News & Reports 2010-10-31

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-10-31

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

In This Edition

ASEAN and partners summit concludes in Hanoi with leaders' commitment to further strengthening strategic ties and comprehensive cooperation.

Yemeni authorities have arrested a woman and searched for other suspects believed to be linked to al-Qaida over a plot to mail bombs powerful enough to down a US bound cargo plane.

And Crowds of visitors from across China flock to the Shanghai World Expo to catch a final glimpse of the international extravaganza before it ends Sunday night.

Hot Issue Reports

Chinese Scholar: Shared Interests Outweigh Disputes between China and ASEAN

Ten Southeastern Asian nations and other neighboring countries have concluded talks at the annual summit of the regional bloc in Hanoi, Vietnam.

During the meeting, leaders of both sides expressed their commitment to further strengthening their strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation, and agreed to adopt the new Plan of Action for the period of 2011-2015.

Addressing the trade partners from the ASEAN, Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, says he hopes trade volume could reach 500 billion dollars before 2015.

He says China is willing to set up a special trade area for ASEAN members.

International relations expert, Su Hao,from the University of Foreign Affairs in China, says ASEAN stands as a huge market with many industries. China can do business with both the industrialized and developing members of ASEAN. China has an advantage that most major economic powers do not have.

"ASEAN has both industrialized and developing members. The development level in different regions in China also differs, which makes it possible that China could find business opportunities with all of them."

Cross-border trade is the most active part of China-ASEAN cooperation, with trade volume topping 200 billion US dollars in the first three quarters of this year, more than 40 percent than the same period in 2009.

China has become the largest trading partner for ASEAN, since a trade pact went into effect earlier this year.

ASEAN Head Urges Consolidatation of Regional Group

Meanwhile, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will formally invite the United States and Russia to join its annual East Asian Summit in the Vietnamese capital.

With more regional and global powers joining the regional meeting, the group's head Surin Pitsuwan has urged the member countries to get their act together especially when it comes to forging common views on global issues.

"The leaders have been very much engaged on the issue of the role of ASEAN in the new global community. They use the word 'ASEAN centrality'; they use the word 'ASEAN as a driving force,' that ASEAN would like to maintain its centrality, its leadership. So we came up with this package of arrangements that will make ASEAN more consolidated, more connected."

Supported by the ASEAN Charter which came into effect in 2008, the regional group of countries seeks to form common positions on security, economy and culture.

Pitsuwan says the confidence toward a more consolidated international voice lies in the grouping's strong rebound from the economic downturn.

"We are confident enough. We are recognized, and we have been given opportunities, for example at the G20. With various international forums, ASEAN is recognized as a successful story."

The ASEAN countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The East Asian grouping comprises the 10 southeast Asian countries along with six others, including China, India, Australia and Japan.

Yemen Arrests Mail Bomb Suspect

Yemeni authorities have arrested a woman and searched for other suspects believed to be linked to al-Qaida over a plot to mail bombs powerful enough to down a cargo plane.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh says the United States and the United Arab Emirates have provided him with information.

But he also says Yemen does not want foreign interference in domestic affairs.

"Yemen insists with its allies in the international community to fight terrorism by cooperation in exchange of information. We do not want anyone else to interfere in Yemen affairs and to fight al-Qaida in Yemen. We are the ones who will fight al-Qaida with our planes and equipment. We will fight them anywhere in Yemen."

The unnamed young woman, described as a medical student and the daughter of a petroleum engineer, has been arrested along with her mother on the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa.

Authorities on three continents have scrambled to check planes from Philadelphia in the US to central England, recovering two live explosive devices in Chicago.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron says the device found at England's East Midlands Airport was designed to go off on the aircraft.

A second device containing explosives was found on a cargo plane in Dubai.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the speed in which US authorities were able to identify and segregate the packages is the key to the success of the operation.

"We were able, with the systems we already have in place, to immediately identify the packages, to segregate them, to begin looking at them from a forensic standpoint, really analyze what's in them, and go further and put in place rules for the enhanced protection of cargo and passengers, particularly coming out of Yemen."

Several US officials including President Barack Obama say they are increasingly confident that al-Qaida's Yemen branch, the group behind the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas, is responsible for the plot.

Indonesian Volcano Evacuees Sleeping in Tents

Nearly 50-thousand evacuees that fled the slopes of Mount Merapi are sleeping in temporary shelters, while alert levels for Indonesia's most active volcano remain at their highest level.

An elementary school is serving as evacuation barracks for villagers, about 10 kilometers away from Merapi.

"I will stay here in the shelter until the situation returns to normal, or the government lowers the alert level. We are closely watching Merapi's status."

The series of eruptions have killed at least 32 people.

The band of volunteers tending to the evacuees includes soldiers, college students and Red Cross workers.

Sukris is working in a kitchen prepared meals for more than 3,000 evacuees.

