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The Beijing Hour updated 20:00 2014/02/21
   2014-02-21 20:50:28   CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Houlimei




 

The Beijing Hour

 

Evening Edition

 

 

Shane Bigham with you on this Friday, February 21st, 2014.

Welcome to the Beijing Hour, coming to you live from the Chinese capital.

Coming up on our program this evening.

The Chinese government is urging the US president to cancel a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Ukraine's government says a deal has been reached to end the political turmoil in the country.

And a smog alert has been issued in Beijing.

In business, a call for broader reforms in the Chinese financial sector.

In sports, the Chinese men's curling team is right now competing for the bronze medal at the Olympics.

In entertainment, the US first lady visits the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

 

 

Weather

 

 

Beijing will have fog tonight with a low of minus 2 degrees Celsius. Smog tomorrow with a high of 4 degrees. 

Meanwhile Shanghai will be cloudy tonight, with a low of 3, cloudy tomorrow, with a high of 11.

Chongqing will be overcast, 9 degrees the low, overcast tomorrow with a high of 14.

Elsewhere in the world, staying in Asia

Islamabad, overcast with a high of 21.

Kabul, overcast, 11.

Over in Australia

Sydney, overcast, highs of 23.

Canberra, overcast, 27

Brisbane, overcast, 27.

And finally, Perth will be sunny with a high of 34.

 

 

Top News

 

 

China urges Obama-Dalai Lama meeting cancellation

 

Chinese government has issued a statement, urging the United States to immediately cancel a planned meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says "China is greatly concerned about the meeting, and has lodged solemn representations to the U.S. side."

Her comments come in response to the scheduled informal Obama-Dalai Lama meeting later today in the White House.

Hua Chunying says the Dalai Lama is a political figure in exile who is undertaking anti-China separatist activities in the name of religion.

She contends that the Tibetan issue is a domestic affair for China, arguing that there is no other country which bears the right to interfere.

China has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting with the Dalai Lama, who fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government in exile" in 1959 after a failed armed rebellion.

Obama has met with the Dalai Lama twice before in 2010 and 2011.

 

 

Deal Reached to Resolve Crisis: Ukraine Presidency

 

The office of Ukraine's president says a deal has been reached following all-night talks on resolving the country's crisis. In the last two days of violence in Kiev, about 100 people have died.

But the opposition has not immediately confirmed the agreement.

Unnamed diplomatic sources described the talks, brokered by three European Union ministers, as "very difficult".

Meanwhile, anti-government protesters in the early hours of Friday released dozens of police officers held hostage in Kiev's occupied city hall.

Opposition lawmaker Petro Poroshenko was at the square as police boarded a bus meant to take them to safety.

"Today is the first day when we have a very important decision in parliament. A so called statement for the ceasefire. Today we have the first voting in the parliament without President Yanukovych in the government. This is the first signing of the new majority in the parliament."

He was referring to a measure just passed by parliament calling all Interior Ministry troops to return to their bases and prohibiting an "anti-terrorist operation" threatened by President Victor Yanukovych.

The political crisis in the country has prompted serious international concern, with the UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling for a peaceful solution to the situation.

The protest movement started in November after President Yanukovych backed off from singing a key deal with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

 

 

Beijing issues yellow alert for air pollution

 

Anchor:

Beijing has issued a yellow alert for heavy air pollution over the coming days. Smog has been blanketing the Chinese capital since Thursday.

This is the first yellow alert issued since Beijing set up an emergency response system for heavy air pollution at the end of last year.

CRI's Qizhi has more.

Reporter:

The yellow alert, the second in the four-color warning system, was issued as PM 2.5 readings in the capital's downtown areas exceeded 250 on Thursday. That level is considered to be "heavy pollution." The national meteorological authority forecasts that Beijing and neighboring Tianjin and Hebei Province can expect the smog to linger for a week.

Authorities have advised residents to reduce outdoor activities. Wang Bin is with the air pollution emergency response department of the Beijing municipal government.

"Under a yellow alert, children and seniors are advised to stay indoors. Schools and kindergartens need to reduce outdoor activities. Local residents are also advised to take public transport. The alert also includes compulsory measures, including more road sweeping and less digging at construction sites."

Starting from Thursday, all primary and middle schools in the capital have moved their sports classes indoors.

While applauding the warning system, Ma Jun, the director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs says some details can be modified.

