News & Reports 2010-01-11

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-01-11

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

In This Edition

China's exports surged 17.7 percent in December to break a 13-month decline.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the US suggestion of making concessions in negotiations with Palestine.

And Google has officially apologized to Chinese writers who complained that the U.S. company's online library service violated the copyrights of their works.

Hot Issue Reports

China's December Exports Surge 17.7 Percent

Data from the General Administration of Customs indicate that China's exports surged 17.7 percent in December to break a 13-month decline.

Huang Guohua, an official from China's General Administration of Customs, says the data indicate that the worst is over for China's export sector.

"This is an extremely important turning point. Our nation's foreign trade had been falling for 13 consecutive months but is now growing. Our nation's exporters have emerged from their downslide."

The customs authority says China's exports hit about 130 billion U.S. dollars in December, bringing the full-year export figure to more than one trillion dollars.

Data from Germany last week indicated that China had overtaken Europe's biggest economy in November to become the world's top exporting nation.

China's overall foreign trade--both exports and imports--fell about 14 percent in 2009 to nearly 2 trillion dollars, as monthly exports dropped sharply on a year-on-year basis in the first 10 months of 2009.

But that changed in November, when exports slipped just about one percent--the slowest decline of the year.

Imports for December reached 112 billion U.S. dollars, while full-year imports came in at about one trillion U.S. dollars.

Israeli PM rejects suggestion by U.S. envoy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the suggestion of making concessions in negotiations with Palestine by the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East during the weekly Cabinet meeting.

US mid-east envoy George Mitchell said last week in a television interview that the U.S. might impose sanctions on Israel to press it to make concessions.

Netanyahu blamed Palestine for halting the negotiations in Sunday's meeting.

"Stopping the Palestinian incitement is a condition, not in order to renew the peace talks, but in order to complete them and achieve true peace."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that both sides should tackle border issues and the status of Jerusalem first.

Talks broke down a year ago and have not resumed, which is widely believed to be the result of the continuation of Jewish settlement activities.

Iranian fmr prosecutor responsible for prison deaths

An Iranian parliamentary probe has found the former Tehran prosecutor responsible for the deaths of three anti-government protesters at Kahrizak detention centre, in the turmoil following the disputed June elections last year.

The probe's results were originally reported on Wednesday by a conservative website.

Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the probe, said on Sunday that the deaths of the protesters were caused by "numerous reasons", including body abuses.

"They died because of numerous reasons such as lack of space, poor sanitary conditions, bad food, overheating, absence of air conditioning and so on as well as being beaten up and left uncared for by prison authorities."

Saeed Mortazavi, former Tehran prosecutor, claimed at the time the detainees died due to meningitis.

Jalali said "the issue of Meningitis is absolutely rejected".

Iran's judiciary has charged twelve officials at Kahrizak, three of them with murder, but has not identified them.

Anger over the abuse claims after the protests extended to the influential conservative figures in the clerical hierarchy. It forced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to order the immediate closure of the Kahrizak.

The opposition says more than 80 protesters have been killed in the post election crackdown, but the government puts the number at less than 40.

UK Invites Pakistan to London Conference on Afghanistan

Visiting British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has invited Pakistan to an international conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28th.
"Pakistan is a vital partner in finding solutions and progress in Afghanistan and that is why I am here. Stability, security, prosperity in Afghanistan depends in some part on security, prosperity, stability in Pakistan."

Pakistani Foreign Minister is Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

"The London conference, obviously, it's an important multilateral event that is going to take place in London on the 28th of January. Pakistan has welcomed the initiative. Pakistan will participate in this conference in a very constructive, in a very positive, in a very supportive manner."

The London conference will be co-hosted by the British and Afghan governments and bring together more than 60 countries and international institutions, including the United States.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has laid out a series of milestones for the conference, which Afghanistan's government will have to stick to.

Those milestones include a timetable for reforming the country's police force, and fighting corruption.

Miliband hinted that international monetary aid could stop if major issues like corruption were not tackled.

One Dead, Five Injured in Afghan Attack on Official

In Afghanistan, a remote-controlled bomb has struck a convoy carrying a provincial council member from Wardak province, killing a bodyguard and wounding five others.

Ghulam Reza drove near the councilor's car and saw the blast.

"I was driving about 250 meters from his vehicle and then we saw dust in the air, and we knew that something happened."

The attack occurred as the convoy was traveling west from Kabul province to Wardak.

Mohammad Rafi Tahiri, the provincial council member, escaped unhurt.

