News & Reports 2010-06-06

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-06-06

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

In This Edition

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's leading economies agree on the need to cooperate in fending off financial market turmoil and keeping the world recovery on track.

China and Russia have urged relevant sides to exercise restraint and maintain their calm on the Korean peninsula situation.

Israeli forces seize a Gaza-bound aid vessel without meeting resistance, preventing it from breaking a naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory days after a similar effort turned bloody.

And marking the World Environment Day, Environment Minister says China will make continued effort to raise energy efficiency and cut pollution.

Hot Issue Reports

G20 Finance Ministers: Governments Must Put Their Public Finances in Order

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's leading economies have agreed on the need to cooperate in fending off financial market turmoil and keeping the world economic recovery on track.

In a statement, the Group of 20 endorsed rescue policies for Europe and the need to rebalance growth by supporting more domestic demand and greater trade by developing countries.

Yoon Jeung-hyun, South Korea's minister of strategy and finance and host of the meetings, read out the statement after the meeting.

"The recent events in Southern Europe highlight the importance of sustainable public finances and the need for our countries to put in place credible and growth-friendly measures to deliver fiscal sustainability. Those countries with serious fiscal challenges need to accelerate the pace of consolidation."

The euro plunged to a four-year low on Friday, partly on concerns that Hungary could be facing a debt crisis similar to that of Greece.

The G20 agreed to speed up work on global banking reforms so leaders can consider proposals at a summit in Seoul in November.

The aim is to agree rules to beef up banks' capital buffers and to discourage the sort of excessive leverage and risk-taking that sowed the seeds of the last financial crisis.

The G20 abandoned a proposal for a global bank levy, but agreed that the financial sector should make a "fair and substantial contribution" towards any future government bailouts.

South Korean President Urges UN to Take Action Against North Korea

South Korea officially referred the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the UN Security Council on Friday over the sinking of a navy ship that killed 46 sailors and urged the UN's most powerful body to take action.

The letter was delivered hours after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a hard-hitting speech in Singapore, calling North Korea a liar and a threat to Northeast Asia.

Lee demanded that North Korea "admit its wrongdoing" and promise never to take such action again.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pledged American support for South Korea.

"(We) very strongly support the international approach that you took to the investigation, and we want to reassure you and the people of the Republic of Korea that you have the full support and backing of the United States."

Frosty relations between the Koreas have deteriorated further since the sinking of the warship, and tensions have increased in northeast Asia.

An international investigation found the South Korean ship was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine.

The Security Council now has several choices, including a resolution with or without new sanctions against North Korea, a weaker presidential statement calling for specific actions, or a press statement.

China, Russia Urge Restraint on Korean Peninsula Situation

Meanwhile, China and Russia have urged relevant sides to exercise restraint and maintain their calm on the Korean peninsula situation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability during his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"We condemn and are opposed to any action that damages peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. We believe that the six-party talks provide an effective means to achieve the goal of non-nuclearization on the peninsula as well as long-term peace and prosperity in northeast Asia. It is in the interest of all relevant parties that the talks be resumed as soon as possible."

Lavrov said extreme action should be avoided, and the issue should be resolved through political and diplomatic channels.

"Both Russia and China are deeply concerned about what is happening on the Korean peninsula. We hope that relevant parties seek whatever political and diplomatic means acceptable by all to settle the issue, so as to maintain peace and stability in northeast Asia. Russia and China will do all they can in this respect."

BP Makes New Attempt to Collect Crude Oil in Gulf of Mexico

BP engineers have adjusted a new cap placed over a broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, trying to collect the crude oil gushing into the sea and now polluting four US states.

The inverted funnel-like device was set over the leak late on Thursday. It started pumping oil and gas to a tanker on the surface overnight, but it wasn't clear how much. Engineers hoped to close several open vents on the cap throughout the day in the latest attempt to contain the oil.

On his third trip to the oil-stained Louisiana Gulf Coast in a month, U.S. President Barack Obama said he sees some progress in fighting the enormous oil spill but it's "way too early to be optimistic" about BP's latest control effort.

