News & Reports 2013-03-30

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-03-30

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

In This Edition

Continuing his maiden African tour, President Xi Jinping reaffirms China's commitment to remaining Africa's all-weather friend and partner.
Chinese navy conducts live-fire missile destroyers training in the South China Sea.
The Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades says there's no way the country will experiment with its future by leaving the Eurozone single currency.
And a report on Chinese funeral development calls for greener funerals and supervision over the operation of public cemeteries.
Hot Issue Reports

Chinese President Pledges Never-ending Support for Africa

Continuing his maiden African tour, Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the leaders of African countries that they will always have China's support.

He also said China-Africa ties faced opportunities as well as new challenges, but that they will maintain their friendly stance on Africa regardless of what happens in the international political landscape.

"China will be a steadfast guardian of Africa's peace and stability, a steadfast promoter of Africa's prosperity and development, a steadfast supporter in Africa's pursuit of strength through unity, and a steadfast advocate for Africa in its efforts to seek equal participation in international affairs."

The President made the remarks while in South Africa where he on a number of occasions, exchanged views with African leaders on the further development of China-Africa ties.

The South African President Jacob Zuma agreed that China has a crucial role in partnering African countries.

"It is beyond doubt that China will continue to play a more constructive role in the building of a peaceful and prosperous Africa."

The other African leaders are also said to have praised the ties between Africa and China, as well as voicing hopes of drawing on China's success of development.

China-Africa Relations See New Changes

President Xi Jinping is now in Brazzaville for a state visit to the Republic of Congo, the first by a Chinese head of state since the two countries set up diplomatic relations 49 years ago. He will wrap up his four-nation trip on Saturday.

Commenting on the President's maiden African tour, analysts say that there's no doubt the visit will further deepen relations between China and Africa, but they're also believe that problems still exist in bi-lateral ties which need to to be addressed.

CRI's Li Jing has more.

Reporter: This week, when the Chinese President began his visit to Africa, it's believed that this would enhance friendship and co-operation on both sides.

During his first international travel as Chinese leader, Xi Jinping has visited countries including Tanzania, South Africa and is heading to the Republic of the Congo.

And there's hardly any doubting the growing friendship, which has seen the President promise continuous Chinese support for African countries.

Especially with trade between China and Africa surging more than 20-fold during the past decade to hit 200 billion US dollars last year.

However, Qu Xing, the Director of China Institute of International Studies, says changing times may alter certain dynamics in the ties, and it's something China should pay attention to adjust policies accordingly.

"In the past, many African leaders during the independence movement period were friendly to China, and understood China well. While nowadays, most new leaders have received western education and studied in western countries. Their knowledge about China and the way they think about China have changed a lot. Another thing is that China simply provided aid to Africa in the past, but now the cooperation is mutually beneficial to promote common development. Some African people may not get used to this. "

China has been Africa's largest trading partner, with Chinese investment in Africa growing strongly in recent years.

Over 2,000 Chinese companies are said to be operating in as many as 50 African countries at the moment, and more than 85 percent of the staff are Africans.

Qu Xing says it is not just the Chinese government but also the responsibility of these companies to ensure the relationship stays strong.

"Chinese companies should pursue a win-win situation in economic cooperation, and contribute more to the local development."

The good relations between China and Africa date back to decades ago. And the two sides have supported each other in national development as well as coordinated over international issues.

The relations have grown even more vigorously since 2000, when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was first established.

For CRI, this is Li Jing.

China Conducts Drills in South China Sea

Chinese missile destroyers have conducted live-fire training in the South China Sea.

The drill, which included simulated assaults from hostile vessels, was said to be aimed at testing the capabilities of countering air raids and electromagnetic interference as well as staging missile attacks.

"In particular, we want to test the abilities of quick response and covert assault of the missile destroyers."

Li Jiamei speaking there, a senior officer with the South China Sea fleet.