"Currently, some of the most effective measures, such as limiting the number of vehicles on the road, can only be carried out when a red alert, the most serious warning, is issued. But I think it is possible to limit the number of official cars and muck loaders when it is necessary. Muck loaders and trucks only account for 5 percent of the vehicles on the road, but they produce 50 percent of the nitrogen oxidize. Also, for the organizations that are required to control dust levels under the yellow alert, it is necessary for them to disclose the results of their control measures."

Ma also advises residents to wear PM 2.5 dust proof mask while staying outdoors and use air purifier while indoors.

However, for most of residents, the bigger concern is for authorities to curb air pollution.

"Look at the smog; I can only see things that are twenty or thirty meters away. The warning system is necessary. But only warning is not enough, the authorities need to curb pollution."

"I carry a mask every day. I think curbing pollution is a pressing task for Beijing. The authorities need to do more."

Earlier, the local government promised to spend 15 billion yuan on improving air quality in the capital this year.

For CRI, I'm Qizhi.

 

 

Chinese Generals Meet with US Army Chief to Deepen Trust

 

Top Chinese generals have met the US Army chief in Beijing in an effort to help build trust between the nations' militaries.

China's Defence Ministry greeted US Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno with full military honors on Friday morning.

Lieutenant General Wang Ning, Deputy Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army, has expressed the Chinese military's willingness to deepen military exchanges with the US.

"We look forward to a continuous development of the relationship between the militaries of China and the US. In the meantime, we also look forward to a continuous development of the exchanges and cooperation between the armies of our two nations."

For his part, General Odierno stressed the importance of military-to-military dialogue between the two countries.

"We have many common objectives about our countries so I think it's important to have this kind of dialogue. We both have incredibly professional armies so I look forward to the substantive discussions that we will have on both regional and international issues that we certainly have many common interests."

General Odierno's visit came amid bitter disputes between China and two US allies - Japan and the Philippines - over territorial claims in the East and South China seas.

Despite those tensions, the militaries have pushed ahead with limited steps to reduce longstanding mistrust between them.

They have held simulations aimed at cooperating in humanitarian relief operations, and China's navy later this year is to take part in multi-national naval exercises off Hawaii.

 

 

Chinese Ambassador warns of detrimental consequence caused by coercive remarks

 

Anchor:

China's ambassador to the United States has delivered a speech to a Washington-based think-tank, issuing some critical rebukes of current US policy toward Asia Pacific region.

CRI's Washington correspondent Xiao Hong has more.

Ann:

Speaking to the Washington-based think tank Center for American Progress, Cui Tiankai says government leaders in both the United States and China need to create a constructive working relationship, given the current dynamic between the two sides.

At the same time, Cui Tiankai has also delivered some critical comments about the United States current policies toward regional issues in Asia-Pacific..

"I think, any attempt to manage or manipulate the regional affairs at the expense of China's legitimate interest in the region can not be justified and would indeed be detrimental to the stability and prosperity of the entire region, and eventually will serve nobody's interest."

The Chinese government has been critical of a number of comments made by US officials recently about issues connected to the South China Sea, China's Air Defense Identification Zone and regional territorial disputes.

But at the same time, Cui Tiankai has also told the Center for American Progress that common concensus between China and the US will bring broader benefits for the world.

"We shall really aim at win-win cooperation between our two countries whether in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere, and on the basis of mutual respect. This is indeed the key to a successful new model of relationship."

Cui Tiankai has also taken time to laud observers from both China and the US, saying scholars on both sides have been good at presenting comprehensive and strategic analysis of issues connected to the bilateral relationship.

He says suggestions put forward by the scholars to shift the focus from a crisis-management to an opportunity-management are of vital importance.

Xiaohong, CRI, Washington.

 

 

G20 finance officials meet in Australia

 

Anchor:

Australia hosts the first ministerial-level meeting under its G20 presidency, with Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Sydney this weekend.

Over 500 G20 delegates and invited guests from other countries and international organizations are expected to attend.

Our Sydney correspondent Wang Xiao has the details.

Reporter:

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world's 20 biggest developing and advanced economies, the G20, will discuss what changes can be made to fiscal and monetary policies, and what structural reforms are needed, to accelerate economic growth.

Australian treasurer Joe Hockey has held a joint press conference with US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew.

Hockey introduced the main focuses of the meetings: economic growth, jobs, private sectors and investment.

"Ultimately, we are focused on economic growth and jobs. That is going to deliver the prosperity of the world's needs and world's desires. And that growth will essentially come from the private sectors. So the government everywhere is to facilitate private sector during investment."

