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North Korea Puts on Show of Force; Turkey's Post-Coup Purge Continues; Celebration of "Queer Art"
Aired April 26, 2017 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:10] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the Korea's put on a show of force as tensions mount over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Is
China the key to a solution? A rare interview with Beijing's man in Washington.
Also ahead, one week after a referendum bolstered President Erdogan's powers, Turkey's post coup purge reaches new height with more than a
thousand people arrested in the latest nationwide sweep. We have a special report from Turkey and reaction from the ruling AK party.
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The simmering crisis in North Korea could be rising to a boil. As military muscle flexing on all sides raise fears. In the next hour, there will be a
highly unusual White House meeting on North Korea as the entire United States Senate piles in for a briefing with the president's most senior
This comes as one of the Navy's most powerful nuclear submarines docks in a naval base of Busan, South Korea. And as the first ships of the "USS Carl
Vinson" carrier, that group arrived there.
Today, the U.S. air force test launched an unarmed ICBM from California. And the military is moving its THAAD anti-missile system into South Korea.
We told the system will be operational within days. Meanwhile, the North Korean Army carried out its largest ever live fire drill saying it's
prepared for an attack on the United States and its allies.
Now, China hopes to avoid any conflict on the Korean Peninsula. And President Trump seemed happy for China to take the lead, tweeting, "China
is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea. So while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will."
Cui Tiankai is China's ambassador to the U.S. and he joins me now from Washington.
Welcome, Mr. Ambassador.
CUI TIANKAI, CHINA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Also nice to talk to you again, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you to respond directly to what President Trump has said in a tweet, that it won't be easy, but China can solve the crisis.
Do you agree?
TIANKAI: I think the situation on the Korean Peninsula is a challenge to all of us -- China, the United States, Russia and others. And we should
work together to seek a diplomatic solution to this issue.
AMANPOUR: What do you think, though, China can do? What is your president now prepared to do, if anything more, after the summit meeting with
TIANKAI: First of all, I think the presidential meeting at Mar-A-Lago was a successful one and very fruitful one. We're happy about that meeting.
And now the Korean Peninsula, China is doing and has been doing for a long time a lot of things on two fronts mainly. On the one hand, we're
implementing very effectively and strictly all the Security Council resolutions, sanctions and other things about the Korean Peninsula issue.
At the same time, on another front, equally important, we are pursuing diplomatic efforts in the hope that everybody else which honors in a
serious search for a real, effective and peaceful solutions.
AMANPOUR: So tell me what it looks like, a real effective peaceful solution. Because nothing, with due respect, that China or the rest of the
international community has done over the last five years has changed the calculation of the leadership in Pyongyang. They get more and more
advanced in their nuclear weapons program and their missile program.
TIANKAI: Well, you see, Christiane, in today's -- maybe in our world, those things are very often not easy. But still we have to keep in mind
our goal. I think our goals are clear. We have to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We have to maintain peace and stability there. I think
that this is the shared goals of all the party concern. This will certainly serve the interests of both China and the United States, and we
have to be persistent on that.
[14:05:00] AMANPOUR: I want to ask you then just to give me China's read on the leadership in North Korea, what do you think they may or may not do?
Let's just play a little bit of a sound bite from China's deputy U.N. ambassador about a week ago when the "Carl Vinson" was meant to be steaming
towards South Korea, when President Trump had told allies (INAUDIBLE) when President Trump had told allies that -- let's just play the North Korean
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM IN RYONG, NORTH KOREAN DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It has been created a dangerous situation which nuclear war may break out any moment on
the peninsula and poses a serious threat to the world peace and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he actually said that, you know, we are leading into a situation where thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.
Do you share that kind of concern? Do you think there could be a miscalculation or something bad could happen?
TIANKAI: Well, I don't think I should speak on behalf of anybody else. But as far as China are concerned, our goals are clear. We are seeking
denuclearization. We want to have a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons. And we are also standing for a peaceful solution, because
we want to make stability there.
So we would strongly advocate that all the participants will refrain from doing anything that might escalate the situation even further.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you then, whose words does Beijing listen to out of the United States?