China has faced challenges to its South China Sea territories from several countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

Earlier this week, the Chinese foreign ministry urged the Vietnamese government to stop its fishermen from illegally fishing around the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.

The comments followed Vietnamese allegations that a Chinese vessel fired on a Vietnamese fishing boat there.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said their actions toward the Vietnamese fishing boat were necessary and justified, because it was operating illegally in Chinese waters.

The South China Sea is believed to be rich in natural resources with billions of barrels of oil in proven and probable reserves.

Banks in Cyprus Closed after Six-hour-operation

The Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades says there's no way the country will experiment with its future by leaving the Eurozone single currency.

He also said the financial situation was now contained following the bailout deal with the EU and the IMF worth 10 Billion EUROS or nearly 13 Billion US Dollars.

The banks in the country reopened yesterday after staying shut for nearly 2 weeks while bailout was being negotiated to avoid bankruptcy.

With several financial restrictions now placed on the banking, including a daily withdrawal limit of 300 EUROS for individuals, scores of people reportedly queued up to withdraw funds but although the general mood was said to be calm.

"Everything went well, there was no problem. Very well. And now life goes on."

"It was fine. I came after work to make it on time and everything was fine."

The Cypriot foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides now says the restrictions, which also put a cap on money transfers and movement of cash in and out of the country, could now remain in place for another month.

The restrictions were initially announced for a 7 day period, but economists are saying it will be difficult to lift them as long as the economy remains critical.

President Nicos Anastasiades has also hit out at the other Eurozone countries by saying their demands turned Cyprus in to an experiment.

Figures published by the Central Bank of Cyprus showed that savers from other euro zone countries withdrew 18 percent of their deposits back in February, while the talk of a tax on bank accounts was gaining ground.

The overall private sector bank deposits also fell by 2.2 percent to 46.4 billion euros last month, after a similar drop also seen in January.

South Africans Remain Concerned about Mandela's Health

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is said to be responding well to treatment for a chronic lung infection which led to his third hospital admittance in four months.

South Africa's presidency said that doctors were acting with extreme caution because of the advanced age of the former anti-apartheid leader.

He was admitted just before midnight on Thursday to a hospital in Pretoria, where he remains under observation.

South Africans however remain concerned about the health of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

"I feel bad because he's an African leader. He's a South African hero. He brought South Africa from struggle. From economic struggle to freedom. And he brought Apartheid to an end."

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

He is a revered figure in his homeland, which has named buildings and other places after him and uses his image on national bank notes.

Hospital visits for the 94 year old are becoming a more regular occurrence.

In December, he spent three weeks in hospital for a lung infection and he also needed a procedure to remove gallstones.
Light News

Beijing to Strictly Manage Vehicle Use to Fight against Smog

China will spend 100 billion yuan, or about 16 billion US dollars over three years to deal with Beijing's air pollution.

Fang Li, deputy director of Beijing's environmental protection bureau, says the measures to cut emissions for air quality improvement will also continue.

"We are considering launching the policy in particular areas and periods to control the number of cars on road, as well as managing the use of cars from other cities. We will unswervingly carry out the Clean Air Act, and improve the air quality year by year."

With a population of about 20 million, Beijing had more than 5 million vehicles by the end of last year.

Authorities however have been encouraging people to use public transportation to reduce air pollution.

Many local residents now say they prefer travelling in groups to reduce the overuse of vehicles.

"We have smog weather frequently in Beijing these days. Many people promote Green Travel, so I look for several riders online. Our homes and offices are close, so we can have car pool to work. It is convenient and more importantly reduce air pollution,"

The capital city will also continue to control vehicle emissions using the policy that restricts private cars from being driven one day of the week.

Greener Funerals and Supervision over Public Cemeteries Needed

A report on Chinese funeral development is calling for greener funerals and supervision over the operation of public cemeteries.

