News & Reports 2010-08-29

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-08-29

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

In This Edition

Officials from China and Japan meet in Beijing for the third High-level Economic Dialogue aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two nations.

China's northern port city of Tianjin gears up for the fourth Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also dubbed as the 2010 Summer Davos.

US President Barack Obama reassures that American troops are to pull out of Iraq despite the upsurge in violence.

And with miners facing months of confinement, NASA will send a team of experts to Chile early next week to assist the government in maintaining the health of those trapped.

Hot Issue Reports

Third China-Japan Economic Dialogue Held in Beijing

China and Japan have met in the Chinese capital city of Beijing for their third High-level Economic Dialogue.

Issues such as economic recovery, bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the region, and the current international issues were discussed.

Senior officials from departments concerning bilateral trade and diplomatic relations including Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Chinese vice-Premier Wang Qishan attended the dialogue.

Wang Qishan says the two economies are highly interdependent and the dialogue has succeeded in promoting bilateral cooperation.

"We've discussed further cooperation in areas such as high-end manufacturing, energy-saving, environmental protection, food safety and product quality. The two sides have agreed to remove the barriers in trading farm produce and transferring technologies, and to make detailed cooperation plans."

Bilateral trade and mutual investment are two pillars of Sino-Japanese economic ties. Since the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1972, the two-way trade volume has increased from $1 billion to over $266 billion in 2008.

Though bilateral trade dropped by 14 percent in 2009 because of the global financial crisis, it rose drastically in the January- June period this year. This year's bilateral trade is predicted to reach at least the 2008 level.

Jiang Ruiping, an expert on the Japanese economy says the dialogue plays a positive role in economic cooperation against the backdrop of regional economic recovery.

"Through bilateral cooperation, the two sides should expand regional market demand to ensure freedom from dependence on markets in Europe and the U.S. It will benefit the stable economic development of both sides, as well as East Asia as a whole."

Experts also predict that cooperation in the industries of environmental protection and new energy has great potential between the two countries.

"The environmental protection and energy-saving industries have developed quite well in Japan. The country also boasts advanced technologies in these fields."

"China has a big market for advanced technologies in environmental protection. If Japan eases restrictions on exporting the technologies, it will help with China's economic transition."

Japan is China's third largest trade partner, after the European Union and the United States. Beijing became Tokyo's largest trade partner in 2007, and Japanese exports to China topped those to the US in 2009.

The first High-level Economic Dialogue was held in December 2007 in Beijing and the second one in June last year in Tokyo.

Tianjin Gears up for Summer Davos

China's northern port city of Tianjin is gearing up for the fourth Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also dubbed as the 2010 Summer Davos.

Convened by the World Economic Forum, the meeting is scheduled to be held from Sept.13 to 15, attracting more than 1,000 registered participants from over 80 countries and regions.

Under the theme of "Sustainable Growth," political leaders, scholars, and business executives will discuss 25 main topics, ranging from energy and education to the development of medium and small enterprises.

Moreover, five residents from the host city will participate in the meeting, the first time in the history of the World Economic Forum.

Currently, applicants for citizen representative are going through several rounds of selection which involve lectures, interviews and debates.

Zhu Jun, director of the Tianjin Preparatory Office of the meeting, says those who win the competition will be able to attend the meetings and share their own perspectives and observations.

"By selecting 5 representatives, we hope to build a platform for ordinary citizens to learn more about Davos. Through the platform, we can exhibit the image of the people of Tianjin to the world on one hand, and promote Davos and the new achievements of our social and economic developments on the other. We are also giving our people the opportunity to contribute their wisdom and strengths towards Tianjin's economic development."

The Geneva-based WEF is best known for its annual meeting at the Swiss winter resort of Davos, while the Summer Davos in China is focused on newly emerging businesses and nations.

This is the second time for Tianjin to host the meeting in two years.

Obama Says Sticking to Pull out of Iraq Despite Violence

US President Barack Obama left no doubt on Saturday in his weekly radio address that the US is sticking to its promise to pull out of Iraq despite the upsurge in violence.

"On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq, and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war. Like any sovereign independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all our troops will be home."

He emphasised that US troops would continue to support and train Iraqi forces in the months ahead, as well as protect US civilians and military efforts in Iraq.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Iraq's prime minister put his nation on its highest level of alert for terror attacks, warning of plots to sow fear and chaos as the US combat mission in the country formally ends on Tuesday.

Insurgents have intensified attacks on Iraqi police and soldiers, making August the deadliest month for Iraqi security personnel in two years.

Pakistan Vows to Protect Foreign Aid Workers Against Attacks from Taliban

Pakistan's government has vowed to protect foreign aid workers against attacks from the Taliban who have issued a veiled threat against relief organizations helping out in the country's flooding crisis.

The Taliban threat is likely to complicate the massive relief effort, while more than 8 million people are in need of emergency assistance across the country.