"We've just got to make sure that we find out what happened and that those who are responsible are held responsible, that we fix whatever is wrong. We're still going to need oil production, but we've got to make sure that we do it in the right way."

He also sharply criticized BP over plans to pay 10.5 billion US dollars to shareholders while Gulf Coast residents faced economic hardship.

Earlier on Friday, BP put off a decision on whether to suspend paying its next quarterly dividend as some U.S. lawmakers had demanded.

Afghan Delegates Hash out Peace Statement on Final Day of Jirga

An Afghan national peace conference has urged the government to take formal steps toward negotiating with insurgents, boosting President Hamid Karzai's plans to open talks with the Taliban.

The conference, or jirga, said militants who joined the peace process should be removed from a UN blacklist that currently imposes travel and financial restrictions on some 137 people associated with the Taliban.

The conference also said that insurgents who want to take part must cut their ties with "foreign terrorist groups," a clear reference to al-Qaida.

The recommendations followed three days of deliberations among some 1,500 delegates aimed at ending nine years of fighting.

In closing remarks to delegates, Karzai called on insurgents to take advantage of the opportunity to forge a lasting peace.

"Use this opportunity. This is the voice of the Afghan people, and this is the voice of peace. Embrace it, come and join us so that we can rebuild our country with our own hands, and make it peaceful and stable."

But any reconciliation talks were likely to remain a long way off.

No active members of the Taliban and other militant groups took part in the conference in Kabul. Taliban suicide attackers attempted to disrupt the opening of the conference on Wednesday.

Seized Aid Ship Rachel Corrie Arrives in Port

Israeli forces seized a Gaza-bound aid vessel swiftly and without meeting resistance on Saturday, preventing it from breaking a naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory days after a similar effort turned bloody.

The 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie, which was carrying 11 pro-Palestinian activists, nine crew and hundreds of tons of aid, was intercepted in international waters, about 20 miles from Gaza's shore and was escorted to the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod.

The Rachel Corrie, whose passenger list included Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan, had hoped to breach a 3-year blockade that has plunged Gaza's 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty.

Israel has faced mounting international pressure to lift the blockade since Monday's deadly confrontation aboard a Turkish aid vessel headed for Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the blockade in remarks following the takeover, saying it was meant to keep weapons out of the hands of the Iranian-backed Hamas.

But Hamas official Ahmed Yousef accused Israel of "piracy."

The Palestinian Authority's economics minister, Hassan Abu Libdeh, echoed his words.

"This is another assertion that Israel behaves as a country above the law. They don't feel that they are accountable to anything, therefore they can do anything they want."

Turkey, one of the most outspoken critics of the Gaza blockade, said on Saturday that it is seeking condemnation of the previous Israeli raid at a June 7-8 summit of a 20-member security group for the Asian region.

China Marks World Environment Day

Saturday, June 5th is World Environment Day. China's Ministry of Environmental Protection organized a meeting on Friday to mark the day. Participants agreed that China has made remarkable improvements in many areas of environmental protection.

Sixth China-Russia Women's Culture Week Opens in Moscow

The sixth Women's Culture Week as well as the fourth Women's Forum between China and Russia began on Friday in Moscow.

Sergei Mironov, Speaker of the Russian Federal Council, or the upper house of the parliament, extended a warm welcome to the inauguration of the event themed "Women and the Economy."

Calling the strategic partnership of cooperation with China one of the top priorities for Russian foreign affairs, Mironov said the long-time collaboration between Russian and Chinese women has made great contributions to the deepening of mutual friendship and understanding.

Chen Zhili, Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, said China and Russia have conducted multilayer, multisector and multifaceted cooperation, as bilateral relations are on a fast track of comprehensive and profound development.

"The friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation between Chinese and Russian women have continued to expand, deepen and grow stronger."

