News & Reports 2013-02-16

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-02-16

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

In This Edition

Financial ministers and the heads of central banks from the world's 20 major economies gather in Moscow for a key G-20 meeting.
India launches an investigation into an aircraft purchase agreement with Italy following the arrest of Finmeccanica's CEO over bribery charges.
The Peruvian government denies any danger of kidnapping in its tourist areas after the U.S. embassy in Lima issued a warning to tourists.
And more than 1,000 people were injured when a meteor shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia.

Hot Issue Reports

G20's Moscow Meeting to Discuss Array of Financial Issues

Financial ministers and the heads of central banks from the world's 20 major economies have gathered in Moscow for a key G-20 meeting.

The much-anticipated gathering is expected to discuss the implications of countries using their currencies as an economic weapon.

Governments across Europe have introduced harsh austerity measures in an attempt to control their debts.

This has had negative side effects on the countrie's economy, leading to mass unemployment and broad public resistance.

And markets have been concerned recently by developments affecting the Japanese yen, which now trades near a three-year low.

If more countries try to weaken their currencies for economic gain - sparking a so-called currency war - then the fragile global economic recovery could be derailed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on financial chiefs of the world's leading industrial and developing nations to consider the political and social implications of their crucial policy decisions.

He stressed the need for global cooperation to tackle long-term economic imbalances and to stimulate growth.

"Obviously, the situation in the world economy requires responsible and consolidated actions from us. The time of local and isolated crisis is gone. Financial problems in different world's leading economies affect the global economy."

With regard to the fragile economic situation, Putin urged leaders to concentrate on long-term tasks to encourage investment and create jobs.

"On average, in developed economies debt has already exceeded GDP. This obviously causes concern for investors. I'm convinced that only with clear and transparent policies of governments in managing budget deficits and sovereign debts it is possible to secure the necessary level of trust of investors."

G20 finance ministers and heads of central banks are expected to issue a communique on Saturday, stating their shared view on the global economy.

China's Missile Force Unit Conducts Military Drill

A unit of China's Second Artillery Force recently conducted a military drill to enhance the combat ability of the missile force in the information age.

Dozens of special missile vehicles joined the drill.

The drill simulated an incident in which the missile force experienced various attacks, such as electromagnetic interference and chemical and biological weapons.

A combat platform was also set up to share information among all combat units. At the same time, the command system was integrated with the weapons system to ensure a timely counterattack on enemy targets.

Tan Weihong is commander of the Second Artillery Force brigade.

"We organized a closed survival training for the troops during the Spring Festival to test and enhance their combat ability and to ensure our troops and equipment can be mobilized at any time and our missiles can hit the targets at all times. This boosted the ability of the troops to fight and win wars."

Meanwhile, some targeted trainings were also conducted during the drill to obtain missile-launching data in extreme weather conditions.

India Probes into a Defense Purchase Agreement

India has launched its own investigation into an aircraft purchase agreement with Italy.

The agreement, which amounted 750 million US dollars on the purchase of 12 helicopters from Italian defense company Finmeccanica is in a probe since the head of the company was arrested on bribery charges.

Giuseppe Orsi, the recently removed CEO of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, chief of Agusta Westland, are being investigated on corruption charges involving business done in India.

India's Defence Ministry said a formal notice has been sent to Finmeccanica seeking cancellation of the deal.

India's High Comissioner to the UK Jaimini Bhagwati confirmed India was in touch with the UK government on the matter and that they were waiting for the Italian investigation to complete.

"We would like to get a fuller response from all the authorities outside. Even domestically, I'm sure government is concerned and is taking the necessary action."

Orsi was questioned on Friday by the Italian judge in charge of preliminary investigations. On the same day, he formally submitted his resignation as CEO of Finmeccanica.

From 2007 to 2011, Finmeccanica won an average of 334 million US dollars per year in orders from the Indian government, and aimed to double that by 2015. But analysts say that ambition could get failed if the current allegations prove to be true.