Pakistan's information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira says the Taliban are trying to use the crisis to their advantage.

"The Taliban are basically threatening the whole nation, the whole world. But their capacity and capability is now not that much. And whosoever, the aid workers, health workers who have come here, federal agencies and the provincial agencies, like police and others, as well, we will provide them proper security."

The United Nations, the Pakistani army and a host of other local and international relief groups have been rushing aid workers, medicine, food and water to the affected regions, but are unable to reach many people.

UN Human Rights Body Rebukes France for Crackdown on Roma Commmunity

A United Nations human rights body has rebuked France for its crackdown on the Roma community and urged Paris to integrate members of the minority group rather than send them to eastern Europe.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meeting in Geneva, accuses France of targeting the Roma as a collective group instead of dealing with individual cases on their own merits.

Pierre-Richard Prosper is the committee's vice chairman.

"We understand that a state has a right and responsibility to deal with security issues and issues of immigration and illegal immigration, but our view is when you are doing so, it should not be on a collective basis. You should not be targeting a group as a whole."

French human rights ambassador Francois Zimeray, defending his country's approach, accused the international community of hypocrisy on the issue.

He said he wanted to know why the UN wasn't spending more time investigating what he described as the discrimination the Roma face in their own country.

"Our goal is not to add more drama to the existing drama or more suffering to the existing suffering, but to try to put an end to a situation that is no longer tolerable, and that, in the name of human rights. There must be an end to this hypocrisy."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come under strong pressure over his decision to expel hundreds of Roma and put them on planes to Romania.

The Roma are one of the largest and poorest ethnic minorities groups in Europe.

NASA to Help Rescue Underground Miners

With miners facing months of confinement, NASA will send a team of experts to Chile early next week to assist the government in maintaining the health of those trapped.

Facing one of the most complex rescue operations ever attempted, the Chilean government is looking to space and the ocean depths for ways to help the 33 miners endure several months underground.

Dr. Michael Duncan is leading the NASA team, which consists of two physicians, one psychologist and one engineer.

"NASA has had a long experience in dealing with isolated environments, particularly on the space station. We train and plan contingencies for emergencies."

In addition to giving advice on how to keep the miners physically and mentally healthy, NASA will also help to send space mission-like rations down to the men.

The miners were found alive 17 days after a cave-in at a small gold and copper mine in Chile's remote north, but it could take up to four months to dig a rescue tunnel.

The case is already noted as one of the longest periods that trapped miners are known to have survived underground.

Rescuers are preparing to drill a shaft around 2 feet in diameter to evacuate the miners one by one via a pulley.

The miners have not yet been given an exact time-frame, but officials have promised the miners will be with their families by Christmas.

Hiroshima Mayor Wins Asia's Equivalent of Nobel Peace Prize

Hiroshima's mayor has won Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize for spearheading a global campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Tadatoshi Akiba was one of five winners of the Ramon Magsaysay prize, an award named after a popular Philippine president who died in 1957.

Akiba was honored for his work in keeping alive the memory of the Hiroshima bomb and its horrific aftermath.

He started a travel grant program enabling foreign journalists to visit the city and meet survivors.

Akiba told reporters he wanted to work with others around the world to create a nuclear-free world.

"We feel greatly encouraged by the recognition given by the Magsaysay Foundation that we are on the right track, and we would like to work together with the citizens of the world, cities of the world, in persuading national governments to work with us, to work with the United Nations to create a nuclear weapon-free world as soon as possible."

Other winners are Chinese photographer Huo Daishan, Bangladeshi disabilities campaigner A.H.M. Noman Khan, and husband-and-wife scientists Christopher Bernido and Maria Victoria Carpio-Bernido from the Philippines.

The formal awards ceremony will take place on August 31st.

Probe into Migrant Killings Continues in Mexico

At least 14 bodies have been found in different spots around the tourist city of Acapulco, located southwest of Mexico City on Friday.

The grim discovery was made as investigations continued into the deaths of 72 migrants, whose bodies were found following a shootout at a ranch in Reynosa.

State security officials say the bodies discovered in Acapulco all had gunshot wounds and were bound and blindfolded.

The Zetas, a group of former Mexican army special forces who now run a powerful, lethal drug gang that have taken to extorting migrants, are suspected of carrying out the massacre.

The government's chief security spokesman said the migrants were apparently slain because they refused to help the gang smuggle drugs.

In a further development, two car explosions took place early Friday morning less than 45 minutes apart in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northern state of Tamaulipas near where the 72 slaughtered migrants were found.

President Felipe Calderon called the killings "barbaric homicides."

"This week's tragedies include the barbarous homicide of immigrants and what happened today, the blasts using car bombs in Tamaulipas."

Officials say more than 28-thousand people have died in gang related violence since 2006 in Mexico.