For instance -- let me just give you for instance, over the last few days, President Trump basically said to visitors to the White House, talking
about Kim Jong-un, "I'm not so sure that he's so strong like he says he is. I'm not so sure at all."
And Ambassador Nikki Haley had this to say about engagement with North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pre-emptive strike against North Korea really being considered? Is the administration actively planning for that?
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So Nikki Haley said they don't want to start a war unless, as you said, as you heard her say Kim Jong-un gives them reason to.
How do you think those messages are being read in Pyongyang?
TIANKAI: I think it is up to the U.S. government to elaborate its own policy. But I still believe that it will serve our common interests, if
for diplomatical solution, a peaceful means to this problem could be found.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, then let me ask you some of your personal work in this regard. You are reported to have a close relationship with the
president's son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner. You arranged the summit in Mar-A-Lago with him.
What have you learned with your interaction with Jared Kushner, and give us a sense of the interpersonal relations between the atmosphere, between
President Xi Jinping and President Trump.
TIANKAI: I think the two presidents got along very well with each other at Mar-A-Lago. And this is a very reassuring sign and very reassuring
development of the bilateral relation.
I think the meeting of the two presidents give us a clear guidance and a clear sense of direction where the relation should be going. And we are
working very closely with people in the Trump administration, including people in the White House, people in the State Department and the cabinet
secretaries. They have all taken an important part in the preparation for the Mar-A-Lago meeting.
AMANPOUR: Did President Xi give any specific commitments about what he might do regarding North Korea to President Trump?
TIANKAI: I think President Xi reiterated our position to President Trump, and he elaborated on the -- on our considerations. And I think President
Trump listened very carefully to President Xi.
AMANPOUR: I see. What about the THAAD anti-missile system that is being deployed in South Korea right now? China's very angry about it.
TIANKAI: We have a very clear position on that because we believe it will not help us reduce the tensions or to prevent the dangers on the Korean
To the contrary, it would very much undermine the mutual trust, mutual confidence between us. And it will pose a serious threat to China's own
AMANPOUR: So what happens? Because it's going to stay obviously. I mean, the administration has put it there. Its allies expect it. They say it's
got nothing to do with China. It's all about, you know, North Korea.
What happens next then? Does President Xi pull his support? Pull his cooperation?
[14:10:00] TIANKAI: I think on the one hand, we do have shared interests or shared concerns with the U.S. on the Korean Peninsula. We will want to
have continued stability there. We want to see real progress towards denuclearization. At the same time, we certainly have a grave concern
about this decision to deploy the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula.
AMANPOUR: All right.
TIANKAI: But we will not change our position.
AMANPOUR: All right. Ambassador Cui Tiankai, thank you so much for joining us from Washington today.
TIANKAI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So as China's relationship with the U.S. hinges on that meddlesome issue, the European Union and Turkey is at a standstill as
President Erdogan's crackdown continues. We have a special report on Turkey's resistance, next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is feeling bold and defiant. The European Union today debated the
state of EU-Turkey relations with growing calls for Turkish membership talks to be suspended. Five decades after they started, for his part,
President Erdogan says Turkish patience is waning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP ERDODAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): The people we are trying to communicate with are not acting sincerely. If the European Union
is not acting sincerely, we will have to find a way out. Why should we wait any longer? We are talking about 54 years. You have stalled Turkey
at your door for 54 years and then you will ask why?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: At home, he's basking in his narrow constitutional referendum victory that gave him sweeping new powers. On Tuesday, Turkey carried out
air strikes against Syrian Kurd forces that are U.S. allies in Syria and Iraq and the president has vowed there will be more to come.
This as Turkish police arrested more than 1,000 people across the country in its ongoing purge after last summer's failed coup.
Our Ian Lee has more now from Istanbul.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beginning or last gasp of a political movement? Protesters take to the streets daily, rejecting this
month's referendum, which increases the powers of Turkey's presidency. But defying authorities comes at a cost. Can Atalay last week, he vowed to
fight the results. He later found out the police detained him. He's since been released, but his lawyer says he was arrested for inciting protests.
CAN ATALAY, LAWYER: Working people against the results of the referendum, it's not a crime (INAUDIBLE). This is about freedom of speech.
