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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-03-24
Hello and Welcome to News and Reports on China Radio International.
In This Edition
President Xi Jinping urges leaders of China and Russia to further advance bilateral relations under the new international situation.
Chinese officials say President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Tanzania testifies to the relations between China and Africa.
Cities around the world switched off the lights on Saturday evening to mark Earth Hour.
And thousands of bank employees in Cyprus demonstrate against potential austerity measures as politicians raced against time to raise a multi-billion euro fund to secure its international bailout.
Hot Issue Reports
Chinese President Xi Jinping Meets Russian PM Medvedev
Visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping Saturday met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, reaffirming strong ties between China and Russia.
Xi is now on his first trip overseas since becoming president last week.
"Dear Prime Minister Medvedev. It is very pleasant to meet you once again. It is our fifth meeting. We have been friends for a long time. Thank you for the congratulations."
During the meeting Xi Jinping said he has achieved his goals in visiting Russia and the results has far exceeded his expectations.
He said the two nations have made breakthroughs in their energy and resources cooperation, demonstrating that the two economies are highly complementary to each other.
The Chinese president also called on the two sides to expand mutual investment, focus on a number of strategic projects, and promote joint research, development and production.
For his part, Medvedev said the relationship between the two countries is at its best in history and the bilateral strategic partnership has enjoyed good development.
He said the Russian side believed that Xi's visit is fruitful, and will further deepen bilateral strategic coordination.
Medvedev also pledged that Russia will work with China to make full use of the regular meeting mechanism between the two nations' prime ministers to implement the important agreements reached by the two presidents.
Xi Jinping Addresses the Moscow Institute of International Relations
Earlier, President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the Moscow Institute of International Relations, during which he urged leaders of China and Russia to further advance bilateral relations under the new international situation.
The president also called on all countries to work together to maintain world peace and promote common development.
CRI's Chen Mei has more.
Reporter: President Xi Jinping told his audience of would-be Russian diplomats that Sino-Russian relations are one of the most important bilateral ties in today's world.
And he says that maintaining high-level exchanges and keeping bilateral ties strong serve the interests of both nations.
"At present, both China and Russia are standing at an important point of national revitalization, and the bilateral relationship has entered into a new stage where they provide each other with development opportunities and recognize each other as their priority cooperation partner."
Trade between China and Russia exceeded 88 billion US dollars last year, and personnel exchanges involved over 3 million people.
Energy is one of the most fruitful areas in bilateral cooperation as Xi described the oil and natural gas pipeline between the two countries as "a new centennial artery."
He wanted the two countries expand the cooperation to include such areas as investment, infrastructural construction and high tech industries.
Moreover, the Chinese leader also stressed the importance of enhanced people-to-people exchanges.
"China will also invite Russian university students, including students from your university, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, to visit our country. I hope that more and more young people in both countries will continue the Sino-Russian friendship and devote to the cause of friendly cooperation between the two countries."
Earlier, Presidents of the two countries jointly declared that special years of friendly exchanges among young people would be respectively launched in 2014 and 2015.
Yulia Lukina, a junior researcher with Moscow State Institute of International Relations, says she has great expectations of bilateral relations.
"During yesterday's presidential meeting, the two countries signed a number of agreements, setting a goal to increase the volume of bilateral trade up to 100 billion dollars by 2015, and 200 billion dollars by 2020. The two countries are going to further develop bilateral relations in various fields with special focus on energy security, to advance trade and investment relations, to deepen cooperation in industry and agriculture."
And not just bilateral relations, in fact, the Chinese President also took the opportunity to stress China's interest in developing mutually beneficial cooperative relations with countries around the world.
"What China's development and growth in strength brings to the world is more opportunities, but no threat whatsoever. The China Dream that we are destined to fulfill will not only benefit the Chinese people, but peoples of all countries."
Earlier, Xi Jinping held talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and attended together with Putin the opening ceremony of the "Tourism Year of China" in Russia.
