China media: Ukraine crisis

Masked pro-Russian protesters stand behind a barricade in front of the city hall as flags meant to represent the Donetsk Republic fly alongside Russian flags in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption Government buildings have been seized by pro-Russian protesters, reports say

The ongoing political crisis in Ukraine, corruption and soil pollution in China are the main themes in Friday's papers.

Four-party talks involving Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU ended in Geneva on Thursday with an agreement to "de-escalate" the situation in eastern Ukraine.

Government buildings in several eastern towns and cities of Ukraine have been seized by pro-Russian separatists opposed to new Western-leaning interim authorities in the capital, Kiev.

"When the major powers are involved in the Ukraine crisis, the neutral position of China, which has not been drawn into the wrestle, becomes very important," says an article in the Ta Kung Pao.

It urges China to maintain "friendly relationships" with "all sides". The paper notes that China has "good relations" with Russia, but it "needs different parties to support its development".

"Adopting an objective and neutral position does not mean that China is being passive, instead it is playing a pro-active role in the peace-making process," it adds.

Commenting on the future of Ukraine, an article in the Beijing News says even though Russia's Ukraine strategy looks "intimidating", it is "a carefully planned and a cautious one".

"Russia holds more resources than the US and the EU, and in terms of geopolitics or historical reasons, it has the upper hand. So relatively speaking, Russia is a winner in the situation. The US and EU can only assume the role of a peacemaker," it adds.

'Online whistle-blowing'

Moving on to local news, media applaud the role of "online whistle-blowing" in exposing corruption after Song Lin, chairman of state-owned China Resources Holdings, was questioned over "suspected serious violations of discipline and law".

Reports say that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision confirmed the news on Thursday, a day after Mr Song denied any wrongdoing.

Chinese authorities decided to investigate Mr Song after Wang Wenzhi, a journalist with the state-run Economic Information Daily, accused Mr Song on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, of embezzlement, dereliction of duty and keeping a mistress, according to the Beijing Times.

The Chinese edition of the Global Times describes the internet as an "effective channel for the public involvement in the fight against corruption".

"The journalist did not use the media company where he works as a platform and used the internet to expose the official. This shows the effectiveness of such anti-corruption methods," it adds.

Echoing similar sentiments, the Peninsula Daily praises the authorities for allowing netizens to give details about corrupt officials on the internet.

And finally, media worry over the quality of arable land because latest official figures show "excessive levels of pollution" in soil samples.

According to the results, jointly released by China's environmental protection and land resource watchdogs, 16.1% of soil in the country is polluted and the figure is higher at 20% for arable land.

The China Daily says that officials and experts are worried over the results because pollution in arable land directly affects the quality of crops.

"Solving the problem of soil pollution is extremely hard because it is invisible and requires higher costs," Wang Qi, an expert on environmental engineering at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, tells the paper.

"It is a common practice that each government department does its own thing. It remains to be seen how the environmental protection, finance, land and resources, and agricultural ministries will coordinate on this problem," Jia Weilie, deputy director at the Beijing Academy of Ecocivilisation, writes in a commentary in the Global Times Chinese edition.

"If all of them continue to put their interests above that of the nation and do not adopt a consolidated action, this small illness will turn into a serious one in the future," he says.

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