"We will stay here until the alert level is lowered by the government to standby status. And here, we provide food for 3,260 evacuees."

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Anak Krakatau volcano in East Java, has spewed ash and flaming rocks.

Local residents have been told to stay at least two kilometers away from the volcano.

Biodiversity Talks End with Call for 'Urgent' Action

Nearly 200 nations have agreed on a 10-year plan aimed at preserving nature at a United Nations biodiversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan.

The sweeping deal hopes to stem the loss of species by setting new 2020 targets to ensure greater protection of nature and enshrine its benefits for mankind.

Environmental ministers have also agreed on rules for sharing the benefits from genetic resources from nature between governments and companies, a trade and intellectual property issue.

Japanese environment minister and the meeting President Ryu Matsumoto hails the accomplishment and new targets as a step towards preserving the natural biosphere.

"We were able to create ambitious yet practical post-2010 goals without undue delay. I believe that the setting of the Aichi target will have an extremely large meaning for the future of biodiversity."

Another part of the deal, the Nagoya Protocol on genetic resources, has taken members nearly 20 years to agree upon. It sets rules governing how nations manage and share benefits derived from forests and seas to create new drugs, crops or cosmetics.

Karl Falkenberg, head of the European Commission Environment Department, says the protocol could unlock billions for developing countries where much of the world's natural riches remain.

"We will be able to remunerate access to genetic materials that will increase the livelihoods of many, many people. So I think it's for everyone a very good result, and I'm very happy that we did it tonight here in Nagoya."

Most developing countries are pleased with the measures aimed at ensuring they get a share in profits from products made from plants and other organisms.

Delegates say the outcome will send a positive signal to troubled UN climate negotiations set to resume in Cancun next month. The UN climate change talks have been bogged down by a split between rich and poor nations over how to share the burden of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

China to Close 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Crowds of visitors from across China have flocked to the Shanghai World Expo to catch a final glimpse of the international extravaganza before it ends on Sunday.

According to official figures, 70 million people had visited the Expo as of last Sunday, meeting the authorities' target and putting it well ahead of the previous record of 64 million visitors held by the 1970 Osaka World Expo.

For many like Zhang Shanglei, it is too big an event to miss.

"Usually on the weekends there are lots of people, so today I took a day off especially. Otherwise, I'd miss it. I've asked lots of people, and they all say 'Seeing the Expo is pretty exhausting, but if you don't see it, you'll regret.' It's a rare opportunity."

China says it spent $4.2 billion on preparing for the eventdouble what it spent at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It has been the most expensive and largest Expo to date.

China hoped its Expo would be an opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of its economic transformation.

Shuan Rein, Managing Director of consultancy firm China Market Research Group, says a more relaxed attitude to hosting the mega-event has paid off.

"What I think that the organizer of the Expo did very well, which I think helped its soft power globally, was that they didn't overreact to some of the security concerns. I think in the run-up to the Olympics, the government made it very difficult for people to get visas, they shut down all outdoor terraces and even banned the sale of a lot of kitchen knives. I think at the World Expo they were able to have a safe, secure event over a six month period without potentially, or perhaps overly, being overly cautious."

China's Guangdong Province has already applied to host the World Expo in 2020.

The 2015 Expo will be hosted by Milan, Italy.

Experts Share Views on Sustainable Development at the Expo

The 2010 Shanghai Expo, with a focus of urban innovations and sustainable development, showcased the best of the world's beauty.

It has also drawn heated discussions among scholars about the future of China's developments and how to achieve a more sustainable world.

They shared their perspectives on these issues before attending the Summit Forum, at the Expo.

Chen Zhe reports.

Reporter: As a Nobel Prize winner in economics, Michael Spence shows great interest in how China should sustain its economic growth in a globalized world.

He believes China will succeed, but says the economic transformation won't be easy.

"There're at least three major transitions going on at the same time. One is the mid income transition and that's when the income is forced to change in the composition of economy. The second transition is the economy has to be driven by the increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers. That means the income has to be shift structurally. Third, China by far has reached a point of having huge systemic global effects and a much lower level of income than any predecessor. So China has to do a balance between the domestic growth and participate in the management of a stable and global financial system."

He says the West is wrong to focus on the Renminbi appreciation and assume the situation will change. What the global economy really needs from China is its successful structural transformation and high growth rates.

Though economic prosperity is very important, the core of sustainable development should mainly be on energy consumption.

Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1984, Carlo Rubbia, calls for more financial support as inadequate investment on new energy development worldwide has hindered the utilization of renewable energy.

"Obviously, the problem is both political and economical. The main reason comes from the fact that today we are reinvesting into research and development an extremely small fraction of the value which is represented by the use of fossils, coal. We are not putting in enough money in order to make sure the new forms of energy can be developed successfully. The point is science is ready and technologies are ready to take the positions. But very little money is invested into the actual progress of this. "

To add to Rubbia's opinion, Du Weiming, Chair Professor of Chinese History and Philosophy at Harvard University, says human beings should not depend solely upon scientific innovation to achieve sustainability.