Xi arrived in Moscow on Friday for a state visit to Russia, the first leg of his maiden foreign trip since he took office last week.
For CRI, I'm Chen Mei.
China Attaches Great Importance to Ties with Tanzania
After Russia, President Xi Jinping will travel to Tanzania to continue his overseas trip.
the arrangement testifies to the relations between China and Africa, between China and Tanzania, according to a senior Chinese official.
Currently, China has surpassed the United States as Africa's largest trading partner.
Data from China's State Bureau of Statistics showed that bilateral trade soared from 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2000 to 166 billion U.S. dollars in 2011.
China has also become Tanzania's largest trading partner and its second-largest source of investment.
Bilateral trade reached 2.47 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 15.2 percent year on year, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhai Jun last week.
Apart from debt writing-off programs that have benefited Tanzania, China has also sent doctors and nurses to this country to provide medical services.
"They are very smiley and very very nice."
"I love them. We work together."
Tanzania signed a contract last July with Chinese companies to construct a 500-km pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.
Lights Turned off in Cities to Mark Earth Hour
Cities around the world switched off the lights on Saturday evening to mark Earth Hour.
This is an event to raise awareness on climate change organized by the conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund.
Landmark buildings in Seoul, Hong Kong, Sydney, Beijing, Taipei, Jakarta and Hanoi went dark from 8:30pm to 9:30pm local time.
Around 640,000 facilities in Seoul including the Seoul Tower joined the campaign.
At the Bird's Nest, a Beijing landmark and centerpiece of the 2008 Olympics, lights went off as China joined more than 150 countries and territories for the global initiative.
Deputy country representative for WWF China, Li Lin says the number of participating cities has been increasing since the inception of this global environmental awareness campaign six years ago.
"This year, we actually didn't track the commitment of governments due to our lack of human resources. But based on the governments' promises and what we can see on the Internet, there are many more cities that have committed to take actions this year compared to last year, 127 more cities."
Taiwan's tallest building Taipei 101 also joined landmarks across Asia.
The Society of Wilderness, a Taiwan based environmental group working with the WWF, said hundreds of thousands of people in Taiwan signed up online to join the event.
Jenner Lin is a representative for the group.
"I think the event is just only a symbol activity. But then the most important is we will tell the people that after the event you really need to make your promise."
He added that if all 23 million local people turned off their lights daily for an hour, there will be no need to build the island's fourth nuclear power plant, a contentious issue in Taiwan at the moment.
Cyprus Bank Employees Protest against Potential Austerity Measures
Several thousand bank employees on Saturday marched through the centre of Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus, to protest against potential austerity measures.
"All the banks and we are protecting our jobs, and jobs of the whole Cypriot."
Politicians in Cyprus were racing against time to raise a 5.8 billion euro fund to secure its international bailout.
But time is running out fast, as the European Central Bank has said it will stop providing emergency funding to Cyprus' banks after Monday if no new plan is in place.
Without ECB's support, Cypriot banks would collapse on Tuesday, pushing the country toward bankruptcy and a potential exit from the 17-nation eurozone.
At the moment, Finance Minister Michalis Sarris has said "significant progress" had been made, and that new legislation raising funds could be completed and debated in Parliament this weekend.
Finance officials were meeting with representatives of its prospective creditors and working on several new laws, including a crucial bill that would impose a tax of within 1 percent on bank deposits.
Captive Released by Rebels in S. Philippines
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the release of Australian national Warren Rodwell after he was released by rebels in the southern Philippines.
Rodwell was released in Pagadian City. He was taken captive by rebels from the Abu Sayyaf group 15 months ago.
Gillard praised the government of the Philippines for securing Rodwell's release.
"Mr Rodwell's family have shown a great deal of courage and stoicism in what has been a tremendously difficult situation. I do want to pay tribute to the government of the Philippines and their agencies and personnel who have worked so hard to secure Mr Rodwell's release, including particularly those who combat kidnapping in the Philippines for the Philippines Government, they have done some remarkable work."
