News & Reports 2011-01-16

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-01-16

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

In This Edition

Chinese scholars and experts believe President Hu Jintao's upcoming state visit to the US will mark the beginning of high-level political exchanges between the two countries for the second decade.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton elaborates on American strategy on relations with China, saying the United States welcomes China as a rising power.

Looting, deadly prison riots and street chaos engulf Tunisia in a day after mass protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee.

And voters in Southern Sudan begin celebrating after the end of a week long independence referendum, a poll that is widely expected to lead to the creation of the world's newest country.

Hot Issue Reports

Experts: Strenthening Mutual Trust is a Primary Task between China and US

As Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit the United States next week, experts on China-US relations call the visit significant and timely, addressing that its principal objective should be to increase mutual trust between the two countries.

CRI's Zhao Jianfu reports.

Reporter: Chinese scholars and experts believe President Hu Jintao's upcoming state visit to the US, scheduled for Jan. 18-21, will mark the beginning of high-level political exchanges between the two countries for the second decade of the millennium.

Zhou Wenzhong, former Chinese Ambassador to the United States, speaks optimistically on a cooperative China-US relationship in the new decade, citing close bilateral economic ties.

He says the upcoming visit will help ease trade friction between the two sides.

"China and the U.S. are now each other's second largest trading partner. China is the fastest-growing export market for the U.S. Most Chinese commodities don't threaten sales of local commodities in the U.S., but largely benefit U.S. consumers instead, which helps curb inflation in the U.S. economy."

During the new five-year economic and social development plan period which starts this year, China has set a target of imports, totaling eight trillion yuan or over 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars.

As the Obama administration aims to double its export volume, Zhou Wenzhong believes the huge Chinese market would remain attractive to the U.S.

Besides economic cooperation, military ties are an important part of the China-U.S. relationship.

Ma Zhengang is the director of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

He says communication on the military sphere between China and the US is picking up, and cooperation progressed over anti-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and piracy on the high seas.

However, he admits that challenges and conflicts remain, for example U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which seriously hamper the two sides to strengthen mutual understanding and trust.

"The primary task is to strengthen mutual trust without the out-dated Cold War mentality and behavior. The two sides should see each other as cooperative partners rather than competitors. China has no problem in improved bilateral relations with the US. It's the United States that should take more initiative in this common effort."

Still, some scholars point out that growing mutual trust and consensus between China and the United States will also have great positive influence on security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region, as elaborated by Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Regional security and prosperity is in accordance with mutual interests of both countries. Military efforts can not solve Korean Peninsula issues and the process of nuclear non-proliferation still faces challenges. Looking back to the past century, the Korean Peninsula was the bone of competition of big powers. Today, however, important issues such as international security are being addressed by the big powers in joint effort. This is progress of our time. I strongly believe that common prosperity and non-proliferation of nuclear weapon or any weapon of mass dustruction in the Asia-Pacific region will benefit both China and the US, particularly when American investment in the region has surpassed that of Europe."

Experts say that as China-U.S. relations have gone through twists and turns since President Barack Obama took office; it's timely that leaders of both countries meet again and set a framework of bilateral relations for the next decade.

For CRI, this is Zhao Jianfu.

Clinton Lays out U.S. Strategy on Ties with China, Welcomes China's Rise

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has laid out an American strategy on relations with China, reaffirming that the United States welcomes China as a rising power.

She made the remarks in a speech delivered at the State Department ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the U.S. next week.

"Some in the region and some here at home see China's growth as a threat that will lead either to Cold War-style conflict or American decline, and some in China worry that the United States is bent on containing China's rise and constraining China's growth. We reject those views. In the 21st century, it does not make sense to apply zero-sum 19th century theories of how major powers interact."

Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is practicing robust regional engagement in the Asia-Pacific, working to build trust between China and the United States, and committed to expanding economic, political and security cooperation with China wherever possible.

"America and China have arrived at a critical juncture, a time when the choices we make -- big and small -- will shape the trajectory of this relationship. And it is up to both of us to translate the high-level pledges of summits and state visits into action. Real action, on real issues."

Clinton said cooperation between the U.S. and China could make a significant impact on international development and security issues.

Tunisia Annouced Curfew after Locals Destroy Property with Ties to Ousted President

Looting, deadly prison riots and street chaos have engulfed Tunisia in a day after mass protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee.

looters emptied shops and torched the main train station, soldiers traded fire with assailants in front of the Interior Ministry, and thousands of European tourists sought a plane flight home in the capital city of Tunis, where basic commodities, fresh vegetable and bread are becoming scarce.

In the tourist town of Hammamet, local residents destroyed the businesses and properties of Ben Ali and his wife's closest family members, out of anger.

"We are regaining our rights everywhere. Everything that was taken has to be given back to the people."

