News & Reports 2013-03-17

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-03-17

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

In This Edition

China's new government takes shape following parliament endorsement of a series of appointments of senior posts.
Air pollution once again tops topics for discussion among China's lawmakers as they wind up annual session in Beijing.
Pakistani Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, delivers a farewell speech as his government completes its five-year term.
And Indian police launch a manhunt following the reported gang rape of a Swiss traveler.
Hot Issue Reports

Chinese Top Legislative Body Endorses New Cabinet Lineup

China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress has formally voted to endorse a new cabinet, capping a leadership transition that begins President Xi Jinping's and Premier Li Keqiang's term of office in the next five years.

Four vice premiers, namely Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai were appointed.

Outgoing foreign minister Yang Jiechi was replaced by Wang Yi, Chinese former ambassador to Japan.

Yang was promoted to state councilor responsible for foreign policy.

Chang Wanquan, who has overseen China's ambitious space program, was chosen as defense minister.

The head of some ministries and governor of Central Bank of China have also been announced.

The announcement came on the second last day of China's annual session of NPC.

Earlier, the NPC approved president Xi Jinping's appointment of vice premier Li Keqiang as China's new premier.

Tao Jingzhou, managing partner of an international law firm's Asia office in Beijing and classmate of Li Keqiang at Peking University's Law Department in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was complimentary of Li since he was in the provincial leadership years ago.

"I think what he has done in Liaoning, for example, tried to improve these shabby houses in Liaoning is something I think I am very pound of, instead of building a huge square with fascinating buildings. He tried to really help poor people to improve their basic life, this is something I think which is very good. I think he is by character a very strong man."

Long Road ahead for New Energy Cars in China

Worsening air pollution in major Chinese cities has overshadowed the annual session of China's national lawmakers. Pollution control once again became one of the heated topics for panel discussion among the deputies of the National People's Congress over the past few days. Some delegates -- many of whom are from the automotive industry -- have taken the opportunity to advocate electric cars as a part of the solution. But will it be easy to convince China's motorists to turn electric?

Zhang Ru has more.

Reporter: During China's annual legislative session, Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology took the lead in promoting new energy vehicles by using an electric car as a commuter vehicle.

"Our ministry's two electric cars are very popular. My colleagues are more willing to take them, because every kilometer they travel means a reduction in PM2.5 emissions, compared to gas vehicles."

In the meantime, Miao Wei, China's Minister of Industry and Information Technology, announced that the subsidies for new energy cars will be extended by three years.

"It should not be a problem to extend the policy. Before, most new energy cars put into use were buses. But it's good news that now more private buyers are opting for new energy cars."

China started promoting new energy vehicles in 25 cities in 2009, with public transport used as the pilot zone.

As of last year, nearly 28,000 new energy vehicles were sold and 80 percent of them were buses. But the number is far below the government's target of more than 500,000.

Besides the central government's subsidy, some local governments like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen also have local subsidy policies. For example, an electric car in Shanghai can be subsidized for a total of 100,000 yuan -- that's almost a third of what it costs for a domestically produced mid-range sedan.

But still, consumers have their concerns.

Yang Kai, a driver in Beijing says he worries about the quality of the battery.

"I am worried that perhaps the battery can only be used for two to three years. And if it costs me 30,000 to 50,000 yuan to buy a new battery, I won't buy an electric car."

National lawmaker Chen Yunhua, who is also chairmen of the Jiangsu Yueda Group Company, says technology is the key to making private new energy cars go mainstream.

"I think China's new energy vehicle technology is immature, including the battery, electric control and electromotor. Car manufactures must recognize that new energy vehicles are a developing trend in the auto industry. If they don't step up efforts to develop technology now, they will find themselves in a passive situation in the future."

National lawmaker An Jin, chairman of Jiang Huai Auto Company in Anhui Province says the infrastructure for electric vehicles is another major problem.

"Although electric vehicles can't go far yet due to the battery's weakness, they already can meet the needs of buses and daily commuting. The problem is that it's not convenient for the car owners to charge the battery. So the governments should build up sufficient electric charging posts."

So far the State Grid has built more than 80 charging stations as well as over 7,000 charging posts in cities where electric cars are being promoted. The number is said to be increased 30 times by the end of 2015.

For CRI, I am Zhang Ru.

Pakistan PM to Dissolve Cabinet & Announce a Caretaker PM

Pakistani Prime Minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, has addressed the nation in a televised farewell speech as his government completed its five-year term.

According to the country's constitution, new elections will be held within 60 days, although no date has yet been set.

"Today an elected democratic government is in the process of transferring power according to the constitution. I would like to pay thanks to all the political parties and institutions that played their role in strengthening democracy. We have strengthened the foundations of democracy to such an extent that no one will be able to harm democracy in the future."

A caretaker government is expected to be named to run the country until the vote, but politicians were still debating about who should head the interim government.

The National Assembly would be officially dissolved at midnight on 17 March.

