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China Celebrates 70 Years Anniversary; Massive Protest in Hong Kong as Their Message to China's National Day. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 1, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: China celebrate 70 years of communist rule with a massive show of force unveiling its new intercontinental ballistic missile and declaring it can't be stopped.

While in Hong Kong, protesters threaten to use China's national day to send their own message.

And in the U.S. Democrats are taking aim at another one of President Trump closest allies in their ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Thank you and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Good to have you with us.

And we begin this hour in Beijing where celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China wrapped up just a short time ago. A huge parade through Tiananmen Square featured tanks, planes, submarines and about 15,000 military personnel.

After that came the citizens march with close to 100,000 people and dozens of colorful floats. Among the military hardware on display the new DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile. Analysts say it as a big pay load capacity and the ability to travel long distances.

President Xi was heavy on unity in his address to the nation before surveying the troops. Meanwhile, pro-democracy protests are heating up again in Hong Kong with clashes already taking place today. President Xi made quick reference to the ongoing situation.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): We must remain committed to the strategy of peaceful reunification and one-country two systems. We will maintain long term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau, advance the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, unite the whole country and continue to strive for the complete unification of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CNN's Kristie Lu stout is live this hour in the Chinese capital. And Kristie, we saw there of course messages coming from the Chinese leader, also messages coming from protesters in Hong Kong.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. This say, national day it's a day of protests in Hong Kong, it's a day of patriotism and military pomp here in Beijing where the Chinese Communist Party is marking 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China.

It began with that speech from the Chinese President Xi Jinping who emphasize strength who emphasize unity as well as one country and maintaining long-term stability of Hong Kong.

Now after that we saw that very impressive military show of force, 15,000 military personnel marching up and down Chang'An Avenue, the avenue of Eternal Peace as it's known.

One hundred fifty pieces of aircraft, over 580 pieces of weaponry were on display including the DF-41, a powerful intercontinental range ballistic missile that many military analysts took note of. After that was the citizens march. One hundred thousand citizens marching up and down Chang'An Avenue. And at the end 70,000 doves and 70,000 balloons release into the air.

Now my colleague, CNN correspondent David Culver was there at the parade route and he watched all of this unfold. Here are the highlights.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just behind me you're looking at 70 years of a nation's history rolling past the military might of China on full display as they celebrate national day, marking seven decades since the founding of communist China.

It's brought thousands of invited guests to Tiananmen Square where we are. This is a heavily credentialed area, a lot of its Chinese residents who live in Beijing are watching from their own home and partaking as a family gathering. But this is where their eyes are. And they are focused on their nation displaying everything that it has to offer.

No matter what you think of China you cannot deny that progress that has been seen here over the past 70 years technologically, as well as militarily. This is a country that has greatly improved and improved the lives of its people, and that's something that they stretch as far as the elimination, or in their own words there, anticipated and hope of elimination of poverty.

They say they have reduced the number of people living in percent by some 850 million. And then of course, the technology that we're seeing on display here. This is something that they are trying to show the world to demonstrate that they are indeed a global player.


Now when they show this, one might think you see military mine and it's a threatening move, they say just the opposite. [03:05:00]

This is to reassure the world that they are the safe guarders of peace and instability. That is their anticipation in showing off the many, many items behind me that just have been rolling past. And you got to feel for the emotion here for some of the people who are truly taking in this patriotic moment.

It is for them a day to celebrate and that is not necessarily the feeling in other parts of the world. Certainly, China is dealing with a lot globally. The unrest in Hong Kong for one. They're also dealing with continued issues with the U.S. trade war, the tensions and the ongoing problems with trying to figure out how exactly they'll come to a deal there. That has taken a hit on the economy here.

The people have felt it. And that is something President Xi Jinping has tried to push past. In his speech he has assured the people that going forward there will be hard work ethic. Yes, of course, struggle has been something that he's mentioned several times. But ultimately, he sees China continuing on its path of progress.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

STOUT: A highly choreographed display of military might in Beijing. Meanwhile, what is the situation in Hong Kong as protest break out on this national day.