"Tunisia is for Tunisians."

Fouad Mebazaa, leader of the lower house of parliament has been sworn in as a new interim president, promising to create a coaliation government with the long-ignored opposition.

It was the second change of power in this North African nation in less than 24 hours, after Ben Ali was reportedly out of the country.

The Tunisian government has declared a state of emergency, banning any gathering involving more than three people.

The Arab League issued a statement on Saturday, calling on the Tunisians to join forces and reach a national consensus that would pull them out of the current political crisis and guarantee the constitutional interest of Tunisians.

Vote Counting Begins in Sudan

Voters in Southern Sudan have began celebrating after the end of a week long independence referendum, a poll that was widely expected to lead to the creation of the world's newest country.

Ohisa Allam is the Polling Chief for John Garang Mausoleum.

"We have already sealed the ballot box and we will go for a break and after an hour we will be back to count."

While in the northern capital Khartoum, individual polling station results indicate that more voters root for unity, since they don't want their lives to be disrupted.

Meantime, as Michael Rider, the Special Representative for the United Kingdom to Sudan says, the voting process has been peaceful.

"The over all impression that have emerged throughout the process is that it has been both calm peaceful and well organised, so I am not expecting at this stage to encounter any major differences of opinion about that."

According to officials, 83 percent of those registered in the south and 53 percent of those registered in the north had cast their votes.

Individual polling stations will begin posting their results later, while official results will be released in early February.

Sudan's ruling party in the north said earlier that it was ready to accept southern independence.

However, border demarcation, oil rights and the status of the contested region of Abyei remains to be negotiated.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon has welcomed the end of the week-long polling period for the Southern Sudan referendum, calling on the Sudanese to show patience and restraint for the final result.

He also extended his gratitude to all donor countries whose contribution has facilitated the process.

Envoys Leave for Tour of Iranian Nuclear Site

A delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency has began its week long tour of Iran's nuclear sites.

Without participation of Russia, China, the European Union or key allies Turkey and Brazil, the tour may blunt Tehran's attempts to gain support from major powers ahead of crucial talks on its atomic activities.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said the tour is an indication of Iran's transparency in regards to nuclear activities, but had nothing to do with a formal IAEA inspection.

"EU made a relation of this visit to the IAEA inspection which is unjustified because this is a visit by ambassadors to the IAEA, this has nothing to do with the inspection of the IAEA. However, Russian friends and China they welcomed this positive initiative. They had a preference about the timing or some sort of arrangement. But anyway as I said, whoever joins us, they are warmly welcomed."

Soltanieh said they would visit Iran's central Natanz enrichment facility.

During the tour, Iran will unveil two new nuclear products in its Arak Heavy Water establishments.

The nuclear tour is days ahead of a crucial talk between Iran and six world powers in Istanbul.

The six powers want discussions to focus on broader aspects of Iran's nuclear program including its refusal to freeze enrichment despite four sets of UN sanctions.

Death Toll in Indian Stampede Expected to Rise

An Indian stampede has already claimed 109 lives and the number is expected to grow as some injured remain in critical condition.

The stampede was set off on Friday night when a group of pilgrims in a jeep drove into a crowd of worshippers along a narrow forest path.

The local member of Parliament, P. T. Thomas, explained that the crowd was returning from offering prayers at the hilltop Sabarimala Shrine in the southern state of Kerala.

"One of the importance of this place is it is the place where the devotees can see the 'makar vellaku' (holy light) from there, that is why the pilgrims are rushing (up) this path. The stampede is one of the notable tragedies ever Kerala witnessed."

The annual two-month festival attracts millions of worshippers to the remote temple of the Hindu deity, Ayyappan.

The ceremony Friday marked the end of the festival and an estimated 150,000 devotees took the narrow path where the stampede happened.

The incident is the third and worst mishap involving Sabarimala pilgrims.

UN to Wrap up Peace Mission

The United Nations peace mission to Nepal has ended after a four-year engagement that helped end the rebel insurgency.

The UN's blue flag was lowered at the mission's office in Katmandu.

Karin Landgren, head of the UN mission in Nepal, gave a speech at the ceremony and met with Nepalese officials.

"Today, we symbolically lower the flag for the closure of the mission, which officially comes to an end tomorrow at midnight. A small mission liquidation team will remain to complete administrative withdrawal matters".

It is unclear who will take over then.

The government says a special committee will monitor the peace process and the ex-fighters, but the rebels have not agreed to that deal.

Arms monitors will remain at camps, as political parties have yet to reach any agreements over whether to integrate former rebels into government security forces.

The rebels fought government troops for a decade until 2006 when they joined the peace process.

More than 13,000 people died in the fighting.

