News & Reports 2011-08-14

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-08-14

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

In This Edition

The new US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, assumes office in Beijing.

The British government asks a former US police chief for advice in the wake of a series of riots across England.

Germany marks 50 years since the building of the Berlin Wall.

And Economy ministers and central bankers from South American countries agree to act quickly to protect the region's growing economies from another global financial crisis.

Hot Issue Reports

New US Ambassador to China Arrives in Beijing
The new US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, has arrived in Beijing to begin serving his term.

"Well we are very excited to be here as the United States ambassador to the great country of China."

Gary Locke says his first activity in Beijing will be presenting their credentials and visiting some schools. He is scheduled to meet the press on Sunday, which will be his first public appearance in China as US ambassador.

Locke has expressed his happiness to be in China, and believes there are many fields for China-US cooperation.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to be here in China. Our whole family is excited after the long airplane flight. We're a little bit tired, but you know the United States and China have many areas of cooperation and great opportunities to improve our relations."

Gary Locke was nominated by US President Barack Obama to succeed Jon Huntsman as American ambassador to China in March this year. He is also the first Chinese American to hold the post.

Born in 1950, Locke is the former governor of Washington state and US commerce secretary.

His arrival in China will also be followed by a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden later this month.

U.S. Aircraft Carrier Visits Hong Kong
The U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan has been in Hong Kong for a four-day port visit since Friday. At present, the carrier is the largest of its kind in the world, and thus has drawn a great deal of attention among local and international media.

CRI reporter Wei Tong brings the story.

The USS Ronald Reagan has led a carrier strike group to Hong Kong, after operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean for the last seven months. In March, the ships were the first on the scene in Japan to supply humanitarian aid, following a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami.

At a press briefing on the deck of the aircraft carrier, fleet commander Rear Admiral Robert Girrier said the sailors and marines are looking forward to visiting the Asian metropolis.

"Today on behalf of the ship and the strike group, we are happy to be here, for the Carrier Ronald Reagan, the Cruiser Chancellorsville, the Destroyers that are with us, Higgins and Preble. We are looking forward to a great port visit in a great city and having a great time. "

Captain Thom Burke from the aircraft carrier has visited Hong Kong several times. He is always ready to advise his crew members as to what the best sights are to visit.

"We are ready for a delightful break in this wonderful place. I've been telling my crew members about many places they can go and the things they can do over here. It is very exciting. Thank you for having us. We are going to do a lot of events touring the city. We are also going to do some community service events with elderly groups and children's groups and we'll also have sports events. So it is a very exciting visit for us. It is thrilling to be here and I'm personally delighted to be back."

The U.S. carrier's visit comes as China has just begun the sea trials of its first aircraft carrier platform. Rear Admiral Girrier played down speculation related to the timing, saying it is a routine visit and the U.S. focus is on the military capability development of several countries in the region rather than just a single one.

A military exchange is not on the agenda during the fleet's stay in Hong Kong. However, Girrier points out that healthy and stable military-to-military relationships between the U.S. and China are conducive to international peace and security.

"We value military-to-military engagement. There are direct lines of communication. These are very good things for us to do. They help us collaborate and coordinate together as we're all working on tackling regional and global challenges. So whether it is bilateral or multilateral, military-to-military engagement is a great way to work on stability, security and in fact building prosperity."

The Carrier Ronald Reagan was commissioned in 2003. With a weight of 97,000 tons with a full load, the jumbo warship is over 300 meters long and at maximum capacity could house more than 4000 people.

For CRI, I'm WT.

UK Turns to US "Supercop" amid Riots
The British government is now turning to a former US police chief for advice in the wake of a series of riots across England.

William Bratton gained fame by fighting crime with innovation and bold measures as he headed police departments in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

"I'm being asked to specifically look at the issue of gang crime, gang violence, the British experience versus the American experience, and how we might be able to learn from each other We've learned a lot in America, and we've had great successes. LA, over the last seven years, (has had) significant declines in gang crime. And it's that experience that the British want to take a look at."

Hundreds of stores were looted, buildings were set ablaze and five people died during the riots across England over four nights over the past week.
About 16-hundred people have been arrested.

But Bratton warns arrests may not be the only answer to tackle riots.

"In Los Angeles, we're fond of saying, you cannot arrest your way out of the problem."

British Chancellor George Osborne says Bratton will help tackle the "deep-seated social problems".

Meanwhile, Osborne has ruled out reconsidering recently announced cuts to police funding.

Libya Vice-FM Accuses NATO of Pushing Rebels
Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has accused NATO countries of exerting pressure on rebel fighters in the eastern part of the country.

Kaim has told the press that forces battling Moammar Gadhafi's troops were being pushed to make advances.

"The rebels are under heavy pressure from NATO, especially France, Britain and Qatar, that you have one last chance. You have to fight and be suicidal. You have to do your job quickly, as soon as possible before the 17th of Ramadan."

Kaim has also accused NATO of paving the way for rebels to make advances through the use of air strikes, but says locals are rallying again and are defeating them.