Anna Coren is standing by. Anna, describe where you are and what's the scene?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, we are here on Hong Kong island in Sheung Wan. And we are with thousands of protesters who have been marching for hours now heading westward and we presume towards the Beijing liaison office. That of course is a flash point and has been for months now.

We know that that will be heavily fortified. I spoke to some of the protesters here and I said aren't you concerned about coming out today? This is an unlawful assembly you can arrested. They said if they don't come out today they don't know what tomorrow will look like for Hong Kong. They say this is not a national day of celebration. For Hong Kong this is a national day of mourning.

As far as they are concerned, Kristie, they have to continue to come out and fight for Hong Kong, fight for the freedoms that they're trying to preserve. Obviously, this all began back in June with that extradition bill put forward by the city chief executive Carrie Lam, who, I should mention is not here in Hong Kong today. She's actually in Beijing.

That obviously was withdrawn, formally withdrawn after three months of protest just taking to the streets where they're now saying that that is not enough. They want universal suffrage; they want an independent investigation into police brutality.

They want those more than 1,700 people that have been arrested to be released and they want that rioting claim to be provoked. These are people who are not giving up. We are now in the 17th week of these protests which in of itself is just extraordinary that the people here in Hong Kong once the numbers have diminished over the month they have continued to turn out in their thousands.

And we do believe that today tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the heat and are now heading towards the Beijing liaison office. Because I should also mention that on the other side of Hong Kong on the Kowloon side there are clashes breaking out with police. Tear gasses already been fired. So, we are expecting a great deal of violence later today. Kristie?

STOUT: There are a number of flash points across Hong Kong as you mentioned across the harbor as well as where you are, Sheung Wan, very close to China's liaison office where we have seen some very intense clashes before there between hardline protesters and police.

Anna, I want to ask you about the police response. How much pressure is the Hong Kong police force under to quell unrest on this day, national day such a politically sensitive anniversary?

COREN: Well, Kristie, we know the police are under extraordinary pressure to make sure that what happens here on Hong Kong does not overshadow festivities on the mainland. That is critical as far as Beijing is concerned.

So, police are out in their thousands, we don't have a specific number but we know that they are out to make sure that any sign of trouble is clamped down immediately. And we have seen over the weeks police are becoming increasingly aggressive.

They are not tolerating the protest. They are not tolerating these protesters coming out and vandalizing, thrashing public property. They are not tolerating obviously the petrol bombs and the projectiles that have been thrown at police. They are going in, they are arresting people and we can certainly expect many more arrests today, Kristie.


STOUT: Anna Coren, please stand by. We also have CNN's Will Ripley reporting live from Hong Kong. And Will, while Anna's reporting from Sheung Wan, could you identify where you're reporting from and the state at play there?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. As we're little farther in Wan Chai where you can see behind me this massive peaceful demonstration easily tens of thousands of people continue their slow march through the heart of Hong Kong along Hennessy Road.

But I brought you here because I want you to see what's happening on one of the side streets. You can see the bricks scattered all over the street. And the reason why bricks are scattered over is because we have a group of frontlines who have taken a piece of sidewalk here. And this is what we've seen time and time again so they ripped the bricks. Let's just try to get in here without showing their faces that's why

they have the umbrellas covering but you can see they take up pieces of the sidewalk, they pull up the bricks and they use those bricks as weapons when they get into a clashed with police.

So, what you have now are these are the group that we can pan over, they're covering their faces but these are the frontline protesters, these are the people who are prepared for a fight, a fight that is inevitably going to be coming in the coming hours.

You could see that pile of bricks prepared right there, they've started to set up barricades because, remember, this entire march is not authorized, it is illegal. So what the protesters have now done is try to close off certain areas, barricade themselves inside to make it difficult for police, they put the bricks on the road so that emergency vehicles whether it'd be fire or police have a hard time getting through.