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf earlier announced that he would return to Pakistan one week after the setup of a caretaker government to compete for parliamentary elections.

Agreement Reached on a Bailout Package for Cyprus

A bailout package to save Cyprus from bankruptcy in its economy has been endorsed at a European financial ministers meeting.

The package, amounting 10 billion euro, or 13 billion US dollars was agreed upon by its eurozone nations and the International Monetary Fund.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup meetings of the 17-nation eurozone's finance ministers.

"The Eurogroup considers that in principle financial assistance to Cyprus is warranted to safeguard financial stability in Cyprus and the euro area as a whole, by providing a financial envelope which has been reduced to, up to 10 billion euro."

In return for the rescue loans, Cyprus will cut its deficit, shrink its troubled banking sector, raise taxes and privatize state assets.

Olli Rehn, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner explains.

"This has been a very difficult process, but the result achieved tonight reaches the essential goals of both maintaining financial stability and ensuring debt sustainability in Cyprus."

The package also foresees a one-time levy on the money held in bank accounts in Cyprus. And the measure is expected to net 5.8 billion euros in additional revenues.

However, analysts have warned making depositors take a hit threatens to undermine investors' confidence in other weaker eurozone economies and might possibly lead to bank runs.

Joerg Asmussen, member of European Central Bank's executive board.

"A default of Cyprus and banks would have direct stability implications for Greece and indirect consequences for the wider euro area, with worries over the reversibility of the euro resurfacing again. And this could lead to renewed financial instability, requiring further mitigating polices and to a further loss of jobs and growth in the euro zone."

Under the bailout deal, Cyprus debt is forecast to reach about 100% of GDP by 2020.

And the agreement still has to be approved by parliaments in several eurozone nations.

Afghans Ask US to Withdraw Forces from Wardak Province

Hundreds of Afghans have poured onto streets in capital Kabul protesting against the US military presence in central eastern Wardak province.

The demonstrators are demanding the release of nine local citizens they believe were detained by the US forces.

"We are protesting, (we want) to see the implementation of our president's decree and we want the American special forces to withdraw from Wardak province."

"If we can't get our rights then we will use all means. Our last option will be a national uprising against this government and the special forces."

Kabul's deputy police chief General Mohammad Daud Amin said the protest of roughly 500 Afghans was peaceful.

US officials have admitted four men arrested in the province in joint US-Afghan raids, but had no information on the other five alleged detainees.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had demanded all US special forces leave the province early last week, but agreed to give top US Commander General Joseph Dunford more time to seek a solution that maintains security in Wardak.
Light News

Netanyahu Unveils Israel's New Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed President Shimon Peres that he formed a new government on Saturday.

Netanyahu said he hoped his new government will have cooperation, and will be able to bring good news in all fronts.

"We face a decisive year in terms of security, economy, efforts to advance peace and also the desire of the citizens of Israel that we bring about change here that we have awaited many years."

The new cabinet came following Netanyahu's Likud party signed a coalition deal with smaller parties for the new government that will likely focus on domestic issues and sideline the conflict with the Palestinians.

The new administration, that will control 68 of parliament's 120 seats, is expected to take office next week, just days before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Centrist Yesh Atid and pro-settler Jewish Home rode a wave of middle-class anger in a Jan. 22 election over high living costs and state benefits long granted to the poor, largely unemployed and fast-growing minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The new government will be the first in a decade not to include ultra-Orthodox parties and public expectations are high it could effect real change in what many Israelis see as state coddling of the ultra-Orthodox that gives them little incentive or opportunity to learn skills and contribute to the economy.

Indian Police Launch a Manhunt Following Gang Rape of a Swiss Traveler

Police have launched a massive manhunt in the forests of Datia of central Indian Madhya Pradesh state after the reported gang rape of a Swiss traveler.

The victim, who was attacked by a group of unidentified men in the presence of her husband while camping in the forest area, was sent for medical examination in hospital.

A police official accompanying the couple who were on a three-months-long holiday in India, told journalists that they had launched a combing operation in the forest to nab the culprits.

Meanwhile, enraged rights activists slammed the chief minister over poor governance and deteriorating law and order situation.

"Every day 10 to 12 such incidents are taking place. The Chief and Interior Minister of the state are fast asleep. The chief minister should be ashamed of himself."

In December, a 23-year-old student was gang raped and later died while traveling by bus in an attack that horrified the nation.

The assault has triggered nationwide protests.

India has robust gender laws, but they are hardly enforced.

Violence against women has a level of social acceptability in India. A government survey found 51 percent of Indian men and 54 percent of women justified wife beating.

Beijing Hosts First Leg in FINA Diving World Series

China has bagged several gold medals in the first two days of competition at the FINA/Midea World Diving Series event in Beijing.

Six divers have entered the final of the women's 3-metre springboard event.

Among them, He Zi, who was a silver medalist at London Olympics, won a gold.

