News & Reports 2010-12-05

源 稿 窗
字号 +
字号 -
Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2010-12-05

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

In This Edition

China stresses at the Cancun talks that principles of Kyoto Protocol should be honored.

The Spanish government declares a state of alarm over air traffic chaos in the country triggered by a wildcat strike.

The wildfires blazing through northern Israel continue despite battling efforts by international firefighters.

And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on politicians in Haiti to respect the law and avoid violence during the presidential election.

Hot Issue Reports

China Reiterates Its Persistence on the Kyoto Protocol

Dialogues and debates have been going on for the 5th day of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico.

Representatives of China have reiterated the country's persistence on the Kyoto Protocol as its basic negotiating position. CRI's He Fei has the details.

Reporter: While any sign of progress has yet to emerge, a hardline declaration by Japan dropped a bombshell at the talks in Cancun when it announced on Wednesday that it would not inscribe its target under the Kyoto Protocol on any condition and under any circumstances. The latest Japanese stand cast shadow for the prospect of the talks, and caused concern among delegates to the conference.

Huang Huikang, deputy chief of China's delegation points out that principles of Kyoto Protocol should be honored.

"Convention and the KP, Kyoto Protocol provide legal basis for international efforts to combat climate change and also point out the direction for our future action. In short, in any balanced outcome to be produced in international climate change negotiation, there must be continuation of KP, there must be a second commitment period. Without these elements, there going to be no balanced outcome at all."

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Japan in 1992 by major emitting countries, who committed themselves to cut emissions by an average 5.2 percent on 1990 figures by 2012.

Japan's opposition to extending the Kyoto Protocol has met strong criticism. In response, Japan's representative at Cancun Akira Yamada arguesd:

"Japan doesn't want to kill "Kyoto". Japan only said that Japan would not accept the second commitment."

Besides Japan, other countries including Russia and Canada hold similar positions that they will not accept a second commitment period, when the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012. Statements by those nations have added worries that a legally-binding document on continued emissions control would not be adopted at all.

However, China's representative Huang Huikang still calls on parties to keep the momentum of the current talks to lay a good foundation for the final outcome in next year's conference in South Africa.

"We must maintain a balanced approach even for those most controversial issue, we must make our efforts to move forward not staying the same position and further, not backward."

And European Union representative Laurence Graff said she was optimistic about the prospect of the talks.

"I would say that the Kyoto Protocol is there to stay. We're working very hard to improve it and things as I said are moving in the right direction."

Graff added that the Kyoto Protocol itself will not be good enough to solve the climate change problems and it needs collective efforts to meet the global challenge.

For CRI, I'm He Fei.

Spanish Military Takes over Airspace after Controllers Strike

Spain's military took control of the nation's airspace Friday night after air traffic controllers staged a massive walk-out that stranded at least 330-thousand travelers on the eve of a long holiday weekend, forcing the government to shut down Madrid's big international hub and seven other airports.

About six hours after Spain descended into total travel chaos, Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba announced that the Defence Ministry had taken control of air traffic in all the national territory.

If enough controllers don't show up for work on Saturday to restore normal flight operations, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero plans to declare a national emergency that would force them to do so.

Angry passengers waited in huge lines for hours until giving up when it became clear their flights would not depart.

21 year old Suhaddy Pena from New York complains:

"I mean I think it sucks because I wanted to go home today but it's fine. I don't mind an extra few days in Madrid."

Handfuls of passengers made it out of Madrid to destinations like Barcelona and Lisbon, Portugal, on buses provided by airlines.

But the vast majority were forced to go home or to hotels with no information on when they might make their cancelled flights. Some slept in the airports.

Spain's airport authority, known as Aena, said authorities were in contact with Europe's air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, and the United State's FAA about how best to deal with arriving international flights.

The controllers abandoned their posts amid a lengthy dispute over working conditions and after Zapatero and his ministers approved a package of austerity measures on Friday.