Peruvian Authorities Deny Danger of Kidnapping after US Warning to Tourists

The Peruvian government has denied any danger of kidnapping in its tourist areas after the U.S. embassy in Lima issued a warning to tourists.

An embassy official has said that credible evidence exists of a threat from a Peruvian rebel group.

But Peruvian Prime Minister Juan Jimenez dismissed the claims.

"This information has not been corroborated by the Peruvian authorities. Peru is a sovereign country, a country with its own security systems. Of course, this information has not been confirmed. The government is making every effort to protect the lives of its citizens, to protect its heritage and, of course, to protect all tourists from whatever country they come from."

The U.S. embassy has confirmed a report in the Peruvian newspaper La Republica that said leaders of the cocaine-financed Shining Path band discussed kidnapping foreigners, principally Americans, in intercepted communications.

A warning posted on the embassy's website said a "criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cuzco and Machu Pichu area."

Tens of thousands of Americans visit Peru each year.

Detained Paralympian Remains Police Custody after Court Hearing

South Africa's paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius has returned to a police station in Pretoria under police custody following his court appearance earlier in the day.

He was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrates Court with one count of murder for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp dead.

Pistorius lawyers have asked for a delay for a bail application until next Tuesday so that they can have more time to do their own investigation into the case.

Police also said an autopsy on Steenkamp's body will be conducted for further investigation.

Many South Africans have been shocked following Pistorius' arrest since they believed he was a hero and a man to look up to.

"I don't really think it is premeditated murder but yes we will see in the court case with the evidence through the court so we will see what is happening."

"I don't know what might be but I am so sad and really cross because he is my inspiration. I am extremely disappointed the way things happened."

Pistorius' management company disputed the alleged murder charges against him in the strongest terms.

Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games.

He didn't win a medal but did make the semi-finals of the 400 metres and the final of the 4X400 relay. He returned home with two Paralympic gold medals, Paralympic silver, two world records and a Paralympic record.

New Photos on Chavez & His Daughters Released

Photos showing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez alongside his daughters in Havana have been released.

The photos depict Chavez leaning on a bed, a blue pillow behind his head. He smiles broadly, while his daughters Rosa and Maria lean in close to him.

The photos were shown on Venezuelan state television by Chavez's son-in-law, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza.

It has been the first glimpse of Chavez since he underwent a fourth cancer-related surgery in Cuba over two months ago.

Arreaza said Chavez is still healthy seen from the photos.

"We see how the president continues to carry out presidential functions, he heads the government, he is making the decisions. These are images from yesterday, but we've worked with him in recent weeks, several work sessions."

Chavez, aged 58, has been undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba on-and-off since June 2011.

Chavez won the presidential election in October, 2012 but failed to participate in the inauguration ceremony on 10th January.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro insisted that Chavez remains in charge. But some analysts say Chavez's delicate health could make necessary a new election to replace him.
Light News

More than 1,000 Injured after Meteor Shower Hit Central Russia

More than 1,000 people were injured when a meteor shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday.

The country's Interior Ministry said people have sought medical care after the explosions and most were injured by shards of glass.

No fatalities were reported, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has told officials to evaluate the damage caused by the accident.

"We need to conduct an analysis of the situation, evaluate the possible damage not only to the communications infrastructure and social facilities but also to the energy sector. This is very important in the winter time."

Russian scientists say the meteor - estimated to be about 10 tons - entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed and shattered into pieces about 30-50 kilometres above the ground.

It released the energy of several kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region.

Scientists say such incidents were extremely rare and were hard to predict.

An Asteroid Misses Earth, Causes No Public Panic

Meanwhilea 45-meter wide asteroid has hurtled safely past earth after it came within 27-thousand kilometers, making it the closest known flyby for a rock of its size.

The asteroid, named 2012 DA14 came closer to earth than many communication and weather satellites.

Scientists have been monitoring its movement all year round. Jim Green is Planetary Science Division Director at the American space agency NASA.

"We are safe. DA14, we call it, was discovered last year. We've been monitoring its movement all throughout the solar system."

