News & Reports 2013-02-23

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-02-23

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

In This Edition

The Chinese government reacts strongly to reports of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks that Beijing has a strong need to challenge its neighbors over territory.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi calls on parliamentary elections to be held at the end of April.
Australian men's Olympic swimming team admits using a banned sedative during a bonding session before the London Games.
And figures show a 2.2 percent rise in property prices in major Chinese Cities so far in the New Year despite government restrictive measures.
Hot Issue Reports

Japan's Ambition to Build a Japan-led East Asia Unrealistic, Expert

The Chinese government has reacted strongly to reports of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying Beijing had a strong need to challenge its neighbours over territory.

An interview with the Washington Post is said to have quoted Abe saying, China was deeply ingrained to clash with Japan as well as other Asian neighbours, with the ruling Communist Party using those disputes to maintain power.

Chinese Foreign Ministry however has said the comments were defamatory and contained distorted facts.

Spokesman Hong Lei said China carries out normal maritime activities in accordance with domestic and international laws. Thus, freedom and security of navigation in the East China Sea and South China Sea have never been affected.

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese scholar, Professor Liu Jiangyong from Tsinghua University says Abe's remarks reveal that his government is trying to strengthen Japan's alliance with the US.

"Japan is trying to build up an international relations structure based on US-Japan Alliance. Meanwhile, Japan is planning to contain China by making use of some Asian countries that have territorial disputes with China and inciting the United States to take pro-Japan positions on the Diaoyu Islands dispute."

However, Liu believes that any ambition to shape Japan-dominated geopolitics is only one-sided wish.

"On the one hand, the US will reiterate the importance of its alliance with Japan. While on the other, the US still expects Diaoyu Islands dispute to be solved by means of dialogue between China and Japan. What is more, China and Asia-Pacific nations, including the US are closely interdependent in economy. They have shared interests and cooperation in various fields. Under such circumstances, Japan's ambition cannot be realized since the US would not allow Japan to dominate US-Japan alliance or build a Japan-led East Asia."

Shinzo Abe, now on a trip to Washington, is expected to meet with US president Barack Obama and deliver a speech at a Washington-based think tank.

Chinese Expert Comments on Joint South Korean, U.S. Drill

Experts in China are warning South Korea will use its joint drills with the United States in preparation to regain wartime operational control from Washington.

South Korea and the US have decided to carry out their latest annual military drill next month to improve the South's capabilities against North Korean threats.

The upcoming drill comes after North Korea's December rocket launch and its third nuclear test last week.

Wei Dongxu is CRI's political commentator.

"I think South Korea wants to change its supporting role to lead role during joint drills with the US. The number of such drills will increase before 2015. South Korea hopes to have the control during wartime operations with US cooperation and help."

The US is set to hand over control to South Korea at the end of 2015 and provide help under a new joint defence system.

The Combined Forces Command will also help improve the South Korean military's operational command capabilities.

Wei Dongxu says South Korea's role change has been made possible by importing advanced weapons from Western countries.

Chinese Experts Comments on Iran Installing Advanced Centrifuges

With reports of Iran beginning the installation of an advanced centrifuge at one of its nuclear plants, experts in China are saying it may be a move to get more leverage in international negotiations.

"I think Iran wanted to get additional leverage and put itself in a favorable position during the negotiations. The western countries meanwhile will further pressure Iran on this matter. They'll ask Iran to reduce the number of enrichment machines instead of increase. "

That was Guo Xiangang, the Deputy Director of China Institute of International Studies.

Now this comes just ahead of the P5+1 talks over Iran's nuclear program set to resume in Kazakhstan next week.

Reports are actually suggesting that Western countries may have actually promise cancelling some of its sanctions if Iran stops its enrichment.

Guo however, expects little progress from those discussions.

"Iran remains that it won't start talks with the west if they don't cancel the sanctions and respect Iran's rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Whereas the western powers ask Iran to stop its enrichment activities first and then they will start considering lifting the sanctions."

The new centrifuge model is believed to be able to enrich up to 5 times faster than current equipments.

Egypt Parliamentary Elections to Begin on April 27: Presidential Decree

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is calling on parliamentary elections to be held at the end of April.

It will be a 4 stage process though, lasting 2 months, with the first stage set to be held in five provinces including Cairo, on the 27th of April.

President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement are said to be hoping the election will end increasingly vocal opposition and street protests.

For now though, the strikes continued in the city of Port Said .

"Today Port Said is announcing that we no longer recognize Morsi as our president and that the revolution will start again from Port Said. We do not want a president who is a failure. President Mohamed Morsi has lost his legitimacy and we do not want him anymore."

Egypt has been divided between Morsi's Islamist supporters and a liberal-led opposition amid a worsening cash-strapped economic situation.

The election comes after the upper house of the parliament and the constitutional court reached an agreement over an amended version of the parliamentary election law.

