News & Reports 2010-01-13

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-01-13

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In This Edition

China says its missile interception test adheres to the country's defensive military strategy.

China's central bank announces an increase of the deposit reserve requirement ratio.

Iran says three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and charged with espionage will stand trial soon.

And a nuclear physics professor at Tehran University has been killed by the explosion of a bomb-rigged motorcycle parked outside his home in Iran's capital.

Hot Issue Reports

Gov't Says Missile Interception Test Is In-line with Defensive Military Strategy

China's Foreign Ministry says its missile interception test has adhered to the country's defensive military strategy.

Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu made the remark at a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

"The test was defensive in nature and targeted at no country. It was in-line with the defensive national defense policy that China had always pursued."

Jiang says China has always taken a road of peaceful development, and the strengthening of its national defense development is intended to maintain its national sovereignty and security.

The test will neither produce space debris in orbit, nor pose a threat to the safety of orbiting spacecraft.

China conducted a test on ground-based midrange missile interception technology within its territory on Monday.

During the press conference, Jiang also said China opposes the United States having official exchanges with Taiwan.

She clarified the stance when asked to comment on Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou's trip to Honduras with a scheduled stopover in the United States.

Central Bank Raises Deposit Reserve Requirement Ratio by 0.5 Percentage Points

China's central bank has announced an increase of the deposit reserve requirement ratio. Analysts translate the increase as a move to manage inflationary expectations and avoid recurrence of lending boom.

US and South Korea Reject North Korea's Call for Peace Treaty Talks

The United States and South Korea have rejected North Korea's proposal to discuss a peace treaty before the resumption of talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

American officials say North Korea should first return to the six-party process first, and then begin discussions on the proposed treaty and other issues instead of the other way around.

Philip Crowley, a U.S. State Department spokesman, says if North Korea is sincere about a peace treaty, it will first have to show it with a decision to denuclearize.

"The key here is North Korea has to come back to us, say yes, come back to the six-party process, start working on its obligations under the joint statement and then we are perfectly willing to have other kinds of discussions."

Wang Fan, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China's Foreign Affairs University, has been following the matter.

"Apparently, they did not accept the peace talk proposal because they did not trust North Korea. I think both sides should make an effort to improve the situation, try to modify the mechanism of the six-party talks, and discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through a peaceful dialogue."

On Monday, North Korea called for talks with the United States on a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, Pyongyang said such a treaty would help revive the stalled six-party talks.

The Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean peninsula technically at war.

Iranian FM Spokesman: 3 U.S. Citizens Detained in Iran to Stand Trial Soon

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says three U.S. citizens detained in Iran and charged with espionage will stand trial soon.

The three American hikers were arrested by Iran last July after crossing into the country from neighbouring Iraq.

Speaking at a regular news briefing, the spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast did not give a date for their trial.

"Regarding the three detained US citizens, according to their charges, the judiciary will make a decision and we know that they will be tried soon."

Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said last month he expected a speedy trial for the three.

Also in December, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated the U.S. government position that the charges were totally unfounded and the hikers should be released.

Iranian Nuclear Physicist Killed in Bombing

A nuclear physics professor at Tehran University has been killed by the explosion of a bomb-rigged motorcycle parked outside his home in Iran's capital.

Massoud Ali Mohammadi had just left his house on his way to work when the remote-controlled explosion went off.

A witness describes the situation.

"It was about 7.30 a.m. when I heard a massive explosion, and the building trembled strongly, and I thought it was an earthquake. I was just getting up. I went outside and saw an uproar. Everywhere was covered with smoke and the aftermath of the blast."

Iranian state media blame the killing on the West, which is locked in a tense confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program.

One news website associated with a prominent member of the country's clerical leadership has singled out the United States and Israel.

It says the assassination was probably the work of an armed Iranian opposition group under the direction of Israeli agents.

The blast shattered the windows of Mohammadi's home in northern Tehran's Qeytariyeh neighborhood and scattered blood and debris on the pavement outside.

Iran denies any intention to produce weapons and insists its nuclear work only has peaceful aims such as energy production.

The United States and its allies in Europe have been pushing Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program, which could create fuel for power plants, but also offers a possible pathway to weapons development.

Israel has threatened to take military action if diplomatic efforts with Iran fail.

Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.

Baghdad Lockdowned for Coming Election

Iraqi security forces have locked down parts of Baghdad and are searching neighborhoods for car bombs.

In some areas of Baghdad, no cars are being allowed on the normally traffic-clogged roads, and some schools have been closed.

Um Abdullah, a Baghdad resident, says she was forced to turn back on her way to work in the morning.

"We went out, heading to the office in the early morning. We arrived at Jumhuria Bridge, and they told us, 'You should return home.' There are car bombs on the streets."

The large-scale security lockdown comes as Iraq prepares for crucial nationwide parliamentary elections in March.

Officials worry insurgents will try to launch attacks to disrupt the voting.

Baghdad has been rocked by a number of bombings in recent months, mostly targeting government institutions in the central part of the city.