Experts predicted that this weekend's discussions may be overshadowed by emerging market concerns over U.S. monetary policy, since the U.S Federal Reserve tapered quantitative easing, causing currency losses in many emerging markets.

Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria today expressed his opinion on the US policy.

"The question really is, is tapering the one that caused the turbulence. This was announced in May and June. It caused turbulence then. Right now, it was much better plan, better communicated. People know this was happening. Who are the ones who suffering the most? The one has high current account deficits, and the ones who still have reforms on their homework. It's a signal. It's a wakeup call. Accelerate reforms. "

But many emerging market nations may focus on whether some responsibilities will be taken or whether there will be some agreements that will minimize the negative impact from the U.S. measures. The final communiqué may address the issue.

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and Governor of People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan will deliver keynotes during the meeting.

For CRI, I'm Wang Xiao from Sydney.

 

 

RMB to play a bigger role at FTZ

 

Anchor:

The Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone has made it possible for international payments to be made using the RMB.

This will bring great benefits to traders and consumers worldwide.

Many steps have been omitted in terms of international payments, compared to how things were done in the past.

More details concerning financial procedures will be coming out in the future.

CRI's Su Yi has more.

Reporter

The Bank of China is taking part in the new initiative.

Cheng Jun, manager of its Finance Department, says the pilot project shows that the RMB has become more widely accepted internationally.

"Foreign money is not the only option now in the zone, making it possible for individuals and companies to do international trading online; Previously, Euros and US dollars were used. Now, RMB is available. This is a significant step for Chinese traders, allowing them to go international with much convenience. Especially for those young people who like online shopping, risks and shopping expenses have been cut. RMB has become popular worldwide."

The new policy has indeed made things easier when it comes to online shopping. Online payers say prices marked directly in Chinese yuan will make rate conversion obsolete. At the same time, elimination of some auxiliary expenses also creates a great advantage.

Among international trades and investments, RMB is drawing more attention and popularity. The cross-border RMB Index, issued by Bank of China, reached its highest level during the last quarter of 2013.

Chen Siqing, president of Bank of China, says the RMB's international status has been greatly elevated.

"The amazing ending of the Cross-border RMB Index in 2013 reflects RMB's fast internationalization. More and more overseas customers have chosen RMB in investments. In 2013, the Bank of China did a survey among 3,000 international companies and more than 70% agreed on the importance of the RMB as international currency. 61% think they will more frequently use RMB in international payments. The positive response from customers to the RMB is the result of China's fast-developing international trade."

2013 saw China take over the US as the world's largest goods trading nation. The RMB will continue to show more potential and face more challenges at the same time.

How to guarantee timeliness, efficiency, and safety in international payments will become a big issue.  

The new policy is just one of the steps in pushing the RMB to go global. More measures will be introduced in the future to meet the needs of the RMB's internationalization.

However, according to Zhao Xijun, vice-dean of the School of Finance at Renmin University of China, RMB's international usage faces restraints too, such as one-dimensional investments. Therefore more work need to be done to meet modern demands.

For CRI, it is Su Yi.

 

 

Biz Reports

 

 

Stocks

 

Stocks on the mainland ended the week's trading in negative territory, with investors still shaken by lower than expected preliminary manufacturing PMI figures. Elsewhere in Asia, markets were somewhat bolstered by the better than expected manufacturing data out of the US.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped by almost 1.2 percent

The Shenzhen Component Index lost 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent.

In Japan, Tokyo stocks rose by 2.9 percent, propelled by the weakening yen against the dollar

South Korea's Kospi gained 1.4 percent, led by Samsung which advanced by 3.4 percent ahead of next week's high-end Galaxy unveiling.

Singapore's Straits Times gained 0.4 percent.

And finally, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose by half a percent.

 

 

Experts call for further reform after legalizing private lending

 

Anchor:

A number of Chinese observers, while hailing the move to legalize private lending in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang, are also calling for broader reforms in this country's financial institutions.

CRI's Lucy Du has more on what the new regulations on private lending in Wenzhou, set to be brought in this coming month, may mean for businesses in the city.

Reporter:

Ms. Cai is the owner of a training school. As the business expands, she needs to borrow 5 million yuan from the bank.

"I have been to five banks, but none of them agreed to offer me the loan. I brought my property ownership certificate and assessment report to one of the banks. The bank told me that I had to get guarantees from the other four major banks. Plus, although my assessment report said my property value is over 8 million yuan, the bank told me I could only borrow 2 million. Other banks simply rejected my loan application."