Green said NASA was currently monitoring more than nine-thousand asteroids, of which scientists believe 1,800 are reasonably large.

The 2012 DA14 asteroid was too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.

The best viewing locations, with binoculars and telescopes, were in Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe.

Daniel Hestroffer, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory, said it is not necessary to worry about large asteroids having disastrous collision with earth in the near future.

"For the larger one, now we start to be more confident, to predict almost all for the very big ones, and we have been able to predict that there will be no catastrophic collision with the earth for the next century. But for the intermediary sized ones, we still need to work hard on it."

Traces of Horsemeat Found in Britain's School Meals, Restaurant Dishes, Hospital Food

British authorities say traces of horsemeat have been found in school meals, restaurant dishes and hospital food, as well as in supermarket products.

The announcement came as the European Union agreed to begin random DNA checks on meat products in a bid to regain control of the spreading scandal over horsemeat.

Whitbread PLC, Britain's largest hotel and restaurant company, said horse DNA had been found in lasagne and burgers on menus at its outlets.

Officials also said horsemeat was present in cottage pies delivered to 47 schools in Lancashire County, northern England, and in hospital meals in Northern Ireland.

Customers voiced their outrage over the revelation they may have consumed horsemeat unwillingly.

"Well, I'm absolutely amazed to be quite honest, but I just find it absolutely disgusting that it is on the market. It has probably been on the market for years."

"Just everything is not what you expect it to be anymore, you know? But I think it is terrible because I think you should be eating what it says on the labels."

Horsemeat itself is not harmful and is eaten in several European countries, including France, Germany and Italy.

In English-speaking countries, including Britain and Ireland, eating horses is widely considered taboo.

The horsemeat scandal has involved a dozen of European countries with millions of products being pulled from store shelves. Supermarkets and food suppliers have been told to test processed beef products for horse DNA.

Israeli Soldiers Clash with Demonstrating Palestinians in West Bank

The Israeli military has clashed with Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank after they took to the street in support with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian demonstrator while dozens of Palestinian youths hurled stones at positions held by Israeli soldiers in Jenin in the West Bank.

The soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades in response.

Some 4,800 Palestinian prisoners are serving time in Israeli jails.

Many of them are being held without trial and dozens are on hunger strike, demanding better conditions including increased family visitation rights and an end to solitary confinement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also expressed his solidarity with the prisoners when addressing a crowd in the town of al-Bireh.

"They are always in our memories so we always say we will not forget them, and we will not leave them suffering in the Israeli occupation jails."

Meanwhile the demonstrators in Hebron were trying to open a road that have been closed for 12 years.

Demonstrators tried to break the lock of a gate that closed the road but they failed as Israeli soldiers arrived and asked them to leave.

A military spokeswoman said that 100 Palestinians hurled stones near Israeli settlement and the soldiers responded with dispersal means.

Hebron and its surroundings have Jewish settlements whose growth Israel views as its biblical and security prerogative.

NKoreans Mark 71st Birth Anniversary of Late Leader Kim Jong Il

North Koreans marked the 71st anniversary of the birth of their former leader Kim Jong Il on Saturday.

Thousands of people climbed Mansu Hill in the center of the capital, Pyongyang, to lay flowers before giant statues of Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung.

Since his death, North Korea has dubbed Kim Jong Il's birthday the "Day of the Shining Star."

For Pyongyang resident Kim Kum Hwa, laying flowers was a chance to pay respect to her former leader.

"Today we are visiting these statues on the occasion of the Day of the Shining Star. Here, I felt once again how happy and honorably I lived under the care of our respected general. This morning my whole family came to these statues with flowers for the Day of the Shining Star."

It is customary for North Koreans to offer flowers at images and statues of their past leaders on major holidays and anniversaries.

But this year, apart from the traditional floral offerings, groups of people gathered to take part in exercises to mark the occasion.

North Korea detonated a nuclear device just four days before the anniversary of Kim's birth which drew international condemnation.

