News & Reports 2012-08-12

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2012-08-12

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

In This Edition

Two strong earthquakes hit villages in northwest Iran, killing some 180 people and injuring more than a thousand.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi calls on ASEAN countries to make joint effort to maintain peace in the South China Sea.
Peru says it will host the Third South American and Arab States summit in Lima, a meeting that was postponed because of political strife in the Middle East.
And the London Olympics chief organizer Sebastian Coe says the closing ceremony on Sunday night will be a fantastic after-show party on Earth.

Hot Issue Reports

Iran Earthquake Killed over 180 People
Two strong earthquakes struck villages in northwest Iran on Saturday killing some 180 people and injuring more than a thousand others.

Six villages near the city of Tabriz were completely destroyed and other neighbouring cities were facing damages and power outages.

The first quake at 6.4 magnitudes was followed by another one magnitude 6.3 after 11 minutes at a similar location and depth.

Many Iranians heard the initial news through the state broadcaster.

"An earthquake as big as 6.2 magnitude hit the village of Ahar near eastern province of Azerbaijan. According to the Geophysics Institute of Tehran University, it registered the quake at 16:53 hours local time and the intensity was felt through most of the villages near the eastern province of Azerbaijan and province of Ardebil."

There is said to be at least 10 aftershocks.

The last earthquake in Iran struck the city of Bam in 2003, killing more than 25,000 people.

Chinese FM Urges Joint Effort with ASEAN to Maintain Peace in South China Sea
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has called on ASEAN countries to make joint effort to maintain peace in the South China Sea.

Yang Jiechi made the remarks after a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa in Jakarta.

"To maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea is a shared responsibility of all countries in the region. China is willing to work with Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to fully and effectively implement the declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea, build mutual trust, promote cooperation, maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea."

Earlier on Friday, Yang held talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss deepening the all-round strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Yang and the Indonesian foreign minister have also signed an agreement aimed at increasing cooperation and bilateral ties.

The agreement covers cooperation in wide range of sectors including investment, trade, energy and tourism.

Indonesia is the first leg of Yang's tour of Asia.

He will also visit Brunei and Malaysia.

Canadian FM Comments on Syria
Canada's foreign minister John Baird said his government would not provide "lethal support" to rebels in Syria as the violence continued unabated in cities throughout the country.

Baird said at a press conference that Canada was prepared to help with "non-lethal support."

"Today I am announcing two million (Canadian) dollars in medical supplies in Syria proper."

"Canada will be providing Jordan with 6.5 million dollars to continue responding to the needs of these Syrian refugees."

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was also at the press conference.

He said the defected former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab was "in safe hands and he is in Jordan enjoying the safety and security of the country."

Peru to Host Arab-South American Summit in October
Peru says it will host the Third South American and Arab States summit in Lima, a meeting that was postponed because of political strife in the Middle East.

Syria, suspended from the League of Arab States, will not be present. Paraguay will also be left out of the summit on questions of its democratic stability.
Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Jose Beraun says the meeting will take place in October.

"This meeting will take place on October 1 and 2 of this year at Lima's cultural ministry. The event was previously planned for February 16 and 17 of 2011. It was postponed at the request of the some of the Arab states because of the events that were happening during that time in some Arab countries."

Beraun adds that while Syria will not be there, the situation in the conflict-plagued nation will be on the table.

"In respect to the issue of Syria, it's a topic that is in process. The summit is going to touch on the issue, but we can't anticipate in what way. It's a work in progress."

Peru is expecting 21 Arab nations and 11 from South America at the October summit.

Lebanese Men Held in Syria Plead for Release
Two of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims being held hostage in Syria are pleading to return home in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The Shiite men were abducted three months ago after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon.

One hostage issued a plea for his release.

"It will be Bayram within just seven or eight days. I plead to Abu Ibrahim and Abu Nasr to send us back to our homes and families. We have been putting up with a lot. They are free. We also want freedom. It has been 90 days. I miss my children, my grandchildren. They are my flesh and blood."

An opposition figure said the Lebanese pilgrims had not been released because Syrian government forces had attacked rebel areas in Aleppo.

He said the kidnappers were demanding that Syrian authorities release 500 opposition detainees in exchange for the 11 men.

"Those Lebanese hostages are in Azaz, in Aleppo. Azaz can be monitored from the Bab al-Salamah border gate. We have control over a 35 kilometre area starting from Bab al-Salamah."

Meanwhile, the head of the Azaz rebels' political office said the prisoners would be released only if Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah apologizes for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In addition, the US announced sanctions on Hezbollah for providing support to the Assad regime.

Egyptian President Promises to Hit Back at Militants in Sinai
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has promised to take strong measures to combat the rising militant attacks in Sinai.

Morsi made the promise during a visit to northern Sinai after a surprise attack there killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.