Running out of luck at the banks, Ms. Cai turned to private lenders and got 5 million yuan within a day.

It is not unusual for small and medium-sized companies to end up being rejected by banks when applying for loans. According to official statistics provided by Anhui Province, by September 2013, bank loans granted to small and medium-sized companies accounted for 30 percent of all loans. However, these companies contributed to over 60 percent of the Province's GDP.

Wang Chaofu works at a local rural credit cooperative and explains why big banks refuse to provide loans to SMEs.

"Firstly, most of the firms are operated by families which lack a systematic managing scheme. Second, the finance management of some firms fails to meet relevant regulations. And also, the firms are small which means they are vulnerable to changes in the market."

The imbalance between the demand for loans and the limited supply provided by major banks has created a huge opportunity for private lenders.

The Survey and Research Center for China Household Finance has conducted a survey of over 28,000 families. The result shows that about half of families in China's western regions have participated in private lending and 38 percent in eastern China.

Therefore, Zhou Maoqing, a researcher with the Institute of Finance and Banking of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says reform is needed if official financial institutions and banks are to meet demand from the private sector.

"Fundamentally, if we want to make it easier for the SMEs to get loans, we need to change the current banking system which is dominated by state owned major banks, and to set up small and medium-sized banks. In this way, major banks can continue their services to big firms while other banks such as community banks can offer loans to SMEs."

But, Zhou also suggests that if the Wenzhou regulations work, they can be adopted in other cities, and possibly lead to national legislation.

For CRI, I'm Lucy Du.

 

 

ADB launches grant for enterprises targeting poor low-income communities

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today launched a grant of 3.6 million U.S. dollars to assist Asian companies targeting poor and low-income communities.

The grant aims to encourage businesses to assess the social impact of such activities.

The focus will be on profitable enterprises that specifically serve those living on less than 3 U.S. dollars a day.

According to ADB, 60 percent of Asia's population fall into this poor and low-income bracket.

Amongst the projects up for support by the grant this year include a cacao project and seafarers scholarships in the Philippines, spice production in Cambodia and India, and a water project in China.

The grant is financed by ADB in conjunction with the Swedish government and Credit Suisse.

 

 

RBS to cut 30,000 jobs

 

The UK's largest government-owned lender, Royal Bank of Scotland, will announce restructuring next week, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Citing anonymous sources, the paper said that RBS plans to shut its riskier investment-banking businesses.

The move could see RBS cut up to a quarter of its 120,000-strong work force as well as largely move out of the US and Asian markets.

Five years ago, RBS received the biggest bank bailout in history totaling 45.5 billion sterling.

The UK government has so far failed to shed any of its 80 percent stake in the flailing bank.

RBS is expected to post a "substantial" full-year loss for 2013 next week.

RBS is preparing to shed assets, with a planned Initial Public Offering for its US equity derivatives and structured products units.

 

 

Yuan falls against USD for four consecutive days

 

The Chinese yuan has fallen against the US dollar for four consecutive days.

Today saw the RMB slide some 30 basis points to 6.1176 against the greenback.

The total depreciation over the past four days now totals 123 basis points, according to figures from the China Foreign Exchange Trading system.

Analysts said the recent decline of the yuan concurred with big banks' buying of foreign exchanges amid concerns of an economic slowdown, as investors, who used to be overly optimistic on the yuan's appreciation, are starting to come up with new approaches.

Leading economic indicators such as the purchasing managers' index for the manufacturing sector, dropped to a six-month low of 50.5 percent in January, marking a bumpy start for the Chinese economy in 2014.

 

 

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi expands to Singapore retail market

 

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has expanded into Singapore.

It's online store opened in this new market on Friday.

The company's midrange phone - the Redmi - sold out within minutes.

Xiaomi is one of the most successful startups in China in recent years.

The company sold about 18 million phones last year, up from 7 million in 2012.

 

 

Expert calls for expediting property tax legislation

 

A prominent Chinese expert from a government think-tank is calling for a coordinated effort to quicken the introduction of property tax legislation.

Jia Kang says the country's 11 current property-related taxes should be managed and improved as a whole, as part of the effort to tame China's red-hot housing market.

He's also calling for the expansion of pilot property tax programs, which levy taxes on the owners of high-end properties.

Property taxes are expected to be one of the hot topics discussed at the upcoming annual sessions of the National Committe of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the National People's Congress.

