Qin said China hopes relevant parties should act on the view of the bigger picture to deal appropriately with the problem. He said any potential action should be taken to ensure the peace and long-term stability of the Northeast Asia region.

North Korea said the rocket's trajectory will be southwards and will not impact neighbouring countries.

However, both Japan and South Korea have put their military defenses on alert and said they would intercept the rocket if it poses a threat to their country.

Japan Deploys Extra Land and Sea Defences amid Concern over NKorea
Japan deployed additional land and sea-based missile defense on Saturday in preparation for a planned North Korean rocket launch that could come as early as next week.

Two Patriot Advanced Capability-3 mobile missile interceptors were positioned at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Ichigaya, central Tokyo. They were also deployed in neighboring Chiba and Saitama Prefectures.

The interceptors would be ready to shoot down any parts of the rocket that may veer into Japan's airspace.

As for sea-based defense, three anti-missile equipped Aegis destroyers left their bases on Saturday morning.

Tokyo resident Reiji Higashi said he's worried of fragments falling from the rocket.

"Some fragments may fall, right? That's dangerous, whatever people say. And North Korea isn't a technologically advanced country, so that makes it even more dangerous."

However, Shimako Muto, a university professor, said she hoped the situation would be resolved through talks.

"I'm against stirring up more trouble. Rather than being in a position to have to shoot down the rocket, I want them to settle the situation diplomatically."

North Korea said the planned launch will mark the 100th birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il-sung.

135 Buried in Avalanche in Northern Pakistan
Pakistani military says 124 soldiers and 11 civilians were buried when a huge avalanche hit an army camp near the Indian border, with no sign of survivors 17 hours later.

Army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas.

"This area is at an altitude of 15,000 feet, or more than 4500 meters. This is a rear headquarter for those posts which exist on Siachen on a higher altitude. It controls those posts, command them and we also send supplies from here."

Helicopters were deployed in a rescue operation. Troops used sniffer dogs to comb the area. Heavy engineering equipment was flown to the site from the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed grave concern over the incident. He held a meeting with prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and discussed the search and rescue operation to save the lives of officers, soldiers and civilians.

Located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just east of the disputed Kashmir region, the 70-kilometer-long Siachen Glacier is the world's second longest glacier in the non-polar areas.

It is also the world's highest battlefield. India and Pakistan both claim the area and have deployed thousands of troops there.

Mali's New President Arrives in Bamako to Take Post
Mali's new president Diouncounda Traore has arrived in capital Bamako to take up his new post after coup leader agreed to hand power to civilians within days.

Traore arrived alongside mediators Djibril Bassole, Burkina's Foreign Minister and Ivorian minister for African Integration Adama Bitogo who confirmed a deal to return to constitutional rule.

"As a consequence the president of ECOWAS, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, in agreement with his peers, the organization has decided to immediately lift the sanctions against Mali."

The March 22 coup by soldiers angry at ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure's handling of a two-month-old rebellion backfired, emboldening the Tuareg nomads to seize the northern half of Mali and declare an independent state there.

After three days of negotiations and growing international pressure to step down, Mali's junta announced it would begin a power handover in return for an amnesty from prosecution and the lifting of trade and other sanctions.

Under the mediation of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, a deal was reached that elections would follow as soon as allowed by the widespread lack of security in the north, now mostly overrun by Tuaregs accompanied by groups of Islamists with links to al Qaeda.

Traore said the top priority was to restore order to Mali's state institutions after the coup. He added that his goal was the international integrity of Mali.

Malawi VP Sworn in as President
In the wake of the death of Malawi's president Bingu wa Mutharika, vice president Joyce Banda was sworn in as the country's president, becoming southern Africa's first female head of state.

"I thank you all, I just sincerely hope there is no room for revenge. I just sincerely hope that we will stand united and I just hope that as a God fearing nation we shall allow God to come before us because if we don't do that, we have failed."

Banda, a 61-year-old policeman's daughter who has won international recognition for championing the education of underprivileged girls, had served as vice president under Mutharika.

She succeeded Mutharika's term, which is due to end in early 2014.

78 year-old Mutharika died of a heart attack on Thursday.

Mass Rally to Mark 65 Years of Ruling Baath Party
Supporters of Syria's President Bashar Assad rallied in central Damascus on Saturday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the foundation of his ruling Baath party.

Under a new Constitution, the Party will lose its right to single party rule, part of a series of recent reforms designed to appease the insurgency.

Thousands gathered in the central square of Sabee' Bahrat to express their loyalty to the party led by two generations of the ruling Assad family.