"Given the huge consumption of energy, scientific innovation won't solve the problem of sustainable development and the survival of human being. Human beings have to change their attitude, behavior as well as belief of living. This change should start from developed countries U.S. and the West."

The researcher adds that human beings should try to live better by consuming less.

He believes Chinese philosophy should be utilized to help create a sustainable world as it highlights the importance of harmony between humanity and nature.

For CRI, I'm Chen Zhe.

Insiders Call for Long Term Plans for "Hope Primary Schools"

China has been dismantling and merging some charity-funded primary schools in rural areas.

While the public feels bad about the shutdowns, insiders see them as a necessary step for the integration of education resources nationwide. He Fei has the details.

Reporter: Professor Fan Xianzuo of Huazhong Normal University researches the allocation of rural primary and middle schools in China.

He says one of the main reasons for the merger of charity-funded primary schools in rural areas is the shrinking of the rural population due to the country's one-child policy and the growth of the migrant worker population.

He says many of these schools are short on long-term plans.

"These schools,which are generally known as 'hope primary schools' in China, are funded by private persons or organizations. Therefore, they lack general plans for the big picture. Some local governments set up these schools blindly as long as there are donations."

Fan Xianzuo says the merging and dismantling of charity schools is a part of the country's overall plan to integrate its educational resources.

The number of primary schools in rural areas nationwide has decreased by nearly sixty percent in the last two decades.

Wang Wei, who has been doing charity projects in rural primary schools, points out that some problems must be resolved to make the process better.

"Many schools are short of support facilities such as canteens and dorms to accommodate all students after the mergers. As the schools in villages are shut down, many students have to walk a long way and live in the new school. The living cost and safety become additional burdens for their families."

Tu Meng, General Secretary of the China Youth Development Foundation, a major power in building charity schools, agrees.

He says his organization will focus more on improving schools' support facilities as there are now enough classroom buildings.

"As the number of schools decreases, the demands on each school to accommodate more students increase. Therefore, building support facilities such as canteens and student dormitories has become our priority."

Besides, Wang Wei, the NGO volunteer, says in the long term teaching quality and the teachers' welfare will become more important for charity schools. He points out that the government should have a clear general picture of charity schools to avoid blind investments.

For CRI, I'm He Fei.

Dongfang Daily: Social Insurance Law Needs Improvements

China's top legislature has adopted the country's first social insurance law after reading it four times and releasing the draft to the general public for feedback.

An editorial in "Dongfang Daily" notes that the law was long in the making because legislators constantly added in administrative regulations and policies issued by ministries and commissions under the State Council. But the editorial argues that the law still lacks an institutional investment management system for social insurance funds.

The Social Insurance Law, which takes effect on July 1, 2011, seeks to prevent the improper use of social security funds, while guaranteeing a new endowment insurance system for rural residents. It specifies that all citizens have a common right to access and enjoy five kinds of insurance, including pension, medical, employment injury, unemployment and maternity insurance.

The editorial notes that two of the highlights of the new law are that it allows employees to transfer their basic endowment insurance accounts from one location to another should they move, and it promises a new endowment insurance system for rural residents.

The old regulations restricted movement of the country's increasing migrant population by creating obstacles to basic social insurance for people living and working outside their birthplaces.

The new law establishes a medical payment system that will allow medical insurance bills from one place to be repaid in another. Citizens also will be allowed to pay their pension premiums in one place and withdraw the funds in another.

But the editorial also says the country's first social insurance law will not please everyone because of some of the flaws it contains based on many historic and realistic limitations. For instance, the law does not thoroughly define the responsibilities of the National Council for Social Security Fund.

In conclusion, the editorial says lawmakers must make more efforts to create a safe and sound supervisory and investment system for the country's social insurance funds.

Tobacco Control in China

A smoking ban in public venues, including restaurants and bars, will be imposed nationwide in about two months. The government pledged to ensure that all public places, workplaces and public transportations will go smoke free by January 2011.

But, an editorial in the China Daily raised doubts about whether the smoking ban will be strictly enforced.

According to the Ministry of Health, 50 million Chinese teenagers smoke and more than 50 percent of them are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places.

With 350 million smokers, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world's total, the country is hooked on nicotine. Fifty-three percent of men, aged 15 and older, smoke regularly. About 1 million people die of smoking-related deaths each year.

The editorial contends that by January 2011, the tobacco industry will be prohibited from advertising and sponsoring events. The government however has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the ban will be enforced.

China ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty introduced in February 2005.

Beijing must implement effective methods to reduce tobacco use.

In reality, the China Daily argues that the reverse seems to be occurring. The rate of smoking has not changed significantly, and tobacco production has risen. The government needs to make good on its pledge to make public places in the nation clear of smoke.