Those meetings get underway next month.

 

 

Euro zone consumer confidence drops surprisingly in February

 

Consumer confidence in the euro zone worsened in February, registering its first decline since November.

The European Commission is reporting its euro zone consumer morale readings have dipped to minus-12.7.

The January reading was minus-11.7.

The latest consumer confidence reading has come in far below economists expectations, many of whom had expected the index to rise.

Consumer confidence has also fallen across the broader European Union, but to a lesser extent.

 

 

Poly Culture Raising up to $331 Million Via IPO

 

Chinese auction house Poly Culture Group is planning on raising up to 331-million US dollars in an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

The state-owned auction house, which started taking orders from investors yesterday, is selling 77.8 million shares in a price range of 28 to 33 Hong Kong Dollars each.

That range represents 14.5 to 17-times Poly Culture's forecast earnings for this year.

The final price will be set on February 28th.

Poly Culture is then set to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange March 6th.

Poly Culture plans to use the proceeds to develop its art business and make investments in cinemas.

 

 

Headline News

 

 

China urges Obama-Dalai Lama meeting cancellation

 

Chinese government has issued a statement, urging the United States to immediately cancel a planned meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says "China is greatly concerned about the meeting, and has lodged solemn representations to the U.S. side."

Her comments come in response to the scheduled informal Obama-Dalai Lama meeting later today in the White House.

China has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting with the Dalai Lama, who fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government in exile" in 1959 after a failed armed rebellion.

Obama has met with the Dalai Lama twice before in 2010 and 2011.

 

 

Ukraine presidency announces deal with opposition

 

The Ukrainian presidency has announced that a deal had been reached with the opposition on the country's lingering political turmoil.

On the streets of Kiev, protesters and police have reached a stand-off after dozens were killed in clashes on Thursday.

Following the violence, European Union foreign ministers decided to impose sanctions on some officials over the violence.

The United States says it's considering similar moves.

Russia, which wields heavy influence on Ukraine, has criticized Western countries' sanctions as blackmail and double standards.

 

 

Beijing raises pollution alert, limits factory activity

 

More than 100 factories in Beijing will either halt or limit their activities amid signs of lingering smog over the weekend.

Authorities have raised the pollution alert by one notch to Orange - the second highest, ordering 36 companies to halt production.

Citizens are also being urged to stay indoors and use public transportation.

A yellow alert was issued yesterday when the city's Air Quality Index exceeded 250, indicating serious air pollution.

 

 

Libyan military plane crashes in Tunisia, 11 killed

 

A Libyan military rescue plane has crashed in Tunisia, killing 11 people on board.

The Tunisian defense ministry says the Russian-made plane went down in Grombalia city, some 60 km north of the capital Tunis.

Three patients were among the 11 killed.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

Tunisian officials say the pilots reported a fire in the aircraft before it went down.

 

 

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi expands to Singapore retail market

 

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has expanded into Singapore.

It's online store opened in this new market on Friday.

The company's midrange phone - the Redmi - sold out within minutes.

Xiaomi is one of the most successful startups in China in recent years.

The company sold about 18 million phones last year, up from 7 million in 2012.

 

 

Newspaper Picks

 

 

Xinhua

"UK education minister to study Shanghai's math teaching"

Britain's education minister will lead a delegation of experts to visit Shanghai and observe how math is taught at local primary and middle schools.

Elizabeth Truss and the mission will visit three schools in the city to see how Chinese children have become the world's best mathematicians.

They will potentially adopt the same methods in England.

Truss said a new primary school math curriculum featuring the multiplication table will be adopted in British schools.

A survey in 2012 showed that in the UK, 17 million adults -- nearly half the working population -- only had the math skills of a primary school child.

China News Service

"New policy heats up market for 'school district housing'"

Prices of housing adjacent to many cities' top schools have been pushed up by a new policy issued by the country's Education Ministry.

The ministry issued a notice Monday requiring 19 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to make sure that 90 percent of their middle schools enroll students in the surrounding areas by 2015.

In order to get their children enrolled in well-regarded schools, Chinese parents are rushing to buy expensive and unattractive apartments merely as an "admission ticket" to good schools.

Prices of new houses in neighborhoods near top schools in Tianjin's Heping, Hexi and Nankai districts have increased by 20 percent

A 20-square-meter apartment in Hexi district is priced at 700,000 yuan.

A parent said the high cost is worth it, as it saves them from paying sponsorship fees and may be profitable in the future due to rocketing prices.

