News & Reports 2011-12-31

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2011-12-31

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

In This Edition

China says it supports North and South Korea to improve their relations and push forward reconciliation.

Iran rejects U.S. warnings against threats to block oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

China adopts new guidelines to focus on improving the structure of foreign investments into the country.

Hot Issue Reports

Iran Less Likely to Close the Hormuz Strait: Former Ambassador to Iran
A senior Iranian military commander has dismissed the U.S. warnings over Iran's threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, saying Tehran does not need Washington's permission to implement its defense strategies in the Persian Gulf.

Iran's navy chief warned earlier that his country can easily close the Strait if the West imposed more sanctions over its oil exports.

The comments came after the Pentagon warned Iran against any attempt to block one of the world's most critical oil routes.

Iran has been staging a 10-day exercise in the international waters east of the Strait of Hormuz.

For a closer look at the current situation in Iran and the importance of the Strait of Hormus, our Alix MacNab earlier spoke with China's former Ambassador to Iran, Hua Liming, who is now a researcher with China Institute of International Studies.

Hua spoke initially about why the Strait of Hormuz holds such global importance.

FM: China Hopes North and South Korea Can Reconcile

China's Foreign Ministry says that the country hopes North Korea and South Korea can improve their relations in the near future.

The comments come after North Korea said it would 'never deal' with South Korea's Lee Myung-bak's government.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

"Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is consistent with the common interests of both North and South Korea and all parties involved. We support North and South Korea in improving relations and promote reconciliation and cooperation."

North Korea's National Defense Commission accuses South Korea of preventing its people from paying condolence visits to the North's late leader Kim Jong Il.

South Korea meanwhile says it will "actively" seek to resume visits by its citizens to the North.

South Korea has temporarily banned its citizens from visiting North Korea, with the exception of sending 2 delegations to a jointly-run industrial park in the border town of Kaesong, immediately following the death of Kim Jong Il.

Shots Fired During Siege of Chinese Consulate
A fugitive thief who caused a six-hour siege around the Chinese Consulate in Sydney has now been arrested.

Gun shots were heard early Friday morning as an alleged gang of thieves attempted to rob the Alfred Hotel, a popular late night hotel.

Police cordoned off the area, after at least one of the suspects reportedly fled into the nearby Chinese Consulate.

Liu Kan, China's Deputy Consul General In Sydney, says shots were fired by the police during the course of a pursuit.

"The Consulate has initiated emergency measures. We have been cooperating closely with the police after making sure that the compound and the staff are secure."

The suspect was caught later outside the compound boundaries.

Dozens Killed in South Sudan's Recent Violence
Nearly 40 people have reportedly been killed amid the recent violence in South Sudan.

A military spokesman for South Sudan says the Sudanese army has launched air strikes for two consecutive days in the Western Bahral-Ghazal state, killing 17 civilians.

The spokesman says the South Sudan's command has directed its forces to exercise self-restraint.

The Sudanese army however has denied the accusations.

Sudan and South Sudan have been exchanging accusations of supporting each other's rebel movements, after South Sudan declared independence on July 9th this year.

Meanwhile, a South Sudanese official has confirmed that at least 20 people have been killed in the recent tribal violence.

Some 15-thousand people have been forced from their homes.

Thousands of armed Lou Nuer youths attacked rival communities in Jonglei earlier this week.

John Botoch, a youth representative, says the attack has left many people without basic needs.

"We are calling on all international communities to prepare themselves to respond as soon as these guys are returning back to their homes to provide humanitarian assistance to our people, women and children who are suffering."

David Okwier is the deputy chairman of the country's defense and security.

"This war must stop, and not only must stop, the people who are attacking must withdraw to where they came from."

The United Nations is now urging all communities in the region to end any ethnic violence and engage in a peace process.

Venezuela Oil Tanker Fire Kills 14
A petrol tanker explosion in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas has killed at least 14 people and left 13 others injured.

The truck caught fire after overturned on the Panamerican Highway, engulfing several cars and a bus in flames.

