News & Reports 2013-02-17

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-02-17

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

In This Edition

The G20 finance meeting in Moscow concludes with a pledge to curb competitive currency devaluation.
Libyans celebrate the second anniversary of the uprising which ousted the former leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Officials estimate that the damage from the meteor fall in Russia's Ural region is estimated at more than 30 million US dollars.
And young model Liu Wen turned heads during the just concluded New York Fashion Week as the first Chinese model to grace the city's catwalks.

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.

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.

Libyans Celebrate 2nd Anniversary of Oust of Moammar Gadhafi

Libyans are celebrating the second anniversary of the uprising which ousted the former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Tight security measures were seen in the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli and the borders with neighboring Tunisia and Egypt were also closed for security purposes.

Many western countries have urged their citizens to leave Benghazi since they feared the possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western interests in the region.

The worry over security came following an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September, 2012, in which US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

But political analyst Fathi Baajah believed the security has been ensured now.

"The security measurements have really been taken, I think it's going in the right path. I think the last couple of months there were some treaties with the neighbouring countries of Algeria, Tunisia and the Egyptian regime, the new regime. And also with some neighbours in the south, Niger and Chad in particular, to secure the Libyan borders."

Baajah said Libyans are now expecting the new government to improve living conditions especially in the eastern part of the country.

"Libya was suffering from 40 years of bad economy in fact, and bad distribution of wealth. Libyans in general expecting a lot from the government in these days, but this will take some time to reform the economic situation."

Later in the evening Benghazi residents set off fireworks and attended a candlelit vigil to celebrate the anniversary.

Children waved Libyan flags from vehicles and fireworks lit the night's sky.

Oscar Pistorius's Family Refutes Murder Allegation against Him

The uncle of South Africa's Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius says that the family of the athlete "strongly refutes" the allegation of premeditated murder made against him.

Arnold Pistorius was speaking about his nephew's arrest for the killing of 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp.

"After consulting with our legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegations of premeditated murder. We have no doubt that there is no substance in the allegations and that the State's own case - including its own forensic evidence - strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder."

Oscar Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.

Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting, but said that the entire family was in a state of "total shock".

The athlete remains in custody in a police station in Pretoria pending a bail hearing on Tuesday.

He was visited by both his grandmother and his sister Aimee Pistorius on Saturday.

Pistorius, who lost both his lower legs, made a name for himself in the London Olympic Games last year as the "Blade Runner."
Light News

Damage Assessed after Meteor Fall in Russia

Residents of Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountain region have been assessing the extent of the damage after a meteor streaked across the sky on Friday, injuring nearly 1,200 people.

Outside the city's ice-rink a large shard of plastic ripped from the building lay on the ground, a reminder of the force of the shock wave caused by the blast.

16-year-old student, Maria Ishtubaeva, recalled the terrifying moment when the meteor streaked the sky.

"We were all sitting in class at school, and suddenly there was a flash. We all thought, My God, what was that light? We all laughed and then started to do our work again, and then there was that boom, and our windows popped open and the blinds lifted up. We were so terrified."

Local authorities say more than 24,000 people have been mobilised in Chelyabinsk to cover windows and make other relief efforts in the wake of the meteor fall.

Meanwhile, a small army of workers are set to replace acres of windows shattered by the enormous explosion from the meteor fall.

Crews from glass companies in adjacent regions were being flown in. Authorities have promised to have all the broken windows replaced within a week.

Officials estimate that the damage from the high-altitude explosion is estimated at one billion rubles or 33 million US dollars.

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.

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.

Replica of Ocean Liner Titanic to be Built

An Australian billionaire who is building a high-tech replica of the Titanic has received warm responses from people who want to be the first paying passengers.

Clive Palmer announced last April that he planned to build Titanic II with the help of state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard.

Officials from Palmer's company, Blue Star Line, said they hoped to sign a final contract with the shipbuilder soon.

Raymond Tam, director of Asia Operations for Blue Star Line, believes the project will give Chinese shipbuilders a chance to showcase their workmanship and expertise to their European counterparts.

"China has been one of the strongest players in building bulk carriers and container vessels. In terms of building luxury ships, they have a small market share. However, Titanic II will be the start of a massive Chinese challenge to the European luxury ship builders."

Tam believes the public will fall in love with Titanic II as they did with the original. Some customers have even offered one million U.S. dollars to be on the maiden voyage slated for 2016.

The Titanic was the world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on April 15th, 1912.

Liu Wen Becomes First Chinese Model to Walk Runway at New York Fashion Week

Young model Liu Wen turned heads during the recently concluded New York Fashion Week as the first Chinese model to grace the city's catwalks.

As one of the world's top models, she was a favorite among the A-List designers showing at New York Fashion Week.

Even off the catwalk without makeup, Liu Wen continues to cut a striking figure with a personal style that fuses business casual with a bit of punk.

She recalled her first Fashion Week show five years ago in Milan, which helped launch her career.

"This fashion business just changed my life. Because, you know, when I was young, I never thought I could move to New York and live in New York. When I first came here, I couldn't speak any English, and every time I saw people I just smiled yes or no, feeling like a teenage girl."

Liu Wen has graced the covers of the world's top fashion magazines. She is the first Asian ambassador for international cosmetic brand Estee Lauder.

The 25-year-old is a native of central China's Hunan Province.

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.