The Philippino rebels posing as policemen broke into his home in Zamboanga Sibugay province and held him captive, demanding two million US dollars in ransom.
His family had been in contact with his captors, but whether or not any ransom was paid for his release is unknown.
The Abu Sayyaf group is known for kidnapping foreigners for ransom.
They are still holding a Swiss, one Dutch and one Japanese on the islands of Jolo and Basilan.
Prolonged Cold Snap Caused Blackout and Floods in the U.K.
Tens of thousands of householders in Britain, including 44,000 in Northern Ireland were without power due to severe weather, with forecasters predicting more to come.
Much of northern and central England was hit on Friday by late Spring snow, which also fell on Northern Ireland, causing transport and infrastructure disruption.
Richard Gatling, a traffic police office in northern England.
"We're getting this, potentially two, three, maybe even four days of snow that we've got. If that's the case, it's going to get more severe up here and considerably worse."
Also on Friday, a soccer World Cup qualifier game between hosts Northern Ireland and Russia was postponed to Saturday when heavy snowfall hit Belfast.
At the same time heavy rain, mainly in the southwest of England, was causing floods with the Environment Agency issuing 91 flood alerts.
In Cornwall a house partially collapsed after a landslip, killing one person.
The prolonged cold snap has raised fears in the British media of the rationing of gas supplies as household demand and disruption push the energy grid close to breaking point.
Power authorities and the government however maintained that gas needs were being met.
The weather is in stark contrast to that of the same time in March 2012, where parts of Britain saw record high temperatures.
Conditions Ripe to Set up Joint BRICS Bank: Brazilian Economist
A Brazilian economist is saying conditions are now ripe to set up a joint BRICS bank to help enhance cooperation among the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Gilmar Masieiro made the comment before the BRICS Summit scheduled to open Monday in Durban, South Africa.
"Each of the BRICS countries has development banks that are running well, which have made important contributions to the economic development of their respective countries. If they did promote the development of their respective countries, why don't we set up a joint bank to promote development of all the BRICS countries? Although we know that each of these countries has its distinguished features, from a financial point of view, the common ground they share will simplify the establishment and management of this joint bank."
The idea of a Development Bank of BRICS was initially introduced at the 2012 BRICS Summit in New Delhi, India, and has been a hot issue of discussion among economists.
Some economists challenge the idea, citing the difficulties in setting up such a bank as currencies, institutional systems and financial policies vary in these states.
But Gilmar Masieiro argues that BRICS countries have rich experiences and a joint BRICS bank is not remote.
He believes that all the BRICS countries will benefit from the joint bank.
Bersani Is Tasked to Form Italy's New and Viable Government
Italy's centre-left leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, is now tasked to form a new and viable government after national elections last month produced no clear winner.
President Giorgio Napolitano said the 61-year-old Bersani was best positioned to create a government given "the most difficult circumstances".
The president was referring to the fact that Bersani has a comfortable majority in the lower house, the Senate is split.
Bersani pledged dialogue with other political forces in the coming days, seeking a balance between "a government seeking the change expected by the Italians and one able to carry out reforms."
Political affairs analyst James Walston said the odds were against Bersani's succeeding, but predicted if the centre-left leader did manage to cinch the confidence votes, the government stands a chance of lasting till spring 2014.
"If Bersani does not succeed, then there is a small possibility that the president will ask the speaker of the senate to try and do the same with a non-political and semi-technical government, outside of the parties, some sort of government of national unity. But that too is also very difficult and unlikely. If that does not happen then we will be standing here again in two months time probably talking about new elections."
The latest in late February vote made it plain that many voters were disenchanted with mainstream parties and largely divided over which forces should lead Italy at this delicate moment.
Bersani's forces finished first, but he has ruled out a coalition with the next biggest vote-winner, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative alliance.
