Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Six sailors remain missing after ship capsizal in E China

One body was found while five sailors remained missing after nine were saved from a vessel capsizal of a Panamanian-nationality vessel with 15 sailors in east China's Nanji Islands sea area on Monday, local authority said Tuesday.

The body was found at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, said Li Hua, deputy director of the center.

The vessel named "Helios 3" reported its distress, saying they were "sinking", and called for help to the Municipal Maritime Rescue Center of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, at 2:09 p.m. Monday, Li said.

The tropical storm, caused by Jangmi, the 15th typhoon this year, had made two cabins of the vessel flooded, which lead to the sinking, Li said.

A rescue ship was sent to the reported site while warnings and rescue requires were sent to the nearby ships both in Chinese and English, he said.

Two of the sailors on the life raft were found and saved at 5:05 p.m. by a ship named "Cap Doukato" passing by, who received the signals from the official rescue center. Seven others were saved by rescuers on rescue vessel setting off at 2:44 p.m. from the neighboring Fujian Province.

The searching work was still undertaking, Li said.

The capsized vessel was a Korean ship registered in Panama, shipping 6,000 tons of woods from Burma to Jiaxing Port in Zhejiang, with sailors from Korea, Burma and Indonesia, Li said.

The Jangmi, which forced the evacuation of 500,000 people in Zhejiang and the neighboring Fujian and stranded 110 tourists on the Nanji Islands on Saturday, had been weakened to be tropical storm at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday. The typhoon alarm had been lifted, according to Zhejiang provincial meteorological observatory.

Source: Xinhua

Chinese premier meets American guest

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met here Tuesday with Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of the Science Magazine of the United States.

Wen spoke highly of the important role of the Science Magazine in advancing global scientific and technological development. He expressed his wish to further strengthen cooperation with the magazine in order to make a greater contribution to the global development of science and technology and to human progress.

Wen said China has put the advance of science, technology and innovation at the core of its national development strategy. He said China focuses on developing an innovative nation so as to realize the goal of modernization.

Alberts highly values the importance that the Chinese leaders and government attached to science and technology. He said the Science Magazine will as always support development of science and technology in China.

The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

Source: Xinhua

European media highly praises China's progress in space technology

European news channel Euronews on Monday highly praised China's progress as a leap in space technology when reporting the successful landing of the reentry module of Shenzhou-7.

The three astronauts aboard carried out China's first-ever spacewalk which was "a small step for human but a leap for China." The successful spacewalk made China the third to master the extravehicular activity technology following the United States and Russia, Euronews said.

The three astronauts were welcomed as heroes after they landed, Euronews reported, saying the successful launch of Shenzhou-7 spaceship is a important step of China in the way of establishing a space station and it is a fantastic gift to the Chinese for the National Day which falls on Oct. 1.

Source: Xinhua

Olympics boosts Chinese language promotion (2)

But none of these Chinese cultural signs had left a more indelible impression than two simple characters "jia you," a chant that can be loosely translated as "Go! Go!"

The rally call of support and encouragement, easily pronounced than most other Chinese characters, was the most practical and widespread phrase during the Games.

But foreigners have found it hard to properly translate "jia you" as the phrase seems so omnipotent that it could be used in various cases such as "Wenchuan Jiayou" or "Sichuan Jiayou," referring to the Sichuan earthquake that struck the region on May 12, causing huge losses to life and the economy; the whole nation was motivated to conquer the hardship.

Online discussions of the topic became heated since many posters appeared on BBS, inviting ideas about how to best translate "Zhongguo jiayou."

It seems to have become the unifying cry of Chinese everywhere since the devastating earthquake and during the overseas leg of the Olympic torch relay.

Netizen "JSummers83" wrote on TravelChinaGuide.com that he did not consider the translation "Go China" really fitting, especially for the case of the quake.

"Lemoncactus" responded by saying that "Come on China," "Come on Sichuan" might well be a satisfactory translation, meaning support for continuously striving and succeeding despite being in a difficult spot. But its common link with sport made the translation seem odd to him when it had to be related to the earthquake.