A Green Paper on Funeral Practices was jointly published on Thursday by the 101 Research Institute of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Social Sciences Academic Press.

Li Bo, is the deputy head of Social Affairs Department Under the Ministry of Civil Affairs:

"We will perfect the funeral facilities and build more public cemeteries in the future. At the same time, we encourage greener funerals such as tree burials and sea burials. "

The report suggests that relevant departments should make laws and regulations in a timely manner.

It also calls for an increase in financial support to set up a long-term mechanism and include public cemetery construction into financial budgets.

There is a growing need for more burial space in China.

However, the scarcity of public burial facilities in urban areas enables commercial cemeteries to monopolize the market.

A plot in a cemetery can be priced at as much as 1 million yuan.

Natural Gas Pricing Machanism Reform

Chinese experts are calling for a more reasonable pricing mechanism for natural gas here in China.

The call comes after panic buying of the resource triggered by rumors of a substantial rise in natural gas prices.

China's top economic planner has denied the rumors.

Wang Xiao has more.

Reporter: The National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement posted Wednesday on its website the news that China will increase natural gas prices significantly is "entirely untrue" and "groundless."

Rumors that the natural gas price will rise by almost 1 yuan to about 3.5 yuan per cubic meters in April spread like wildfire in the provinces of Shandong, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Liaoning, Hebei and Jiangxi.

Hundreds of residents stood in long queues outside gas outlets to buy as much natural gas as they could store.

Dong Xiucheng, an energy expert at the China University of Petroleum, said the government will be very cautious in adjusting prices for natural gas.

"Natural gas price adjustments are closely related to public interests and any change in prices will have to be prefaced by strict procedures, including public hearings."

Actually the central government has been planning to reform the natural gas pricing system for years. In the past five years, the upstream natural gas price rose by 50 percent but the end-user price rose only by 24 percent. The growth rate of gas consumption is much higher than its production rate. What's worse, imported gas price rose 70 percent in recent years.

The domestic companies don't want to import natural gas. The huge gap between supply and demand of natural gas penalizes energy consumption and the adjustment of the energy structure.

Dong Xiuicheng says natural gas pricing is likely to be taken up by the energy sector.

"If the pricing mechanism doesn't change, that means large imports of natural gas will be out of the question. Because the more we import, the more we lose. The government adopted a low price policy for natural gas for a long time. The price for natural gas is only 30 percent of the crude oil price, 40 percent of the diesel oil price, and 50 percent of the gasoline price. So the price of natural gas has a huge potential to rise."

A natural gas price hike would affect the cost of every household as well as manufacturers in all fields. Dong Xuecheng said that the price rise would be a step by step process.

"The government spent a long time setting up the pricing mechanism of refined oil products. The natural gas price is a more sensitive issue, because it affects every household. It is closely related to people's livelihoods. Therefore, the government will adopt more cautious and slow paced measures to reform the natural gas pricing mechanism."

Some places have operated trial pricing systems. For example, since the end of last year in Xuzhou and Nanjing in Jiangsu province, and Changsha and Xiangtan in Hunan Province adopted a tiered pricing mechanism for the residential use of natural gas.

It's certain that more cities around the country will adopt the tiered pricing mechanism this year.

For CRI, I'm Wang Xiao.

The Acceleration of Urban and Rural Integration

In a break from recent tradition, which saw migrant workers flock to costal cities to engage in labor intensive industries, nowadays, many such workers choose to go back to their hometown to work. The reason behind this is the acceleration of the integration of urban and rural areas. Li Dong has the details.

Reporter: Zhang Jinyong used to work far from his hometown. Like other people who work in big cities, he was only able to return home once a year during the Spring Festival period. But now, Zhang can spend more time with his wife and child. His parents can help him take care of family chores, plus, he enjoys salary raise. This is because of his decision to go back to his hometown Daduo, in Jiangsu province, to find work.