"I pray to God to always keep Egyptians united and to support us. We do not tolerate attacks on the innocent. We will be firm, and we will use a grip of steel to stop these criminals. We will not rest until we finish our mission."

Last weekend, gunmen stormed an army checkpoint by the borders with Gaza and Israel, and killed 16 soldiers.

A major military operation is now underway in the Sinai Peninsula in retaliation to the attack, aimed at stamping out militant groups.

Security officials say they have detained nine Islamic militants in northern Sinai believed to be behind the attack.

Large swaths of northern Sinai have plunged into lawlessness following the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in last year's uprising.

The security vacuum fuelled the rise of al-Qaida-inspired militant groups which have staged several low-level cross-border attacks on Israel.

Security officials estimate the number of militants in northern Sinai to some 1,500.

First Buddhist Marriage Ceremony for Same-sex Couple Held in Taiwan
The first Buddhist marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple in Taiwan took place on Saturday, aiming to promote same-sex rights in the island.

Huang Mei-yu wed her bride You Ya-ting at a Buddhist monastery in Taoyuan County, in northwest Taiwan.

Guests at the wedding say that the ceremony was a sign of progress.

"I hope all kinds of people will have this kind of love. I am very moved by today's ceremony. I also hope that everyone will support gay and lesbian rights."
But the couple's families were absent from the ceremony.

Huang Mei-yu, the bride, said they face family opposition to their marriage.

"Our families did not accept today's ceremony. We know that they don't agree with this and wouldn't attend today's ceremony. But we know that in their hearts they love us both. After the ceremony, we will help our family to make the adjustment. We will show them that even though we are a lesbian couple, they can still be proud of us."

In 2003, authorities in Taiwan drafted a controversial bill to legalize same-sex marriages and to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

But it failed to receive enough support to become a law.

The newlywed couple said they hoped their ceremony would encourage local officials to work on the bill again.

Activists Campaign for Same-sex Marriage in Australia
Meanwhile, thousands of same-sex marriage campaigners gathered across Australia on Saturday in a national day of action.

Rallies were held in eight cities, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.

The activists are calling on the federal government to introduce legislation allowing gay couples to marry.

"We all deserve to have the same rights as everyone else. Coming from New Zealand, which is a much smaller country, they're far more progressive than they are here in Australia. It's a shame that a country like Australia seems to be falling behind."

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has repeatedly stated she is personally against gay marriage but would allow her party a conscience vote. A date for the vote has yet to be announced.

Australia also does not legally recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.

But some surveys conducted by campaigners indicate that a majority of respondents support same-sex marriage in Australia.

Meanwhile, Australia's neighbour, New Zealand, is due to debate same-sex marriage later this year and activists say the legislation is widely expected to pass.

Curiosity Sends Back More Pictures from Mars
NASA announced on Friday that the science rover Curiosity beamed back more pictures from Mars.

A NASA Engineer said they chose the rear Hazcam to be the first image taken, which pictured the rocket-powered backpack crash-landing in the distance.

"Actually, the timing of the Hazcam pictures both front and rear were timed so that we would possibly catch any kind of cloud like this. And the fact that the descent stage flew directly after the Rover was an amazing coincidence that we were able to catch."

Mission controllers are exercising caution immediately following Curiosity's descent to the surface of the Red Planet.

The car-sized rover landed on the Martian surface safely last week.

The rover has been sending a string of early images back to Earth, relayed by two NASA satellites orbiting Mars.

Curiosity is said to be the first fully equipped mobile geochemistry lab ever sent to a distant world.

The project cost a total of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Syrian Olympic Hurdler Disqualified for Doping
A female hurdler from Syria was kicked out of the London Olympics on Saturday after failing a drug test.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said 400 metres hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad tested positive for a banned stimulant on 3 August.

Her backup sample confirmed the positive finding.

The 23-year-old had been disqualified and stripped of her Olympic accreditation.

Her case has also been sent to the International Association of Athletics Federations to consider any further action against the athlete.

Almouhamad finished eighth and last in her first-round heat on 5 August.

A week before the race, the Syrian athlete had expressed her "happiness" at being able to compete in the London 2012 Games.

"It is the dream of every athlete to be in such a sporting event. So, yes, I am very happy and hopefully I will do something for my country and raise the flag for my country."

There were 10 Syrian athletes registered to compete in seven different sports in London including Almouhamad.

This is the seventh positive case reported by the IOC since the Olympic body started its games testing programme last month.

Almouhamad is only the second athlete who competed in London that has been sanctioned for doping.

The others were caught before competing.

Mexico Celebrates Football Gold Win in London
Fans celebrated in Mexico City on Saturday as Mexico's men's team defeats football-giant Brazil 2-1 for historic Olympic gold medal in the London Games.
The gold makes it Mexico's first major international soccer title.

Millions across Mexico got up early to catch the highly-anticipated match on television.

