Return to Transcripts main page


President Hu Visits Washington; Trapped Under Mud; Are Silvio Berlusconi's Days Numbered?

Aired January 19, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: China gets the pomp and circumstance it wants from Hu Jintao's trip to Washington.

But does the U.S. get anything in exchange?

Both presidents agree China and the U.S. have enormous stakes in each other's success.


HU JINTAO, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): China recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights.


ANDERSON: But he goes on to say national differences need to be respected.

Also tonight, is it a scandal too far for Italy's president, Silvio Berlusconi?

The latest on the lurid tales from Rome.

Well, as the death toll climbs in Brazil, a miraculous rescue for one man.

And get yourself a martini, shake it, stir it and sit back -- Bond girl Gemma Arterton takes your questions.

That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Well, cooperation and a mutual respect -- those were the buzzwords from today's meeting between the leaders of the world's biggest economies. Yet, while there were agreements on trade, both presidents admitted that on other issues, differences remain.

Just listen to what they had to say about China's record on human rights.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been very candid with President Hu about these issues. Occasionally, they are a source of tension between our two governments. But what I believed is the same thing that I think seven previous presidents have believed, which is, is that we can engage and discuss these issues in a frank and candid way, focus on those areas where we agree, while acknowledging there are going to be areas where we disagree.



HU JINTAO, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): President Obama rightfully put it just now, though there are disagreements between China and the United States on the issue of human rights, China is willing to engage in dialogue and exchanges with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and the principal of non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

In this way, we will be able to further increase our mutual understanding, reduce our disagreements and expand our common ground.


ANDERSON: Well, Jill Dougherty joins me now from the White House.

What did we learn out of the -- the words we heard from President Hu Jintao on human rights today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think we learned, Becky, what we learned quite a long time ago, which is they agreed to disagree. Now, you had a little bit of a different tone -- a softening on both sides. President Obama, for his part, saying that the country, China, has developed and over the past 30 years it has turned into a different country than what it was 30 years ago and that he was looking forward to another 30 years in which it would continue to -- to develop.

He all -- but, also, President Hu saying that they're open to learning from other -- other countries, that they are a developing country.

But was there anything specific about, you know, freeing Liu Xiaobo or any of the other people being held?

No, there was nothing specific, but the same commitment that China makes, which is we respect human rights, but it has to be on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in our internal affairs.

ANDERSON: And so is that enough for the United States?

DOUGHERTY: It's about what they can get. I mean the United States -- actually, for quite a while, for the first two years of this administration, did not make human rights as big a deal as the previous administration, under George W. Bush.

Now, they are bringing that up a bit more insistently. But there is no indication that the Chinese are really going to do, specifically, anything that the United States wants. So this could be one area where they continue to press, they continue to say things, but with no expectation that there will be any radical change.

ANDERSON: All right, let's just hear some of what else was said today.

And this is President Obama talking about the Chinese currency.


OBAMA: I told President Hu that we welcome China's increasing the flexibility of its currency. But I also had to say that the renminbi remains undervalued, that there needs to be further adjustment in the exchange rate and that this can be a powerful tool for China boosting domestic demand and lessening the inflationary pressures in their economy.


ANDERSON: And the Chinese knew that this was a real bug bear for the States when they arrived 24 hours ago.

Have we learned anything more than that, which we knew before?

DOUGHERTY: No. But I think, you know, there's a slight shift in focus here, because after all, the Chinese did begin to adjust, albeit a little bit, their -- their currency. And that has made somewhat of a difference. But now the focus of this administration -- and you see it with the meeting with the CEOs from both sides today here at the White House -- is that they want more access for American companies within China. That is the big push, especially protection of intellectual property, a level playing field, as President Obama was saying.

And that's really the important thing right now. This administration wants to show to American voters and the American public that there is some type of payoff to his relationship with China, because, after all, a lot of Americans, Becky, really do look at it as a -- as a loosing proposition, that jobs are diminishing, that there are Chinese imports and that it's really a one-sided game.

So the president -- President Obama wants to show that it's -- it's not completely that.

ANDERSON: The United States also knows or believes that if it is to prevent a war on the Korean Peninsula, it needs more involvement from China at this point.

This is what President Obama had to say on North Korea.

Have a listen to this, Jill.


OBAMA: I told President Hu that we appreciated China's role in reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. And we agreed that North Korea must avoid further provocations.

I also said that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program is increasingly a direct threat to the security of the United States and our allies. We agreed that the paramount ga -- goal must be complete denuclearization of the Peninsula.


ANDERSON: Did -- did we learn that the Chinese were prepared to commit more than just rhetoric at this point?

DOUGHERTY: Certainly, President Hu did not say much more than that. I mean he, granted, does agree with the United States that the whole goal is to not have a nuclear peninsula. That's -- that's very important to them, too.

