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Violence Flares After Mask Ban Invoked in Hong Kong; Thousands Worldwide Demanding Action on Climate Change; U.S. Military Pulling Out of Syria Near Turkey's Border; Extreme Measures Being Considered to Protect Whistleblower Identity; NBA Faces Backlash in China over Houston Rockets GM's Tweet; Parents of U.K. Teen Killed in Car Crash Call on Trump to Return U.S. Diplomat's Wife. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 8, 2019 - 00:00   ET




WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I'm Will Ripley in Hong Kong and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

President Donald Trump defending his surprise decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, despite criticism from almost everywhere, including high-ranking members of his own party.

More subpoenas, more spin: House Democrats cast a wider net and there pitchman inquiry. Trump is trying to pin the blame for his perfect phone call with Ukraine's leader on one of his cabinet secretaries.

And the NBA trying desperately to rebound from a tweet that ran afoul of the Chinese government.


RIPLEY: U.S. president Donald Trump says he is standing by that controversial decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. The move widely seen as a betrayal of some of America's most loyal allies. The extraordinary move is a major shift of foreign policy and Turkey is essentially given the go-ahead to invade the region and a green light to attack the vulnerable Kurds, who have been a reliable partner in America's fight against ISIS.

Turkey considers those Kurdish fighters terrorists and their longtime goal has been to push them away from the border. Now Trump essentially is allowing that to happen. Top Republicans and U.S. military officials are blasting this withdrawal and accusing President Trump of abandoning U.S. allies.

Even the State Department says America does not support Turkey's planned invasion, quote, "in any shape or form." Despite widespread criticism, even from political allies, President Trump continues to defend his decision.


TRUMP: I fully understand both sides of it. But I campaigned on the fact that I was going to bring our soldiers home. We're not a police force.


RIPLEY: In a apparent attempt to ease the criticism, Trump threatened to destroy Turkey's economy if it goes too far in its invasion. Turkey is hoping to create a buffer zone along its border with Syria to resettle more than 1 million refugees it has taken in during the Syrian civil war.

They've also complained that the U.S. safe zones set up for the Kurds along the border are not working. CNN's Ben Wedeman lays out the complexities and the consequences of Trump's decision.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S. troops are pulling back from the Syrian-Turkish border, making way for a looming Turkish invasion, an invasion aimed at the Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, which the U.S. armed, trained and fought alongside in the war against ISIS.

In 2015, President Barack Obama sent U.S. troops to Syria to help defeat the terror group, which in the vacuum left by the war between the Syrian government and its opponents, had seized large parts of Northern Syria.

In the Kurds, the Americans found a reliable and enthusiastic alley, but Turkey saw them as merely the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, which has fought a low intensity war against Ankara since 1984. Despite this complication, the U.S. deepened its alliance with the Syrian Kurds under Donald Trump, who as a candidate made clear he would pull out all the stops.

TRUMP: I would bomb the hell out of them.

WEDEMAN: The U.S. did exactly that, driving ISIS out of its de facto capital, Raqqah, in the fall of 2017. But President Trump wanted out, declaring suddenly late last year he would be pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria.

He ran into stiff opposition from his own inner circle. His Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest, saying allies would be betrayed. Trump relented, but it was clear the desire to extract the U.S. from Syria was always there.

After intense U.S.-led coalition bombing, in March of this year, the last bastion of ISIS' caliphate in the town of Baghouz fell to the Syrian Democratic Forces, with Turkey calling for a buffer zone along its border with Syria, free of any Kurdish forces.

[00:05:00] WEDEMAN (voice-over): By August, the U.S. and Turkey had worked out a mechanism for joint patrols along the border. But that wasn't enough for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has much bigger plans including the resettlements of perhaps more than a million Syrian refugees now in Turkey in the proposed buffer zone.

The Kurds have reacted angrily to the new Turkish-American arrangement, calling it a stab in the back.

A new opportunity may be opening up for a rapprochement between Syria's Kurds and the government in Damascus. President Bashar al- Assad and his two main backers, Russia and Iran, may come out the winners in this mess -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


RIPLEY: Let's bring in retired Army Major General Mark MacCarley. He's in Los Angeles but he knows the dynamics in the Middle East on the ground.