Though lost in translation, spectators don't even bother to translate it. During the Games, foreign spectators, waving different national flags, simply chanted "jia you," or even painted the words on their face, to cheer for athletes.


The OCLCI's Zhao said Confucius Institutes worldwide had helped to offer Chinese lessons to athletes attending the Games. The Confucius Institute of the University of Auckland was commissioned by New Zealand's Olympic Committee to teach athletes and coaches some Chinese and culture.

The institute, a Chinese language and cultural teaching body, was named after the great ancient philosopher and educator who traveled across separated Chinese kingdoms about 2,500 years ago to spread knowledge and peace. They had been set up by the OCLCI through cooperation with colleges worldwide since 2004.

It is the Chinese version of Spain's Instituto Cervantes, Germany's Goethe-Institute, the British Council and Alliance Francaise.

By July, 262 Confucius Institutes, mostly a combination of local teaching facilities and teachers sent from China, had been established in 75 countries and regions, statistics showed.

Many elite universities such as the University of California in Los Angeles, the University of Melbourne in Australia and Waseda University in Tokyo had set up Confucius Institutes with the OCLCI.

Currently, there were 40 million non-Chinese learning the language worldwide. The figure was growing by at least 10 million a year and was expected to reach 100 million by 2010, the OCLCI claimed.

After their brief language training with the local Confucius Institute, foreign athletes usually took along small handbooks such as "Olympic Chinese 100 useful sentences" with some "survival Chinese" included.

"About 1 million books have been distributed to foreign athletes or tourists in the athletes' village or at the airport," Zhao said.

In another free service, the OCLCI paid China Mobile to send a text short message to all mobile phone users in the Olympic Green, the central area of the Games, which taught the recipients four short phrases in Chinese, English and the Chinese pronunciation system of Pinyin.

Source: Xinhua

Olympics boosts Chinese language promotion

Michael Phelps who claimed a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympic Games said it was harder for him to learn Chinese than to win swimming races.

Before the American came to China for the 2008 Games he seriously took a few Chinese lessons. A popular online video shows how hard he tries to imitate the voice of a Chinese learning multimedia software in saying such basic words as "guo zhi" , "nan hai'er" and "nu hai'er" .

But still, the 23-year-old rated his Chinese language studies as the most difficult thing he had tried in his life. "Learning Mandarin is even harder than winning eight gold medals in the pool."

In primary school Phelps took French and German courses, but the swimming ace said, "all the words, characters and pronunciations in Mandarin are so different. All of them are hard to manage."

He was not the only star athlete trying to learn some Chinese language and culture. When gymnast Nastia Liukin arrived back home in Dallas, Texas, with five medals around her neck, the Russian-born blonde appeared in front of her reception wearing a black T-shirt with two big Chinese characters "Beijing" in the front.

"The Beijing Olympics have brought world attention to the Chinese civilization and further enhanced the utility of the Chinese language worldwide," said Zhao Guocheng, the Office of Chinese Language Council International deputy director general.

He called the Games an opportunity for the Chinese language to gain more popularity and for China to be better understood by foreigners.


As a direct way for foreigners to gain understanding of the nation's culture and history, Chinese characters are undoubtedly the most accessible signs of the nation.

Some foreign spectators who witnessed the Games' opening ceremony at Beijing's National Stadium were completely puzzled when artistic director Zhang Yimou presented a performance showcasing the country's ancient invention of movable-type printing. The show featured a formation of some 900 men imitating the operation of a printer and creating the image of the Chinese character "he," meaning "harmony," in different calligraphic styles.

Foreigners likely were even more puzzled after they saw the sequence of entry at the athletes' march-in, which was completely different from previous Games. The order of entry was decided by the number of strokes of the first character of a delegation's Chinese name, but not by the country's first English language letter.

Anxious to learn the secrets of the strokes that formed a Chinese character, many foreign athletes and reporters came to the "Chinese learning area" in a corner of the Olympic Village.

Since its July 27 opening, the area had received thousands of visitors from about 70 countries and regions, said an language promotion official in charge of the activity.