But the U.S. really feels they've done a lot on Iran, but they haven't done enough on North Korea. And one of the things is speaking out on some of the aggressive steps that the North has taken over the past year, certainly last year. They wanted China to -- to condemn some of the -- the belligerency from the North, at least as the U.S. sees it. But you're not getting that rhetorically.

So I would say, Becky, you know, in a lot of these areas, you have generalities, some quite positive, but generalities coming from the Chinese president and some more specifics coming from the American president.

ANDERSON: Jill Dougherty for you at the White House.

Jill, we thank you for that.

Before we hear from our next guest, a man who represented Washington in China for five years, let's just recap this in brief. Here's what the two countries wanted going into this visit.

The U.S. made it clear that it needed China to stop manipulating its currency. It's also been pushing for more cooperation on sanctions against Iran and North Korea, as you heard. And finally, Beijing's human rights record.

China went into this with simpler expectations, perhaps, you might say. Mostly, they just wanted to be afforded the status of a major global power. So China's gotten what it wants, to a certain extent -- the full pomp and splendor of an official state visit.

But will Obama get anything in exchange?

Well, that is the question I put to a statesman of whom Henry Kissinger once said, "No one has done a better job on Sino-US relations.

James Sasser is the former U.S. ambassador to China.

And he spoke with us right before he rushed off for lunch with President Hu earlier today.

Listen to what he told me when I asked him if the U.S. was getting any major concessions from China.


JAMES SASSER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: President Obama, in my view, will not get what he wants out of the Chinese. Already, the administration is downplaying this summit and saying don't expect any substantial deliverables. So Obama will not get what he wants by way of more market access. It will be interesting to see if the Chinese will move more vigorously in dealing with North Korea. My guess is they will not.

So my view is that Obama will not get much out of this summit meeting, except I think it -- it sends a message to the population of both countries that we are on friendly relation. We're trying to work together.

ANDERSON: Many say that President Obama was overshadowed by President Hu in meetings in London and Tokyo in the last two years.

So what, then, given what you've said, what, then, should he be doing differently to try and get what he wants or more out of the Chinese this time?

SASSER: I do think that, initially, President Obama was very deferential in dealing with the Chinese, in dealing with President Hu Jintao. That has really not worked particularly. So I think Obama and the United States needs to be firmer. I think they need to set out precisely what they expect of the Chinese, what they want from the Chinese and push for that.

But I think Obama should be realistic. The Chinese, like every other country, are going to act in what they perceive to be their vital national interests.

ANDERSON: Let's just give our viewers some stats here. Experts say China will eventually overtake the U.S. as the world's largest economic power. Take a look at these. In 2000, China's GDP was about $1.2 trillion, while the U.S. was $9.7 trillion.

In 2009, China's GDP has grown to almost $5 trillion, while the U.S. stood at more than $14 trillion.

In 2015, those numbers are forecast to grow much closer. China was projected at $20.9 trillion, with the U.S. GDP at $21.8 trillion.

And in 2020, China's GDP is projected to reach $30 trillion, while the U.S. is projected at about $28 trillion.

So if these projections hold true, China's economy will surpass the U.S. economy in less than 10 years.

And what will that mean for the rest of us, Ambassador?

SASSER: Well, if, indeed, some of the predictions that China's economy will grow faster and, at some point, overtake the United States, I think that will signal that China, obviously, is a world economic power and a leading economic power.

But on the other hand, on a per capita basis, China will still be a relatively poor country. When you divide China's GDP now -- or even a predicted GDP in the out years, 10 or 15 years from now, into 1.3 billion people, what you find is still a standard of living on a per capita basis that's relatively very low compared to the United States and the industrialized countries in the West.

ANDERSON: Let's drag ourselves back to 2011 here.

Who needs who more?

Does the U.S. need China more at this point or does China need the U.S. more at this point?

SASSER: I think at this point China needs the United States more. China is still dependent on the West for much of its technology. China also is very dependent on the United States for exports. China -- I mean the United States is China's leading export market. And we saw, when the United States was in a -- in the depths of the recent recession, the Chinese export market declined expeditiously, there were layoffs at Chinese factories that carmalated (ph) the U.S. market.

So in this particular frame of time, in my view, the Chinese need the United States more than the U.S. needs China.

ANDERSON: Hmmm, interesting.

Well, James Sasser there, a former U.S. ambassador, remember, to China under President Bill Clinton. And Mr. Sasser said he'll be back in touch with us after his meeting or his lunch with Hu.

Now, of course, not everyone welcoming the Chinese president.


ANDERSON: "Down, Down, Hu Jintao!" shout some protesters outside the White House today. There were a -- a mix of human rights groups representing the Students for a Free Tibet; Tiananmen Square activists also there.