Cheers erupted after Mexico convincingly beat South America's superstar soccer side with two goals from Mexico's Oribe Peralta.

"It was the best. We are a country of fighters and we won this time, our first gold. It's magnificent. I'm proud of our young team."

"They had it all for a win. This is a beautiful moment for our country."

Brazil, the hot favorite, ended with the silver for the third time.

Brazil has never won the gold medal and lost out both other times they have reached the final - in 1984 and 1988.

Rio 2016 News Conference in Progress
The Rio 2016 Organising Committee held a news conference in London on Friday to preview the Olympic Games closing ceremony and the flag handover.

Chief Executive Leonardo Gryner promised that in four years' time, organizers would try to fill all available seats for the venues.

The organizers were given eight minutes to present 'Rio 2016' to the world.

Creative director Daniela Thomas said that her team did not want to show Brazil as a country recognized solely by samba, beautiful women and football.

"The cliches are just the tip of the iceberg. They are not wrong. They don't misrepresent us, but we want to show you other levels, other ways in which we mix. The interesting thing about Brazilian culture is that we reinvent."

The athletics stadium for Rio 2016 will be named after the former FIFA president Joao Havelange for his contribution to sport.

Havelange was FIFA president between 1974-98 before he was replaced by Sepp Blatter.

He is credited with turning soccer into the moneymaking industry it is today, and was also instrumental in bringing the 2016 Olympics to Rio and to South America for the first time.

Court documents published last month showed that Havelange received millions of dollars in a World Cup kickback scandal in the 1990s.

He resigned as an IOC member last year.

Closing Ceremony of London 2012 "A Show of Music"
London Olympics chief organizer Sebastian Coe says the closing ceremony on Sunday night will be a fantastic after-show party on Earth.

The closing ceremony is officially described as "A Symphony of British Music - A Celebration of British Creativity in the Arts".

London 2012 boss Sebastian Coe elaborates.

"I think this is very much in line with everything we've wanted to do - not just showcasing sport, but showcasing the drama and choreography and the creative talents of this country."

Show producers can't gain access to the Olympic Stadium until after the track and field competition concludes around 2300 local time on Saturday.

So they've had to rehearse in a replica stadium on the site of a former Ford motor factory in east London.

The rehearsal involves three-and-a-half-thousand volunteers and a cast of British music greats, whose names will be kept secret until just before the show.

The price tag for the closing ceremony is not being disclosed.

The July 27 opening ceremony was widely reported as costing about 40 million US dollars - but it is clear Sunday's closing event will have a lower price tag.

The show will start at 2100 local time and is expected to run two hours and 45 minutes.

Global Times: Washington Should Abandon Unilateral Moves on Iran's Nuclear Program

Over the past several months, the United States has tightened economic sanctions on Iran in a bid to force Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear program.
Many of the steps are aimed at preventing Iran from selling oil on the international market.

At the end of last month, President Barack Obama announced new measures against foreign banks that help Iran sell its oil.

The US moves come as the international nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers are in gridlock.

A commentary by China's Global Times says the unilateral actions by Washington have raised troubling questions about whether or not the US is interested in a multilateral solution to the current issue.

The newspaper notes that the US sanctions on Iran violate international laws by asserting the right to control the economic activity of other nations' citizens and companies in order to advance US goals.

A Chinese bank and an Iraqi bank have recently been targeted by the blatant US sanctions.

The Global Times commentary says these actions prove that the US is only interested in other countries' obedience when it comes to Iran, instead of working together.

The article points out that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through collective negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

The commentary calls on nations to resist continued US attempts to seek a unilateral solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, which will harm the interests of the world as a whole.


China Daily: Outbound Investment Risks

According to the Ministry of Commerce, China's outbound direct investment in the first half of this year increased more than 48 percent year-on-year to reach 35 billion U.S. dollars.

A report from the consulting company Ernst & Young says China's overseas investment will surge to $160 billion by 2020 and that debt-crisis-addled Europe has become a top destination for potential Chinese investors.

Records indicate that when a country's per capita GDP reaches $5,000, there is sharp increase in the number of its enterprises eager to tap business opportunities abroad.

An editorial in China Daily says many Chinese investors have set their eyes on European businesses, as Europe is beset by a debt crisis and its assets are priced relatively low. But with the crisis still unresolved, it is hard to fathom where exactly the bottom is.

The editorial uses China's major insurer Ping An Insurance as an example. The company bought more than a 4 percent stake in Dutch-Belgian financial services firm Fortis after Fortis' shares dropped 40 percent in the previous seven months. But the ensuing debt crisis battered Fortis, driving down its share prices even lower and caused serious losses to Ping An.

The editorial goes on to say that cash and ambition alone are not enough to ensure Chinese investors' success on foreign soil. Investment is a long-term process and the signing of an investment deal does not necessarily mean it will work.