With a floor space of about 30 square meters, the area is brightly decorated with Chinese painting scrolls, Peking Opera masks and China knots, a traditional handicraft symbolizing good fortune.

The area, jointly established by the OCLCI and the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games , was designed for foreign athletes, coaches and officials living in the village to learn some Chinese and have a taste of Chinese culture for free.

Zhao said athletes usually learned some basic Chinese such as "ni hao" , "xie xie" and "zai jian" in less than 30 minutes or after a few hours.

"The Chinese they learned proved useful during their stay in China," he said.

In addition, Chinese tutors also taught the visitors how to congratulate fellow athletes or rivals in Chinese, such as "zhu heni" and "ni zhen bang" .

They could also try some traditional Chinese calligraphy and play the guzheng, a stringed instrument of the zither family, or Chinese chess.

Deng Yaping, the Olympic Village spokeswoman and four-time Olympic gold medal winning table tennis player, told the press on Aug. 15 the most popular activity at the area was to get a Chinese name for the athletes themselves or their friends. Tutors usually chose a Chinese name that suited the sound or meaning of the foreign visitor's original name.

The area features a large bookshelf loaded with Chinese-learning materials, and a wall to which more than a dozen brush-pen writings by the foreign learners, carrying either their Chinese names or their blessings to the host city and nation, are glued.

Deng said the area at the Beijing Olympics was something unique that previous Games didn't have.


Among the spectators at Olympic venues, a great deal of foreigners were holding large Chinese placards with characters such as "wanmei" , "li" , or "pinbo" while watching the Games.

England footballer David Beckham had his waist tattooed with a Chinese idiom meaning one's fate and fortune was decided by the God.

Chinese-character tattoos also appeared on NBA star players on the gold-medal winning U.S. men's basketball team and a Canadian woman beach volleyball player, who considered the skin art fashionable and auspicious.

Chinese cultural signs such as "blue and white porcelain," Olympic medals of gold inlaid with jade, China knots and jasmine flowers, also became representatives of Chinese culture that left great impressions on foreign visitors during the Games.

Phelps and his mother bought some Chinese character scrolls at Silk Street, a place popular among foreigners looking for cultural souvenirs, as gifts to bring back home and as decoration.

China's auto imports rise 35% in value in first 8 months

China's auto imports jumped 35 percent in value in the first eight months from the same period last year, while exports surged 28 percent, according to the latest figure released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers on Monday.

The combined value in imports and exports rose 31 percent in the same period. The exact values and the sales volume in the imports and exports were not immediately available.

Germany surpassed Japan as the biggest motor vehicle supplier, contributing 33 percent of the total sales value. Japan took up 32percent.

Foreign-funded companies accounted for 37 percent of the country's total imports value, while joint-ventures imported 31 percent. That was followed by the state-owned enterprises with 20 percent share.

Beijing imported one third of the vehicles followed by Jilin with 18 percent. Guangdong took up 14 percent of the total imports value.

The CAAM data showed 19 percent of China's auto exports went to United States, while 10 and 7 percent were imported by Japan and Russia respectively.


Senior U.S. official lauds China's achievements

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte on Monday congratulated the People's Republic of China over her 59th birthday and spoke highly of China's achievements.

"China is a magnificent country with many achievements," he said at a reception at the new chancery of the Chinese Embassy to the United States here to celebrate the 59th anniversary of the founding of the New China.

Negroponte said he was impressed by China's recent accomplishments, including the hosting of the Beijing Olympics and the Shenzhou-7 manned space mission, and he expects China to make new success continuously.

The senior official said the U.S.-China relationship has "come a long way" during the past three decades and two nations have broadened and deepened relations at all levels.

He noted that U.S. President George W. Bush met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao at several occasions during the past year, and enjoyed a very good time in Beijing when he attended Olympics there this summer.

"Now the two countries not only talk about major international issues, but also jointly solve many problems," said Negroponte.

The U.S. government is looking forward to more cooperation with China, he added.

U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey also lauded China's achievements in his speech.

China's Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong said he is looking forward to the upcoming 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.