More on China's story develops, of course, this week.

Just ahead tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, a defiant message from Duvalier's lawyer, who says the former Haitian dictator isn't going anywhere after returning from exile.

Plus, the grim job of searching for bodies in the mud -- we're going to show you what Brazil's army wants the world to see.

And stay tuned here for Bond girl Gemma Arterton, the actress who's up for a rising star award answering your questions as your Connector of the Day.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson for you now.

Irish victims of sexual abuse are disgusted by a newly revealed letter in which a Vatican official expresses serious reservations about requiring bishops to report suspected abuse by priests to the police. Well, the 1997 letter from the Vatican's envoy to Ireland warns bishops to follow church law.

The Vatican has called the letter "deeply misunderstood." A spokesman for the Conference of Irish Bishops said they have had a policy of reporting suspected abuse to police since 1996.

Well, the death toll from devastating flooding in Brazil continues to climb, reaching over 700. Emergency crews are still searching for those missing. Amazingly, this man survived after being buried for 16 hours.

Well, China Shasta Darlington is in Rio de Janeiro state.

She linked up with Brazil's armed forces, who are hunting for survivors, and traveled with them by helicopter to Teresopolis, a town badly hit by the flooding and mudslides.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, the reason that the helicopter has given us this ride is because they tell us they want us to show the world the reality, the destruction that has occurred here. They suspect there are many more deaths and they want the world to see what's going on.


ANDERSON: Shasta Darlington reporting there from Brazil.

The death toll from devastating flooding continues to climb, as I say, reaching over 700, as emergency crews search for those still missing. At least one amazing story of survival.

Take a look at this video.


ANDERSON: Well, as you can see -- see that again. After hours of digging for survivors, rescue workers heard muffled sounds coming from underneath a pile of debris. Marcello Fancesca (ph) had been buried for 16 hours by a landslide that swept away his home in the town there.

Well, in Southern Sudan, the polls vary, but various reports agree that people in last week's referendum appear to have voted overwhelmingly for independence from the North. Official results won't be ready for weeks. And if they confirm the expected landslide for independence, a new country could emerge by July.

Well, a lawyer for Jean-Claude Duvalier has told CNN that the former Haitian dictator is planning to stay in Haiti indefinitely. After 25 years in exile, Duvalier returned home on Sunday.

His lawyer, Reynold Georges, spoke to our John Zarrella.


REYNOLD GEORGES, JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER'S LAWYER: If he wants to live in this country, in this country, nobody -- nobody has the right to tell him to leave.


GEORGES: And as a matter of fact, the judge asked him that he stay. And I was amazed. I was surprised when the judge asked him when are you leaving?


ANDERSON: Well, Georges went on to say that no evidence was presented at a hearing for Duvalier, who faces charges, including corruption and possibly human rights abuses. The magistrate in the case now has to decide if the charges will be dismissed or formally brought against Duvalier.

And those are your headlines.

Next up on CONNECT THE WORLD, prime ministerial scandal in Italy -- we head there for the latest on the investigation into sex allegations against Silvio Berlusconi.

And what is it like being a Bond girl?

Well, actress Gemma Arterton can answer that question. The British- born actress joins us as your Connector of the Day later in the show.


ANDERSON: Well, he is Italy's second longest serving prime minister.

But are Silvio Berlusconi's days at the helm numbered?

The millionaire leader is being accused of bringing shame to the nation as he faces investigation over a sex scandal.

But Mr. Berlusconi is laughing off the allegations and resisting growing calls for his resignation.

Let's bring you back up to date.


ANDERSON: "Via Berlusconi!" Headline writers in Italy are having a field day, as the prime minister faces a lurid prostitution scandal that is threatening to plunge his embattled government into a new crisis. Magistrates in Milan are investigating two charges against Berlusconi, abuse of power and paying a minor for sex. They've sent this six page document to the Italian parliament, alleging a significant number of young women prostituted themselves with Berlusconi.

In a 10 minute video played in the full on a television network that he owns, Berlusconi hit back, dismissing the accusations as degrading, false and politically motivated.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI, PRIME MINISTER, ITALY: It is absurd to think that I have paid to have a rapport with a woman. It is something that I have never done, not even once in my life. I find it degrading for my dignity.

ANDERSON: Moroccan born dancer Ruby Rubacouri, seen here at her 18th birthday, is at the heart of the latest allegations. She claims she was 17 when she met Berlusconi, but told him she was 24 and denies ever having sex with him.

RUBY RUBACOURI (through translator): Absolutely no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you received presents.

RUBACOURI: Well, I've received 7,000 euros the first evening that I went to his house because I had just arrived in Milan and it was a little bit difficult living there.

