Media Watch 21/2/15

By Rowan Williams

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has warned of difficulties ahead in negotiating Greece’s financial future with its eurozone creditors. Tsipras claimed a victory after European finance ministers agreed on Friday to extend Greece’s bailout programme by four months, keeping the country afloat financially. Tsipras’ government must now submit a list of reforms to be made to Greece’s creditors by Monday, and has also been forced to back down on certain terms including its demand that some of Greece’s debts be written down or off.

Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed his concerns over the disappearance of three East London teenage girls, who are believed to be attempting to travel to Syria to join Islamic extremist group Islamic State (IS). Metropolitan Police had interviewed the girls after another classmate from their school travelled to Syria in December, but noted no suspicious behaviour at the time. Worshippers at Whitechapel Mosque, one of the largest in Europe, were urged on Friday night to come forward with any information relating to the three girls’ disappearance.

China has officially protested a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the disputed border territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Both India and China lay claim to the region China calls south Tibet. Modi visited on Friday to inaugurate the opening of a power station and train line. The town of Tawang in the region was briefly occupied by China during a war in 1962. China has said that the visit would not be conducive to the development of bilateral relations. Arunachal Pradesh has seen several stand-offs between Chinese and Indian forces in the past year alone.

The Papers

The story of three London teenage girls feared to have left Britain to join Islamic extremist group Islamic State (IS) makes the headlines in several tabloids, with The Guardian also leading with the story. The Guardian writes of how the teenagers flew to Istanbul, “a much-used route” for those seeking to join IS, and of the race to find the girls. The Times leads with news that the Labour Party has planned a “pension raid to fund lower student fees”. Some tax breaks for those saving for pensions would be raided to lower university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. The Daily Telegraph also leads with pension news, writing in its headline that “final salary pensions are not safe”, according to the head of the Pensions Protection Fund, with the group warning that savers are being misled about the safety of final salary pension funds. The Financial Times, meanwhile, leads with news of Greece’s “11th-hour deal” with the eurozone, with a four-month bailout extension agreed. The Independent leads with news that low-income families are paying the price of an “outsourcing fiasco” with HM Revenue and Customs, after thousands of low-paid workers were found to have been sent letters by a US company accusing them of cheating the tax credits system.

British Media on China

On China’s anti-corruption campaign: China’s anti-corruption campaign continues to make headlines, with The Financial Times reporting that the purge has reached “living rooms” after China’s New Year Gala featured sketches relating to the anti-corruption drive. The BBC, meanwhile, features an analysis piece, writing that the anti-corruption drive has ‘bared its teeth’. The current anti-graft drive is different from past campaigns, the piece notes, saying that it will go on forever. The author, Jonathan Fenby of Trusted Sources, also notes that the purge has coincided with “a steady accumulation of top-level authority” by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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