"We are not against a multi-party system, but we will remain adhered to this party. We are with Syria; with the reforms proposed by the President."

President Assad has accepted a cease-fire deadline brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for his forces to pull out of towns and cities, and for both government and rebels to lay down their arms.

More than 300 wanted people turned themselves in to authorities in the northern province of Idlib Saturday amid renewed violence reported in other parts of Syria.

Mourning for a Greek Man Who Suicide in Apparent Anti-austerity Protest
Around two-thousand mourners attended the funeral of Dimitris Christoulas on Saturday, the 77-year-old Greek man who shot and killed himself in Athens earlier this week, apparently in protest at the government's harsh austerity measures.

At a non-religious ceremony at the Athens Municipal cemetery, mourners shouted political slogans, including "Bread, Education, Liberty", and "This is not a suicide, this is murder".

The retired pharmacist was politically active, having participated in the "Indignants" and "I Won't Pay" movements.

In the suicide note published by local media, Christoulas said he could not survive on his pension and expected Greeks to take up arms and "hang traitors" in the square.

His daughter, Emy Christoulas, spoke about her father's anger at the austerity measures being enacted on the Greek people.

"Father, you could not grasp it when they took away our democracy, our freedom, our integrity. You could not grasp it when they surrounded us with a harsh social and economic apartheid. You could not understand why they handed over our sovereignty, along with the keys to our country."

Greece has survived on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since two years ago.

To secure the cash lifeline, the country imposed harsh cutbacks, slashing pensions and salaries while repeatedly increasing taxes.

A new round of austerity measures is expected to be announced in June, which is worth about seven percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Unemployment rate in Greece is at a record high of 21 percent, while half Greeks aged under 25 is jobless, amid a shrinking economy that is not expected to recover for at least two years.

China-Japan Finance Ministers Hold Talks in Tokyo
The finance ministers from China and Japan agreed on Saturday that financial cooperation between the two countries has been steadily moving forward.

Xie Xuren, China's Minister of Finance, and his Japanese counterpart Jun Azumi pledged to deepen bilateral financial cooperation by working with other relevant institutions at the fourth Japan-China finance dialogue in Tokyo.

Azumi said China and Japan will hold high-level talks about contributions to the International Monetary Fund to help ease the eurozone debt crisis, ahead of the G20 finance leaders' meeting in Washington D.C. later this month.

"It's better to discuss between both of our countries than deciding what to do between the IMF and just one country. That's why I also agree with Vice Premier Wang Qishan, and we agreed to continue along those lines."

The two ministers also exchanged views on the global financial situation.

The European Union expects G20 leaders to agree to contribute more money to the IMF this month after Europe expanded its own bailout capacity to 700 billion euros, up from 500 billion.

Last month, the Japanese government announced that it received permission from China to purchase 65 billion yuan, or about 10 billion U.S. dollars, worth of Chinese government bonds, the first time for the Japanese government to reveal the specific figures.

US Jet Crash Update
U.S. Navy Admiral John Harvey applauds the courage of local residents after a U.S. Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex for the elderly on Friday, leaving severe damage but no casualties.

The crash injured seven people in all, including both crew members, and damaged six buildings.

Harvey said he was impressed by the courage displayed by the residents.

"It was citizens that dragged our air crew to safety, out of the fire zone."

The U.S. Navy F/A-18 jet fighter crashed shortly after take-off on a training mission. Both crew members ejected and one was found still strapped into his ejection seat.

The U.S. Navy Admiral said a thorough investigation into the crash could take several weeks.

"Now that the city has gotten the whole site under complete control, we are going to come in, sort of in a parallel activity and work our way from the outside in, gathering all the parts, examining the parts. "

U.S. Navy will meet with the residents to help them find long term housing and discuss their options.

Police Presence in Paris Stepped up amid Fears of a Serial Killer on the Loose
Security was ramped up in France's Essonne region on the outskirts of Paris after French authorities said they feared a serial killer was on the loose.

Pierre Lambert, Prefect Delegate of Essonne said the usual police presence increased fivefold and extra security checks were conducted on the highway in the area.

"There is a complete security operation in place at different roundabouts, different traffic zones, to ensure the safety of the population who is under emotion and fear and to be able to detect possible clues, useful to the investigation."

Four shootings struck France since the first one occurred in November. The latest shooting took place last week when a gunman shot dead a woman in a Paris suburb, using a weapon employed in three other killings in the same area within the last five months.

A public prosecutor said there were obvious similarities in the way the latest three killings were carried out in February, March and April, but no clear link to the first killing.

