News & Reports 2013-03-23

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-03-23

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

In This Edition

The Presidents of China and Russia vow to further advance the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two neighbors.
A suicide bomber has killed a prominent Syrian Islamic scholar and some 40 others inside a mosque in Damascus.
Myanmar President U Thein Sein declares a state of emergency in the country's northern region following days of riot.
And Mercedes-Benz says they'll cooperate with any investigation after reports of harmful chemicals being found in some of their cars in China.
Hot Issue Reports

Xi Calls for Boosting China-Russia Ties through Year of Tourism

Chinese President Xi Jinping says China and Russia are committed to expanding practical cooperation in fields like tourism to develop bilateral ties and boost the life quality of the two peoples.

He made the remark while addressing the launch ceremony for the Chinese Tourism Year in Russia Friday in Moscow.

"China has already become the world's third largest country for inbound and outbound tourism in terms of its reception and consumption capacity. I hope both sides could take the opportunity of the China-Russia Tourism Year to tap the potential of bilateral tourism and further advance Sino-Russian strategic cooperation."

Xi Jinping said the Russian Tourism Year in China last year was very successful. The number of Chinese traveling to Russia increased by 46% and 3.3 million people traveled both ways. China has become Russia's second largest source of tourists and Russia China's third largest.

The Chinese President said tourism is one of the best ways of people-to-people exchange, and he hopes more Russian friends will come to visit China.

Russian President Vladimir Putting says that Russian people have always seen China as a prioritized tourist destination.

"China is an ancient civilization with longstanding history, brilliant culture and rich philosophy. The country is endowed with unparalleled scenic spots, delicious food, traditional medicine, as well as quality resort centers and tourist facilities that are growing very fast."

In 2002, 1.3 million Russian traveled to China. Putin says he believes the Chinese Tourism Year in Russia will help broaden the traveling areas in both countries, enhance mutual understanding and strengthen bilateral ties.

China and Russia have previously held reciprocal national and language years, and the Russian tourism year in China.

Trip to China is Popular in Russia

The success of The Year of Russian Tourism in China last year displayed the huge potential that exists within the tourism markets for both countries.

This year marks the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia. China hopes to further strengthen tourism cooperation with Russia in order to bring the total number of mutual tourists to 5 million by 2015.

Wang Xiao has more.

Reporter: Tourism has played an important part in Sino-Russian exchanges, helping to boost mutual understanding regarding culture, society and history.

Zhanna, a young Russian, is one of those who have visited China for travel.

As cooperation on tourism between Russia and China continues to grow, more Russian tourists are choosing China as their vacation destination. Some even seek out business opportunities when traveling in the country.

Olga Vasilyeva, a Russian, used to study Mandarin in China. Now she is the Senior Manager of the Shanghai China International Travel Service. She says that traveling is the best way for people to learn about other countries.

"The number is increasing??many people are interested in China??"

To attract more tourists, many travel agencies have developed tourism products especially for Russian tourists. Zhai Ning, General Manager of the Hainan Chen Da International Travel Agency, says that health maintenance trips which provide customers with access to traditional Chinese medicine have proven very popular among Russian tourists.

"Traditional Chinese medicine treatment is very popular among Russian tourists. I cooperate mainly with standard hospitals. Treatments such as scraping, massage and acupuncture are well received, because many people have minor health ailments. So we should develop products utilizing Chinese culture; that's what attracts Russian tourists the most."

This year marks the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia. More than 160 events throughout the year will be launched, including self-drive tours from Moscow to Beijing and exchange programs among students.

China and Russia enjoy good relations in political and culture spheres and in people to people exchanges. Zhai Ning believes that the tourism market between these two countries will become prosperous in the future.

"I look to further increases in this market. China and Russia have been brothers since the 1950s. We have a good impression of Russian people. Ever since singing the old songs together in the 50s, the distance between our two peoples has become shorter. Thanks to our long-term friendship, the tourist market will certainly boom in the future."

Today, China's president Xi Jinping begins his Russian visit and he is due to attend the inauguration of the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia when he visits Moscow.

For CRI, I'm Wang Xiao.

The Frontline of Russian-Chinese Trade

The fact China's new President Xi Jingping chose Russia as his first foreign visit is no surprise to some. The two countries have been strengthening ties for many years.

Tourism's growing, there's talk of further energy cooperation, and in 2011 trade volume between the two topped 80 billion dollars, a figure expected to double in a few years.

North China's Heihe city is literally at the front line of this cross border trade. CRI's Dominic Swire recently visited and brings us this report.


DOMINIC: "We are standing literally on the northern tip of China what you see behind me is Heilongjiang River, and if it wasn't for some fences and security guards I could just walk across there and it would take about 15 minutes to get into the Russian Federation."

Walking on the river is no problem when the outside temperature is minus 30 degrees celcius. But most Russians prefer to drive. And many of them come here.