Another explosion on Saturday killed one policeman and wounded two in Kandahar.

CIA bomber purportedly shown in video calling for attacks on US

Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the man who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide attack in Afghanistan called for attacking U.S. in a video broadcasted before the suicide attack.

In the video clip, he said jihadists must attack U.S. targets to avenge the death of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. The group's longtime leader was killed in August by a CIA missile strike.

"This istishhadi (martyr) attack will be the first of the revenge operations against the Americans and their drone teams outside the Pakistani borders."

Al-Balawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian doctor with links to al-Qaeda, had been employed by the U.S. and Jordanian intelligence services.

The triple-agent blew himself up during a meeting on December 30 last year, killing seven CIA employees including the CIA's base chief.
The video confirmed the Pakistani Taliban was responsible for the attack.

Currency Devaluation in Venezuela Criticized

Opposition leaders in Venezuela have criticized President Hugo Chavez's decision to devalue the currency.

Alfonso Marquina, spokesman for opposition party Nuevo Tiempo, called the devaluation a blow to Venezuelans.

"The measures announced yesterday constitute a new Black Friday. The government imposes the most damaging of taxes on the Venezuelan people."

Chavez announced a dual exchange rate mechanism for the country's currency on Friday, devaluing it to 2.60 bolivars per U.S. dollar from 2.15, for the first time since 2005.

The devaluation is seen as a measure to stretch the government's oil earnings.

People fear products will be more expensive once the devaluation goes into effect.

"The general opinion is that prices will go up. I need to buy audio-visual equipment, and I am buying it now to avoid paying twice as much next month."

Venezuela's inflation rate of 25.1 percent in 2009 topped every other Latin American nation.

Light News

Google Apologizes to Chinese Writers

Online search behemoth Google has issued an official apology to Chinese writers who complained that the U.S. company's online library service violated the copyrights of their works.

Erik Hartmann is the Asia-Pacific head of Google Books, an online library which is available only to internet users in the United States.

"Google's online library service has caused dissatisfaction among Chinese writers and made them feel that their works' copyrights had been infringed upon. We apology for what we have done."

China Written Works Copyright Society, or CWWCS, a nongovernmental organization that represents writers on copywriter issues, says Google scanned nearly 18,000 books by 570 Chinese writers to include in its digital library without providing them any notice or remuneration.

Since last October, the writers have requested that Google apologize for the copyright violations and provide compensation.

Earlier, Google supplied a list of more than 80,000 Chinese works it had scanned into its digital library. But China's National Copyright Administration says the list is incomplete.

Zhang Hongbo, Deputy Director of the CWWCS, says Google will submit a final list of the books it illegally scanned at the fourth meeting between the two sides next week.

Google has already held three rounds of talks with the CWWCS, but the outcomes of those discussions were unsatisfactory.

China Pavilion Show Unveiled

The 2010 World Expo will open in Shanghai in May, and the indoor exhibition plans for the China Pavilion have just been unveiled.

According to the plan, a visit to the three-story China Pavilion starts on the third level which houses an omnimax theater. In the theater, visitors can watch an eight-minute movie documenting China's development process since its opening-up over three decades ago.

Walking out of the omnimax, visitors will see a huge multi-media projection of a Song dynasty classical Chinese painting.

Qian Zhiguang, Head of Shanghai Expo's China Pavilion says visitors will also feast their eyes on a vast green area in the pavilion.

"The vast green area reflects the relations between man and nature, and the prospects of urban-rural development."

From the 3rd floor, a rail car will take visitors to the 2nd floor where they will experience the wisdom of urban architecture and development.

The first floor showcases China's efforts in dealing with climate change. It is meant to give visitors a "low-carbon" experience. The tour of all three levels will last about 40 minutes.

The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai is slated from May 1st to October 31st. More than 240 countries and organizations have confirmed their attendance at the Expo.

Railway Stations Set up Special Booths for Migrant Workers and Students

Railway authorities across China are working to ease the long queues often seen in front of the ticket booths during holiday seasons as the annual Spring Festival draws near.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese studying or working away from their hometowns are preparing to rush home for family reunions across the country.

A railway station in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province has increased the number of ticket booths and set up special booths for students.

In addition, students are privileged to purchase return tickets in advance so as to ensure that they can return to school on time amid the holiday travel rush.

In Shanghai, enterprises with more than 100 migrant workers can buy group tickets for the Spring Festival season.