Around 100 investigators were working on the case and police were examining several leads.

Processions, Services are Held to Mark Good Friday
Processions and services were held in many parts of the world to mark the holy celebrations of Easter weekend.

Catholic worshippers sang hymns and listened to a New York-area bishop across New York's Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday.

In Washington, more than a thousand people packed the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle to hear Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, say the Good Friday liturgy.

"... people begin to realize that there's so much more to life, the whole spiritual dimension. And that's what we're addressing in this whole effort called 'the New Evangelization' to remind people they have a home. They have a spiritual home."

Meanwhile, thousands of Catholic Christians held candlelit vigils on Holy Saturday in Jerusalem for the Easter "Holy Fire" ceremony.

In Cuba, Good Friday has been made as an official holiday for the first time in half-a-century, even though less than 10 percent of islanders are practicing Catholics.

Whether or not the move will be permanent has not yet been decided.

Good Friday is the day Christians commemorate the death of Christ, but it is not a holiday in the United States, most of Europe or even Mexico, the most Catholic of the world's Spanish-speaking countries.

New Nissan Model to Replace Yellow Cab in New York City
New York City is to replace its iconic Yellow cabs made by Ford with a new and brighter Nissan minivan starting from October next year, according to an announcement.

The new taxi is on display at the New York Auto Show.

Peter Bedrosian, Senior Manager, Product Planning, Nissan North America, believes it an ideal one for both the passengers and drivers.

"There are a lot of elements that make it an ideal cab for New Yorkers. We designed the product from the inside out. It's about the experience inside not only for the passengers but also for the drivers."

The new design includes more leg-room, headliners that neutralize odor, and USB ports to charge smart phone.

In addition, its sunroof promises a whole new angle of this vertical city and its familiar skyscrapers.

It also adopts the so-called "low annoyance" horns.

The successor's price tag is about $30,000 U.S. dollars, and wheelchair accessibility will cost another 6000 dollars.

In 2007, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to transform the city's ubiquitous yellow cab fleet from the old school Ford Crown Victoria??s to all hybrids.

Media Digest

China Daily: Positive Regional Signals Promote China-ASEAN Ties

The 20th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, recently held in Cambodia ended with four outcome documents to guide the regional bloc in its task of community building, financial stability, better connectivity and closer cooperation.

An editorial in the China Daily newspaper says the summit sent positive signals for advancing regional integration and common development, and that it is good to see members of the regional organization rallying around the ambitious target of realizing the ASEAN community by 2015.

The article points out that, as developing countries, ASEAN members face both opportunities and challenges on their road to development, and they would better achieve their goals in economic and social growth by showing stronger solidarity.

The editorial suggests that Southeast Asia play a bigger role on the world stage by speaking with one voice and that they should strive to have more influence in order to better safeguard the interests of its members and contribute more to world peace and development.

It says China is willing to see the bloc play a greater role in regional affairs. For years, expanding cooperation and seeking mutual benefits have been the trend for Sino-ASEAN relations.

The editorial adds that China is committed to building mutual trust and deepening cooperation with the ASEAN in a full range of areas and that both sides should remain vigilant against any dissonance that might harm their efforts to sustain healthy growth in bilateral relations.

It suggests that the disputes between the ASEAN and China over maritime territory should be solved bilaterally and through peaceful consultations.

The priority now, according to the China Daily editorial, is to build trust among the concerned parties, push forward the process in a constructive manner, launch reciprocal cooperation and cultivate a proper environment for solving the issue.

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People's Daily: Asia-Pacific Countries should Promote Free Trade in a Pragmatic Manner

Bilateral or multilateral free trade agreements have sprung up in the Asia-Pacific following economies in the region fast becoming the most dynamic in the world. The most popular one is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP.

A commentary from the People's Daily says while free trade areas can bring different countries' comparative advantages into play and promote competition, trade and economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region should be promoted in a pragmatic and realistic manner, given the different development levels, goals, and cultural backgrounds of these countries.

The article states that sincerity is essential for the smooth development of FTAs. It criticizes the United States for showing little sincerity in the TPP negotiations by completely revising the bloc's rules for its own benefit, implementing economic unilateralism, and deliberately alienating China, even though certain TPP member states want China to join the group.

Furthermore, the article says Asia-Pacific countries should learn from the European Union's mistake in understanding the regional political environment. The European Union approved the accession of unqualified Greece in the early 1980s, which ensured the bloc's security in southern Europe but planted a seed for the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis.

The People's Daily commentary concludes by warning that it would be a different story if certain countries use the TPP talks as a tool to elevate their status and seek benefits from different parties.


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