Light News

Cold Weather Sweeps China

Cold snap continues to sweep across China, affecting coal and gas supplies in many parts of northern China.

In Xinjiang region, more than 150 vegetable greenhouses collapsed after heavy snow fell on to the roof of the greenhouses.

The clear up operation from last week's strong blizzard is continuing with help from the army.

After the biggest snowfall, temperatures in Beijing are expected to drop again this week, making the fuel demand, especially for coal, surge to a record high.

Beijing resident Wang Jinzhong lives in an old cottage, he says it is the coldest winter in Beijing.

"I'm using about 12 briquettes every day which is more than what I usually use in winters. It's been extremely cold these days and we have to put new coal into the stove more often."

Other northern cities in China are also experiencing the coldest winter in 20 years.

The bitter cold has prompted authorities to order rotating shutdowns of hundreds of factories in central China to ensure sufficient power to heat homes.

Shanxi Increase Coal Production against Cold Weather

Meanwhile, major coal mines in Shanxi Province are working hard on coal production and increasing the supply of coal and electricity, as the lingering cold weather and snowfalls cause a coal shortage in China.

Zhang Dongjian, a worker from Yungang Coal Mine, says mines are increasing their coal production.

"Most of the power plants only have coal reserves that could be used for three to seven days. For our company, we are trying our best to produce coal. Our daily capacity is between 10-thousand and 17-thousand tons. Recently, we are definitely doing what we can to meet the country's energy needs. "

Meanwhile, Shangxi is also enhancing its railway capacity to transport coal to other regions, increasing its daily railway load from 40 thousand to 45 thousand.

Shanxi province is China's largest coal producer, accounting for one-third of China's coal output.

China becomes top world exporter, but weakness remains

China has overtaken Germany to become the world's largest exporter, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs. But Chinese experts say the country is still far from being a real trade power.

China Overtakes U.S. as the World's Biggest Auto Market

Chinese auto sales and output both exceeded 13 million in 2009, overtaking the U.S. to become the world's biggest auto market.
The growth is attributed to a series of favorable government policies that have helped promote the development of the industry.

Novel "Confucius" Released to Public

Depicting the most famous figure in Chinese history, the novel "Confucius" is drawing the most attention among this year's literary offerings at the Beijing Book Fair.

Hu Mei, the author and director of an upcoming movie based on the book, says the bestseller describes the tumultuous era more than two thousand years ago during which the sage lived.

She says the legendary life of Confucius has deeply influenced Chinese society to the present day.

Gu Qing is Deputy Editor in Chief of Zhonghua Book Company, the publisher of the masterpiece.

"We have prepared this book for three years and amended it a couple of times. This novel also includes the precious materials that the director of the movie referred to and her contributions to and explorations of the field of Chinese art. Compared with the movie, I should say the content of the book is much more intact."

Confucius continues to have global appeal for his insights on many aspects of society.

The novel is also expected to dominate the offerings in China's English-language press this year.

Online and mobile-phone versions of the book are also available to readers.

Confucius was an ancient Chinese philosopher whose thoughts about government administration and education are still cherished around the world today.

Media Digest

Beijing Youth Daily: Adopt Market Principles in the Book Market

In accordance with the regulations of book trade issued on January 10th, new books published for no more than one year should be sold at full price in solid bookstores and be given no more than 15 percent discount on the internet or for membership owners. The limitation upon the discount of books is aimed to change the situation of vicious competition in the book sales market which considers discounts as the most important competitive edge.

A commentary in Beijing Youth Daily says the act is expected to benefit publishers and bookstore owners. However, consumers may not buy the books for high price and it will eventually lead to a decrease in sales.

The author says the reason behind the chaos lies in the pricing system. Publishers in China set the price of books in accordance to their printed sheets, rather than the market demand and the quality of the books. Thus the price is usually deceptively high and has to be adjusted to cater to readers.

It adds that the act to limit the discounting of books is just a stopgap measure and will not solve the problem. Instead of administrative intervention, the article says related departments should adopt market principles to ensure the healthy development of the publishing industry. University Assessment System Is to Blame for Academic Corruption

Chinese universities have been rocked by academic corruption cases, including instances of plagiarism and the publication of bogus research.

Recent research conducted by a Wuhan University group estimates that the turnover from the sale of academic dissertations and publications is about 146 million U.S. dollars a year.

A commentary on the website says the rigid and unscientific assessment system at Chinese universities is to blame for such academic offenses.

The commentary notes that Chinese universities usually require their professors to publish a certain number of research papers to receive promotions and salary increases. Some professors pay others to research and write for them.

The commentary argues that the academic assessment system has strayed far from the true mission of universities. Even though the scholars want to maintain their academic integrity with their research work, many find that the number of papers they are required to publish is overwhelming.

The commentary argues that Chinese universities should emphasize humanistic values and quality in their academic assessment systems for professors instead of only focusing on how many works they publish. Otherwise, it says, university education will forfeit its meaning and the reason why modern society values it.