Yan Miao a migrant worker in Shanghai welcomes the new service.

"In the past, we had to work in the daytime and queue up to buy tickets at night. Even then, we were not necessarily assured of tickets. But now we will not worry about the tickets."

To prevent ticket hoarding during the holiday season, two Shanghai railway stations ruled that one person can buy a maximum of five tickets with one ID card. Usually, passengers can buy 20 tickets at a time.

Nationwide, the Ministry of Railways says train travel in the holiday season is expected to increase 9.5 percent over last year. Daily rail traffic will grow by 500,000 people to a record average high of more than five million a day.

Funeral of Indian Graduate Who Was Fatally Stabbed in Australia Held

The funeral of an Indian undergraduate, who was fatally stabbed in Australia earlier this month, has been held after his body was flown home to his family.

Hundreds of mourners paid their respects to the student in the northern state of Punjab.

Tim Huggins, an official from the Australian High Commission in India, offered condolences on behalf of the Australian government to the bereaved family and assured them that those responsible would be found and punished.

"The only other thing I would like to say today is that you can rest assured that Australian authorities are working very hard to find the culprits who did this and once they are caught they will be punished with the full force of the law."

Nitin Garg, who had a permanent residency in Australia, was stabbed in a Melbourne park while he was on his way to a fast food restaurant where he worked part-time.

The slaying of the 21-year-old prompted New Delhi to warn of a diplomatic rift unless Australia takes stronger action to protect Indian nationals.

Australian officials were quick to condemn the attack in Melbourne but urged waiting for the findings of a police investigation before judging whether it was racially motivated.

Some 97,000 Indians study in Australia, an industry worth almost 11 billion US dollars a year.

2010 CES in Las Vegas US: Innovation, ultimate savior of consumers electronics industry

The 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest consumer technology trade show, ended Sunday local time in Las Vegas, United States. The word most talked about at this year's show was "innovation", as companies, large and small competed to announce their new technologies. After a hard year for the consumer electronics industry in 2009, companies have all the more realized the importance of innovation to get out of the recession. To them, it's a rule of to "innovate or die". Our US correspondent shanshan is in Las Vegas to bring us more.

Media Digest

Chongqing Times: Dubai's Real Estate Bubble Is a Lesson for China

Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, opened recently in Dubai while the United Arab Emirates city continues to reel from its worst financial crisis.

An article in the Chongqing Times says China should learn a lesson from Dubai to guide its real estate market toward real prosperity instead of creating bubbles. It also says the Burj Dubai built amid the crisis seems more like a house built on sand, driving home the point that prosperity based on speculation is at best an illusion.

The article points out that the tower may face difficulty in finding buyers for all its apartment units and commercial space.

It notes that real estate markets in both Dubai and China face the same probleman overemphasis on stimulated prosperity and a neglect of the real economy.

The article says China's giant consumer market and huge amount of foreign investment may prevent the bubble in its real estate market from bursting as abruptly as it did in Dubai. But combined with the widening gap in people's incomes, the problem is no less serious.

The article says the world has seen many bubbles burst, and Dubai is unfortunately a victim of one of them. It says China, as a country whose economy has great development potential, should restructure its industries and stimulate its real economy instead of relying too much on its real estate market.

Chengdu Daily: Chinese Filmmakers Should Learn a Lesson form "Avatar"

The science-fiction movie "Avatar" recently set Chinese box offices on fire, sparking heated debate among local filmmakers and critics about why Chinese filmmakers do not produce such films.

A number of netizens even compared the ordeal of buying tickets to "Avatar" to trying to purchase a train ticket during Spring Festival, the holiday season when migrant workers flock home for family reunions.

A commentary in the Chengdu Daily says Chinese filmmakers have a lot to learn from James Cameron's latest blockbuster. It says "Avatar" has been successful not only because of its spectacular visual effects, but also because of the lesson it teaches to Chinese filmmakers.

The commentary quotes Chinese director Lu Chuan as saying that Chinese films are far from simple beauty, crystal-clear purity and passionate dreams. It suggests that instead of pursuing box office returns, Chinese filmmakers should also pay attention to the spiritual value of their movies.

The commentary adds that the unprecedented popularity of "Avatar" in China also indicates that Chinese films lack diversity. It says domestic directors often make films about wars, kung fu, or historical events, while few of them get involved in science-fiction movies.

The commentary says Chinese directors should add new elements to their films to cater to moviegoers' tastes, especially young people who are domestic cinemas' biggest customers.