ANDERSON: The prime minister has not denied knowing Rubacouri or that she came to his Milan property.

Berlusconi is no stranger to scandal. His wife filed for divorce in 2009, in part because of his relationship with a teenaged girl. Both he and the girl denied any inappropriate relationship.

Since winning office in 1994, Berlusconi has been investigated on at least 17 charges and just last month, survived a no confidence motion, which has left his party clinging to government.


ANDERSON: Well, it's now emerged that prosecutors have got their hands on taped phone calls to support their case against the prime minister. Now, these conversations featuring some of the young women involved in the scandal have been leaked to the media.

Senior international correspondent, Dan Rivers, is following the story for us from Rome.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were more angry protests here on the streets of Rome as fresh allegations surfaced about the involvement of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the young Moroccan belly dancer nicknamed Ruby. Specifically, new evidence has been put before the court involving the testimony of Ruby's former boyfriend, a policeman who says that it's possible that the prime minister may have known that she was a minor under the age of 18 much earlier than previously thought.

Until now, the prime minister has insisted that he only found out she was 17 years old in May of last year. Now, this boyfriend's testimony suggests possibly that he should have known she was a minor much earlier than that, in January or February.

And that's problematic for the prime minister because it would mean, if true, that he invited a minor to his parties that other witnesses have described in intercepted phone calls as orgies involving up to 28 scantily clad women.

Prosecutors are investigating Berlusconi for procuring sex with a minor. Now, in order to make that charge stick, they must prove several things, firstly, that they had sex together; secondly, he knew she was a minor; and thirdly, that he paid money for that sex.

Now, at the moment, that hasn't been proven categorically. But people here don't care about that level of detail so much. It's more Italy's image abroad that they're concerned with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe that there are these bad things about me, about my country. I love my country. I hate Berlusconi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough. And it is the -- the day for Berlusconi to give the resignation. The point is that we live in a country where there is a man who has the -- the media power of Rupert Murdoch, who has the power of Barack Obama. This is impossible. This is not an elective democracy.

RIVERS: All this has been vehemently denied by Silvio Berlusconi. He's come out fighting on television, saying the truth will come out and the truth will be victorious. And he's denied ever having paid prostitutes for sex. He's denied having any sort of sexual relations with Ruby and denied knowing that she was a minor before he found out in May.

But the big picture here is that the allegations are piling up one after another and they're dominating the media here and as more and more of these allegations come before the courts, put by prosecutors that Berlusconi says are politically motivated, it is adding pressure to the prime minister, with many wondering how long he can survive.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Rome.


ANDERSON: All right, well, for 17 years, Silvio Berlusconi has been at the helm in Italy.

I'm joined now by one man who has been watching that reign very, very closely. He's an investigative journalist and author of "Berlusconi's Shadow."

David Lane, thank you for coming in.


ANDERSON: You, of course, were one of the first investigative journalists who publicly questioned Berlusconi's fitness for office way back when. And that, of course, sparked an uproar in Italy at the time, didn't it?

LANE: Yes. I'm -- this was back in 2001, for "The Economist." I'm "The Economist" business and finance journalist in -- in Italy. And we did an investigation of two of those business empires that turned into something rather broader.

And that came out with a -- a cover story that -- a picture, too, of Berlusconi. And the question -- not the question, the statement, why Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy.

And I think that what we've seen over the past 10 years justifies what "The Economist" wrote then and what I wrote at the end of my book. And, in fact, historians will look back and they will say that Berlusconi didn't bring honor to his country and that this is a period of which Italians cannot speak with pride.

ANDERSON: Let's -- let's just bring this back up to date at this point and say, you know, you -- you say you don't think that he can survive this.

LANE: I've, in the past, said that he could survive many, many problems, many difficulties, many crises. I think this is probably one too many. He's a man of 74 -- over 74, 74 in September. And he's showing his years. He has not been as capable in government as many people hoped and expected he would be. He hasn't got the energy that he had before. And this is a major scandal.

And put this at the end of a sequence of scandals, which was the one of the Bari call girl network, of the 17-year-old in Naples, Naomi, and his wife, who said that he consorts with minors and that she thinks that he might have some kind of mental problems, I think you have, perhaps, the end of the line for Silvio Berlusconi.

ANDERSON: In the report that we just heard from our correspondent in Rome, you heard Italians on the street protesting Silvio Berlusconi's continued reign, as it were, and saying that he brings dishonor to the country.

Does he?

LANE: Well, certainly, in -- in the way that he's behaved whilst in government. And he's had many episodes of -- of -- of gaffes during his period as -- as prime minister.

ANDERSON: But lots of people make gaffes, don't they?