UN Rejects Haiti Cholera Claims

The United Nations has rejected compensation claims by victims of a cholera outbreak in Haiti.

The outbreak started in 2010 and has killed almost 8-thousand people, however a spokesperson for the UN says they're immune from such claims.

"The United Nations advised the claimants representatives that claims are not receivable pursuant to section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations."

The compensation claim was brought against the UN following a US report claiming the outbreak was caused by poor sanitation at a camp housing infected Nepalese peacekeepers.

The UN though hasn't taken responsibility for the outbreak, saying it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the disease.

The matter is set to be taken to Haitian courts though.

UN's immunity rights will be challenged on the grounds that they hadn't established a mechanism for dealing with the Haitian government on accountability issues.

This comes just a few weeks after the UN launched a 2 billion dollar initiative to stamp cholera out of Haiti over the next decade.
Light News

500 Million Chinese Benefited from Top-quality Natural Gas in Central Asia

China's first transnational natural gas pipeline, which runs from Central Asia into China, is reported to have benefited nearly 500-million Chinese people.

The pipeline, which is constructed by China National Petroleum Corporation, has so far transmitted 45-billion cubic meters of natural gas.

CNPC's general manager Zhou Jiping explains top quality gas has benefited half a billion people since completion of the project in 2009.

"This pipeline has been connected with China's two West-East gas lines. One of them has been extended to southern Guangzhou and Hong Kong. It is in the interests of environmental protection to exploit natural gas. We plan to transform China's energy structure by using more clean and low-carbon energy such as natural gas."

The natural gas pipeline, which is more than 18-hundred kilometers in length, stretches from the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the west.

It passes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and enters China at Horgos Port in northwest Xinjiang.

Gold, Silver Prices Drop to Lowest in 7 Months in China

Gold and silver futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange hit their lowest level in 7-months in Thursday's trading.

The most active gold contract for June delivery ended down 7.7-yuan from the previous day.

On the international markets, spot gold increased nearly one percent, rebounding sharply from a seven-month low.

Fu Peng is a gold analyst with Galaxy Securities Futures.

"In the past one and half year or since the beginning of 2011, the return on investment (ROI) of gold has been negative. Therefore, large amount of capital preferred to invest on other markets with high ROI."

With the decline in the international price of gold and silver, many jewellery shops in Beijing are lowering their retail prices.

This is said to be sparking a rush at local jewellery stores here in Beijing.

"The sales volume of gold bars and jewelries have increased 47 percent compared with a year ago."

The basic retail price for silver has dropped from 6.3 yuan per gram to 5.9.

Australia Swimming Team Admits Using Banned Sedative

Australian men's Olympic swimming team is admitting using a sedative banned by their national Olympic committee during a bonding session before the London Games.

The drug Stilnox, used to treat insomnia, is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency but was prohibited by the Australian Olympic Committee before the 2012 Games due to its hallucinatory effects.

Daniel Kowalski is the CEO of Australian Swimmers Association.

"We stand here collectively today to confirm that we did take part in a bonding exercise during which members of the relay team took Stilnox as reported in the Bluestone Edge Review following a day of relay team bonding where we went to the movies and to dinner."

The six swimmers, part of the 4x100 metre freestyle relay team, including Olympic sliver medalist James Magnussen have apologised for their actions.

The AOC though, say they will be investigating the matter.

The athletes face the possibility of losing part or all rewards received from the AOC, as well as funding for preparation for major events including the 2016 Olympic Games.

The admission comes after a report said Australia's poor swimming performance at the London Games, winning just 1 gold medal, was due to a "toxic" team culture.

China to Keep Property Market in Check

The National Bureau of Statistics is reporting housing prices in major Chinese Cities for January increased 2.2 percent month on month.

New house prices gained an average 0.8 percent over the same period than a year earlier.

CRI's Shen Ting takes a close look.

Reporter: The figure could stun particularly those who might have expected further plunges in new house prices following a 10 month decline.

"I followed closely to the fluctuation of the housing price though I just bought one last month. But every hikes is directly related to our interests."

But the bigger concern on this occasion, may be for the government.

Two days before the data release, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced at a State Council meeting the government would step up regulations in the country's real estate market.

However, the tightening policies dubbed as 'the new five regulations', have been described as gentle.

Ding Jiangang is the chief commentator on real estate issues for Xinhua News Agency.

"How strong the government has come to the control front, how effective the policies at practice, we will see it at the follow-up measures; such as how many cities and regions the trial property tax is going to expand, how stringent the tax will be and should the existing housing be levied?"

But is tax the only way out here?

A trial property tax was recently launched in Shanghai and Chongqing on a trial basis, and some residents are saying it's made life more difficult.

"I only have to pay an average property tax of 15 hundred on a monthly basis as the apartment is quite compact and tight. Even that I still feel the pinch let alone without the support from my parents."