He told U.S. guests that as long as both sides always bear in mind their strategic and long-term interests, abide by the three Joint Communiques, respect each other's central interests, increase exchanges, dialogues and cooperation, handle differences appropriately, "we have every reason to expect an even better China-U.S. relationship in the future."

Some 500 representatives from the U.S. government, the Congress, international organizations and foreign diplomatic missions attend the reception.

Source: Xinhua

Philippine official: China's transformation "truly impressive"

China's development over the past 59 years has been "truly impressive" and the country is more and more engaged with Asia and the rest of the world in pursuit of peace, progress and prosperity, a Philippine official said on Monday.

China's transformation since Oct. 1, 1949 has been truly impressive, said Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G. Romulo on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

"Barely two days ago, the world witnessed China's first successful space walk from its own space craft, Shengzhou-7," said the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

The Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft that carried three taikonauts blasted off Thursday evening and flew 68 hours in space which included a spacewalk on Saturday.

"Shenzhou-7's return to earth within the last 24 hours heralds a new phase in scientific exploration and accomplishment for China," he added.

"And just last month, in August, the world watched in awe at the showcase of a different-kind one that celebrated friendly competition and human achievements: The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics," Romulo said.

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games was a major international multi-sport event that took place in China's capital city of Beijing from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24, 2008. A total of 10,500 athletes competed in 302 events in 28 sports.

"With its 'Opening-up' policy 30 years ago, China has evolved into a global economic power that is deepening its engagement with Asia and the rest of the world in pursuit of greater peace, progress and prosperity," Romulo said.

The Philippines' relations with China have grown "parallel with China's comprehensive national strength," said the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

"During President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term, we have achieved tremendous progress in many areas," Romulo said.

"The frequent high-level exchanges and contacts between our leaders have deepened mutual trust and confidence," he said.

Meanwhile, China is now the Philippines' third largest trading partner and for the first seven months this year, the trade volume between the two countries has reached 18.4 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 10.8 percent compared with that of the same period in 2007, according to data from the two governments.

"We are now reaping the fruits manifested by the encouraging growth in our bilateral trade and investments," Romulo said.

Besides, the bilateral relations have deepened and grown in terms of defense and military cooperation, science and technology, agriculture, education, and culture, said the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

"With our close historic ties as the anchor, I am confident that we can expect more years of cooperative and fruitful relations between the Filipino and Chinese people," he added.

Source: Xinhua

Myanmar leader congratulates China over successful space mission

Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General Thiha Thrua Tin Aung Myint Oo extended the country's congratulation to China on Monday over the recent successful mission of Shenzhou-7 spacecraft.

Tin Aung Myint Oo, who is First Secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, told Chinese Ambassador Guan Mu at a reception at the Sedona Hotel here Monday evening in celebration of the 59th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Tin Aung Myint Oo also congratulated on the earlier successful holding of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games as well as the rapid economic development of China which he said will push the economic development of Asia region including Myanmar.

The Myanmar leader also viewed photos on the Beijing Olympic Games displayed at the function before the reception began.

The reception was also attended by Myanmar government officials and foreign diplomats as well as representatives of Chinese business companies investing in and Chinese students studying in Myanmar and the Chinese community totaling more than 500.

Source: Xinhua

Premier Wen pledges to provide foreign experts with better environment to work in China

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed to provide foreign experts serving China with better working and living conditions.

Wen made the remark in meeting with 50 chosen foreign specialists and their families at the Great Hall of People here on Monday, in which he issued the experts Friendship Award of the year on behalf of the Chinese government.

China had successfully hosted the Beijing Olympic Games, finished its third manned space mission and kept a positive trend in economic growth after overcoming the severe snow and quake disasters, Wen said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao shakes hands with a foreign expert at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Sept. 29, 2008. The Chinese Premier met with foreign experts who are honored with the Prize of Friendship and their families here on Monday.
All the successes and achievements had come about because of the collective efforts of Chinese people as well as the support and concern of foreign experts and friends, he added.

The premier told the award-winning experts that China would continue the policy of reform and opening up which had been proven to be the correct way of leading the country to prosperity, and which enjoyed its 30th anniversary this year.