LANE: Oh, not like Silvio Berlusconi makes gaffes. Very different. And Silvio Berlusconi's gaffes are generally in quite bad taste. And I think he probably does them deliberately. No, so Berlusconi.

ANDERSON: Who's the alternative, at this point?

LANE: My guess would be Giulio Tremonti, the finance minister, who is keeping a very low profile. He has done a good job as the finance minister, as is widely recognized in Europe. And I imagine that he's also talking to other people about the prospects.

I -- I think one has to look back to the 60s and 70s, when Italy had many chains of government and actually managed to go ahead perfectly well. And I don't think that one should forget the -- the fabric of Italian ministry.

And we talk in -- Italians ask me what the foreigners think about Italy. And I say there are two Italys. There's the Italy of fashion, food, Ferraris, and all these good things, and people think about that, mainly.

When you ask about politics, they say it's a circus, and they start to laugh. Because it's a comedy. But in Italy, back in the 60s and 70s, there were many governments, and Italy carried on perfectly well.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. We're going to leave it there. Got to take a short break, got to pay for the show. We thank you very much, David Lane, for coming in.

World news headlines are next, and then they are asking for things all of us want, a normal life, peace, and freedom. So, why are they afraid to come forward. We're going to take a look at a rare manifesto by young people in Gaza demanding better lives.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. It's just after half past nine in London. I'm Becky Anderson, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, new protests in Tunisia as the country's leaders try to chart a new course, while the wider Arab world watches the events with interest and concern.

Plus, the relics of a nuclear catastrophe, now a tourist destination. Our special week of coverage on Ukraine continues.

And it's shaken, not stirred, one person knows exactly how James Bond likes his cocktails. Your Connector of the Day, Bond girl Gemma Arterton. We're going to put your questions to her just ahead.

First, though, let me get you up to date on the world news headlines this hour.

At a joint news conference at the White House, US president Barack Obama said a positive, constructive relationship is not just good for the US and China, but also for the world. Chinese president Hu Jintao said key differences remain over economic policy.

Rescue crews in Brazil are still looking for survivors a week after flooding unleashed massive mudslides. More than 700 people have been killed. An official says a combination of bad weather and environmental irresponsibility caused the tragedy.

Irish sexual abuse victims say they are, quote, "disgusted" by a 1997 letter. In it, a Vatican representative expresses serious reservations about reporting abuse cases to the police, arguing that it could lead to embarrassment for the church.

It looks like the people of Southern Sudan have voted overwhelmingly for independence. Preliminary results show totals in some areas as high as 99 percent in favor of forming a new nation. Final results expected next month.

And the Dow Jones in New York has closed down 12 points. Disappointing results from Goldman Sachs hitting investor confidence.

"The Arab spirit is broken." That statement from the Arab League Chief is one of the most telling remarks so far about how the Tunisian revolution has served as a wake-up call to the Arab world. At an economic summit in Egypt, Amre Moussa briefly addressed the popular revolt that ousted Tunisia's president. He said it was rooted in problems that plague all Arab nations.


AMRE MOUSSA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE (through translator): I refer, here, to great social shakes inflicting Arab societies. The revolution happening in Tunisia is not far from the subject matter of this summit. Namely, the socioeconomic development and the extent of its balance, expansion, comprehensiveness, and fair distribution.

It is on everybody's mind that the Arab spirit is broken, the Arab spirit is down by poverty, unemployment, and the general decline in the real indicators of development.


ANDERSON: Well, Tunisia's interim government, meantime, is under growing pressures at home to make a clean and total break with the past. As it takes new steps to meet this demand, we're hearing that the country's long-banned Islamist party may be planning a comeback.

Ben Wedeman is following all these developments from Tunis, joins us live from there. What's the situation on the ground, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's much calmer today, Becky, than it was yesterday. We did see these demonstrations calling for the ouster of the old ruling party from the government --


WEDEMAN: Unlike yesterday, there were people --


WEDEMAN: The police basically standing back, they didn't fire any teargas or beat any protesters. It seems that even they are realizing that it's a new dawn in Tunisia, that the trenchant and the old, hard ways of the old regime simply aren't going to work.

But the uncertainty over the political future of this country continues. They're still -- there was supposed to be a cabinet meeting, the first of the interim government, today. That didn't happen. It was announced on state TV that it would happen tomorrow.

But this government has already lost several ministers, it's under pressure from the streets, so there's no saying, at this point, Becky, how long it's going to actually survive.


ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman, there. It's late at night, of course, under curfew and in the hotel room. Ben, what's this we're hearing about the revival of the banned Islamist party?

WEDEMAN: Well, the specific party you're referring to is called "Ennahda," which means "Renaissance," and it's led by Rashid al-Ghannushi, a Tunisian Islamist who's been living in exile for many years. He was exiled during the 1980s when that group was involved in violent actions against the government.