"They are not making any advance in that area and last night they (NATO) tried to switch to another side of the front line, they attacked a number of check points near Tawerqa and they opened the way before the rebels to attack Bani Walid and they manage to do so and they advance for 10/15km until the people rallied again and defeated them."

Meanwhile, rebels along Libya's Mediterranean coast claim they have captured part of the strategic oil terminal town of Brega, which has repeatedly changed hands in the six-month-long civil war.

Germany Marks 50 Years since Construction of Berlin Wall
Germany is now marking 50 years since the building of the Berlin Wall.

German President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel have attended a commemoration ceremony at Bernauer Street where parts of the Wall now form a museum.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said, quote, "The Wall is history but we must not forget it."

The city has observed a minute's silence in memory of those who died trying to escape.

Some 130 people lost their lives trying to escape across the Berlin Wall, though the exact number is still not clear.

Jorg Klein escaped with his parents from East Berlin into West Berlin through a tunnel in 1964.

He says it is hard even for themselves to understand just how cut off they used to be.

"Especially for the young people, it is hard to understand that this was possible, even at the time of the Wall, it was hard, even when we had visitors in West Berlin, to understand how we were encircled.It just wasn't possible for our visitors to understand that we were completely surrounded by concrete, by the Wall."

Germany was divided into a two parts at the end of World War II - the capitalist western side and the communist eastern side.

The split placed the nation at the forefront of the Cold War for nearly 30 years.

Italy Austerity Measures Approved
Italian cabinet has approved a 45-billion-euro austerity program in an attempt to help the country get out of a debt crisis.

The package imposes austerity measures through a mixture of public spending cuts and higher taxes.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says the government is pained to adopt the measures.

"In a situation it is clear that our heart is bleeding when we think that one of the things that our government prided itself over was the fact that "we never put our hands in the pockets of the Italian people", which I'm saying quoting myself but the global situation has changed."

The country's budget deficit will fall to 1.4 percent of GDP in 2012 from 3.8 percent this year.

The package also imposes at least 5 percent of extra tax on high-income earners.

The emergency decree comes following days of criticism for a lack of clarity over how the Italian government will meet a target of European Central Bank to balance its finance.

The extent of the cuts underlines how far the government has been pushed since markets turned on Italy last month, dragging it close to a Greek-style emergency.

Economists: South America Needs to Act as a Whole to Fight Financial Crisis
Economy ministers and central bankers from South American countries have agreed to act quickly to protect the region's growing economies from another global financial crisis.

In an ongoing meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in Buenos Aires, representatives of economy from the 12 member countries have proposed to invest reserves in projects that would lead to increased commerce within the region, trade in a basket of local currencies rather than the dollar or euro, and other ways of making the region's economies more independent from those of industrialized nations.

Amado Boudu, Argentine Economy Minister has defined Unasur's mission as creating solutions made by and for South Americans, rather than following what he called the bad advice of global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

"We are convinced that we must work to create organizations for South America because global organizations are looking for a unique global vision of the world economy; as has happened in all stages of the Monetary Fund. The results were not good for us (due to) the policies imposed on us in the past. Today, they can no longer impose policies on us and this is another important thing for our people but we create South American organizations."

Boudu says South America's economies are growing at a healthy 4.5 percent on average this year, but creating deeper and stronger financial and commercial ties within the region is essential to keeping these hard-won gains from melting away.

Somalia's Volunteers Set up Clinic to Treat Famine Victims
Volunteer doctors have set up a makeshift clinic in Somalia's war-torn capital of Mogadishu to treat a handful of the thousands who have been affected by the famine.

The team of doctors are giving people basic rehydration treatments as well as dealing with acute medical cases.

Dr. Abdulkani Sheikh, one of the volunteers.

"It is a very critical situation currently, we have seen a lot patients who are suffering malnutrition and anaemia, we have seen some (with a) very horrible history."

Many of the worst affected patients are children, according to the doctors.

It's estimated that drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29-thousand children under the age of 5.

Millions face the risk of starvation in Somalia's worst drought in 60 years. The UN has estimated that over 11 million people across East Africa need food aid because of the drought.

The situation in Somalia has been exacerbated by the militant group al-Shabab's refusal to allow humanitarian organisations to deliver aid in areas it controls, including the UN World Food Programme, the world's major aid provider.

Over the past two months, some 220-thousand people have fled toward Mogadishu and across the borders to Kenya and Ethiopia, where refugee camps are straining under the pressure of new arrivals.

Al-Shabab controlled about a third of Mogadishu until Saturday morning when its fighters abandoned all their bases in the capital.

They still hold most of southern Somalia, where tens of thousands are estimated to have starved because of a long-running drought and subsequent famine.

The UN estimates that a quarter of Somalia's 7.5 million people have already been displaced.

Mexican Authorities Find 300 Metre Drug-smuggling Tunnel
The Mexican Army has uncovered an incomplete drug-smuggling tunnel stretching from the border city of Tijuana into the United States.