Be Cautious of Rented Clothes for Year-end Party

In the lead-up to the Spring Festival, most companies are preparing their year-end parties, which is one of the highlight events in a year for many white collar workers. Many companies rush to rent stunning costumes, which may add to a happy atmosphere. Therefore, most costume rental shops recently have seen a business boom.

Zhang Wan has more.

Reporter: What impressed you the most at your previous year-end party? You probably say: colleagues personating film clips. Such kind of segment often appears in the year-end parties.

According to a costume rental shop in Shanghai, the most popular costumes are those appearing in movie blockbusters, for example Avatar's jumpsuit, as well as the mah-jong mask in the movie, "Let the Bullets Fly." The shop owner says they are nearly out-of-stock.

"Every day we get at least ten deals with an average turnover of about 4,000 yuan. It's already at the peak season, which usually comes at the end of a year. Many movie costumes have been out of stock."

However, this situation makes many white collar workers worried. Ms. Zhang who works at an international company is responsible for their year-end party preparations. She says she started to prepare for the party a little bit late this year. She is afraid several expected shows probably have to be canceled due to a lack of costumes.

"As for costumes, we only got Avatar's jumpsuit so far. Therefore, the only way out for me is to make bookings with other companies who got those costumes that we expect, after they finished their year-end party, we borrow costumes from them."

More demand brings higher prices. Some costume shop owners say prices of costume rental increased 20 percent in the run up to the Spring Festival. One piece of costume for the chorus costs between 30 to 150 yuan, while a robe for the host is about 5,000 yuan.

Many shop owners say this is the only peak season for the year.

"During the peak season, our shop is usually full of customers. But during light season, we only receive one or two customers a day. 75 to 80 percent of our revenues come from year-end parties."

Nowadays, most costume rental shops are small-scale private businesses. In the once-a-year peak season, they probably don't bother to clean and sanitize the returned costumes before they rent them out again.

Dermatologist Huang Minghuan, says these unsterilized costumes may bring asthma or skin diseases.

"If a costume has been rented by someone suffering from an itch, it could be polluted by the virus. It would be hard to wipe out the virus through washing or simply ironing the costume."

Huang Minghuan adds that if you keep the polluted costume with other clothes, or wash together with other clothes those clothes can be polluted. Experts suggest not to wear the rented costume next to your skin.

For CRI, I am Zhang Wan.

China Daily : Real Cost of Auto Boom

China's auto sales hit 18 million last year, a 32 percent surge from the previous year and far surpassing sales in the United States.

The figures ensured the country's position as the world's biggest car market for a second year and pleased automakers at home and abroad, as well as policymakers with increased government coffers.

However, a commentary in the China Daily raises doubts if the auto boom is really all that promising, warning the looming costs brought about by the boost.

The article says though most local governments have taken measures to ease their ever-worsening traffic jams, few have realized the seriousness of a growing dependence on foreign crude oil, given that China must import more than half of the crude oil that it consumes annually.

The author analyzes that as China aims to double the domestic consumer's income in the next five years, a continuous boom in the car market is predictable, which certainly will increase the country's dependence on foreign crude oil, and possibly send international oil prices through the roof.

It's reasonable for local officials to focus on easing daily traffic congestion; automakers to strive for better quarterly performances. And no one can really expect individual car drivers to figure out their contributions to the country's growing dependence on foreign oil.

But, the author stresses that the challenge that our energy security faces demands an immediate and powerful national response.

The author suggests that as administrative controls on car purchases will probably not choke the growth of the Chinese auto market, increasing the oil prices may be an effective alternative.

Media Review on a Fraud Case

A recent court case in Henan Province has aroused nationwide discussions as a farmer was sentenced to life imprisonment for toll evasion.

To avoid paying toll fees, the farmer purchased fake military vehicle license plates for his vans in addition to fake military uniforms and driving licenses for his drivers as military vehicles are exempt from paying toll fees.

It's been reported that he escaped paying toll fees of some four million yuan, or about 556,000 U.S. dollars in just eight months.

A commentary on the Beijing News says this large amount of toll fees is what really shocks the public.

The local court has proven with evidence that the number of toll fees are legally correct.

Given that, compared with the 200,000 yuan income the farmer earned during that eight months time period, the article says the amount of money he should pay is unimaginable and ridiculous, which reflects the Chinese transporters' miserable burden caused by high toll fees.

The articles points out that not only do transporters suffer from expensive toll fees, ordinary people are also victims, since they must pay for commodities that is charged with unreasonably high toll fees.

An article from slaps the punishment as unreasonable and heavy.

The article points out that it's improper for the farmer to be convicted of fraud, since he didn't take that huge amount of money out of his behavior, but just to avoid paying for the service he enjoyed from the toll fee charger.

Latest reports have said that the case will be retried in court at a later date.