Now, that party, Ennahda, has been banned for many years. And, certainly, they see an opportunity, now, to come back. And what I've noticed is that you certainly get a feeling, speaking to people on the street, that for years the Ben Ali government really cracked down hard on Islamists of all sort of shades, the real hard-liners and also more moderate, liberal Islamists.

And now, they see their opportunity to come back, to reassert themselves. In a sense, to follow in the footsteps of many Islamists around the Middle East in countries like Egypt and Jordan where they do have a role in politics, although it's a touchy one at times.

So, I think it's inevitable that the Islamists are going to make a comeback, here. But this is, by Arab standards, a very secular society. Veiled women are fairly rare. Alcohol is easily available. These are people who are accustomed to a secular lifestyle. So, it's going to be interesting to see how they re -- the Islamists reassert themselves given that, for many years, Tunisia was one of the most secular Arab countries. Becky?

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman reporting from Tunis for you. Ben, thank you for that. Egypt's foreign minister says that the prospect of Tunisia's revolt spreading across the Arab world is nonsense, while other Arab officials insist trying to compare the situation in Tunisia with other countries is like comparing apples to oranges.

But there's no denying that Tunisia is inspiring hope among people on the Arab streak that authoritarian leaders can be challenged and change can come through grassroots demands. This show of solidarity with the Tunisian people took place in Cairo.

And this one in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Hundreds of students marched to the Tunisian embassy demanding their own political reforms.

And this was the scene in Gaza a day earlier, as supporters of the Islamic Jihad movement wave Palestinian and Tunisian flags, while another group in Gaza that's showing its support is GYBO, Gaza Youth Breaks Out. Now, a message on their Facebook page urging Palestinians to attend a rally says, "Thank you, Tunis. You have restored our hope."

You may not have heard of the group because, so far, at least, they fear coming out of the shadows. But as Kevin Flower now tells us, they have written a daring manifesto demanding political change.


KEVIN FLOWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks like any other of the millions of pages on the social networking site Facebook. But this is not your run-of-the-mill posting. Instead, it's an impassioned plea from one of the Middle East's most troubled locations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights, and the indifference of the international community. We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice, and indifference."

FLOWER (voice-over): So reads the expletive-laden opening paragraph of the Gaza Youth Manifesto. Abu Ghassan and Abu Yazen are two of the eight Gaza college students who authored the English-language document. Fearing retribution, they asked that we hide their identities as they offered a chilling portrait of the despair and degradation faced by young adults in the Gaza Strip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Gaza Strip is -- became like a cemetery of talents. I mean, we're not living. We're treated like animals here in Gaza Strip. We want to be like -- we want to live like a human being. We want to be treated like human beings.

FLOWER (voice-over): Subjected to an economic and physical blockade by Israel and Egypt, strict authoritarian and Islamic control by the ruling Hamas, and a state of seemingly perpetual political upheaval and violence, life for young Palestinians can seem hopeless.

Here at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, students are busy preparing for exams.

FLOWER (on camera): But regardless of how they fare in those tests, their future prospects remain grim. Unemployment in Gaza for those in their 20s is nearly 60 percent, and those who do have jobs are struggling to get by.

FLOWER (voice-over): They say they form part of a silent youth majority in Gaza, waiting to be mobilized. Their demands, freedom, normality, and peace. But spreading the word is not without challenges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our image is distorted by the Israeli propaganda, by the extremists here in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. People are, like, holding weapons. And we need to stop this violence going.

FLOWER (on camera): This is getting a lot of international attention, but how much attention is the manifesto getting from your peers here in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not much, actually. Because people are scared, and these ideas are unorthodox, let me say.

FLOWER (voice-over): Gaza psychologist Dr. Eyad Sarraj says that, while the group may have little or no political influence, ignoring their message comes with a price.

EYAD SARRAJ, PSYCHOLOGIST: If we don't really take an initiative by the political leadership of Gaza and the West Bank by the Palestinian leadership, and by the world, to give some attention to the young people, we're going to witness, in the coming ten years, a new generation that is more violent than the previous one.

FLOWER (voice-over): The writers hope the manifesto will rally young Palestinians and that they can soon speak their message from outside the shadows. Kevin Flower, CNN, Gaza.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Up next, an unlikely tourist spot. Twenty- five years on since the world's worst nuclear plant disaster, we head back to Chernobyl.


ANDERSON: You can see that this is the part of the show that we call i-List, and it's where we take you to a different country every month to learn more about the places that are inventing, innovating, and bringing change to your world.

Well, this month, we're turning the spotlight on Ukraine, looking at how this Eastern European nation is trying to forge itself a future on the global stage. Well, today, remembering Chernobyl.

