News & Reports 2011-01-30

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-01-30

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

In This Edition

Egyptian security officials say at least 62 people have been killed nationwide in riot in the past two days.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signs ratification documents of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the U.S., saying it is an important moment for both nations.

Key global trade officials call for efforts to liberalize international commerce before the end of the year.

And Rwandan rebel leader, accused of mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, made his first appearance in front of the International Criminal Court in Hague.

Hot Issue Reports

Protest Continues against Government Ruling, Looting Sweepting the City and Egyptian Museum in Danger

Egyptian security officials say at least 62 people have been killed nationwide in riot in the past two days.

The Associated Press cited officials speaking on condition of anonymity, that the dead, along with over 2 thousand injured, were both security personnel and protestors as the demonstration continued after President Hosni Mubarak dismissed his cabinet and promised reforms, but refused to step down.

Discontent protestors defied the evening curfew, which has been extended to 16 hours till 8am local time.

Gangs of youths on motorbikes roamed the streets, looting supermarkets and shopping malls, whilst other city dwellers boarded up homes and set up neighborhood watches armed with guns, clubs and knives.

The Defense Ministry Spokesman Ismail Othman appealed to young Egyptians to stand up to looters.

"The armed forces are calling on you and saying that there is a group of individuals who are committing vandalism, theft, robbery and threatening families in the streets and in some houses, terrifying them and their children. Therefore we appeal to you to abide by the curfew. Those individuals who break the law will be arrested and dealt with very severely."

Soldiers have entered the Egyptian Museum to guard against looting.

Dozens of looters had tried to enter the museum but were blocked by a human chain created by some young Egyptians before the military forces arrived.

However two of them have climbed over the roof and destroyed two mummies.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist, said he was "scared" about the safety of the famed museum.

"I'm very sad today. And what really scares me now is the building located on the side of the Cairo museum. This building is in flame. If this building is destroyed, it will go beyond the Cairo museum and this will be a disaster."

He confirmed that the museum's prized King Tutankhamun exhibit, which includes the boy pharaoh's gold death mask, had not been damaged and was safe.

The ruling party headquarters building next door to the museum was in flames.

Internet service was still blocked but cell phone service, which was cut for a day on Friday, has resumed.

The protests were the most serious challenge to Mubarak's rule since he came to office nearly 30 years ago.

Russian President Signs the Ratification Documents of the New START

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed ratification documents of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the U.S., saying it is an important moment for both nations.

"Today, I signed the ratification documents relating to the strategic offensive weapons treaty. This is an important event for our entire country, taking into consideration those agreements that exist between Russia and the U.S."

The treaty will formally come into effect after the two countries' foreign ministers exchange ratification documents in February.

The new accord replaces the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty 1, which expired in December 2009.

The new START is the first Russian-U.S. nuclear arms pact in almost a decade and a crucial element that has improved long-strained ties.

Under the agreement, the number of nuclear warheads deployed by each country will be cut to 1,550.

The treaty will bring about a cut in warheads of about 30 percent from the previous treaty and will allow each side to inspect visually the other's nuclear capabilities, aiming to verify how many warheads each missile carries.

Russia is in talks with NATO on building a joint missile defense shield in Europe. They plan to formulate terms for missile defense cooperation by June 2011.

Global Trade Officials Express Optimism over the Possible Doha Conclusion by the End of 2011

Key global trade officials have spoken of their optimism that a new deal to liberalise international commerce can be finalised, but they didn't offer any concrete progress to indicate they can reach agreement before the end of the year.

Pascal Lamy, World Trade Organisation director general, told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum that the Doha round negotiations would be finalised "provided that serious acceleration takes place."

"They all agree that we have had good momentum for the last month, that ambassadors, experts, negotiators are working hard in Geneva, but they all not only said that accelerating was necessary, they all said that they were committed to this acceleration."

Switzerland's economy minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, who hosted the WTO Mini-Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum, said that the Doha talk needs to be done this year.

"There was a sense that we are in the end game, and that if Doha is done it needs to be done this year. The price for failure of the round would be too high for each of us and the multilateral system as a whole."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that no agreement this year could set trade talks back by decades.

Meanwhile, Chinese Commerce Minister Cheng Deming expressed the belief that the year 2011 will be a "window of opportunity."

He said China will give support to the roadmap proposed by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, adding that China is willing to act vigorously to draw a successful conclusion of the Doha Round talks by the end of 2011.

China, Switzerland Launch Free Trade Agreement Talks

Meanwhile, China and Switzerland have formally launched bilateral talks on a free trade agreement at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Commerce Minister Cheng Deming said a free trade agreement would enhance mutual trust between the two sides and promote economic development and closer ties between China and Switzerland.

Gerold Bhrer, President of the Swiss corporate union group Economiesuisse, expressed similar aspirations for the agreement.

"So I think with the free trade agreement that trade and direct investment will be enhanced. And I think this is in the mutual interest of both, because the economies are very complementary and that means such an agreement is offering huge chances for both sides."

China and Switzerland have seen fast-growing bilateral trade and investments in the past 10 years.