This is what they do, they stay away from the most action-packed area. They get their weapons of choice ready which are usually bricks and petrol bombs load them up in their backpacks and then they head out into the peaceful demonstration and prepare for the clashes.

And we know that there been a number of clashes already, Kristie. Several incidents, especially over on the Kowloon side, we're on Hong Kong, we crossed Victoria Harbor, get over to Kowloon and the new territories police have already deployed tear gas.

And judging by the scenes that we're seeing their preparations underway and you can see their blocking the view of our cameras right now. But judging by what we're seeing those confrontations are going to be happening are going to be happening here on the Hong Kong island side as well, it's just a matter of time.

STOUT: Yes. The risk of confrontation definitely rising as you witness the scenes of the protesters digging out the bricks. Bricks are being used to impede traffic. Bricks that could potentially be used as projectiles.

You're reporting from Wan Chai which is also home of the Hong Kong police headquarters and from there, Will, we have heard from Hong Kong police that if the protesters used violence the police will respond with force.

Are you seeing a number of Hong Kong police officers there? Are you seeing any potential tactics how they will likely respond to what's going to happen next?

RIPLEY: It's been interesting, Kristie, because we have -- we have started over in Causeway Bay, we've walked here to Wan Chai, and I have tell you, you see maybe a couple of police officers a very minimal police presence at this stage. We know that there are thousands of officers actively standing by in Hong Kong right now to prepare -- trying to hear what they're shouting to each other but I didn't quite catch what they're saying. So, we know that the police are at the ready, they're trying to

maintain a low profile, they're clearly allowing this peaceful albeit, illegal march to take place. But what they're not going to allow and what is going to cause the riot police to move in are the fires, the barricades and the continued unrest that often stretches late into the evening hours.

And that's what these people this much smaller group are preparing for. We know the Hong Kong police held a press conference yesterday here in Wan Chai where they said that the actions of certain protesters and this group might fall into that territories as far as police are concern. They say that it's moving close to terrorism.

They feel that attacks on officers endangering n their lives, damaging property, they consider that to be a moving close towards the definition of terrorism here in Hong Kong.

And of course, when police throw a word like that around it obviously opens the door for them to then use expanded power to try to fight back, to try to resist the type of activities that we're seeing now concealed by all of these people with the umbrellas here, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Will Ripley, reporting live from Wan Chai. Earlier Anna Coren reporting live from Sheung Wan, we thank our correspondents for their reporting on this day of rising tension in the streets of Hong Kong on this national day across China.

Now joining me now is Nishia (Ph) Lam, she is a Hong Kong district counselor, she is also a supporter of Beijing. She joins us from our Hong Kong studio. Nishia (Ph), you probably have seen and heard what's happening in Hong Kong this day.


Protests, potential outbreaks of violence in very sensitive areas like Wan Chai like in Sheung Wan which is not that far from the China liaison office.


STOUT: Do the protests in Hong Kong, do they risk of staging the celebration because this is supposed to be a day of celebration for China.

LAM: And Hong Kong today is close to a dead city where most of the shopping malls are closed, most of the roads are blocked. It's very sad to see the situation at this moment. I mean, your unhappiness for the Hong Kong government shouldn't be like express in this way and this sort of protests and this sort of violence has been estimating.

Today we see footage about like police officer being shoot by -- or using like protesters were using acid materials, they're shooting on the police officers close so their skins were burnt. And earlier there's always I guess bombs every single time to this become like a norm. I don't think the city is safe anymore at this sort of stage. So, we're just very frustrated and this is not only in these areas, and in other residential areas like my own constituency in Sheung Wan, places like Tuen Mun. The metal bars were removed from playgrounds to use as a weapon.