It's been 25 years since the world's deadliest nuclear accident, the explosion at the Chernobyl reactor. Ukraine is now turning the disaster zone into a tourist site. CNN's Diana Magnay joined an organized trip to the deserted area frozen in time.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're driving through the exclusion zone en route to Chernobyl. It doesn't feel like a place where the world's worst-ever nuclear accident happened almost 25 years ago.

The sun lends a wintry charm to the derelict homes we passed. Postcards from Soviet days scatter the floor. A doll, forgotten in the rush to leave.

In all, nearly 350,000 people were forced to abandon their homes as a radioactive cloud blew over Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

MAGNAY (on camera): This village is called Zalissya in Ukrainian, which literally means "behind the forest." But as you can see now, it has been completely consumed by the forest. And when the villages were evacuated about ten days after the accident took place, they thought that they'd be able to come back here, that this village would be inhabitable again. But as you can see, that wasn't to be the case.

So, this is the memorial. How many people died immediately after the accident?

YURI TATARCHUK, CHERNOBYL GUIDE: Well, no, first time, one person is buried inside of it. Not buried, but his poor body wasn't found. Answer, about 30 people in one month died overall. Highly radiated.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Yuri Tatarchuk, who's our certified guide from Ukraine's ministry of emergencies says the final death toll from the nuclear fallout is impossible to calculate, but that it's less than people feared.

Estimates from the International Atomic Energy Agency put the number at 4,000. But the World Health Organization points to 4,000 incidents of thyroid cancer among children from the affected areas.

TATARCHUK: So, now, it's 8.7, 9 microsieverts.

MAGNAY (voice-over): Radiation's not down to normal, but Tatarchuk says it's not a health risk if you're just here for the day.

TATARCHUK: We're staying here just minutes, but it's not so sure if such levels of radiation inhabiting here is not allowed.

MAGNAY (voice-over): We're not the only visitors. A Russian tour group picked their way through frozen tower blocks in nearby Pripyat. The town was evacuated the day after Reactor Number Four exploded, before the Soviet Union admitted it had a serious problem in one of its nuclear plants.

Jaroslav Bychkov wasn't born then, but he thinks it's important people visit so they understand the dangers of nuclear technology.

JAROSLAV BYCHKOV, CHERNOBYL TOURIST: What exact look here and see when people don't care about something like the nuclear weapon stuff. I really think that we should get rid of that, you know? I don't want to see the places like this anymore in this world.

MAGNAY (voice-over): This year, the government will remove restrictions to the exclusion zone, turning these Soviet ghost towns into a tourist destination, a chance for people to see for themselves the relics of a nuclear catastrophe frozen in time. Diana Magnay, CNN, Pripyat, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: And tomorrow at this time, we'll bring some political muscle to the show. You'll meet a man who's using his background in boxing to help fight corruption.

You can also follow our week-long look inside Ukraine on the website or the Facebook page. That's or And if you're not a friend already, do sign up. That, of course, is the Twitter site, @BeckyCNN. Get in touch however you can.

Connector of the Day gets a 007 treatment up next, when we put your questions to Bond Girl Gemma Arterton. Find out what it's like to land one of the most famous movie roles. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: She is a young actress, a British actress, with a lot of ambition. Let's introduce you to your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON (voice-over): At just 24 years old, Gemma Arterton achieved one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood, a Bond girl.


ANDERSON (voice-over): The British-born actress starred in the latest James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," opposite Daniel Craig. And though her character didn't live to see the film's end, her impression certainly lasted.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL AS DASTAN, "PRINCE OF PERSIA": Who said you were a beauty?

ARTERTON AS TAMINA, "PRINCE OF PERSIA": There must be a reason why you can't take your eyes off me.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Since then, she's won a series of roles in high-profile hits, including the blockbuster "Prince of Persia," and the British film "Tamara Drewe."

And this month, she's been nominated for the BAFTA's "Rising Star" award. Courted by many advertising companies, Arterton also just became the face of the popular clothing brand G-Star. I spoke to her at the label's launch.

ARTERTON: Well, I think G-Star was just very, very -- they were very supportive of me and my ideas and the world that I live in and what I surround myself with. And they were just like, "Yes, we'll do that," when I mentioned the music I like and when I mentioned about my artist friend.

They were so -- that they brought everyone onboard. And that's the great thing about G-Star, they're really into art, and they really support that.

ANDERSON (on camera): When you were growing up, did you ever imagine that your face would be on a billboard?

ARTERTON: No, I never imagined myself on billboards or anything like that. It's always a surprise when you -- I remember once, I was in New York, and there was this massive poster of me in "Prince of Persia," and it was like -- I mean, it doesn't even feel like me, but it's really bizarre. A really bizarre thing.