Mexican immigration agents have rescued 2,750 migrants this year, some stranded in deserts and others who were being held captive by organized crime gangs.

In Tamaulipas alone, agents have rescued 812 migrants kidnapped by drug gangs.

Many of those migrants have told authorities the cartels tried force them into drug trafficking.

Paul Hogan Fails to Overturn Travel Ban

Australian Actor Paul Hogan has failed to overturn a travel ban served on him by the Australian Taxation Office.

The ATO served the departure prohibition order on the "Crocodile Dundee" star a week ago over an ongoing row about an alleged unpaid multimillion-dollar tax bill.

Hogan's lawyer, Andrew Robinson, has met with the ATO to try to reach an agreement that would allow Hogan to return to his home in the United States.

"Unfortunately, a resolution wasn't reached that would allow Paul to depart the country, although we have agreed to engage in further correspondence, hopefully over the weekend, with a view to maybe having a meeting early next week to see if a resolution can be reached."

Some Australian media outlets have reported Hogan's tax bill is more than 150 million Australian dollars.

Robinson says the reports are not true.

"The amount is less than that, but it's an amount that's very significant and is more than Paul has the ability to meet."

70-year-old Hogan lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Linda Kozlowski, and their son, Chance.

Hogan has been embroiled in a row with the ATO for the past five years.

Baby Tiger Found in Bag at Thai Airport

Authorities at Bangkok's international airport found a tiger cub that had been drugged and hidden among stuffed toy tigers in the suitcase of a woman flying from Thailand to Iran.

Authorities made the discovery after the woman, a Thai national, checked in and her bag was sent for a routine x-ray because it was overweight.

The x-ray showed what appeared to be a live animal inside. A toy tiger was beside it in the suitcase in an apparent ploy to fool inspectors.

Nirath Nipanant of the airport's wildlife checkpoint:

"I was a bit shocked because an animal isn't supposed to be treated like this. Had the animal passed the oversize baggage check and had gone through four to five hours of travel, its chances of survival would have been slim."

The cub, estimated to be about three months old, was sent to a wildlife conservation center in Bangkok. Officials there said it appeared exhausted, dehydrated and was unable to walk.

The 31-year-old woman was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport before boarding her Sunday flight.

Officials said she faces up to four years in prison and a 1,300 U.S. dollar fine for two wildlife smuggling-related charges.

The woman denied the bag belonged to her and said another passenger had asked her to carry it for him.

China Daily: Beijing Must Convince Citizens to Drive Less

The estimated 7 million cars in Beijing by the year 2015 point to extreme traffic congestion by then, given the limited room for road expansion.

Research by Beijing's Traffic Development Research Center indicates that the Chinese capital will reach full road capacity when the number of vehicles hits 6.5 million.

The city now has more than 4.5 million cars, and at the present rate of growth, the total number of motor vehicles is forecast to be 7 million by 2015. It is estimated that the average speed will be less than 15 kilometers per hour during rush hours by that date.

An editorial in "China Daily" says the rapid growth of the number of registered vehicles and high vehicle use already have added to the problems of traffic congestion and air pollution. It suggests that encouraging more residents to use public transportation is the most effective way to solve these problems. This can be achieved by expanding the city's public transportation network and making it more convenient for residents to travel to work by bus or subway. The editorial also suggests that increasing the cost of driving is another way to reduce car use.

The editorial goes on to say that much needs to be done to increase people's awareness that driving less not only eases traffic congestion, but also improves air quality. Making everyone in the city realize that driving less benefits us all is the final solution to the problems caused by the excessive number of vehicles on the road. Government Should Regulate Gray Income

A report issued by a Beijing-based economic development research group on China's potentially high level of unreported income reached 5.4 trillion yuan, or 790 billion US dollars, in 2008.

It says China's average urban household income was 90 percent higher than the official data in 2008, claiming that the official figure failed to include unreported, or gray, income.

The report quickly came under fire by the government. Officials at the National Bureau of Statistics said the figures were unreliable because of many flaws, including how samples were chosen and calculations were made. They said the final result was significantly higher than the country's actual level of unreported income.

An editorial on expresses disappointment with the official response. It says the country's level of unreported income is not only an academic issue but also a social problem. Instead of simply questioning the report, the National Bureau of Statistics should take action to investigate gray income to clarify the issue.

Furthermore, the editorial notes that for a long time gray income has been a controversial topic because of a lack of regulations to define and investigate it. Thus it is difficult to legally crack down on gray income even though many people know that it is closely connected with corruption.

The editorial argues that it is the government's duty to clarify how gray income should be calculated and who is earning it. No matter how much people earn from gray income, the government should take action to deal with it.

The editorial also points out that only when government officials have a clear understanding of all the questions surrounding unreported income can an open and transparent income distribution system be developed and social equality and justice be achieved.