This is an indoor market the size of an aircraft hanger. And it's been designed with Russians in mind.

DOMINIC: "This market literally sells everything under the sun. And a good illustration of that is this shop here. I mean, just by the entrance you've got some telescopes, and turning round you have some Russian products, you've got your alcohol on the shelf here, you have some Russian dolls, you've got your Russian chocolate just down here and, if you have a spare ten thousand renmingbi, you can also pick up a moose's head."

Russian student Gerna studies across the river in the Russian city Blagoveshchensk. He says this place is well known.

"From Moscow people come to Blagoveshchensk and travel to China to Heihe."


"Because it's a good place, it's a good city. There are many places to relax."

For example?

"Saunas, clubs, different restaurants and, of course, prices."

Russians say products sold here are four to five times cheaper than back home. And locals don't need a visa to visit.

Guan Zhaohui's been selling Russian food and drink here for 10 years. She makes over 8 thousand dollars per year.

"Of course, cross boarder trade has made a big difference in Heihe. Everything's changed in the last three years. Russian trade has helped our economy develop fast. For example, there are now more people taking taxis; and hotels and health spas are also booming. All of this contributes to Heihe's economy."

The local government runs the market. Wu Bo is Vice Deputy of the commerce department.

"We promote policies that guarantee Russian shoppers equal treatment. Every item here has a bilingual label with a clear price. There may be some crime, but the Departments of Commerce and Public Security are working to stop this. The market's business model is becoming more like a supermarket where items are paid for collectively."

As Chinese and Russian leaders discuss further cooperation on an international level, this small city of Heihe is benefiting directly.

There are already plans to increase transport connections, share energy and introduce tax benefits to further develop China's north and Russia's Far East.

For CRI, I'm Dominic Swire.
Light News

S. Korea's Cyber Attack May not From China

South Korea's communications regulator says Wednesday's cyber attack on banks and broadcasters may have not have originated from China as initially believed.

However it hasn't ruled anything out yet.

Hackers brought down the networks of three broadcasters and two banks, initially seen as the work of North Korea using its vast army of "cyber-warriors" to cripple computer servers.

Officials in Seoul originally said they had traced the breach to a server in China.

But the Korea Communications Commission said closer investigation into the attack on NongHyup Bank showed the IP address was a virtual one used within the bank for internal purposes.

The IP address by coincidence matched an address registered in China.

Head of Internet Incidents Response Division Lee Jae-Il.

"Our investigation into server logons and IP allocation policy showed today that it is not a Chinese IP. The bank used the IP, officially allocated Chinese IP, which is the bank's policy. Malicious code seemed to be spread from the server and there were records of being approached by someone at that time. So it is for sure that the PC was used for cyber attacks."

About 32-thousand computers were hit, and it could take up to five days to fully restore functions.

Pro-Assad Prominent Cleric Killed in Central Damascus; UN Begins Probe over Aleppo Attack

A suicide bomber has killed a prominent Syrian Islamic scholar and some 40 others inside a mosque in Damascus.

"This is a cowardly and inhuman attack. People can solve conflicts through dialogue. Dialogue can lead to good outcomes."

84-year-old Mohammad Saed Ramadan al-Bouti, a Sunni cleric, was delivering a lecture at the al-Eman Mosque in Damascus when the attack took place.

Al-Bouti was known for his stance against terrorism, as well as his criticism of radical Islamists.

The attack comes just hours after UN chief Ban Ki-moon approved a probe into a reported chemical weapons attack in the country's northern province of Aleppo.

He's also called for the international community to keep supporting UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

"Let me repeat that the horrors of last month and years prove beyond a doubt the military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria. I call on the regional and international community to find unity and support the efforts of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to help the Syrian people reach a political solution."

The Syrian government and the rebel opposition are accusing each other of launching Tuesday's gas bomb in Aleppo which killed at least 25 people and injuring around 130 others.

Myanmar President Declares State of Emergency in Meikhtila after Three-day Riot

Myanmar President U Thein Sein has declared a state of emergency in four townships in Meikhtila District of Myanmar's northern region following a three-day riot.

The riot started from Wednesday and has reportedly killed at least 10 people and wounded another 20.

"I am really sad over what happened here because this is not just happening to one person. It's affecting us all. As a Buddhist, I don't want anybody to get hurt."

Local residents there were shocked by the violence which started from an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a gold shop.

That then, turned into a riot involving hundreds of people, with mosques being set on fire and officials having to declare an overnight curfew.

This is possibly the worst case of sectarian violence in Myanmar, since last year's unrest in the western state of Rakhine reportedly saw almost 200 deaths, and leaving hundreds of thousands more homeless.

Senior government officials say they're monitoring the situation and have temporarily closed the region to other major cities.

Export Growth Not to be Slower than GDP Growth

China's newly appointed Commerce Minister, Gao Hucheng, has said he won't allow foreign trade growth to fall below the gross domestic product.