Alfonso Duarte Mujica, the Commander of Mexico's 2nd Military Zone, told reporters on Friday that the tunnel was about 300 metres long and almost two metres high. He said they found many things in their raid.

"A lighting system using 100-watt light bulbs, an internal ventilation system, exposed internal wiring, and miscellaneous drilling tools, such a shovels, picks, a pickaxe and wheelbarrows, among others. Ten people, including a woman."

The tunnel's entrance was hidden within a partially constructed house, and its exit had yet to be dug.

The house contained an altar to Santa Muerte, a morbid icon venerated by some drug traffickers.

Duarte said nine men and a woman had been arrested in connection with the tunnel's construction.

Mars Rover Opportunity Reaches Rim of Massive Crater
The NASA Mars rover 'Opportunity' has reached the rim of a 22.5 kilometre wide crater, where it will examine the oldest rocks it has come into contact with during its seven years on the Red Planet.

The solar-powered, six-wheel robot geologist arrived at the Endeavour crater after driving 21 kilometres from a smaller crater named Victoria.

The drive, which took nearly three years, culminated on Tuesday, when Opportunity signalled that it had arrived at the location dubbed 'Spirit Point' - in honour of the rover's twin, named 'spirit', which fell silent last year.

The Opportunity and the Spirit landed on opposite sides of Mars in 2004 and used their instruments to discover geological evidence that the cold and dusty planet was once wet.

The Endeavour crater is more than 25 times wider than Victoria.

Since landing, the Opportunity has studied sulphate sediments that pointed to an environment that was once wetter and warmer.

John Callas, project manger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"We're going to map out these clay minerals, we're going to find what story those minerals tell us about ancient Mars and the implications for the habitability of Mars a long long time ago, and there's a lot of real estate to explore, we're talking about kilometres of distance as we move along the rim of Endeavour crater. So it's not just one spot, there's years worth of exploration at this particular site."

The rover's work is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Programme strategy known as 'Follow the Water,' looking for evidence that liquid water once existed or perhaps still exists on the planet.

A large, new NASA rover named Curiosity is awaiting launch from Cape Canaveral on a 2.5 billion US dollar mission.

Curiosity, powered by a radioisotopes instead of sunlight, is expected to land on Mars in August next year.

Reflection Needed on High-speed Train Development

Concerns about safety have replaced concerns about the affordability of the nation's high-speed railways since the fatal collision on the Ningbo-Wenzhou line on July 23.

The lack of transparency in the days after the tragedy brewed suspicions not only about the possibility of a cover-up by the railway ministry, but also about the desirability of the "great leap forward" which the nation's high-speed trains were supposed to represent.

An editorial in the English language newspaper, "China Daily" says that because of the high speeds, express railway lines need to be rigorously checked to ensure they are safe. It is extremely important to identify all the factors that contributed to the Wenzhou disaster. It is imperative that no question is left unanswered.

The editorial also points out that thorough and comprehensive safety checks are essential because that is the only way to detect and plug potential safety loopholes. So the State Council's proposal that the safety reviews go beyond the immediate causes, product design, manufacturing and operation management must also be faithfully checked.

Meanwhile, another prominent newspaper, the Guangzhou based Nddaily, also carries an editorial praizing the State Council's decision to slow down the speed of the country's bullet trains to ensure their safety. It says the government needs to engage in some in-depth reflection on the disadvantages of high-speed trains, a process important in regaining the confidence of the public.

The editorial also calls on the government to fulfill its duty in supervising the approval process and the construction of high-speed railway projects, and ensure the system is transparent, as these high-cost investments represent a large piece of public property and can cause significant burdens in terms of debt.


Free Flow of Information Makes Rumor Terminators Obsolete

A group of Chinese web users who have volunteered to seek out and disprove false information spreading through microblogging have caused controversy and are even facing mounting criticism from the public.

A commentary in the People's Daily newspaper contends that the motivation of those individuals may be for the protection of public interest -- as they have exposed falsified pictures in microblog reporting of recent rainstorms in Beijing -- but what there appeared in the name of "rumor-terminators" reminds people of what some authorities usually do when trying to shield public from truth for their wrong doings.

And once their deeds are perceived in such a context, it could be fatal for their survival.

Another editorial in, an online portal which belongs to the influential Nanfang Media Group, further argues that the online volunteers only target the posts of ordinary web users and steer clear from any official announcements from the authorities. The article says that these exclusions are what is making them lose the public's trust.

The commentary in the People's Daily echoes this view by saying that successful information clarification lies in being neutral and tolerant to public opinions. Rumor terminators lose their legitimacy once they stand on the side of certain interest groups.

Both articles suggest that each single web post is not necessarily one-hundred-percent precise, but when thousands of those come together, they help make things clear. It is not helpful if the volunteer web police only use their own judgment to speak for the public.

The editorials finally suggest that a society that allows the free flow of information and encourages individuals to make their judgments will make these web-police obsolete.