People were singing the national anthem sometimes and they are not happy about it. They bash people on their faces people were bleeding and got sprayed on black paint as well. This is a very frustrating situation these days.

STOUT: It's a very frustrating situation for the people of Hong Kong --

LAM: Yes.

STOUT: -- four months of protests that have been highly disruptive that have impeded business, impeded daily life. It's also frustrating for many of the protesters who believe that they have a government who is not listening to their concerns at all. Yes, the extradition bill has been withdrawn --


LAM: I think a lot of the protesters --

STOUT: -- but of course their demands unmet.

LAM: A lot of the protesters they are not asking for negotiation, they are just asking the government to say yes for everything. But if you are looking for amnesty for all those violence acts like they are poking people with metal or metal bars and things like that I don't think amnesty is announced over of Hong Kong.

Anyone that is involved in violence no matter they are police, no matter they are legislator --

STOUT: Right.

LAM: -- no matter they are protesters --


STOUT: But at this moment --

LAM: -- they need to be prosecuted.

STOUT: -- at this moment --

LAM: We cannot agree, a lot of Hong Kong people cannot agree with amnesty.

STOUT: At this moment we need when there is -- when there is so much anger, this is when there needs to be political leadership just to turn down the temperature somewhat. Right? To end the blaming the demand will have --


LAM: Do you mean -- do you mean we have to say yes to all those violence?


STOUT: The political leadership --

LAM: That every single time if they are not happy with any sort of situation --

STOUT: No, I'm not saying that.

LAM: -- or any of the bill. So that means like we have to say yes to violence, that we have to say yes to everything they ask. This is not fair. Like we cannot agree to these other things like people are just doing a peaceful expression of their views.

These days we are very scared we have a lot of Hong Kong people that are frustrated at the situation. They're sending photos and videos around the residents; they have their people gathering downstairs --


STOUT: I'm hearing you here.

LAM: -- and they are very frustrated.

STOUT: Nishia (Ph), I am hearing you. Nishia, Nishia, I am hearing you.


LAM: So, Nixie, my name is in English, so it's Nixie.

STOUT: This is the point I am trying to get across. Because we have you -- I'm sorry, it's Nixie.

LAM: Yes. Yes, Nixie, that's right.

STOUT: My apologies for that, Nixie.

LAM: That's right.

STOUT: In the last hour we heard from Emily Lau who was very angry on our air. We are hearing from you, Nixie, you are also very angry about what's happening to Hong Kong.


LAM: I think what we need to do --


STOUT: So many people across the political spectrum are furious. My question -- no, no, no. My question is this, is let's just tone down, turn things down a bit what is needed in Hong Kong --


LAM: Yes, we need a pause.

STOUT: -- to turn down the temperatures of this turns into --

LAM: We need a pause.

STOUT: -- not a shouting match, not a shouting match but into a conversation.

LAM: We need a pause at this. Please, anyone that has a political power over any spectrum of this political situation, please talk to your supporters. We need to -- we need a pause and we to negotiate and we need to talk.

We cannot have Hong Kong going down this road. The Hong Kong city is dying already over this where shops are down or closed. People are frustrated. Families are fighting every night, family like their parents and their kids and this situation is really sad.

STOUT: And Nixie, I absolutely agree. I think we need to talk but I also think we need to listen.

LAM: Yes.

STOUT: And sometimes there needs to be --


LAM: Yes. We are opening dialogue. We are listening as well. Yes.

STOUT: and just to listen whatever they want --

LAM: Yes.

STOUT: OK. Nixie Lam, Hong Kong district councilor, we thank you for joining us here on CNN.

LAM: Thank you.

STOUT: And thank you for sharing your voice with us.

You're watching CNN. We'll continue our coverage right after this.



STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout reporting live from Beijing on this national day, a day it's supposed to be a celebration to mark 70 years since the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

And there were celebrations earlier today here in Beijing as we saw that massive military parade, the citizens march, the speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighting strength as well as unity.