Sky News Australia

"ACT schools move to ban sugary drinks"

The last call for sugary drinks has been rung in Canberra's public schools with the government moving to ban such drinks by the end of the year.

Vending machines will be emptied of soft drinks, fruit juices and full-fat flavoured milks by the end of first term and canteens will have to phase them out by the end of 2014.

They'll be replaced with water refill stations and reusable drink bottles.

Parents will be encouraged to send healthy drinks packed in their children's lunch boxes.

All this effort is in the interests of tackling the ACT's growing obesity problem.

Officials said they will not allow the next generation of children to grow up with the same bad eating and drinking habits that some adults are now paying the price for.

The Telegraph

"Why silent types get the girl"

A study found that men who use shorter average word lengths and concise sentences were preferred by volunteers who listened to male speech patterns.

Linguists think the preference arises because women generally use longer words and so shorter words make a man sound more masculine.

They found the only exception was foreign languages, which were generally preferred overall for being exotic.

In a survey of Canadian students, researchers found the most common preference was for a voice similar to that of the volunteer themselves.

They found men with voices suggesting they are larger were more popular, while women with a "breathy" voice like Marilyn Monroe were preferred to those with "croaky" voices like Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star, because they sound younger and healthier.

 

 

Special Reports

 

 

Nothing is impossible in Sochi

 

Anchor:

Many people have been surprised at how warm it's been at these Winter Olympics, given that Russia is famous for cold and cruel winters.

Some of the people you meet in Sochi may surprise you as well.

CRI's Olympic correspondent Ding Lulu has the story.

Report:

Don't be surprised if you come across two-time Summer Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva in Sochi.

The pole-vault queen has a special job at the winter games - she's the mayor of the Olympic Village.

"It's my first winter Olympics, so I really like it. From my job and the job of my volunteers depend the whole future of our games of our people of our hospitality. We really hope the athletes and coaches and representatives like our village like our Sochi and they will do their best."

Although it's highly unlikely that Isinbayeva will ever compete in the Winter Games, some winter sport athletes actually did start their careers in warmer environments.

Snowboarder Zhang Yiwei, a new Chinese fan favourite, is one of them.

"I actually started out practicing gymnastics, but later I changed my major to do snowboarding. The programme was newly established back then, so I became a part of it."

Zhang is not the only one who has changed his sport and become popular.

US bobsledder Johnny Quinn used to be an American footballer, but he got famous even before the four-man bobsleigh final.

His tweet about breaking through the bathroom door in Sochi lit up the Internet with 7,000 retweets.

I was in there for about an hour, and my roommate was in the wait room at the time, and my other two teammates Nick and Dow were in the other room so I was kind of banning on the wall to see whether I can get their attention. And as I get to the door, it's kind of cracked, and then my fist went through the door, so it was time to get out of there. Now that everyone's safe, the door's been fixed, my teammates are definitely giving me a hard time about it now."

Maybe it's not so surprising to discover former summer athletes competing on the ice. But famous entertainers showing up in Sochi do cause a stir.

Famous Chinese producer and director Ying Da is working here in Sochi as a hockey commentator. He has his son to thank for his new job.

"I wasn't interested in ice hockey before. When I was studying in the US, I often watched hockey games, basketball, American football, and even baseball. I fell in love with hockey because of my son. Maybe my son is born for hockey. He really has a passion for it, and it has brought me here."

Ying Da's son Rudi Ying has been recruited by the Boston Junior Bruins after he led the Beijing Tigers to win The Bell Capital Cup in Canada.

But all of the above are not surprising compared to one of the world's most successful crossover musicians' participation in the Games.

World-famous Violinist Vanessa Mae Vanakorn has crossed the border between music and sport and become an Olympic alpine skier in the giant slalom race in Sochi.

"For me, playing a show is all about interaction, and sometimes I have done this in a race when I hear somebody say Go Vanessa I kind of turn around and say 'thank you.' In a show, you can do that, but here time doesn't stand still for you. But Hey, i'm here because this is in a way the greatest show on earth."

Vanessa finished only 50 seconds behind gold medal winner Tina Maze. But she completed her run, something seven other competitors failed to do.

She finished last out of all of those who crossed the finish line, but a respectable 67th out of 90 racers overall.

If I have learnt anything here in Sochi, it's that nothing is impossible.

For CRI, I'm Ding Lulu in Sochi, Russia.

