News & Reports 2013-04-27

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Broadcasting Time: 07:00-08:00, GMT+08:00, 2013-04-27

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

In This Edition

Sichuan holds province-wide public mourning for those who died in a 7.0-magnitude quake that jolted the County of Lushan in Southwest China last week.
The Chinese government reiterates that while it is in opposition to the use of chemical weapons, it is also opposed to any military intervention in Syria.
Global researchers are reporting progress in finding a universal vaccine for influenza.
And China launches a high-definition earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" into space.

Hot Issue Reports

Public Mourning to be Observed in Sichuan for Quake Victims
A period of public mourning will be observed on Saturday for those who died in a 7.0-magnitude quake that jolted Lushan County in Sichuan Province on April 20.

The Sichuan provincial government issued a notice that all entertainment activities throughout the province would be halted in public places on Saturday.

The public mourning begins with all transportation vehicles sounding their sirens at 8:02 a.m., the time the devastating earthquake hit. A silent tribute will follow and last 3 minutes.

The strong earthquake has claimed nearly 200 lives and destroyed about 126,000 homes, according to official figures.

Meanwhile, despite the passing of the so-called "golden time" for finding survivors, officials in Sichuan are not giving up hope of potentially finding survivors.

Sichuan vice-governor Zhong Mian.

"Searching and rescuing people and treating the wounded continues to be an important task. We will focus on key areas and weak regions, carry out an intensive search and rescue, and make sure there's no blind spot. In the meantime, we will further improve the local medical conditions in the quake-hit areas, and make efforts on the medical treatment of the wounded."

Almost 300-thousand people living in the quake zone have been relocated.

Vice-governor Zhong Mian is promising there will not be any discrimination as far as relief distribution goes.

"Regardless of where you are from, regardless of ethnicity and nationality, as long as you were affected by the disaster in this region, you will receive rescue and help. Therefore, I can say with certainty that, there is no discrimination or restrictions based on the household registration, and in the future, there will not be different policies made based on this."

Local officials are also issuing a call for calm.

Frustration is growing, as relief materials have not been flowing in fast enough.

Disruptions caused by poor road conditions is thought to be one of the main reasons for the delay.

Screening Identifies a Geological Hazards Prone Spot in Sichuan
The screening work for possible geological hazards is now underway in Lushan. One dangerous spot has been found in Dachuan town. Our reporter Wang Wei walks into Dachuan to take a closer look.

Huge rocks have blocked upper stream of Heihe river in mountainous areas in Dachuan town. The rocks come from landslides following the earthquake in Lushan. The No. 13 Army Group of Chengdu Military Region is going to carry out demolition operations in the area to break the rocks. Army commander of the No.13 Army group Xu Yong says, there're gaps on rocks that would allow waters to flow slowly, and actions must be taken without delay before the situation worsens.

"There're 20 thousand cubic meters of water being held up behind the rocks. With the raining season around the corner, if we don't take actions now, rains will wash down all the mud, stones and tree sticks which will then block the gaps and the body will become a barrier lake. It will possibly hold up 30 thousand cubic meters of water, posing threats to power plants and human life and property down stream."

The block site is 6 kilometers away from the nearest power plant and 38 kilometers away from the nearest village. The biggest rock blocking the river weighs around 800 tons. The army corp of engineers is doing a test demolition at 5 p.m.

The test demolition is successful; Xu Yong says the test is crucial.

"The test will examine how hard the rocks are, and more importantly to see if rocks on the mountains around will collapse when we carry on the demolition work."

Xu says the test demolition used limited amount of explosives, that's around 20 kilograms, but in future operations, they will use tons each day.

This is the first block site found in quake hit areas after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Lushan. Screening efforts found the site on Tuesday and they are looking for more dangerous sites. Xu Yong says according to lessons they learnt during the 512 WenChuan earthquake, this kind of screening is pivotal in the second phase of earthquake relief work.

"In the second phase, one crucial task is to screening for geological hazard. We have to carefully carry out the work at all possible areas. And this is the only dangerous spot we've found till now."

Xu estimates that it will take about a week to finish the demolition of the rocks at Heihe rivier.

For CRI, I'm Wang Wei.

China Repeats Political Solution to the Syrian Crisis
The Chinese government has issued a new statement in connection with the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.

The Chinese side says while it is in opposition to the use of chemical weapons, it is also opposed to any military intervention in Syria.

This comes amid reports the United States may have evidence of the Syrian government employing chemical weapons in its fight against the rebels.

The White House is on record saying any Syrian government use of chemicals weapons will be a red-line which is likely to lead to military intervention.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying.

"No matter who uses chemical weapons, we strongly oppose it. This has been China's consistent and clear stance. Nor does China approve of military intervention in any country, this stance is also clear and consistent. China believes under the current circumstances, all the relevant parties in Syria should stick to the correct path of seeking a political solution."

The Obama administration says it needs to see definitive proof before it takes any action.

A UN fact-finding team is expected to be deployed sometime this weekend.