LEE: Turkish authorities continue a crackdown on opposition, rounding up tens of thousands of people since last July's coup attempt.
ATALAY: Government use that coup d'etat a reason to eliminate all the opposition.
LEE: The government insists it's to protect Turkey's democracy, but rights groups call it silencing political dissent. Protesters feel the
referendum, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won by a razor-thin margin was stolen. European monitors say it was neither free, nor fair.
(on-camera): There's a cloud of controversy surround thing referendum, with allegations including 2.5 million suspicious votes. Nearly a thousand
ballot boxes only had "yes" votes and more than 2,000 ballot boxes had more votes than registered voters.
(voice-over): Independent election monitors say these could be indicators of election fraud.
BASAK YAVCAN, VOTE AND BEYOND: All of these issues create doubts within people's minds. We made a survey with our volunteers. They were very
doubtful about how the process worked out in accordance with the legal framework.
LEE: Erdogan dismisses the accusations saying the election is the will of the people. So much at stake in a referendum that's poised to reshape
Ian Lee, CNN, Istanbul.
AMANPOUR: Listening to all of that is Ravza Kavakci Kan. She's a member of parliament with President Erdogan's A.K. party and joins us now from
Welcome to the program. You heard that. You heard what people are saying, that first of all they believe there's been plenty of irregularities, and
secondly, that the government is using last year's coup to just crackdown on all sorts of opposition.
How are you going to rectify that?
RAVZA KAVAKCI KAN, TURKISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, AK PARTY: Well, as to the protests, there are many countries where people may not like the outcome of
elections, just like it happens in Brexit and when President Trump was elected in the United States. But arguing that there was fraud in the
elections is nonsense. It's not based on any truth. We have an independent electoral board who had made the decision that there has not
been anything fraudulent in this election. But as to the protesters that do no not accept the result of the referendum, that's understandable.
People are free to demonstrate and protest as they wish as like they do in a democratic country, as long as they do not violate the law, they will not
be taken into custody.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, then why are they being taken into custody. You heard one of those people -- one of those people talking to our Ian Lee. I
mean, just they were protesting and they were taken into custody. Yes, they were released but they were taken into custody and you do know that
there are hundreds and hundreds of political dissidents and journalists and all sorts of people in custody.
KAVAKCI KAN: Well, as far as the protests are concerned, I don't know why that particular gentleman was taken into custody. We see lots of similar
things in the United States and France. After protests, police -- if people violate the law while they are protesting, they take them into
custody. Onto the issue related with the situation after the coup attempt, Christiane, we underwent a coup attempt that wanted to -- that was aimed
against Turkish democracy and aimed against killing millions and millions of Turkish citizens. 80 million people's lives were put on the line after
that coup attempt.
I understand that people may have their concerns as far as the numbers are concerned. But the people who are taken into custody, they go through the
court system. There's a lot of -- thousands of people who have been released after they have given their statement. So this is just the
judicial process in Turkey. And we have -- we are grateful to the 249 folks that have lost their lives for this nation and we will do -- the
justice system do -- will do whatever it takes to make sure everybody answers in the court of law.
AMANPOUR: All right. You know, most of your allies around the world fully supported the government and was pleased the government was able to face
down that coup and have democracy survive. But as you can imagine, the world does look on in horror at a perceived slight away from democracy.
I mean, just today, a thousand more people were rounded up. And you know that it's having an effect on your relations, with your allies, your
relations with the west.
At what point do you stop rounding people up and say, OK, we've done enough now?
KAVAKCI KAN: What would you suggest? What is a good number? What is a good number when people have aim at lives of the regular citizens? Look,
imagine F-16s flying over the Pentagon. Imagine your country's men dressed in your country's uniform in the United States Air Force uniform going and
bombing the Senate. That's what we have -- we lived through in turkey. Yes, I understand the concern. However, we do have the rule of law and I
don't think anybody in the world should F-16s playing over the Pentagon. Imagine your country's men dressed in your country's uniform in the United
States Air Force uniform going and bombing the Senate. That's what we have -- we lived through in Turkey.