Wen said governments at all levels would strive to create better working and living conditions for foreign experts in China and protect their legal rights and interests to realize their career ideals.

The Friendship Award is the top prize awarded by the Chinese government to foreign experts who make outstanding contributions to China's economic construction and social development.

The 50 award receivers of the year 2008 come from 19 nations. They have been engaged in journalism, agriculture, education, health, engineering and other specialties.

The Chinese government has given the award to 999 foreign experts from 58 countries since 1991.

Source: Xinhua

Overseas Chinese in Germany proud of successful Shenzhou-7 mission

Overseas Chinese in Germany are proud of the successful Shenzhou-7 space mission, members of the community told Xinhua Monday at a party held by the Chinese embassy here to celebrate the country's National Day, which falls on Oct. 1.

"Chinese feel extremely proud in 2008. After fighting the earthquake in Sichuan province, China successfully hosted the Olympic Games," said Cui Naisheng, the head of the federation of overseas Chinese in Germany.

"The successful launch of Shenzhou-7 makes overseas Chinese feel proud and indicates that China has entered an advanced level in global space technology," he added.

Li Quanfu, the president of the federation of overseas Chinese business people in Germany, said it was a big step forward for Chinese taikonauts to carry out the spacewalk in Chinese-made spacesuits, which marks China's entry into the elite club of world space technology.

"Shenzhou-7 and the three astronauts aboard it made overseas Chinese feel proud and excited. We hope that Chinese space technology will reach a more advanced world level, because diplomatic ties are based on the economy and scientific and technological research ability," he added.

Taiwan's Xiao Wangxiaorong said she watched the live broadcast of the spacewalk in the Wangfujing Street during her recent trip to Beijing. She was very moved while seeing Zhai Zhigang waving the Chinese national flag in space. "I'm excited that China is becoming strong and powerful," she said.

"The moment when the astronaut waved the Chinese national flag made all the Chinese feel proud. It is a great achievement. Although China was hit by the earthquake, the success of the Beijing Olympics and the launch of Shenzhou-7 have reaffirmed China's status in the world community," she said.

Source: Xinhua

China Aviation Oil to start petrochemicals trading business

Singapore-listed China Aviation Oil said Tuesday it'll start a petrochemicals trading business in the fourth quarter of this year.

CAO, which supplies jet fuel to China, said in a statement thatit has already started jet fuel hedging and trading activities on a small scale and will gradually start trading other oil products when market conditions are conducive.

The company said it'll fund working capital requirements for the trading business through internal resources.

It said the business will not make significant profit contribution in the current fiscal year but is expected to contribute more significantly to China Aviation Oil's revenue and profit in 2009.

CAO suffered a setback in 2004 when two members of its top management were found guilty of failing to inform the Singapore Exchange of its massive losses of 550 million U.S. dollars in oil derivative trading. After restructuring, trading in shares of CAO resumed on the SGX in 2006.

Source: Xinhua

Senior U.S. official to visit DPRK this week

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea later this week, the State Department confirmed Monday.

Hill is due to arrive in Seoul, South Korea Tuesday. "Later in the week, he'll visit Pyongyang, before going to Beijing, where he'll meet with the Chinese vice foreign minister, Wu Dawei," State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told a news briefing.

Hill is also scheduled to visit Tokyo with consultations with Japanese officials, Wood said.

Hill's scheduled trip to East Asia was designed "to work with our allies to bring North Korea into compliance with its obligations," the spokesman noted. "We're very concerned about some of the reversal of disablement activities that the North has been engaged in."

The Washington Post, which reported Hill's travel plan on Saturday, said the Bush administration is in a last-ditch effort to salvage a faltering accord to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in New York Friday that Washington is trying to persuade the DPRK to change its plan to reactivate Yongbyon reprocessing plant.

"We all are sending strong messages to the North Koreans that they should stop any reversals that they are carrying out Rice said after meeting with key officials from countries involved in the six-party talks.

The six-party talks, involving the United States, the DPRK, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, was designed for the settlement of nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula.

Hill visited the DPRK twice in 2007 after a long period in which U.S. officials were barred from substantive bilateral contacts with the Pyongyang officials.