More than 5,000 flights were scheduled for Friday, and about 3,000 departed or landed before the walk-out began in the late afternoon.

European Investment Bank Agrees to Second Green Loan for China

The European Union's financing arm, the European Investment Bank, has agreed to issue a second 500-million-euro loan to China to help fund projects related to climate change.

The second loan, which comes after the first loan agreement signed three years ago, will be spent on projects that contribute to reducing gas emissions.

Magdalena Alvarez Arza, Vice President of the EIB, says the first loan produced successful results.

"I would like to share with you that all the projects that benefited from the first group of loans performed effectively by cutting three million tons of carbon dioxide annually."

Cash from the new deal will be injected into a variety of projects, including investment in hydroelectricity, wind farms and solar energy.

China plans to produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 from less than 9 percent in 2009.

Industry sources have said China is considering investments of up to 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars over five years in seven strategic industries, including alternative energy, alternative-fuel cars and energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies.

Arza defended the loan to China made amid the current dismal financial situation in Europe.

"The European Investment Bank never stops investment or lending activities within the EU. We actually increased our support to stimulate the European economy and also to counter the negative impact of the financial crisis. As you know, it is mostly the private sector in the EU that suffered the most from the crisis."

Forest Fire in Israel Still out of Control

The wildfires blazing through the Carmel forest in northern Israel is still out of control after 3 days and nights although international firefighters have handed out aid. Our Jerusalem correspondent Xiaoyu has more.

Reporter: Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli Police Spokesman said on Saturday that it will take 1-2 days to take the wildfire under control, and another week to fully extinguish it:

" At this moment in time, our main efforts are in fact to continue keeping people in a safety zone, safety area. The fire is still not completely under control, the emergency services are working in full coordination, but it will take time and it could be up to 24 to 48 hours."

Strong wind and high temperature make firefighters' work extremely difficult. Investigations are continuing and initial result said that negligence was probably the reason that started the fire. Micky Rosenfeld again:

"The initial result that we have at this moment is that it took place as a result of negligence. Our units are continuing that investigation, which is obviously going be a thorough investigation in order to find exactly why it started in the way it did, and will make arrests in the near future."

The fire has so far killed 42 people since Thursday noon. Thousands of acres of forest are burnt down and 17,000 people have been evacuated. New fires are still taking place around Haifa, the third largest city of Israel.

Since Saturday, at least 20 fire-fighting aircrafts from both Israel and other countries have been battling the blaze. Prominent was a Russian plane which is the world's largest of its kind with the ability to hold up to 42,000 liters of water.

Help also came from Turkey which has been critical of the deadly raid in May on a flotilla bound for Gaza during which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Israeli Foreign Ministry is coordinating all foreign aids, which have involved 19 countries so far. Here is foreign ministry official David Salanga:

"Right now we have 21 airplanes already landed in Israel. 16 of them are fighting the fire, the rest 5 came with fire-fighting equipment. We are really grateful to those foreign aids and we need them at this moment to fight this catastrophe."

But effort so far doesn't seem good enough. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday continued to contact foreign leaders for additional fire-fighting equipment and materials.

For CRI, I'm Xiaoyu in Jeursalem.

Ban Ki-moon Calls on Political Actors to Avoid Violence During the Election in Haiti

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on politicians in Haiti to respect the law and avoid violence during the presidential election.

"While some violence and disruptions on election day are not exceptional in Haiti, the irregularities now seem more serious than initially thought. Whatever the complaints or reservations about the process, I urge all political actors to refrain from violence and to start discussions immediately to find a Haitian solution to these problems before a serious crisis develops. All involved must respect, and be seen to be respecting, the legal framework. Political leaders must put the national interest ahead of personal and partisan ambitions."

Ban's comments come one day after some 2,000 protesters marched in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince demanding a rerun of last Sunday's elections they said were skewed by fraud.