 

 

Sports

 

 

Chinese skaters vy for the last three golds in speed skating

 

Starting off with a a quick update from Sochi,

The Chinese men's curling team is now batting Sweden for the bronze medal.

Later on, the gold medal will be contested between defending champions Canada and Great Britain.

Coming up later tonight, there are three golds up for grabs in the last three speed skating events.

Chinese rising star Liang Wenhao, Wu Dajing and Han Tianyu are medal hopefuls in the men's 500 meter event.

In the ladies 1000 meter short track event, China's Li Jianrou and Fan Kexin both made it into the quarterfinals and will compete against a strong South Korean squad.

The men's 5000 meter relay also takes place tonight.

With both Canada and South Korea crashing out ealier in qualifying, China is likely to get away with a top finish.

Earlier in the day, the Canadians claimed their fourth womens hockey gold after they beat the Americans 3-2 in overtime.

The Americans had a 2-0 lead deep into the third period, but the Canadians pushed the final into overtime with two goals in the final 3:26 of regulation.

Caroline Ouellette is captain for the Canadian team.

"I'm so proud of playing for Canada and the way we won that game it's not only a win it is the way you do it and never giving up; this is the way we represent Canadian hockey and we have pictures of all the other years of the teams and they inspired us with their greatness that they had in the past and we did the same tonight.'

And Switzerland earned its first ever medal in womens ice hockey, a bronze, after defeating Sweden 4-3.

In ladies figure skating, it was another last minute surprise win.

Russia's Adelina Sotnikova won the first womens figure skating gold for her nation after passing South Korean favorite Kim Yuna by just .28 points in the short program.

Kim Yuna shocked her fans when she announced her retirement from the sport shortly after the competition.

 

 

Golden State snapped Houston's eight game winning run while LeBron walked away with a win and a bloody nose from Oklahoma City

 

Onto basketball,

A light slate in the NBA this morning - just three games.

At Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors outlasted Houston 102-99 in overtime and snapped the Rockets' eight game winning streak.

Golden State's Stephen Curry finished with 25 points, with eight coming in the fourth quarter and six more in extra time.

David Lee added 28 points and 14 rebounds.

James Harden had 39 points for the Rockets.

Over in Oklahoma City, LeBron James put in 33 points and walked away with a bloody nose in Miami's 103-81 hammering of the Thunder.

James, the NBA's Most Valuable Player four of the last five seasons, was struck by the Thunder's Serge Ibaka on a drive for a dunk.

Teammate Chris Bosh expressed his concern.

"Well you know it hurts if he's down. I was just hoping it wasn't anything extremely serious, you know, when you see a guy down like that a bunch of different things go through your head but I don't think it was broken 'cause you would have been able to tell if it was broken. Well he'd be in the emergency room right now but I hope it heals nicely."

Bosh and Dwyane Wade each pumped in 24 points for Miami, who have won their last three games in a row.

In the morning's other action, Kenneth Faried scored 26 points as Denver snapped its five-game losing streak with a 101-90 victory over Milwaukee.

Off the court, the Indiana Pacers have obtained forwards Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen from the 76ers for former all-star Danny Granger and a draft pick.

The 76ers also trade center Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers for two second-round draft picks and backup forward Earl Clark.

 

 

Tottenham lost to Dnipro 1-0 in their Europa league last 32 first-leg draw

 

European football news,

Premier League side Tottenham has lost its Europa League round of 32 first leg draw 1-0 to FC Dnipro of Ukraine.

The Dnipro Arena is 220 miles away from the Ukrainian capital Kiev, where violent unrest has claimed the lives of dozens of people.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off as a mark of respect to those killed in the clashes.

Tottenham's manager Tim Sherwood said the defeat will be answered back when the second leg returns to White Heart Lane.

"Give them credit, they did very, very well. It's just a shame we couldn't come away with a goal. It would of benefited us. Obviously they've got threats and they will have threats next week at White Heart Lane, but we will score at the lane, guaranteed, but it depends how many we might have to score."

The other Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev was beaten by Spanish side Valencia 2-0.

Because of the continuing violence in the Ukrainian capital, the match was actually moved to Cyprus.

Over in Italy, the Serie A champions Juventus have finished off their last 32 first leg draw with a 2-0 win over Turkish side Trabzonspor (TRAB-zon-spor).

Dani Osvaldo and Paul Pogba each scored for the home side.

Elsewhere, last season's runners-up Benfica edged 1-0 ahead of PAOK Salonika, while Dutch champions Ajax lost 3-0 to FC Salzburg.