The DPRK blew up on June 27 the cooling tower of its atomic reactor to demonstrate its commitment to nuclear disarmament, a day after handing over details of its atomic programs.

Under the 2007 pact, the DPRK pledged to disable its nuclear program in a step toward its eventual dismantlement in exchange for diplomatic concessions and energy aid. But the accord has been stalled due to disputes over the verification of a nuclear declaration between the DPRK and United States.

Source: Xinhua

China calls for strengthened IAEA role in promoting peaceful use of nuclear energy

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency should provide a strengthened service to member states to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a senior Chinese official said Monday

All countries should enjoy the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the prerequisite of compliance with the obligation of nonproliferation, Chen Qiufa, director of China Atomic Energy Authority, said at the 52nd General Conference of the IAEA in Vienna.

The IAEA should make full use of its professional advantage to provide substantial assistance to member states in the establishment of infrastructure for nuclear power and nuclear technology application, so as to accelerate the expansion of peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said.

"The Agency has the obligation and capability through the technical cooperation and assistance to provide necessary help to developing countries," he said.

In order to proper respond to all the challenges concerning world nuclear development, the IAEA should assist member states in "strengthening development of nuclear safety and standard systems" and "establishing sound and effective nuclear security systems," he said.

The IAEA should also "promote exchanges among member states on nuclear safety related knowledge, culture and experiences, encourage international cooperation in the field of nuclear security, and help member states establish and improve nuclear security system," he said.

Chen also pointed out that the UN nuclear watchdog should "continue to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the safeguards regime," and deal with verification issues "fairly, objectively and in a balanced manner," and the "allocation of resources should be optimized with more focus on weak points of non-proliferation."

Chen noted that the IAEA "has made important progress in a broad range of activities" over the past year. He also expressed "the most sincere gratitude" on behalf of the Chinese government to the IAEA for its assistance during China's earthquake relief work as well as during the Olympics and Paralympics.

Source: Xinhua

HK establishes Anti-Doping Committee

The Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China announced the establishment of the Hong Kong Anti-Doping Committee on Monday.

Secretary General of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee Pang Chung and Chairman of HKADC Frank Fu officiated the opening ceremony for the HKADC's establishment, the first independent anti-doping organization in Hong Kong.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chung said, "the establishment of HKADC will further take Hong Kong to an international level in terms of the fight against doping in sport."

He added that the new committee involved members from sports, educational, medical, legal and some other domains.

According to Fu, HKADC is committed to preserve a doping-free environment for fair play in sport in Hong Kong. It will ensure the city's anti-doping policy is in full compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

In addition to managing the Drug Testing Program, HKADC is responsible for promoting educational programs to the sport community on rules governing the use of performance enhancing substances and its harmful health effects, said Frank Fu.

With continued support from the Hong Kong government, HKADC will gradually evolve into an official, world-recognized anti-doping organization in its second year of operation.

Source: Xinhua

FDA: 10 Chinese dairies on Thai market proved safe

Sample tests have proved all the 10 brands of dairy products imported from China onto Thai market are safe from melamine, Thai Food and Drug Administration Deputy Secretary-General Manit Arunakul told Xinhua here on Monday.

The FDA has carried laboratory tests on samples of the 10 dairy products imported from China on Thai market and found them all have met related safety standards set by the Thai FDA.

The Thai FDA on Sept. 24 imposed a temporary ban on the sale and import of 10 Chinese dairy products, including candies and biscuits, after some milk powder products in China were found tainted with melamine, which has caused illnesses or deaths of infants in China.

The food watch-dog will soon issue certifications for local merchants, retailers or whole-sellers, whose imported commodities have passed the exams, to give assurance to the safety and to get them back onto the shelves as soon as possible.

Interviewed by Xinhua after a press conference to announce the test results on Monday, Manit noted that the issue of Chinese food products' security were closely followed in foreign countries. In Thailand, there was also hot discussions earlier about the issue when some tainted food products were found on Thai market.

Thailand will continue to closely follow new developments about the issue and will review the import and sale ban accordingly.

