News & Reports 2013-02-02

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-02-02

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

In This Edition

A week-long state mourning declared in Cambodia for late former King Norodom Sihanouk.
UN peacekeepers say they were unable to verify a Syrian complaint that Israeli planes flew over the Golan Heights to carry out an air strike near Damascus.
Representatives from across Egypt's political spectrum denounce the recent violence in the country that killed 60 people.
And China's first government guideline on citizen's personal information protection comes into effect amid rampant abuses.

Hot Issue Reports

Cambodia Begins Funeral for King Sihanouk
Crowds have gathered in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh for the funeral of their late-King Norodom Sihanouk.

"I regret that we lost the great king who did good for the country, for example good developments and keeping buddhism alive, as we see it up to today"
The former king died in Beijing in October at the age of 90 and his body has been lying in state at the Royal Palace since then.

Starting Friday, the coffin carrying the late monarch will be paraded through the streets of the Cambodian capital, with the cremation ceremony scheduled for Monday.

After that, his ashes will be placed in an urn at the palace.

Security has been beefed-up with the deployment of about 10,000 soldiers and police around the capital.

International Representatives from China, France, and other Asia-Pacific countries are expected to attend the ceremony, including China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin.

Unexplained Blast Kills 32 in Mexico Oil Company
32 people are now confirmed to have died in the explosion that ripped through the headquarters of oil giants Pemex in Mexico City.

This follows previous reports which said a 100 had been injured and around 30 others were trapped under the debris.

The explosion is said to have originated from an adjacent building which also damaged three floors of Pemex's headquarter building.

Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong says the victims are the priority right now.

"At the moment, the priority is to attend to the victims, the injured, their families, following through with the instructions of the President Pena Nieto to remove the last bit of debris in order to make sure there is no one trapped."

The cause of the blast itself is still unclear, although local media reports are suggesting it was a machine exploding due to either a buildup of natural gas or possibly overheating of the air conditioning unit.

Pemex had announced evacuating the 52-storey tower before the blast, citing electrical problems as the reason behind it.

This isn't their first experience of a fatal accident or safety problems though.

Last year's September explosion at their natural gas facilitiy in Northern Mexico left 30 people dead.

Talks on Israel's Air Strike on Syria
United Nations peacekeepers in the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel say they've so-far been unable to verify a Syrian complaint that Israeli planes flew over the Golan Heights to carry out an air strike near Damascus.

Eduardo del Buey is a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General.

"UNDOF did not observe any planes flying over the area of separation and therefore was not able to confirm the incident. UNDOF also reported bad weather conditions,"

Syria has filed an official complaint to the UN over the Israeli attack, which has reportedly targeted a Syrian military research center on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Syrian side says the air strike left 2 dead and 5 others hurt.

The Syrian government is blasting the Israeli attack as a "flagrant intervention" of Syrian airspace, accusing Israel of being behind "terrorist acts" committed in Syria.

The Israeli side is refusing to comment.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has "strongly" condemned the airstrike, saying Israel is seeking to create insecurity and instability in the region.

Iran has been on record saying any Israeli strike into Syria would be the same as a strike in Iran.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war.

Syrian troops are not allowed in the area of separation.

For more on the situation in the region, Paul James spoke earlier with Hua Liming, China's former Ambassador to Iran.

Egypt Politics- Leaders of all Main Political Parties Sign a Document Renouncing Violence
Representatives from across Egypt's political spectrum are denouncing the recent violence in the country, with a week of rioting killing 60 people nationwide.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the ultraconservative Salafists and their rival liberal parties are all condemning the instigation of violence, calling it "sabotage."

All this comes from the first meeting between the opposition National Salvation Front ?C or the NSF and the Muslim Brotherhood since the Front was formed in November.

NSF head Mohammed El-Baradei, who's also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, says their worry for the country brought them together.

"We came out of this meeting with some optimism even though we have a lot of challenges ahead and each one of us believes that the fate of Egypt is on the verge of doom and that each one has to deploy all his power to build trust among the different groups of Egypt."

The parties at the meeting have signed up to a document setting out the terms for future talks.

Violence has escalated in Egypt since the opposition called for protests to mark the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted former leader Hosni Mubarak.