But on this day of patriotism and military pomp in Beijing we are also seeing scenes of confrontation, unrest and potential violence in Hong Kong.

With our reporters on the ground in Hong Kong in the districts of Sheung Wan and Wan Chai seeing hardline protesters gathering for what could be another day of chaos.

Now joining me here in Beijing is a Beijing based commentator Robert Lawrence Kuhn, he is longtime adviser to Chinese leaders as well as Chinese companies. He is an author, a commentator, he also is a host on the CGTN TV show called Closer to China, and joins us now.

Robert, thank you for joining us here in Beijing. I want to ask you --


STOUT: -- you know, yes, we saw that beautifully produced march earlier today. This highly choreographed and micromanage event to showcase strength and unity but the events happening in Hong Kong that must be weighing on leaders this day.

KUHN: The overarching theme of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China is that China's development has greatly enhanced the living standards of the Chinese people that China's system, China's path, the one-party system is working well for China and it benefits the world.

We've seen that really in four places expressed. The parade if we analyze it, President Xi's speech today and his speech last night the Great Hall of the People at the national say reception where it had officials and leaders past and present, it was really the elite of China, really representatives of all parts of society.

And what was released last Friday which is the fourth day to point the most comprehensive white paper called China and the world in the new era. And what it showed is the enormous benefits that the system has brought to the Chinese people.

Seventy-fold increase in GDP per capita at constant prices, 800 million people brought out of poverty, living standard raise from 35 years to 77 years. And the argument is given.

And this is the theme of this session is that China system with the one-party leadership enable this to occur. And that they contrast this and you read it in the white paper which has all the details with the what they called a so-called China threat. And they analyze the China threat and they used the development of China and then show how it benefits the world. That's the theme that you hear in Beijing.


STOUT: Right. That is the theme. That is a picture that Beijing wants to show to its people and to the world, this picture of strength. And yet, China's economy is slowing down. You have the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. It's been reported that by December of this year some, what, $540 billion worth of Chinese exports are going to be hit with tariffs by the United States and that is going to hurt.

You have the ongoing challenges of Xinjiang, the unrest in Hong Kong. Can China continue to maintain this picture of unity and strength when it is under assault on so many different fronts?

KUHN: President Xi is certainly been talking about the struggles and the rest, there's no doubt about it. He's started last January in private sessions with officials, it's become more public. That is very well appreciated.

I think we have to understand the richness and complexity of Chinese society. It is not simple. The economy is slowing on a percentage basis but if you go back 10, 15 years when China entered into the WTO, people in China was growing at 10, 12 percent. Everybody like that. But China's economy was less than a tenth of what it is today.

So, on an absolute basis even though China is growing less of a percentage, its absolute turn it's growing more. There are still many problems in China's economy. The debt is very high. There's still enormous pollution.

President Xi has talked about the three big battles, fighting risk, mainly financial risk of enterprises and local government, fighting pollution, ending poverty.

What I found most interesting about President Xi's speech last night, I attended, it was a short speech and there was -- it was a very general about the benefits for the Chinese people from the Chinese system and how the world benefits.

There was only one specific area that he did -- again, it was a short speech, and it was on poverty alleviation. And he said this will be considered a miracle to have brought more than 800 million people out of poverty, 100 million of the intractably poor since 2012 the last 16.6 million is for this year and next year.

And when you understand how it works with five levels of party leaders involved where the different techniques they used, they follow every family so there's hundreds and millions of people. The emphasis on that shows the way that the government thinks.

And there's a lot of problems but also a lot of distortion too.

STOUT: Robert Kuhn, we thank you for sharing your views us here on CNN. Of course, on this day national day to mark 70 years since the founding of modern China of the Chinese communist party. They want to focus on the achievements, the advancements and not its failings like the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, the trade wars, slowing economy. Because they don't want to spoil the big parade.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout reporting live from Beijing. You're watching CNN.