But it should be taken note that China is a huge production base for many kinds of products exported to all over the world, and Thailand has been one of the big importers of Chinese food products, said Manit. Many of the Chinese products are high quality and cheap, he said.

He thus advised Thai consumers and Thai media to act with caution when choosing any food products or reporting news about food safety concerns, but at the same time not to panic at any news about the issue, or even to boycott all products from any particular country because of reported problems found in a certain kind of product.

Source: Xinhua

China's college graduates face real test in rural villages

Wang He heads to the fields in the morning with the peasants. He knows how to work the crops: watering, fertilizing, weeding. But when he graduated from Beijing University of Agriculture two years ago, the law and politics major had dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

He's an assistant to the head of Sanjie Village, Kangzhuang Township in Beijing's Yanqing County, under the Chinese government scheme to employ 100,000 college graduates in villages over five years from 2008.

The scheme aims to revitalize rural China by changing the grassroots cardre structure and boosting the government's "new countryside" initiative. It also helps to employ the nation's rising tide of graduates.

"Our strong point is our knowledge, but we also have our weakness -- a lack of practical experience," says Wang, 26.

Most villagers hope the graduates can bring new expertise to improve their living standards.

Wang introduced the "colorful sweet potato" with the help of his alma mater. The new species has bright yellow, white and purple flesh and is highly nutritious. It also costs more than the ordinary sweet potato.

Villagers previously planted corn and earned less than 1,000 yuan per mu , but the figure doubled after they planted the new sweet potato species.

Wang often works in the fields, but he knows he's of little help. "Peasants are much more adept at farming, that's their strong point. It's pointless for graduates to focus on farm work. We should do something they want to do, but they can not do."

He focuses on technology, marketing, publicity and connecting with the outside world. His routine work is chores, such as recording village meetings, issuing certificates and broadcasting notices.

He also applies his legal knowledge to mediate in conflicts between the villagers and help write legal papers.

Real life is different from what he learnt in books. "Mediating conflicts between neighbors needs more worldly wisdom than legal knowledge. Sometimes laws are useless here," Wang says.

However, many graduates find it hard to adjust. "It's hard to feel accepted," says an anonymous graduate. "Families have often been here for generations and it's really, really hard for them to accept an outsider."

On-line discussion about the scheme is abuzz with doubts such as whether graduates can change the villages or be changed by the villages. Can they merge into village life or will they remain semi-detached?

Wang grew up in Beijing's rural Miyun District and has few problems in getting on. "The connections grow daily. You must greet villagers warmly or chat with them to show respect.

"Most of the villagers are aged over 40. Their children are studying or working in cities. They treat me like offspring and few give me the cold shoulder as they don't want their children to suffer the same treatment."

An anonymous graduate tells how he started work with little idea of what to do. Village heads assigned him chores like typing or moving flowerpots. "The real world is quite different from what I have been taught. Some ugly behavior just makes me sick.

"I feel the village is changing me, not I'm changing the village. I'm considering resigning." Failing to fulfill the contract means losing the preferential treatment on insurance or further study.

Young graduates are bringing new attitudes to villages. Hu Jiandang, 24, a martial arts graduate from Beijing Sport University, is assistant to the head of Wangchang Village in Panggezhuang Township in Beijing's Daxing District. He found an old couple, who made a living raising cattle, were isolated as their son had been in prison for almost 30 years for robbery.

"A family with such a son is often ostracized," Hu says. On the old man's birthday he bought a cake and took photos. "Locals tell me to stay away from them, but the couple were moved and felt warmth from the outside world. I believe my behavior will help villagers accept them gradually."

Wang says the conservative thinking is especially hard-set. "It's understandable. Peasants are usually poorly educated with little access to information. They are mostly poor and are wary of trying anything new that could cost them."

The experiences give the young first-hand understanding of rural China, which still lags far behind urban China.

"Urban people might struggle to buy an apartment or a car, but the peasants struggle for basic necessities like food and clothes. A child can consume all their savings and put them into debt," says Wang.

"But rural China is experiencing a golden period of growth with preferential policies from the government and promises of a bigger market."