Police Seek Criminal Charges over Nightclub Fire that Killed 241 People in Brazil
Police in Brazil are now seeking criminal charges against 16 people in connection with the nightclub fire that killed 241 people in Santa Maria earlier this year.
Inspector Marcelo Arigony said the mayor and fire chief of the southern Brazilian city could also be held responsible for the accident because of the negligent safety inspections of the nightclub.
But he said that because Mayor Cezar Schirmer is an elected official, only the Rio Grande do Sul State Supreme Court and the city's legislature can determine if the mayor is charged.
And only a military court can charge the fire chief, because the department is under the control of the police, which is part of the military.
The fire roared through the crowded, windowless Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria on January 27, filling the air with flames and thick, toxic smoke.
Arigony said the band performing at the club lit a flare, which ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling.
Arigony added that it's the cyanide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide released by the ensuing fire was what killed the people inside.
"The smoke descended like a black mattress and people breathed that smoke, that was probably cyanide, and they started losing senses."
The inspector said police were seeking murder charges against the nightclub's two owners, their manager, and three band members, among others.
The lesser charge of manslaughter is being sought against several city officials for granting the club an operating permit.
Xi's Russia Trip Attests New Paradigm of State-to-state Ties
China's new President Xi Jinping is now in Moscow on a state visit to Russia.
This is the first stop of his first foreign tour as China's head of state.
A commentary by China's Xinhua News Agency says China-Russia cooperation is especially important in the aftermath of a worldwide financial crisis and regional unrest in the Middle East, as they acted as a stabilizing force when sovereign integrity and financial security of many developing nations are at risk.
The article says as expected, Xi's trip will consolidate the relationship between China and Russia, and set the tone for the direction of their partnership in the next decade.
Moreover, it will leave a historic imprint in setting a new paradigm by demonstrating that the world's two major nations can forge a bond purely based on good-neighborliness, equality and mutual trust, without resorting to old-school alliance or jointly targeting a third party.
The article says deep sense of trust is on full display as both President Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin reiterated that they see each other's country as the principal and most important strategic partner.
According to media reports from both countries, a slew of agreements would be inked for broader China-Russia collaboration during Xi's upcoming visit, which would include investment and energy, the two complementary cooperation areas where an upgrade is much needed.
The Xinhua commentary says President Xi Jinping will also have a chance to get to know more about Russian leaders and the public when the Tourism Year of China event is launched during his stay to promote people-to-people exchanges.
Obama's Mideast Trip - Little Expectation for Breakthrough
US President Barack Obama has been visiting the Middle East this week, the first one to the region as President that has already taken him to Israel, the Palestinian West Bank and Jordan. But as expected, the trip didn't surprise anyone with any breakthroughs although he addressed in person the long standing issue of Palestinian Israeli conflict.
An editorial in China says given that cementing the US' strong alliance with Israel seemed to be his main goal, Obama should be reminded that the US partiality to Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is becoming increasingly unpopular with the rest of the international community.
As Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are both starting new terms, both should seize the opportunity to create the conditions necessary to restart the long-stalled peace talks.
The article says with the right-wing Netanyahu being politically weakened by January's election, in which centrists made surprising gains, the article says Obama should use his leverage with Netanyahu to rein in the Israeli leader's hardline policies toward the Palestinians, which have sowed more seeds of enmity between the two sides and kept them away from the negotiating table.
And as far as the issue of Iran's nuclear standoff with the west is concerned, the paper says the world is concerned that the US and Israel might narrow their gap on the issue and go a step further in launching military strikes against Iran.
The article says Obama should understand any maneuvering in this direction will squander the recent progress made in international efforts to defuse the West's nuclear standoff with Iran through dialogue and negotiation.
Last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iran and the P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany - held their first round of talks this year.
The China Daily editorial says continuing to build on the good momentum attained so far will cater to regional peace and stability.