At the same meeting, the State Council has pledged to maintain land supply and increase it in some cases. Ding Jiangang welcomes the move.

"The key to solve the problem is to break the land supply monopoly. Say if we could have more than one land reserve center in a city, equaling at functions of land sell and storage, then the monopoly will be torn down."

The government has vowed a greater supply of medium and small sized apartments.

But it remains to be seen whether that tackles the price issues marring a real-estate market, which is seen as a direct factor in around 40 other business sectors around the country.

For CRI, I'm Shen Ting.

Movie "Argo" Criticized in Iran

The 2013 oscars are scheduled to take place this Sunday. Oscar frontrunner movie, Argo, is being criticized in Iran for failing to tell the truth about the US embassy siege in 1979, upon which the film is based. For more on the story, here's Wang Wei.

Reporter: Ben Affleck's film 'Argo' tells the story of the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the resulting operation to get US diplomatic staff out of the country.

Many Hollywood films like 'Argo' though are not screened in cinemas in Iran but pirated copies of almost all newly released movies are sold under-the-counter in shops or by vendors on streets.

Film enthusiast Amir Saman watches all Hollywood movies, but he says Argo has failed to impress in its portrayal of Iran

"If a person my age watches this anywhere in this world he or she would think that we are people who beat and kill. Some scenes in this movie show people are killed on the streets. I think it is too exaggerated."

Fifty American hostages were held from November 1979 until January 1981 after a group of students who supported the Iranian Revolution took over the US embassy.

Dr Masoomeh Ebtekar was one of the student spokespeople during the US embassy takeover. As a reformist member of Tehran City Council now, Ebtekar says the film does not tell the story of the takeover as it actually happened.

"The group who took over the American embassy were a group of young, very orderly, quite calm in a sense, group of both men and women. There was no commotion, violence or you don't see - the scenes that you see in 'Argo' are totally incorrect. And it is quite surprising because that footage exists. If Ben Affleck wanted to make a movie out of the reality, depicting the reality of what happened, he should have at least used some parts of the actual historical event, the footage which exists. But they didn't do that. He goes and chose the scene of very violent and very angry mob. And throughout the film it is never mentioned that these are a group of students."

She says initially she thought the film would be a balanced representation of events but that didn't last.

"At the beginning, initially when I saw those scenes I thought ok, they are making an attempt to portray the Iranian side, the Iranian picture, and they want to give a balanced image. They are trying to give the sense that this film is going to be objective and it is not going to be biased. But that didn't continue."

'Argo' has emerged as the best-picture favorite for the Oscar awards after sweeping top prizes at earlier film honors, including the BAFTAS, the Golden Globes and awards from the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America.

For CRI, I'm Wang Wei.
Media Digest
CHINA DAILY: China Mulls Hygiene Standards for Public Restrooms

Health authorities have issued a draft regulation that sets standards for public toilets, including limits for odour intensity and the number of flies and maggots.

According to the rules, toilets attached to other buildings should contain no more than one fly per square meter.

For independent public toilets, each square meter should contain no more than three flies.

The draft also stipulates that if an equal number of men and women use a given toilet service area, the number of stalls for women should be double that for men.

The draft also contains classifications for odors, cleaning, equipment and disinfection.

The Ministry is now soliciting public opinions on the draft.

GLOBAL TIMES: Journalist Detained for Blackmail

Police in East China's Jiangsu Province have detained an accredited journalist on suspicion of blackmail.

The arrests were made following a China Central Television (CCTV) investigative report, which secretly recorded the journalist bragging about how much money he made by promising companies not to publish stories about some alleged wrongdoing.

The man and five men he recruited visited companies and agencies in several provinces, questioned the companies about their environmental safeguards and asked local agencies about land requisition practices.

The man told a CCTV reporter that the companies paid between 1,000 yuan ($160) and 15,000(2,400$) yuan for not printing stories that would have made them look bad.
Authorities have banned him from working as a journalist for life and ordered his newspaper to cease publication.

An associate professor from Shanghai-based Fudan University says the case reflects corruption in the media, and called for ethical and professional rules journalists.

THE AGE: Microsoft Cooler than Before, But Apple on Top

A Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that half of the respondents thought Microsoft is "cooler" now than it was a year or two ago.

The software maker managed to pip Facebook in the survey C only 40 per cent of young adults thought the world's largest social network is cooler now than in the past.

Twitter scored 47 per cent, also below Microsoft's 50 per cent.

Part of Microsoft's lift appears to stem from its all-new Surface tablets, which have revamped the familiar Windows interface with a tile-based, mobile app-friendly look and feel.

Apple still scored well in the poll, the first in a series that aims to measure brand perception and usage over time for major consumer tech brands.

But Google's Android brand did even better, with a full 70 per cent giving it the thumbs up.

Microsoft sold fewer than 900,000 Surface tablets in the fourth quarter, a fraction of the 23 million iPads sold by Apple.