China's exports to Switzerland have grown by 18 percent, while Switzerland registered an even stronger 25-percent surge in exports to China.

Currently, China is the largest trading partner of Switzerland in Asia, while Switzerland ranks ninth among China's trading partners in Europe.

Both sides say they will start working on the agenda for the free trade negotiations as soon as possible.

Russiain and South Korean Chief Nuclear Envoy Discuss North Korea's Nuclear Issue

Russia's chief nuclear envoy, Alexei Borodavkin, has met with his South Korean counterpart, Wi Sung-lac, to discuss North Korea's nuclear issues.

After the meeting, Borodavkin expressed his concerns over the North's Uranium enrichment program.

"I think this is a very serious problem. I think this matter can be discussed in the six-party talks framework. Unfortunately, the six-party talks haven't resumed yet, but Russia doesn't oppose discussing the issue in a framework of the U.N. Security Council."

However, Washington, Beijing, and other regional powers have argued that North-South dialogue is a prerequisite for a resumption of talks, which involve the two Koreas, Japan, and Russia.

South Korea has set a two-track path for inter-Korean dialogue, proposing that rivals meet for military talks to discuss recent military attacks, and political talks to gauge the North's sincerity about denuclearization.

The two Koreas proposed preliminary talks to ease tensions, which has come at the highest-level after last year's attacks killed 50 people.

The talks are expected to lay the groundwork for high-level defense talks.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that Pyongyang must stick to its commitment to abandon atomic weapons.

Suicide Bomber Kills Deputy Governor of Kandahar Province

A senior Afghanistan official has been killed by a suicide bomber in Kandahar.

The attacker struck as the official, Abdul Latif Ashna, Deputy Governor of southern Kandahar Province, was being driven to work in the provincial capital.

An eyewitness describes what he saw.

"A suicide bomber was riding a motorcycle, and when the deputy governor's vehicle arrived here, the attacker slammed himself into his car and exploded. Then we took the body of the deputy governor to the hospital, and other police officials evacuated the wounded victims to the hospital."

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, condemned the killing and offered his condolences to the Ashna family.

Kandahar, located in the Taliban's traditional southern stronghold, has been the scene of several recent suicide bombing attacks. Two such bombings in the past two months have killed at least 13 people.

German MPs Extend Unpopular Afghan Mission

Germany's parliament has voted for an extension of the German army's Afghanistan mandate for another year.

A large majority voted for the extension of the mission, which allows German troops to be deployed in Afghanistan as part of the international peacekeeing forces.

According to German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the maximum troop number is set at 5,350. But there are plans for reductions and an exit of all troops from the region.

"At the end of 2011, we would like to reduce the presence of the German army for the first time. In 2014 the responsibility should be completely handed over to Afghanistan. After that, we don't need any more German troops."

NATO member, Germany, is the third largest contributor of foreign troops in Afghanistan after the United States and Great Britain, based mostly in the relatively peaceful North.

However, a social survey indicated that this mission is deeply unpopular with the German public, and the North has become more irate.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, 45 German troops have been killed there.

Rwandan Rebel Leader Stand Trial

A Rwandan rebel leader, accused of mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, made his first appearance in front of the International Criminal Court in Hague.

Forty-seven-year-old Callixte Mbarushimana, who has not entered a formal plea, denies ordering FDLR fighters to kill and rape civilians.

''I condemn and continue to condemn the attacks against innocent civilian populations.''

The presence of Hutu rebel groups in DR Congo has been at the heart of years of unrest in the region.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said he hopes the trial would have a positive impact in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

''There are many groups committing rapes in the Kivus area. This is one of the most active groups and we believe this case could be the beginning of the end.''

Mr. Mbarushimana faces five counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes - including charges of murder, torture, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and destruction of property.

Protests against Austerity Measures in Portugal

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Lisbon, and marched to the Prime Minister's official residence to voice opposition against plans for pay and welfare cuts along with tax hikes.

Francisco Mauricio, a Union activist, said one of the main concerns was low salaries.

"We are displeased with this situation. There is no fairness with this government policy of course, with the backing of big capital, of big employers. We are crying out loud against this very difficult situation we are living in and no doubt the workers will continue their protests, their actions, in the months to come."

Portugal's economy is one of the most fragile in the 16-nation euro zone after Greece.

The country's budget deficit stood at 9.3 percent last year, the fourth-highest in the eurozone.

Starting from this year, the government raised sales taxes to 23 percent from 21 percent.

However, rising interest rates and growing unemployment, now close to 11 percent, have accelerated the drain on public finances.

Overseas Chinese in Sweden Celebrate "Rabbit Year"

Anchor: Sweden's Chinese Association and Beijing Overseas Chinese Federation have jointly held a grand concert to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the year of Rabbit at the National Concert Hall in Stockholm over the weekend. from Stockholm, Chen Xuefei reports.

Artists from Beijing Overseas Chinese Federation Troupe were invited to come to Stockholm to give a special concert to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year.

Their excellent performances won warm applause from the audience.