ANDERSON: Did you -- you've just been nominated for the "Rising Star" BAFTA award. Did you expect that?


ARTERTON: Imagine if I said yes. No, I didn't. No, I -- well, also, because I've had quite a lot of films. I've been around for a bit, and it's usually -- but I suppose it's because they need a body of work to recognize.

So -- but I -- it's amazing, actually, because I -- it's -- I suppose it's because I'm from London and BAFTA is a really big thing here, so I feel very flattered. And it's nice for it to be at home, and I'm really touched.

ANDERSON: So, we've got some viewer questions for you. Patrick asks, "What's been your favorite role to date?"

ARTERTON: Tess. I did -- played Tess in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," which wasn't a film, but it was a TV film. And it meant the world to me. And actually, a play that I just finished, which was my second favorite. It was called "The Master Builder," but nobody saw that, so --


ARTERTON: No one's interested. But, yes, those are my favorite roles.

ANDERSON: The one that a lot of people will remember you for, of course, to date -- and you'll probably never get over -- is your role in the Bond film. And Jason asks, "What did your family and friends say when you told them that you were going to be a Bond girl?"

ARTERTON: They were gobsmacked. They couldn't believe it. I think they were trying to be very cool about it, like nonplussed. Really, "OK, whatever." But they were really excited. More than any other film that I've done or any other play, that's big.

ANDERSON: Just talk me through being in a Bond movie.

ARTERTON: It's an -- I was quite naive -- I was quite starry-eyed, I suppose, when I -- I didn't know any better. It was one of my first jobs, so, it's definitely the first big one.

So, it's big -- honestly, it's like a big adventure, because you go to these amazing places. They use the same crew, often, so it's like a big family, and it's just so much fun. You have to pinch yourself daily. I was pinching myself constantly.


ARTERTON: But, no. It's -- I -- I heard on the radio this morning that they're making the next one, and I was kind of jealous that I'm not going to be involved.

ANDERSON: Well, there will be, of course, more roles, and I'm sure there could be one in Bond. Can you confirm that you, for example, are in the running against Keira Knightley for a role as the love interest for Bruce Wayne in the next "Dark Knight" movie?

ARTERTON: You know -- apparently know more than I do. I don't have - - I honestly, you know more than I do.

ANDERSON: Would you want it?

ARTERTON: I can't say.


ANDERSON: Tim Slesser says you seem to have successfully broken the Bond girl curse before anybody had a chance to label you with the title, though I have, of course, just done that. What else do you want to try your hand at?

ARTERTON: Oh, God, I want to try my hand at everything. The next film I'm doing is really -- it's a massive heroine, she's a warrior, so that's really exciting. I'd like to play a musician at some point. I'd like to do an opera, I'd like to -- I'd like to -- well, there's millions of things. That's the great thing about my job.

ANDERSON: Gloria says, "Do you find the theater doing live performance more demanding compared to filming a movie, and how does preparing for roles in theater differ to those in the movies?"

ARTERTON: It doesn't really differ. It just -- it's -- it's -- the demands are very different on every job that you do. It's much more, for me, satisfying on stage. I feel very, very liberated and free. I suppose that's because I -- because I'm used to it, I'm more experienced in theater.

But, yes. You always approach a role the same way. Just try and make it believable and real, and I have a technique, which is my own private technique.


AETERTON: Yes, but -- no. It's -- I -- it's good to have a bit of time, a couple of months to prepare for any role.


ANDERSON: Gemma Arterton, there. And tomorrow on CONNECT THE WORLD, we'll be talking to one of the biggest names in NBA history. He may be the league's oldest active player, but Shaquille O'Neal is still a massive presence on the court. He'll be answering your questions as your Connector of the Day.

And do check out the website, find out about our future Connectors and get in touch. Send us your questions, and do remember to tell us where you are writing in from. It is your part of the show,

Just time for tonight's Parting Shots. And in 100 days from now, the streets will be lined with flags as Kate Middleton finally marries her prince, William. But if the shops are anything to go by, living rooms can also be filled with the likes of this.

Yes, along with the marriage comes the merchandise, and who could resist these matching mugs?

Need something to stir your English tea on the day? Well, how about a set of souvenir spoons?

Many of us might have a drink or two to celebrate the royal wedding, but you're unlikely to lose your keys with this unique keyring.

And if you have difficulties remembering the date, April the 29th, why not pin it to your fridge with a royal magnet?

And finally, for those who couldn't care less, perhaps this ashtray might help you stub out your memories.

I'm Becky Anderson, that's your world connected. I'm going to leave you know with some video that's just come in. It's a preview of what tonight's state dinner in honor of China's president looks like. It's at the White House. I'll leave you with these. Your headlines will follow this short break.