The China-Russia Women's Culture Week, as a regular mechanism for bilateral interactions, has become a pivotal platform for Sino-Russian cultural exchanges, in particular the exchanges between women that show the friendship between the two countries.

Is South Africa Ready to Host World Cup?

With the start of the World Cup fast approaching, construction in and around Soccer City continues.

Heavy digging equipment and traffic barriers line many of the approach roads to the stadium, with vehicles often backed up by ongoing roadworks.

However, FIFA's Secretary General Jerome Valcke is still confident that South Africa is ready to host the World Cup.

"I think that not only we are ready, that's not anymore the question, now we have to deliver this World Cup that's the main goal we have. It's to ensure that you can have the best, but you have to make sure this beautiful machine will work from the 11th of June to the 11th of July and that's where we are spending all of our time, days and nights to deliver a perfect World Cup, for South Africa to show to the world that it was the best place to organise this World Cup."

As the main venue for the World Cup tournament, Soccer City has already hosted two big games, but did not start testing facilities for capacity crowds until just a few weeks before the opening match.

Meanwhile, soccer fans have been buying their World Cup tickets despite technical difficulties preventing many from getting their admissions.

Six weeks ago, ticketing problems meant a massive 500,000 seats were still unsold.

FIFA has meanwhile also faced criticism that tickets are over-priced for African soccer fans.

While ticket costs have been reduced for South African customers, the prices for fans in the rest of Africa are the same as for fans in Europe, North America or Asia.

More People Seeking Psychological Counseling in China

The recent spate of extremely violent cases and suicides across the country has called public attention to mental health issues. More people are now resorting to psychological counseling as an outlet for their negative emotions.

China Daily: Campaign Against False Gov't Data May Not Achieve Desired Effects

The National Bureau of Statistics and the ministries of supervision and justice, have embarked on a high-profile campaign to combat the production and use of incorrect government statistics and false data.

The campaign specifically targets data for industrial and grain output, investments in fixed assets, residents' income, energy consumption and GDP-related information.

An editorial in "China Daily" says the joint effort to restore credibility to the country's statistics is in many ways an urgent response to stem the loss of public trust in government data collection.

It says public skepticism has been directed chiefly at the statistical arm of the government, which has been ridiculed for releasing data contradicting basic commonsense assumptions. Local officials also have been castigated for concocting statistics that win approbation from superiors bent on boosting GDP figures.

The intense scrutiny will reportedly cover data collection, compilation, reporting and publication. Inspectors have been tasked with completing a four-stage process that aspires to clear up major problems between May and September.

But the editorial questions whether the five-month campaign will achieve the desired effect and warns that we should not count on it to solve the problems with government statistics once and for all.

Media Reports: Subsidies for New Energy Cars May Lead to More Emissions

The Chinese government is set to introduce a pilot program to subsidize the purchase of electric and hybrid cars in select cities.

Residents of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Hefei and Changchun who purchase plug-in hybrid cars will be entitled to receive a subsidy of 50,000 yuan, or about 7,300 U.S. dollars. The maximum subsidy for a full electric car will be 60,000 yuan.

While many say the new policy is in line with China's plans to cut emissions in what is now the world's largest car market, others have voiced concerns that the so-called green cars may create more emissions.

An opinion piece in the "Shanghai Evening Post" points out that the electricity that powers electric cars is mainly generated by coal in China. It quotes an expert who said we should be on guard against the pollution produced in the process of new energy generation. It also notes an energy source cannot be described as "clean" if it produces pollutants in the process of generating power.

Echoing this sentiment, a commentary on SZ argues that the rising demand for electric cars generated by the subsidies will lead to high power consumption and the creation of more carbon emissions. It notes the new emissions will not be found in big cities where more electric cars will be seen on roads as a result of the subsidies, but will be generated in the provinces of Shann'xi, Shanxi, Hebei and Henan, which have a large number of fossil-fuel power plants.

In conclusion, the commentary says it is ridiculous for the government to push for low-carbon lifestyles in big cities at the cost of environmental degradation in provinces that are rich in resources.