"Our goal this year is to achieve stability of external market demands, and attach importance to the adjustment of structure and quality of export. In terms of trade, there are plenty of uncertainties, but we are confident of making it not slower than GDP growth."

Gao also said China's import and export figures exceeded almost 4-trillion US dollars last year and that he now aims to achieve a 14-and-half-percent growth in total retail sales.

There are also plans by the government to optimize the agricultural products system, lower the costs of circulation in manufactured goods and raw materials, as well as further develop online shopping regulation.

Mercedes-Benz Welcome Probe But Deny Using Toxic Materials in Chinese Luxury Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz says they'll cooperate with any investigation after reports of harmful chemicals being found in some of their cars in China.

This comes while China is predicted to overtake the United States by 2016 as the world's biggest market for luxury car brands.

A recent survey by The Beijing University of Chemical Technology found asphalt in the damping plates of some of the cars.

The chemical is a cancer-risk and it's been detected in Mercedes cars as well as other premiere brands such as Audi and BMW.

The plates are used as vibration absorbers, and despite in-vehicle air quality guidelines implemented in China since 2012, some of the car owners say they're still coming in to contact with the pungent odors.

"It smells worse in hot days than in cold ones. The stronger the sunshine is, the worse it smells. In winter, it's still relatively OK, but in summer, it's intolerable. At first, they said it was the air conditioner, and then they said it was the air duct, then the seats. I've fixed all of them. I've cleaned the air duct four or five times, twice a year."

Compared with resins or rubber, asphalt materials are much cheaper and although Mercedes have said they'll co-operate with a probe, they're also denying the use of the dangerous chemical.
Media Digest

China Daily

"Beijing buses to offer Wi-Fi"

It's been announced that more than 10,000 buses in Beijing will offer Wi-Fi service by the end of the year.

More than 1,800 buses in Beijing have wireless internet access so far

The service followed a deal signed in April last year between China Mobile and Beijing Bus Transportation Group.

Passengers with Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to the Internet through China Mobile's network.

The service will provide coverage on all routes within the Fourth Ring Road.

China Mobile now offers 20-hours a month free before June 30.

Beijing has the broadest Wi-Fi coverage on buses in the country.

Global Times

"China Gets Stronger Food, Drug Regulator"

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) started operation today.

This marks a more powerful watchdog to address the country's widespread food safety concerns.

The CFDA integrated the monitoring functions of other government organs and became a ministerial-level agency to improve food and drug safety.

Prior to the restructuring, the previous State Food and Drug Administration was in charge of food safety in the catering industry.

The responsibilities of food safety supervision in the manufacturing process were assumed by the country's consumer quality watchdog.

And, the market was under the charge of the industry and commerce administration.

Overlapping of supervision from different departments and some "blind spots" proved weak links in the food safety supervision system.

The new regulator, however, will be responsible for supervising the full process of food's production, circulation and consumption.

The new regulator will better streamline administrative, technological and information resources. The burden for lawful business operators will also be reduced.

Australia Network News

"New Initiative to Fight TB Spread in Asia-Pacific"

A new multi-national research centre has been set up to stop the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in Australia, and reduce its impact on the Asia-Pacific region.

The Centre of Research Excellence in TB Control (TB-CRE), has opened at the Centenary Institute in Sydney.

The 2.5 million US dollars initiative brings together researchers in six countries to improve TB control, with the goal of eliminating the disease in Australia and beyond by 2050.

The respiratory disease once killed more Australians than cancer.

Australia now has one of the world's lowest rates of tuberculosis.

Dr Bernadette Saunders, a chief investigator at TB-CRE said the disease remains highly prevalent throughout Asia and the Pacific.

TB is a major problem throughout the Asia-Pacific region - in China, in Vietnam, in Papua New Guinea, in Indonesia.

Dr Saunders says health authorities "need to work together as a region" to ensure people have access to medication and continuous treatment.

Tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs, is transmitted via the air and caused by strains of mycobacteria.

The Telegraph

"Rise in Child Smokers"

Cancer Research UK has warned the number of child smokers is rising, with more than 200,000 up the habit in a year.

Cancer Research UK said about 210,000 children started to smoke in 2011, a sharp rise from 160,000 in 2010.

Despite being too young to legally purchase tobacco products, the number of those aged between 11 and 15 choosing to smoke has risen by 50,000 in just one year.

The figure equates to over 550 children taking up the smoking each day.

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, warned that most long term smokers take up the habit in childhood.

The charity fund urged the Government to commit to putting all cigarettes in plain standardized packs.

Last April, the Government launched a consultation on plans to introduce mandatory standardized packaging for tobacco products.

Health campaigners have welcomed the proposal, but opponents claimed it would lead to increased smuggling and job losses.

Information generated by the consultation, which closed in August, is still being analyzed by health officials.