Afghanistan Crash- Many Dead in Fire as Bus Hits Truck Targeted by Taliban
At least 30 people have been killed in Afghanistan after a bus collided with the wreckage of a truck on Friday.

The truck was attacked by the Taliban several days before, and left abandoned in Kandahar.

Mohammad Habib is one of a small number of survivors.

"I was running here and there, but I couldn't find my brother. Then the army arrived and took the wounded victims to Kandahar. I don't care about my belongings and money that was burned inside the bus, but please find my brother dead or alive."

It's believed there were around 40 people on the bus at the time of the crash.

Authorities haven't been able to produce exact numbers.

China Signs 8 Billion Dollars Airbus Deal
Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Francois Hollande have overseen the signing of an 8-billion U.S. dollars deal to purchase 60 planes from Airbus.

China's state-run airline distribution section has ordered 42 Airbus A320's and 18 A330's.

The French president, on a 2-day trip here to China, has also issued a call for more Chinese investment in France.

"I called Chinese investors to come to France. Not simply for what they have already been doing, investing capital, including in sovereign debt in Europe, and ours in particular, not simply for consisting of common funds, they exist and we already have them. It's still something else. It's to take a place in the French productive apparatus, in cooperation with companies, in order for Chinese investors to contribute to the creation of jobs."

Unemployment in France has hit new highs, with some 3.2 million people looking for work at the moment.

Asean Leaders Urged to Abide South China Sea Code of Conduct
The South China Sea issue has been one of the topics discussed at the just-concluded ASEAN summit in Brunei.

Here's Brunei's leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah just after the 22nd summit was concluded.

"We all agreed to encourage continuing discussions, dialogues and consultations at all levels, especially claimant countries, and to keep the lines of communication open. Therefore to establish a practical mechanism such as hotlines between the relevant countries will help avoid misunderstanding."

Foreign ministers of the bloc have also agreed to a new round of talks to consolidate their stance, ahead of a much-anticipated meeting with China.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh called all claimants of the South China Sea to abide by the guidelines outlined 10 years ago in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Pakistan Court Grants Musharraf's Custody to Investigators in Bhutto Murder
The courts in Pakistan have granted physical custody of former President Pervez Musharraf in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf had been under house arrest.

He's going to be in police custody until at least Tuesday.

Chaudhry Zulfiqar is the lead prosecutor in the case.

"Pervez Musharraf is currently in judicial lock up in connection with judges' detention case. Today we have obtained his physical remand in Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto murder case."

Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack while at a political rally in 2007.

The government of Musharraf pinned the blame on the Pakistani Taliban.

However, the Taliban has denied the charge.

Bhutto was considered a political rival to Musharraf.

Musarraf is also facing charges in connection with his decision to impose emergency rule in 2007.

Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan last month to try to contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections, is denying all charges against him.

UN Peacekeepers Approved for Mali
The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a new peacekeeping force to be sent to the northern half of Mali.

This follows the military operation led by France that pushed extremists out from northern Mali three months ago.

French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud.

"The President of the French Republic said that we will have one-thousand soldiers in December in Mali. That's the goal. It's a robust mandate. It's a mandate of stabilisation. But it's not an anti-terrorist mandate. They are not going to chase the terrorist in the desert."

11-thousand soldiers and 15-hundred international police officers are to be sent to the region.

The UN-backed mission will replace an African-led force in July.

China Launches High-Definition Earth Observation Satellite
Chinese space authorities have successfully launched a high-definition earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" into space on Friday.

Three microsatellites, developed by Turkey, Argentina, Ecuador respectively, are aboard the rocket.

The satellite will be able to obtain high-resolution data across a vast area.

Bai Zhaoguang is the chief designer of the high-resolution system project of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

"As natural disasters like floods, snowstorms and hailstorms usually cover large areas, the satellite will play a big role in remotely predicting these disasters."

Experts say China is still at the very beginning stage of researching and applying such technology, despite the massive potential market for the high-resolution earth observation system.

Experts Study on Universal Bird Flu Vaccine
Global researchers are reporting progress in finding a universal vaccine for influenza.

US researchers are working on conceptual models for flu vaccines which will work on both humans and animals.

Doctory Anthony Fauci is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"You can actually make it, and you can put it on the shelf and have it ready for any emergence of a slight change as you would see with seasonal flu or a big change as you would see with pandemic flu."

Researchers are cautioning it may take years before a universal vaccine can be produced commercially.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's first H7N9-infected patient is reportedly in "serious but stable" condition.

In the wake of the infection, live poultry markets on Taiwan will be banned from May 17th.

This is a month ahead of schedule.

So far over 110 cases have been reported on the mainland.

The death toll currently stands at 23.

Raising Taxi Fares Needs to be Reasonable
Experts in regional economies are suggesting a planned rate-hike in taxi fares in Beijing needs to be reasonable.

This comes as more and more people complain about their inability to find a taxi during the rush hours here in the capital.

CRI's Cao Yuwei has more.

With increasing complaints about finding a taxi to and from home these days, a fair hike in taxi rates is being proposed.