Preliminary election results are expected to be announced next Tuesday. The presidential race among 18 candidates is widely expected to go to a deciding second round, provisionally on January 16th.

Ban also briefed the General Assembly on the latest number of Haitians affected by the cholera epidemic.

"As you know, the epidemic has spread to all 10 departments of the country as well as the capital Port-au-Prince. The Ministry of Public Health reports that the number of deaths has exceeded 1,800, and the number of infections is approaching 81,000. The World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization estimate that the outbreak could affect as many as 650,000 people in the next six months."

Brazil Supports Portugal in Overcoming Debt Crisis

President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pledged his country's support for Portugal as the European Union nation tries to overcome its debt crisis following a call from its Prime Minister for cooperation.

Investors believe Portugal will be the next euro zone country after Greece and Ireland to ask for help as its borrowing costs have risen above sustainable levels, while its economy lacks competitiveness and growth is very slow.

Portugal is likely to need a rescue package of 45-60 billion euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and may not get through the year without seeking a bailout.

Speaking to foreign journalists in Rio de Janeiro, Lula said both countries would meet to see if they could boost Brazilian investments.

"Portugal's Economy Minister will come to Brazil to talk with Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega to see what we can do to help Portugal more with investments. And we are going to make all the efforts we can to help Portugal, so it can get out of this crisis faster."

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates insists Portugal can survive without a rescue and that his austerity budget of tax increases and public sector wage cuts will keep the country afloat.

But many economists believe a bailout is just a question of when, not if, and some expect it could happen before yearend if Lisbon is persuaded to tap EU funds preemptively in an effort to stop the euro zone sovereign debt crisis from spreading to Spain.

Socrates said more integrated policies were needed to tackle the crisis.

"Nowadays, the world needs to rearrange political agendas to face global challenges. And if we could select one global challenge, without a doubt it would be the economic and financial crisis. This demands more cooperation between countries and more cooperation too to change what is necessary to change in the regulation of financial markets."

Portugal has completed its bond issuance program for 2010, and its next bond redemption is due in April when it must repay 4.5 billion euros.

While a Portuguese bailout would be manageable, assistance for neighboring Spain would sorely test EU resources and raise deeper questions about the integrity of the single currency bloc.

China's Appetite for Luxuries Grows

China has overtaken Japan as the world's second-largest consumer of diamonds, second only to the United States, according to the just-concluded 2010 China Diamond Forum.

What' fueling this jaw-dropping increase in luxury spending? What are Chinese people's attitudes towards it?

On the one hand, China has a booming luxury consumption market; on the other hand, the country is still plagued by glaring income disparities. How can the Chinese government solve this conundrum? Our reporter Zhao Jianfu has more.

Reporter: Diamond sales in China are brisk. Data from the Shanghai Diamond Exchange indicate that from January to October this year, diamond imports for consumption reached 1 billion U.S. dollars, up 80 percent over the same period last year. During the same time span, sales conducted through and within the Shanghai Diamond Exchange almost reached 2.1 billion U.S. dollars, a 75-percent increase year on year.

What are the driving forces behind this significant jump in diamond purchases?

An official from the Shanghai Diamond Exchange management office provides some insight.

"The booming market is driven by the increasing demands of Chinese consumers who have more disposable income and increasingly better taste in fashion. Moreover, the Chinese government has lowered taxes involved in importing diamonds. For instance, import tariffs have fallen to zero, consumption tax to 5 percent from 10 percent and value-added tax to 4 percent from 17 percent. Therefore, more and more importers prefer the formal and standardized exchange market."

But if you examine the issue on a deeper level, the question that naturally arises is why have Chinese consumers been buying more luxury goods such as diamonds over the past two or three years?

As everyone knows, the last few years have witnessed an economic downturn both at home and abroad. Many people have invested in luxury items, fearing their financial assets would drop in value.

One shopper who identified herself as Ms. Liu talks about her luxury spending.