Witnesses say the tanker was speeding and was spilling gasoline before it reached the site of the crash.

"The truck was losing gasoline from the time it was down there, the hose had fallen on the ground. And up there was where it caught on fire and that was disastrous."

Rescuers say that all the injured have now been transported to local hospitals.

The 30-year-old truck driver was not injured and has been detained by police.

China Continues to Draw Foreign Investment under New Guidance
China has released new guidelines for foreign investment which are set to come into effect at the end of next month.

The guidelines, jointly released by China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce, focus mainly on improving the structure and technology of foreign investments, seen by experts as the major goal for China during its next economic cycle.

The change will still see attracting investment from the high-end manufacturing industry, as well as new industries, continue to be a key economic focus.

Yuan Gangming is a researcher from the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

"This has long been the center of our work in drawing foreign investment, and we have been continually adjusting the plan according to the need of economic development. This time, we are putting great emphasis on attracting foreign investment in high-end manufacturing, mainly because we want to improve the traditional manufacturing industry in China. And we are doing it based on the manufacturing abilities China already possesses. "

Meanwhile, to balance the structure of foreign investment, the new guidelines also include some new items that are encouraged by the central government, as well as omitting some restricted items.

Yuan Gangming thinks the change underlines China's efforts in its economic restructuring and opening up. He also says it will be of crucial significance in achieving China's objective of economic development during the 12th 5-year-plan period.

Education Officials Say Proper Use and Stricter Supervision Needed on Funds
Chinese education officials are saying the country's education funds need stricter supervision to make sure they are used properly.
Minister of Education Yuan Guiren,

"As educational funds increase, the problem now is how to use them scientifically. This is a big and serious issue. The funds should be focused on weak fields and on rural areas, poverty-stricken areas and regions inhabited by ethnic minority people."

China's public budget on education increased over a quarter in the first eleven months of this year.

Yuan made the comments in a legislature hearing on the country's education reform plan.

In the education reform plan that was released last year, China's financial expenditure on education is set to reach four percent of GDP by the end of next year.

Yearend Roundup 5: World Shows People's Power and Cooperative Spirit in the Eventful 2011
Two million Chinese internet users have chosen the Chinese character "Kong", which generally means control, as the character of the year for 2011.

The choice symbolizes Chinese government's economic policy this year, which is aimed at keeping inflation and property prices under control.

Regarding global politics this year, the character is also relevant.

But for many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, 2011 was more like a year out of control.

National leaders such as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi have faded into history, leaving behind a region still searching for peace.

It all started in Tunisia in January when one young man died after setting himself on fire to protest against being mistreated by the local authorities.

Within 100 days, popular uprisings swept across the whole region, forcing Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Mubarak out of their seats.

In Libya, the conflict turned into civil war. The west-backed oppositions eventually ended Gaddafi's 42-year rule, and, his life.

"We are happy. We are happy. We are done with him. We are done with his oppression. We have been waiting for this moment for years and now we are at peace because he is gone."

Months later, Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh gave up power and Syria's Bashar al-Assad is still struggling to keep his.

At the same time, the United States and Europe have not been immune from social discontent.

Voicing anger against corporate greed and social inequality, the "Occupy" protests have taken place in dozens of major western cities.

"Too little people control too much in our country, and it's time to understand that in America, it is the American people that have the rights, and not the few privileged that have all the power."

While discontent and confrontation may have dominated 2011, mankind has showed its own cooperative spirit when tested by Mother Nature.

On March 11, a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, claiming over 15,800 lives. More than 4-thousand are still missing.

People around the world stepped in to help. Help also went to Australia and Thailand when they were hit by massive floods; and when over 10 million people in East Africa suffered from the worst drought in over half a century.

In July, serious design flaws and loopholes in railway safety management caused a fatal high-speed train collision in China's Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, leaving 40 people dead and over 190 others injured.

This year also saw people around the world remembering a man who connected the world touching the daily lives of countless people.