The Municipal Authorities in Beijing are suggesting this should help in reducing the burden on cab drivers.

However, not all cab drivers are convinced the hike in the fares will work.

"You want to raise the charge, then nobody's going to take a taxi."

"The number of people taking taxi will decline if the fare is higher. We will have to run without passengers."

It's been reported the minimum rate for a taxi will be increased to 15 yuan from the current 10 yuan for the first 3-kilometers.

The rate for the ride will also cost you 2.4-yuan per kilometer, as opposed to the 2-yuan it costs you now.

Hearings are scheduled to be held to get advice from experts, taxi drivers and companies.

On the streets of Beijing, views appear mixed.

"Now the fuel price is lower, why the taxi fare rise? They should rather charge less."

"Definitely I do not agree with that. It's already very expensive to take a taxi."

"Now many people are seeing income increase, so it is reasonable that we pay more for taxi."

Xu Fengxian is an expert in regional economies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He suggests if more people begin relying on public transportation, such as buses or the metro system, the pressure on taxi drivers will be reduced.

With that in mind, he also says the potential increase in taxi fares should remain within the price range for the average person.

"The adjustment of taxi fares should be conducted within a reasonable level. Being too high or too low are both unacceptable. It has to ensure that driving a taxis is profitable. At the same time, passengers' affordability should be taken into consideration."

In Beijing, taxi drivers - on average - have to pay over 5-thousand yuan a month to their taxi company.

If a taxi is split between a pair of drivers, the surcharge to the companies only goes down to 4-thousand yuan.

Xu Fengxian is suggesting taxi companies should be able to reduce their driver surcharge fees.

He suggests this could be a way to ease the burden on both drivers and passengers.

Li Xiaosong is with the Beijing Government's Traffic Committee.

"On the one hand, we should establish a flexible mechanism of adjusting the taxi fare according to oil prices. On the other hand, in order to stimulate the taxi industry, the pricing structure may change, given different traffic conditions such as rush hours, traffic jams, and running without passengers."

Li Xiaosong says the Committee will not allow the taxi companies to increase their rates.

This should allow drivers to keep any profits made by the increase.

The taxi fares in Beijing haven't been changed in 7-years.

In 2005, the rate per-kilometer was 1-yuan-20.

For CRI, I'm Cao Yuwei.

China Daily

"Phone bookings for taxis"

Beijing launches a new policy to ease the city's cab shortage problem.

According to the new regulation, each taxi driver in Beijing should complete at least two jobs booked over the phone each day.

The move comes as authorities push for solutions to the city's taxi shortage.

Passengers in the six major urban districts will be able to call a dedicated number for taxis between 7 am and 7 pm, while those within the fourth ring road will be able to do so during other periods.

People older than 65 will be the priority group of the service.

The new regulation will start from June.


"China launches earth observation satellite"

China successfully sent a high-definition earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" into space today.

The mission was carried by a Long March-2D carrier rocket from northwest China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, Gaofen-1 is the first satellite to be launched for the high-definition earth observation system (HDEOS) between 2011 and 2016.

The system could play an important role in disaster prevention, climate change monitoring, environment and resource surveying as well as precision agriculture.

There are over 50 countries to date that own or operate earth observation satellites.

The data they collect is widely used for economic and social activities and in other science research fields.

China set up the special project for the HDEOS development in 2006.

Australia Network News

"Instant noodle sales top 100 billion a year"

Global sales of instant noodles have topped 100 billion units annually, more than one monthly serving for every person on the planet.

According to World Instant Noodles Association, the world's top three consumers of the easy-to-cook foods are China, Indonesia and Japan.

Officials at the association claims that the high and ever rising sale figures points to the Instant Noodle's status as a international staple dish.

Instant noodles can be boiled quickly with accompanying flavour packets.

They were invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando in Japan.

The Telegraph

"Families wasting ?50 a month throwing away food, says minister"

Richard Benyon, a minister in Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has claimed householders are discarding up to 50 pounds of food a month, much of which was "perfectly safe" to eat.

Mr Benyon said many people had little idea how to keep fruit and vegetables fresh in the fridge or that cheese can be preserved for longer if it is wrapped properly after opening.

He urged families to eat their left-overs and pay more attention to the storage instructions on labels to avoid produce going off.

The minister's advice comes as economists warned that families are suffering an unprecedented squeeze on living standards as a result of rising prices for everyday essentials and stagnant wages in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The total cost of wasted food has been estimated at 12?billion pounds per year.

Market Update

U.S. stocks closed mixed on Friday, dragged down by the country's lower-than-expected GDP in the first quarter, but wrapped up the week in positive territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index edged up 0.1 percent to 14,713. The Standard & Poor's 500- stock Index lost 0.2 percent to 1,582. The NASDAQ Composite Index shed 0.3 percent to 3,279.

European market also closed lower. London's FTSE 100 lost 0.3 percent to 6,426. Germany's DAX lost 0.2 percent to 7,815. CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.8 percent to 3,810.