The songs they sang include' I love you, China', and the Mogolian song 'Grassland, My Heaven'. The performances of modern Peking Opera, Magic and Changing Faces all gave the audience great joy and won a lot of applause.

Ye Keqing, President of Sweden's Chinese Association said at the opening of the concert that relations between overseas Chinese and the motherland became closer over the past year through a series of activities such as celebration of Sino-Swedish 60th anniversary of relations, Shanghai Expo and support of disaster stricken areas in China.

He vowed that his association will continue to be active as a bridge between China and Sweden in the New Year.

Inviting the artists from China to perform in Sweden is a good example of linking the motherland and the overseas Chinese in Sweden.

Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Chen Mingming is among the 700 audience.

The concert will be held again on Saturday night.

For CRI, this is Chen Xuefei in Stockholm.

China's Li Na Defeated by No.3 Seed Kim Clijsters in Women's Singles Final of Australian Open

Anchor: Although defeated by the three-time US Open Champion Kim Clijsters, Chinese women tennis player Li Na is the first one from Asia stepping into the women's singles final of Australian Open. She is also the first Chinese player to achieve the feat. For more details, CRI's Australian correspondent Chen Xi files back from Rod Laver Arena.

Reporter: From the introduction of China's tennis player Li Na prior to the women's singles final of the ongoing Australian Open,

To earning her nobility in defeat by her Belgian rival Kim Clijsters, the No. 3 seed of Australian Open, 6-3,3-6,3-6, she has become the first Chinese player and also the first one from Asia, claiming the second place, the best record in the history of the Grand Slam tournament.

After the match, in front of tens of thousands of tennis fans in Rod Laver, Li Na shows her sincere love and gratitude to her coach and husband Jiang Shan, and again by making jokes.

"Can you see the one with yellow T-shirt, he's my husband, I made a lot of jokes for him, but doesn't matter you are fat, skinny, handsome or ugly, I always love you and always follow you."

The 28-year-old was born in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China. She picked up her first tennis racket at the age of seven and started her tennis career when she was 14.

A senior Chinese tennis federation official was widely quoted as comparing her to Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang.

Match organizers also believe Li Na's great achievement will help spur the growth of tennis in China. Craig Tiley is the tournament director of Australian Open.

"We've seen particularly the women players do very well in China recently, and this will help elevate the sport in more households that normally don't know much about tennis and encourage them to be excited. They've got a true champion that they can dream about becoming. And I think Li Na is a fantastic representative for the sports of tennis and for the people of China."

The Chinese tennis player has already grabbed career prize money of over 3.5 million dollars going into the tournament. And the latest match helps her pocket another $1.1 million in the new season of 2011.

For CRI, I'm Chen Xi reporting from Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne.

China Daily: Lighter Touch on Traffic

As some major Chinese cities are suffering from the increasing number of cars, some of them have already adopted restrictive measures in various approaches.

An editorial in China Daily listed the different measures taken by Beijing and Guangzhou, concluding that though it's hard to say which city's approach is more effective, Guangzhou's measures actually seem better.

The editorial said that Beijing has set a ceiling on car sales in addition to the introduction of new measures to widen and extend local transport arteries and improving the availability and convenience of public transport. The measure has encouraged a buying spree, including many who would otherwise have waited a long while before purchasing a vehicle of their own.

Similarly, according to its draft plan, Guangzhou will upgrade the capacity of the local road network, improve parking facilities and relevant information services, prioritize public transport and implement a moratorium on the growth in vehicles owned by public institutions.

However, most differently, Guangzhou will not impose compulsory quotas on private vehicles, nor will it introduce discriminatory rules against non-local vehicles.

The editorial pointed out that, compared with Beijing's heavy-handed administrative interference, Guangzhou's draft plan is obviously liberal and will not leave any group of the public feeling unfairly treated. Questions and Concerns over Property Tax

Authorities of Chongqing and Shanghai municipalities have recently announced that they will kick off the trial property tax, starting from Jan 28, amid the latest measures to cool off the red-hot housing market.

Milder than expected, the property, or real estate, tax is aimed to shorten income disparity, and the government of Chongqing and Shanghai are pledging to use their tax revenue to further increase the number of governmental subsidized residences. Also to levy the property tax signifies the development of China's taxation system.

However, the taxation triggered wide discussion, with popular Chinese internet portals immediately flooded with questions and concerns over the topic.

A commentary on pointed out that nowadays there are various ways in China to obtain a house besides buying it as a commodity. And these non-commodity residences are usually inhabited by people with a privileged social status. However, as the property tax only targets commodity house owners, how could it achieve its goal of shortening income disparity while many other wealthy people are excluded from the tax?

Another commentary on the portal doubted whether common people can enjoy the benefit of this taxation. The commentary said that the tax rate is low for people with big fortunes, but high enough for those who can only buy a house by saving every penny from their earnings. And the current tax rate suggests that the speed of building more governmental subsidized residences with these revenues might be much slower than the increasing demand.

The range of targeted tax payers was another concerning point on the portal. Currently, Shanghai and Chongqing are setting different regulations defining tax payers. However, many doubted how these regulations are established and whether they would change according to the floating house prices.