 

 

Brazil Spends 800ml USD to Beef Up World Cup Security

 

Also in football, authorities in Brazil have allocated 800 million US dollars and deployed 170,000 policemen and safety guards to beef up the security plans for this year's World Cup.

Brazil's Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Justice also jointly announced that an additional 20,000 private security agents will work during the tournament.

A Justice Ministry official says the budget has been legally approved, and cities and states that hold competitions will also benefit from the security plan.

Several waves of demonstrations and violent protests against the government's lavish spending on the games have stirred up security concerns over the sport's most grandiose event.

 

 

Entertainment

 

 

S. Korean Film 'Snowpiercer' to Hit Chinese Screens

 

South Korean sci-fi action film, 'Snowpiercer,' will be released in China. The date has not yet been determined.

The film is based on a French graphic novel written by Jacques Lob and Benjamin Legrand, and illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film has an international cast including stars Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Go Ah-sung and more.

It's Bong's first English-language film. He says that approximately 80 percent of the film was shot in English.

'Snowpiercer' takes place in the future, where a runaway experiment to stop global warming has caused an ice age that killed nearly all life on Earth. The only survivors are the inhabitants of the "Snowpiercer," which is a massive train that travels around the planet and is powered by a perpetual-motion engine. Over time, a class system evolved on the train. Fed up with their poor living conditions, those at the bottom of the train hierarchy try to seize control of the engine. The elites that occupy the front cars retaliate, fearful of losing their favorable positions.

 

 

Xu Zheng's New Film 'The Great Hypnotist' Set to Hit Chinese Screens

 

The first trailer of Chinese actor Xu Zheng's new film, "The Great Hypnotist," has been released.

Business is going well for famous hypnotist Xu Ruining, who is played by Xu Zheng, until he runs into a tough female patient named Ren Xiaoyan, played by Karen Mok. This seemingly straight-forward relationship between a doctor and his patient is not as simple as it seems.

The film is set to hit Chinese screens on April 29th.

 

 

Oscar Nominated Film 'Omar' Depicts Palestinian Reality

 

Director Hany Abu-Assad says his Oscar nominated film 'Omar' gives a true depiction of what life is like for those living in the Palestinian territories. The film is in the running for best foreign language film.

'Omar's' nomination has stirred up controversy, with some Israelis appealing to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because they say the film depicts Palestinian suicide bombers sympathetically.

The film tells the story of lovers walled-off by Israel's West Bank barrier and a hero brutalized by Israel's secret police. Most of the film's budget was raised independently by Palestinian and Emirati businesspeople.

Students at Birzeit University in the West Bank who attended a screening of the film had positive reactions, saying that the film is an accurate depiction of their reality. Abu-Assad says the feedback he has received is the most rewarding part of filmmaking.

"Now as a film maker when you hear the people who lived this situation, who lived it and living the situation. Tells you like it was so real and they believed it means that this is the biggest compliment you can get. Because you really succeeded to portray a drama, at the end it is a fiction, everything is fiction in the movie, actors, everything, but you portray a drama, a fictional drama in a way that the people who lived the situation can tell you, 'oh, I felt it was like almost true."

'Omar' will be released in U.S. theaters on February 21st.

 

 

Man Arrested in Australia for Allegedly Assaulting Star of 'Modern Family'

 

A man has been arrested in Australia for allegedly assaulting one of the stars of the hit U.S. television sitcom, 'Modern Family.' The cast of the sitcom is visiting Australia, where they are filming an episode.

Sarah Hyland, who plays the beautiful and rebellious oldest sibling Haley Dunphy, was posing for a photograph with a fan in downtown Sydney when the fan allegedly groped her chest.

The New South Wales state police say a 29 year-old man has been arrested at the scene and charged with indecent assault.

Hyland left the event early, later posting on Twitter: "Sorry to all the fans outside the #qantas event that I didn't get to say hi to but I had to leave due to an inappropriate touch of a fan."

'Modern Family' is a mockumentary-style show about an unconventional extended family. It has won its fourth consecutive Emmy for best comedy series in September.

 

 

That’s it for this edition of the Beijing Hour.

A quick recap of headlines before we go.

The Chinese government is urging the US president to cancel a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Ukraine's government says a deal has been reached to end the political turmoil in the country.

And a smog alert has been issued in Beijing.

In business, a call for broader reforms in the Chinese financial sector.

 

 

 

 

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