[14:20:00] Yes, I understand the concern. However, we do have the rule of law and I don't think anybody in the world should have the courage to say
that Turkish people have not stood for their democracy, because they have.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's what people are saying. That's what I've said -- Ms. Kavakci Kan, that's what I've absolutely said. People stood up for
their democracy. And now tens, if not hundreds of thousands have been rounded up over the last year.
But I want to ask you, because you're making your point obviously about why shouldn't we do this. But what does it mean for your relations with the
rest of the world? And are you giving up, for instance, on the EU?
Look, the EU MEP Marietje Schaake said under the leadership of President Erdogan, Turkey is rapidly drifting away from Europe. The referendum
result is a tremendous blow for the people in Turkey. Now is the time for the European Union to make it very clear that business as usual is no
So are they -- do you think they're giving up on you? And are you, as President Erdogan hinted, giving up on the EU?
KAVAKCI KAN: No, we are not giving up on the EU. We value our partnership. It's been an ongoing process. But I think it's very, very
disrespectful to say that if the Turkish people voted yes, then they deserve what comes.
This kind of understanding is not acceptable. Look, President Trump won in the United States. Brexit was won by 51.9 percent of the votes. And you
may have certain protests and people who may not like the outcome of the votes. But I think it's totally disrespectful to argue that what outcome
came out and what the Turkish people decided on should be disregarded. I don't think that as a point of perspective that this respects democracy.
AMANPOUR: All right. On that note, Ms. Ravza Kavakci Kan, thank you very much indeed for joining us with the government perspective.
Now, even under its increasingly authoritarian rule, Turkey is ahead in some respects. It is one of the few Muslim nations where homosexuality is
technically legal and Istanbul is seen as a safe space.
Well, imagine not so long ago when it was illegal right here in the United Kingdom. We take a tour of Britain's queer art exhibit, a first, with
Andrew Solomon, who is our guide. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world of gay rights traveling at the speed of light.
[14:25:00] Here in Britain -- marriage, adoption, and legal protections are all now afforded to the gay population, which is an incredible feat
considering homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967. Before that, artists like the playwright Oscar Wilde, were imprisoned and even war
heroes like Allen Turing who cracked the enigma code were chemically castrated simply for being homosexual.
Gay author Andrew Solomon, who is also president of Pen, the organization dedicated to freedom of expression was our guide for a first in the British
art world. It's called the "Queer British Art Exhibit" and it's at the Tate, Britain.
While it shows progress, there is also a cautionary tale for the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW SOLOMON, AUTHOR: You can feel the suppressed yearning and longing and loving. There is an openness that's possible in art.
We're at the state gallery in London for the exhibition "Queer British Art" 1861 to 1967, which recognizes the activity of people who were gay in the
period up until homosexuality was partially decriminalized.
It can be difficult to remember that in the relatively recent past, it was illegal to be gay. That a number of the artists whose work is shown here
went to prison for their sexuality. All of these people who live in a state of so much pain and who had to strive so hard against their society,
had they only been born 100 or 50 or 20 years later could have had a completely different experience in which their relationships would have
been not only acknowledged, but even celebrated, not only by friends, but even in some measure by the state.
One of the things that's striking about this work is how much sublimation there is in it. That so many of these people were not able to be honest to
and open about and direct in their experience. And art became a way of giving voice to the things that they couldn't give voice to in their daily
1967 is not a long time ago. And the rights that many of us have come to take for grant are rights that could always disappear or vanish again, that
has been evidence in recent elections in what we think of as the free world.
With the rise of Donald Trump's America, there has been an opening out of prejudice again in the United States.
I'm very lucky. I'm married to someone I've been with for almost 20 years. We have children. And yet every time I read another news report of someone
being killed for being gay, of someone being lynched for being gay, as someone being imprisoned or sent like in Chechnya to a concentration camp
for being gay, I feel a sadness for them and also a terrifying sense of the vulnerability of the lives that we have.
This exhibition manifests a gradual march toward freedom. But it also bespeaks the terrible oppression that came before that freedom. And I
believe deeply as I look at the world situation that it is not guaranteed that we will continue to make progress. It is highly likely that we will
have setbacks, that we will move forward and then back again and that the rights that we enjoy are immensely impossibly fragile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always watch us online. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.