Two years have seasoned Wang. "I was too idealistic and believed all the things I planned could come true, but now I'm more practical."

After three years in villages, the graduates enjoy priority in applying for public service posts and graduate study opportunities.

"Chinese peasants are leading too hard a life," says Wang. "They labor from dawn to dusk, but do not get the returns they deserve. I want to maximize their returns, particularly as my parents are peasants too. As long as I'm needed here, I will continue with the job."

Source: Xinhua

Hungarian cosmonaut praised Shenzhou-7 mission

Hungarian cosmonaut Bertalan Farkas said on Monday that China's manned Shenzhou-7 mission was wonderful.

Farkas told Xinhua in an interview that when first Chinese astronaut was launched into space, he was in Japan, and only several years later, three Chinese astronauts were sent into space in a spacecraft.

"A spacewalk was performed successfully, this is tremendous, and a very big step forward," Farkas said. This needed technical preparation and harmonization of scientists, he added.

"I hope I will be able to build very close relations with Chinese astronauts, " he said.

Farkas is the founder of Space for Earth Foundation, which was registered in Hungary but an international foundation. It has 18 members who come from 11 countries, and all of them are astronauts.

Bertalan Farkas was born on Aug. 2, 1949. He was the first Hungarian cosmonaut in space. He, along with Soviet cosmonaut Valeri Kubasov, was launched into space on Soyuz 36 from Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 26, 1980.

Source: Xinhua

Scientists identify gene that may help improve rice yield

A team of scientists from institutions in the U.S. and China have identified a gene in rice that controls the size and weight of rice grains.

The gene may prove to be useful for breeding high-yield rice and, thus, may benefit the vast number of people who rely on this staple food for survival.

"Our work shows that it is possible to increase rice's yield by enhancing the expression of a particular gene," said Hong Ma from Pennsylvania State University. The team's results were published Monday in an early online edition of the journal Nature Genetics.

The researchers first searched for and identified mutant strains of rice that exhibited underweight grains. "We found a particular mutant that is defective in its ability to produce normal-sized grains," said Zuhua He, a biology professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the leader of the team.

The group then examined the mutant and found that it carried a mutation within the GIF1 gene. "The GIF1 gene is responsible for controlling the activity of the enzyme invertase, which is located in the cell wall and converts sucrose to substances that then are used to create starch," said He.

"Invertase is important in the formation of starch within developing grains of rice. If invertase is not active, the rice plant cannot produce edible grains."

They tested and found that invertase activity in the mutant strain was only 17 percent of the activity that was observed in the normal strain, suggesting that the GIF1 gene does, indeed, control invertase activity. The team then created transgenic lines of rice in which the GIF1 gene is over expressed and found that, compared with normal strains, the transgenic rice had larger and heavier grains.

The scientists hope that their findings will help others to create hybrid varieties of rice that produce even larger grains. In the meantime, they plan to perform additional analyses that will help them to understand how other genes might be involved in the process of improving rice yield.

"The goal is to understand what controls grain weight and other factors, and to look for ways to increase yield," said Ma.

Source: Xinhua

Greek Tourism ministry to help promote 2011 Athens Special Olympics

Greek Tourism Development Ministry has signed a memorandum of cooperation between the ministry and the organizing committee for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2011 on Monday.

The Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said on Monday that Greece would once again meet the challenge, as it had done for the Olympic Games of 2004, organizing a sports event to the highest standards in 2011.

The 13th World Summer special Olympic Games will be held in Athens from June 25 until July 4 in 2011, which will bring more than 70,000 athletes, coaches, volunteers, family members and reporters to Greece during that time.

Spiliotopoulos stressed that it was the obligation of his ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization , which were sponsors of the event, to assist the efforts of the organizing committee that were chiefly based on volunteer work.

The GNTO has undertaken to promote the Games through an advertising campaign, promotional events and the distribution of printed material.

The first special Olympic Games started from 1968. Among the 170 million intellectually disabled people worldwide, some 2.25 million people have participated in the special Olympic activities. The 12th World Summer Special Olympic Games was held in Shanghai from October 2 to 12 , 2007.

Source: Xinhua