After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Apple's legendary leader Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56.

While in North Korea, leader Kim Jong-il passed away on December 17th during an inspection tour. He was 69 years of age.

For some people, 2011 means going home.

In March, China used its navy and air-force to evacuate some 50-thousand nationals from Libya when the North African country was on the edge of civil war.

"We were thankful for the help. Though it is so hard to express, I will never forget."

In May, U.S. Special Forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, months before the United States marked the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Before Christmas, the last convoy of US combat troops withdrew from Iraq, officially ending the 9-year war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Also in 2011, mankind continued its exploration of the unknown.

US space shuttle Atlantis finished its last mission, marking the end of America's Space Shuttle era.

In November, China successfully docked its space orbiter Tiangong-1 with spaceship Shenzhou-8, paving the way for its space station program.

The breakthrough in the space industry came in the same year that China commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution that ended some 2,000 years of imperial rule, and the Communist Party of China celebrated its 90th birthday.

In what has been called one of the most eventful years in history, people around the world never gave up the willingness to sit down and discuss their differences, help others when in need and work together for a better future.

For CRI, I'm Su Yi. Happy New Year!

Global Times

The Global Times is reporting the bonus disparity in China.

With New Year's coming, year-end bonuses are one of the hottest topics on China's most active microblog site, More than 1.6 million related messages have been posted so far this year. While some people flaunt their impressive earnings, others complain about their shrunken year-end bonuses.

According to a report, Beijing tops 25 cities across China with an average year-end bonus of 5,000 yuan,or nearly 780 US dollars, while the northeastern city of Changchun ranks last with an average of only 2,700 yuan, or nearly 420 US dollars.

Another survey has shown that 30 percent of some respondents did not receive a year-end bonus last year, whereas 45 percent of those received no more than 5,000 yuan.

Experts say many employers in the export-oriented manufacturing sector have cut or cancelled this year's bonuses due to a global economic slump, which is a huge blow to millions of workers relying on the money to enjoy a decent holiday.

They suggest employers should stick to the principle that those who work hard and perform well should receive a better reward. Meanwhile, the government needs to enact regulatory measures, such as taxing bonuses, to better distribute wealth.


Thousands of artefacts from the Titanic will be sold at auction in New York in April next year.

The collection of 5,500 items are going to be sold as a single lot, which were recovered over seven expeditions to the North Atlantic wreck between 1987 and 2004.

All the items were valued at nearly 190 million US dollars in 2007.

The seller, RMS Titanic, is the only company legally allowed to retrieve objects from the Titanic's wreck site. The company expects to identify a buyer that is capable of serving as a proper steward of the collection and the wreck site.

Final sale to any bidder must be eventually approved by a federal court judge in the US state of Virginia.

The Titanic set sail from England on 10 April 1912. Five days later, it hit an iceberg and sank, killing more than 1,500 people.


A bag of presents stolen from a Father Christmas in Rome has been returned with an apologetic note from the thieves after the victim made an impassioned appeal.

The note was left by the bag with 1,000 euros worth of presents that were stolen on Christmas Eve but were found still in their wrapping. It read "We're sorry. We made a mistake. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

The gifts were taken at a Christmas market in the city centre where local businessman Giorgio Abbruzzese was dressed in a paunchy red costume and flowing white beard.

With great joy and surprise, the 51-year-old man says even thieves have a heart and he would like to thank these people despite of the theft.

Abbruzzese is now planning to make a special appearance at the market in January to hand out the returned gifts to children.

Market Update

In financial news,

US stock market ended a tumultuous year right where it started.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed 2011 a fraction of a point below where it started the year. The S&P closed at 1,258, up 0.4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.6 percent to 12,218. The Dow is up 5.5 percent for the year.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.3 percent to 2,605. It lost 1.8 percent for the year.

European market finished the year with slight gains.

London's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 5572. Frankfurt's DAX was up 0.9 percent to 5898. And CAC-40 in Paris rose one percent to 3160.