The opposition has been demanding the new administration set up a nationally unified government and rewrite controversial parts of the constitution.

At least 8 Dead after Bridge Collapses in China
At least 8 people are dead and 13 injured in an accident involving a partial bridge collapse as well as a fireworks-loaded truck exploding in Central China's Henan province.

Central China Television's reporter Wang Tao was at the scene in Sanmenxia City

"Experts are still investigating the cause of the incident. Whether it's the explosion of the truck that led to the collapse of the bridge or it's the opposite, the bridge collapse caused the truck explosion, that is still unknown by now."

Half of the 30-meter-high bridge is said to have collapsed, with local government officials saying the blast caused several vehicles to fall off the bridge.

6 vehicles have been pulled from the debris so far and reports say the search and rescue operations are still looking for survivors.

"The chunk of the bridge flipped while falling down, so several vehicles have been buried under the debris. This has made the rescue really difficult, because although there're cranes at the site, it's not easy to haul the heavy debris. But rescuers are still search for survivors."

The bridge is part of the Lianhuo expressway, and its Sanmenxia section been closed off now with traffic being diverted.

Highway traffic police in Henan are set to make more detailed information available on their website.

China's First Guideline on Personal Information Protection Issued
The Chinese government's guideline on personal information protection took effect on Friday.

The guideline includes the safety of services provided to both the public and the business sectors.

This is the first national standard on privacy protection, and experts say the guideline is only the first step, and more laws need to follow in the future.

Li Yuxiao heads the Online Security Law Research Center at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

"The guideline is not law. The guideline needs to be followed up by regulations. Moreover, from a technology prospective, the service providers and product developers should provide the public, law enforcement and law-making authorities technical support, so that they can better protect people's privacy."

The latest guideline includes 8 principles, including reducing the use of personal information, asking for permission and the division of responsibilities.

Official Manufacturing Activity in China has Slowed in January
Manufacturing activity here in China has slowed down with the official Purchasing Managers Index for January coming in 50.4 this month.

This is down from December's 50.6, falls short of several economists predicting it to hit the 51 mark this month.

Cai Jin, vice president of China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing , attributes the drop to the slow global economy.

"There are some uncertain elements slowing down economic growth in the international community, especially for those main economies such as the USA."

Despite a reading above 50 indicating expansion, this is a slow down in economic growth, and for more on this, we earlier spoke to Zhuang Jian, Senior Economist at Asian Development Bank's Resident Mission in China.

Here's what he said with talking with CRI's Abhijan Barua about the difficulties facing the Chinese economy.

Second, Third Tier Cities Popular for Grads
The 2013 job hunting season has started. Statistics from the university employment guidance departments show that more graduates are choosing to work in second and third tier cities, especially in developed areas.

Wang Xiao has more.

Gaoyao in Guangdong Province is a third tier city with the population of only 700 thousand. But in the past few years, more than 5 thousand graduates from all over the country chose to work here.

Feng Minqiang, Secretary of Municipal Party Committee of the city, says that many grads are willing to come here this year.

"Generally speaking, more graduates choose to work in our city. This year, about 1 thousand students sent their resumes to us."

Like Gaoyao, many second and third tier cities with a promising market have become hot places for job-seekers.

Zheng Jiafen is a graduate student from Zhongshan University. Four years ago when she stepped into the university, she was determined to stay in Guangzhou. But she signed a contract with a company in a second tier city ?CShantou -- at a job fair. Zhen explains why she changed her mind.

"My major in college is urban planning, so I can have more opportunities in second tier cities."

At first, talented people all went to first-tier cities where there was higher production efficiency and more job opportunities, but with rapid economic development, big cities have become increasingly crowded and competitive. Living costs have also become higher, forcing some job seekers to choose smaller cities.

In recent years, many second-tier and third-tier cities have achieved rapid progress in their economies, infrastructure construction, city management and improved environments for starting businesses.

Li Mingzhang, the head of the employment guidance center at Zhong Shan University, says more graduates are choosing to leave big cities.

"Based on our survey, the number of the second and third tier cities chosen by the post and undergraduates is increasing year by year."