"I buy luxuries quite often. Actually, I just bought a ruby ring worth 800,000 yuan last month. It is not just a fashionable thing, but a kind of investment."

Meanwhile, this kind of luxury spending is in sharp contrast with China's social development level. It is reported that a handful of wealthy Chinese have already made their way into the top tiers of the global personal-asset ranking. But this group accounts for only 0.2 percent of China's total population of 1.3 billion people.

But the country's growth has been plagued by a growing divide between the rich and poor. That is seen in glaring urban and rural inequities as well as escalating tensions between ordinary people and local and regional governments.

Peking University Professor Li Chengyan says the central government should align local and regional government administration with the interests of ordinary people.

"Tackling the social issues popping up during China's development is the major task of the central government, and it is well within its capacity. Through making appropriate policies, the government can drive and facilitate the solving of this problem. If necessary, the government can also adopt mandatory measures."

Li is calling on government at all levels to recognize the severity of these social issues and sharpen its teeth in addressing these bumps on the way ahead.

He also says people should have faith in the central government's ability to address these issues with temporary and mandatory intervention or policies.

For CRI, I'm Zhao Jianfu. Ending Preferential Treatment of Foreign Firms Creates a Fair Market

Beginning this month, China began to levy a city maintenance and construction tax and education surcharge on foreign-invested enterprises, signaling the start of a fully unified national tax system for domestic and foreign companies.

The Chinese government says the new move to unify the tax system is consistent with relevant World Trade Organization provisions and an indication that China is gradually moving toward common international rules.

An editorial published on the website affiliated with the "Nanfang Daily" says the policy has greater implications for foreign firms than just the actual financial burden of taxes. It points out that the "super national treatment" foreign-funded enterprises used to enjoy is a thing of the past.

The editorial says the old tax exemption policy proved to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helped attract foreign investors when the county was in desperate need of funds and technologies in the beginning days of opening-up three decades ago. While on the other hand, it induced tax evasion, and prevented a fair market environment from coming into being. There have even been fake foreign funded companies as a result.

The editorial goes on to say the new move indicates that China is no longer a country that seeks the greatest amount of foreign investment possible, regardless of quality.

It notes that with the levy applied, China could have difficulty attracting additional foreign investment. However, a fair market environment is the only way to China's continued development and the abolishment of super national treatment is just a start to creating such an environment.

Fighting AIDS in China

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Health reveal that roughly 44,000 new HIV infections were reported as of the end of October this year, bringing the total number of reported people living with HIV and AIDS in China to more than 370,000.

AIDS-related deaths in China reached 68,000, compared to 26,000 in 2009, implying that the country is moving towards the top of a curve, where most AIDS patients who were infected a decade ago or even earlier are reaching the end of their lives.

An editorial in the China Daily says this by no means suggests the country's efforts to prolong the lives of the infected have been in vain.

But bias and discrimination still hinder effective monitoring and early intervention, which makes preventing the spread of the virus more difficult.

The article says the estimated number of HIV/AIDS cases is around 740,000 nationwide. Discrimination keeps many with the disease from reporting their cases and getting government-funded treatment and related services. This is particularly true of sex workers, drug users and those who have homosexual sex.

The China Daily editorial says the central government should have a new plan for controlling HIV/AIDS in the next five years. This includes intensified public information campaigns about HIV/AIDS and prevention, faster HIV detection methods at the community level, compulsory rehabilitation of drug users at the community level, strengthened management of blood transfusions, intensified care and treatment of AIDS patients and more research into new drugs.

However, according to the editorial, there is a long way to go to fight people's traditional prejudice against homosexuals. It says that creating a society where homosexuals can be frank about their sexual orientation is important, not just to relieve the country of the anxiety that they may become a major source of infection, but as part of the efforts to build an inclusive society.

The article concludes that getting rid of discrimination is the key weapon to fighting the spread of this disease.