In December last year, North Korea launched a long-range rocket which put a satellite into orbit.

At the time, North Korean state media stated clearly that the launch was aimed at carrying out the wishes of their deceased leader.

North Korean authorities have not made any link between the timing of their latest nuclear test and the birth anniversary of Kim Jong Il.

UK Backpacker Survives 3 Days Alone in Australia's Outback

A British mother said her teenage backpacker son had been found alive after surviving three nights alone in the Australian outback.

Eighteen-year-old Sam Derry-Woodhead got lost while jogging on a remote property in the central Queensland state near the town of Longreach on Tuesday. He survived by drinking contact lens fluid and his own urine.

His mother, Claire Derry, visited him at Longreach Hospital after arriving in the town. She said her son looked well.

"He looks fantastic. He's suntanned. His mouth isn't blistered. He looks great. He's thinner and questionably a lot thinner than when I last saw him. The only concern is that his kidneys are not quite functioning normally, and his blood's not normal. But that, the doctor says, is completely typical of somebody who's been completely dehydrated."

Derry described how her son managed to survive the ordeal.

"He said that by the time he started drinking his own, he tried to drink his own urine he said he'd run out of the contact lens fluid and the contact lens capsules said they were 69 percent water, but they'd all gone. So the urine had become very, very concentrated and so he said he couldn't stomach it. So he had nothing to keep him going by the time the helicopter crew got to him."

Inspector Mike Curtin from Queensland State Police has warned other young people not to put their lives at risk while looking for an adventure.

"It's one of those things. and I think there's a lesson to be learned here from any of these young fellows. ..Never take the harshest Australian environment and our climatic conditions here for granted."

Curtin said in order to find Sam, a group of 50 people had searched an area of about 500 square kilometers of ''extremely harsh terrain'' in temperatures that reached 39 degrees Celsius.
Media Digest
Xinhua: Stronger U.S.-China Economic Ties Will Make Obama's Job Easier

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, U.S. president Barack Obama pledged to boost the growth of the world's largest economy, making the task his top priority during his second term.

A commentary by Xinhua News Agency suggests Obama's economic boost plan would achieve success by means of developing stronger economic ties with China over the next four years.

It argues that because the economies of the U.S. and China are so interwoven with each other, the economic wellbeing of either side will inevitably affect the other.

Given the fact that China has been among the U.S.'s fastest-growing export markets over the past decade, the commentary called on some American politicians to acknowledge the fact that robust trade with China has actually helped create more jobs in the U.S.

Moreover, the commentary believes China has a huge stake in the economic strength of the U.S. As a result, getting the U.S. economy back on the right track is in the interest of not only Obama and his fellow Americans, but also China and the world at large.

However, the commentary warns American policymakers to avoid many obstacles such as trade protectionism, currency warmongering and a cold war mentality, which was evident in Washington's latest decision to impose sanction on Chinese firms.

It also suggests the U.S. stop its habit of blaming others for its own mistakes and act in a more responsible way to resolve its financial and fiscal problems.

The Beijing News: Skits Should Not Satirize the Weak

Well-known Chinese performers stage skits each year to entertain the audience at the annual "CCTV Spring Festival Gala," a hugely poplar TV show broadcast live nation wide on the eve of the Chinese New Year.

Usually, the skits poke fun at the most disadvantaged groups, including peasants and the disabled by mocking their experiences or the ways in which they talk and think.

The skits presented during the 2013 "CCTV Spring Festival Gala" were no exception.

A commentary by the Beijing News criticizes the trend, arguing that artistic works should not satirize the weak. It says worthy artistic works should make fun of the weaknesses of humankind as a whole instead of embarrassing underdogs or exploiting people with certain disabilities.

The commentary's author, a cultural observer, points out that honored artists should show solidarity with the weak and adopt a critical attitude toward the privileged.

Moreover, the author says artists should try to represent the hidden virtues of underdogs in their works and that it would be more appropriate for them to mock the privileged in a country where the wealth gap is alarmingly wide.