"In the past when I have to compete in two categories, I have to struggle with the training time between the two events. Now I can be more focused on my single event and no longer need to worry about the synchronized one."

In the men's 3-metre springboard singles event, Olympic silver medal winner Qin Kai took the gold.

Qin Kai also won a gold medal after teaming up with He Chong in the men's 3-metre springboard synchronized event.

"He Chong jumps very high on the springboard and I have to do the same to synchronize with him. However, the outcome is not bad. I will keep a good mentality and try to do well in the later competitions of this season."

China has now kept six out of the eight gold medals at home.

Wu Mingxia topped in the women's 3-metre springboard synchronized competition with her new young partner Shi Tingmao.

The finals of the men and women's 10-metre platform will be staged on Sunday.

Chinese Art Student Paints Trees in a Polluted City

A young student has been painting on trees, turning them into colorful works of art in a northern Chinese city.

Wang Yue, a university student who majors in visual arts began painting trees in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province early this year, when the city suffered the worst air pollution in years.

The 23-year-old said she was inspired when out on a walk with her mother, and found trees with knots she considered unattractive and began to paint them.

"I thought these bare tree knots weren't pretty. I want to beautify them; to decorate the tree and the street itself. It will make people happy when they pass by. I also want to bring some art to people."

The subjects of Wang's creations range from pandas to white cats, many of which can be seen along the fifteen tree trunks lining the city's main streets.

Wang's paintings drew crowds of onlookers anxious to snap photos of the young artist's work in progress.

It normally takes about four hours for Wang to finish an entire painting, applying one layer after another.

Some passers-by appreciated Wang's artistic additions to the city.

"If I look at the sky, I'm definitely in a bad mood. But if I look at her paintings, I feel much happier. So I look forward to seeing more works like this."

Wang said the main motivation for her paintings was to raise environmental awareness.

"I just hope that people will protect and treasure nature after seeing my paintings which are all natural creations. In addition, I hope people will be happier, and not be depressed by the smoggy weather."

In the final step of her painting, Wang sprays a clear aerosol seal to protect the painting from the elements and maintain its color.

Shijiazhuang is among one of the most heavily polluted cities in China.
Media Digest

China Needs Sustainable Urbanization

Urbanization holds the most potential for China's economic growth over the next couple of decades according to the country's development strategies. But what kind of urbanization does the country need and where it will end up if China continues to follow the path it has taken over the past three decades needs the serious attention of the authorities.

An editorial in China Daily says the latest study found that the quality of China's urbanization is comparatively low when it comes to urban administration and urban planning, pollution control and sustainability.

It says when more than 50 percent of Chinese cities suffer from a lack of water, the efficient use of water should obviously be one of the main concerns for policymakers and planners.

When air pollution and traffic congestion have become the scourges of urban life, reducing the use of cars must be considered.

And when an increasing number of cities are under threat from their surrounding landfills, facilities to treat and recycle garbage must be in place before a city is expanded or a new town constructed.

The editorial says that the 20 largest Chinese cities led by Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have failed to solve these problems. Among other things, very few of them effectively and efficiently use reclaimed water yet.

Thirty years ago, China's reform architect Deng Xiaoping advised the nation to search its way through the river by feeling the stones. The paper says today China should have enough experience after decades of urbanization to make its cities and towns more sustainable.

The China Daily editorial asks the urban planners and urbanization policymakers to see to it that cities or towns are expanded or built in such a way that resources of all kinds can be as efficiently utilized as possible and pollution is reduced to a minimum.

Combating Cyber Espionage Needs Joint Efforts by China and US

The United States has recently stepped up the rhetoric against China on cyber espionage, with President Barack Obama joining the chorus on Wednesday.

Obama complained that billions of dollars could be lost due to theft of American corporate secrets.

China's Xinhua News Agency has a commentary saying Washington's allegations show it is rather impatient with rampant backdoor thefts in the digital world, but casting China as a specific culprit for the ubiquitous problem is unfair.

The article says computer hacking is an emerging threat to global security. Both China and the United States are victims of electronic assaults.

It quotes figures from China's top internet coordination center, CNCERT as saying that in 2012, more than 14 million computers in China were hijacked and controlled from overseas IP addresses, most of which were from the United States.

In fairness, the commentary says that does not mean the hackers were American, or that Washington was supporting or condoning the digital attacks against China. With computer technologies evolving so fast, hackers can easily hide or change their IPs. That makes hackers anonymous and difficult to trace.

Using the same logic, any hasty accusation aimed at a specific country for cyber attacks is technologically flawed and politically inappropriate.

The commentary says blaming the attacks on Chinese hackers is a rash statement that lacks credible evidence, while picking on Beijing as backing such acts sounds like an insidious attempt to tarnish China's image.

The Xinhua opinion piece says to eradicate cyber crime on the borderless internet is barely possible without transnational cooperation. In this new field, the United States and China share common interests.