The survey also shows that the second-tier cities in the Yangtze River Delta have become the hottest places for job-seekers. Meanwhile cities in the middle and west regions are not popular. A student gives her reasons.

"I think the cities along the southeast coast have more dynamic economies. There are more opportunities here than in inland cities."

According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of graduates choose to get their occupations in the smaller cities in eastern China. And the number of students who choose the cities in the middle and west regions is increasing slowly, but still remains small.

For CRI, I'm Wang Xiao.

Houston Anniversary to be Marked with TV Grammy Special and Awards Performers List
Grammy organizers are planning to mark the first anniversary of the sudden death of Whitney Houston with a behind-the-scenes TV show.

The show will be focusing on how they scrambled to honor the singer just 24 hours after she died.

The hour-long special entitled "The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family" will air on next Saturday, the day before the 2013 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Houston drowned in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel room on the eve of last year's Grammy Awards show.

Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake, making his pop comeback with a new single and album, will perform at this year's awards night for the first time in four years.
Alicia Keys and Maroon 5 will join forces for a special performance.

Other performers will be announced in the next 10 days.

Elton John will also do a duet with rising British singer Ed Sheeran.

Presenters include Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Carly Rae Jepsen, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

The Grammy ceremony will be hosted by rapper LL Cool J.


Air pollution prompts Beijing to limit fireworks

Air pollution concerns are prompting Beijing authorities to ask residents to set off fewer fireworks during the upcoming Spring Festival.

The Beijing Office on Fireworks and Firecrackers says it has closely followed Beijing's air quality reports and issued the proposal to citizens.

Setting off firecrackers and fireworks during Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, is an old tradition.

Figures show that after an hours-long firework-ignition spree on the eve of the Lunar New Year in 2012, the density of PM2.5 increased sharply to hit over 1,500 micrograms per cubic meter in downtown Beijing.

Three fireworks retailers in Beijing have 750,000 cartons of fireworks in stock for this year's festival, down from 810,000 cartons in 2012.

The number of shops approved to sell fireworks in Beijing has been reduced from 1,400 to 1,300.


Employment pressures to remain high for city's graduates

Nearly 180,000 college students will graduate this summer in Shanghai, equal to last year's graduates and 3,000 more than in 2011, putting great pressure on employment.

Authorities say many companies have cut their recruitment plans, fearing an extended global economic downturn.

Job pressures have caused some students to take jobs as technical workers or in other blue-collar occupations, but their parents are seldom happy about it, fearing the children will not be paid well or achieve a high social status.

A survey has found that more than 55 percent of the parents in Shanghai don't want their children to be a worker of any kind.

Authorities say the conventional view of selecting a job adds difficulty for graduates to find a job.

They have urged that workers with special skills should be given higher salaries and respect.


Solomons seeks to prevent mass dolphin killings

The Solomon Islands's government is urging villagers to stop the mass slaughter of dolphins, saying the traditional practice is damaging the Pacific nation's tourism industry.

Locals in the village of Fanalei killed about 750 dolphins last month, saying they acted after US-based conservation group the Earth Island Institute failed to provide funds promised under a 2010 agreement to stop the cull.

Dolphin hunts are traditional in areas of the Solomons, where their teeth have long been used as a form of currency.

In recent years, villagers have also captured live dolphins and exported them to marine entertainment parks.

The Minister of Tourism says it's a sensitive issue as these people depend on this traditional practice, but there are now modern expectations.

He adds the killings were "a big setback for tourism", which received a boost last September when Britain's Prince William and wife Catherine visited the Solomons on a trip marking Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.


Residents in south London could be forced to put out their bins at 5am or face a fine in trials to keep streets tidy.

They would only be able to leave waste on the public highway for collection during two hour-long slots - from 5pm to 6pm, and from 5am to 6am.

Failure to comply with the restrictions imposed by Merton Council, in south London, could lead to a fixed penalty notice.

The council says it hopes the move will 'improve the cleanliness and overall street environment' by reducing the amount of time waste is left on the street for collection.

It claims rubbish left out for longer causes hazards on public highways and leads to unwanted vermin in the area.

However with many working residents likely to arrive home from work after 6pm, there is concern over the scheme's practicality which could instead force homeowners to get up as early as 5am to put out their waste.