"Working outside is not as good as settling down in one's hometown. But in the past, my hometown didn't have a factory. I couldn't get a job. The only option was to find jobs in other places. But now I am back. I have a job. I don't need to worry about where to live. All I need is to buy a car. You could say that I am well-off, right?"

Zhang's studied electrical mechanics at university but he was unable find a job in his hometown after graduating. However, last year, a packing material factory with capital investment of 400 million yuan opened in his hometown of Daduo.

To maintain the sustainable progress of the integration of urban and rural areas, in recent years, the central government and local governments have attached importance to developing a number of specific industries.

In Zhang's hometown of Daduo, industries such as clothes processing, machine manufacturing and agricultural product processing are gradually booming.

Three years ago, more than 30 thousand Daduo town residents opted to go to other provinces to find work. But now many of them have returned. In those industries which have recently been developed within the town, more than 16 thousand local residents have found employment.

Wan Shu is the HR manager of a packing material company in Daduo.

"From January 1 of this year up to now, about two to three hundred people applied to work in our factory. About 60 to 70 were recruited. Most of them are experienced workers. More than 90 percent of workers in our factory are local people."

Last year, more than 120 thousand college graduates chose to go back home to find work in Jiangsu Province.

Zhang Haohan is a professor at the Academy of Social Sciences in Jiangsu Province.

"Many less developed rural areas have developed service, processing and manufacturing industries. They have demand for a new labor force, especially young and skilled workers. This is a natural phenomenon in history. It's also a reflection of a growing rural economy."

Zhang Haohan says that with the diversification of industry, there will be more demand for capable and skilled labor in previously less developed areas.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.
Media Digest


City Aims for Eco-friendly Memorials

Local government in Beijing says it wants to discourage people from burying their relatives' ashes to promote environmentally friendly funeral practices and preserve limited land resources.

-Cemetery plots in city increased 25% in past 5 years

-price ranges 10,000 C 1 million yuan

-price for burying ashes under trees is 500- 9,900 yuan

-only 300 tree burial services recorded in 2011, hardly anyone does ashes at sea

-some think government should intervene

-control luxury tombs, make burial affordable, ensure residents have the right to a plot

-people still prefer cremation in accordance with Chinese tradition, especially in rural China.

-burying ashes under trees or scatter them at sea is new here. how about U.S? Britain?


A Microblog Makes Lives of Students Easier

-helps students with homework, free of charge

-students post questions, microblog provides answers within 20 minutes

-math, physics, biology, even English

-account is called "Here comes the homework answer"

-over 110,000 followers on sina weibo, similar to facebook

-parents use it to for answers to their kids' questions

-owner of the account hasn't been identified

-reportedly an IT worker

-says students have too much pressure from academic stress

-actually too much burden for students here always a hot topic

-there have been criticisms that students will only become lazy if they scour the Internet for answers instead of taxing their brains.


Got a Smartphone? You Probably Check Facebook FOURTEEN Times a Day

-findings from Britain

-80% of smartphone owners check device within 15 minutes of waking up

-60% check phones immediately upon awakening

-research sponsored by Facebook

-facebooks it 3rd most popular app on smartphones, after email and internet

-people visit the Facebook app or the site 14 times during the day on average

-2 and a half minutes each time.

-Some 45 percent check it while shopping, exercising, and even cooking.

-50 percent of users say they have checked Facebook while at the movies.


Social Science Struggles for Data on Effects of Same-sex Parenting on Children

-reports by American Academy of Pediatrics calls for legalization same sex marriage

-report looks at more than 80 studies, books, articles conducted over 30 years

-findings say children grow up the same sometime better in a same sex environment

-suggests legalizing same sex marriage would strengthen families and benefit children

-some argue adults raised by a homosexual are more likely to be on welfare or experience sexual abuse

-gay marriage has been legal only since 2004 in Massachusetts. Eight more states and the District have legalized same-sex nuptials since, but it has been banned in 35 states.