My first question for you, Maj. Gen., how much my first question, how much trust has been destroyed in the United States by President Trump's decision?

MAJ. GEN. MARK MACCARLEY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): The immediate response is, we have just walked or descended into absolute chaos. And I think chaos is the right word because, last December, our Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, resigned over the exact same issue because, for the years in which we faced ISIS, it was the SDF, the Kurdish defense force, that was up front and foreign (ph) and willing to shed its blood to reduce ISIS to what our president said about three months ago, to a non-entity.

Now all of a sudden we are turning on the very allies who did everything to make that victory a reality.

RIPLEY: Does this potentially strengthen ISIS?

The Kurds are holding tens of thousands of militants further south in Syria but, nonetheless, that region is going to be vulnerable if Turkey goes ahead with this invasion.

MACCARLEY: Absolutely, I'm going to suggest that the biggest challenge -- and we have discussed this on this program before -- is that when a vacuum is created and we have the advantage of the Kurds defending what they consider their homeland and we have ISIS, that while defeated with the caliphate, as it was known, with its capital in Raqqa, overrun by the Kurds, that did not ever mean that ISIS was completely, to use another term, obliterated from the Middle East.

Instead, it went underground and what we are beginning to see is a resurface of ISIS, small formations, formations getting larger, the threat has not dissipated. The threat is going to get greater and the net result, once again, to use the same terminology, is will are going to descend into chaos as a result of that one decision by Trump. RIPLEY: Aside from fulfilling a campaign problem, does the United States benefit strategically -- and you know this from your own military experience -- at all by doing this?

MACCARLEY: This is a great question because I don't often have an opportunity to say one word: no. There are those that say that there is a benefit and we are withdrawing American soldiers but the presence of American soldiers -- and let me be clear, we're not talking about 100,000 or so that were in Iraq, the spillover into parts of Syria.

When I was overseas during the height of the conflict in '08-'09, no, we're talking about the totality of about 3,000, of which 1,000 report in northeast Syria. They served a specific purpose, they provided that safe zone for the Kurds, the Kurds who have done everything for us.

They also facilitated the Kurds' maintenance of the camps for those ISIS partisan fighters who had been captured.

Now all that is gone. There is no calculus here that says that the U.S. will benefit strategically. There's no benefit that is visible for what we are now seeing as a consequence of this decision.

RIPLEY: And you know, full well, just how long it takes to build trust and how quickly that trust can just be torn away, Major General, we have to leave it now. We appreciate your time, thank you.

MACCARLEY: Thank you.

RIPLEY: Now to another scandal facing President Trump: Ukraine. Sources tell CNN extreme measures are being discussed to protect the initial whistleblower.


RIPLEY: It's still not clear when they may actually speak to the House Intelligence Committee but if they do, sources say their voice and their image could be disguised.

The meeting also doesn't even have to take place on Capitol Hill. It could be at a secure facility near Washington, like the CIA HQ or the National Security Agency.

We're also told a group of retired Navy SEALs is offering to assist the whistleblower, they could be used to provide personal security.

Text messages among U.S. officials are now a key part of the impeachment inquiry and, on Tuesday in Washington, House Democrats will get a chance to grill one of the people who sent them, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland is set to testify in the coming hours. CNN's Kaitlan Collins tells us what we can expect.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As House Democrats ramped up their Impeachment Inquiry today by issuing new subpoenas for the Pentagon and Budget Office, President Trump tried to turn the firestorm around on them, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of treason, insisting she's the one who should be removed from office, not him, though members of Congress can't be impeached.

The president is shifting his defense, still insisting that call with the Ukrainian president was perfect, but now claiming it was Energy Secretary Rick Perry who urged him to call Volodymyr Zelensky.

RICK PERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Absolutely. I asked the president multiple times, Mr. President, we think it is in the United States and in Ukraine's best interest.

COLLINS: Perry says it's true he wanted Trump to call Zelensky, about energy, not the Bidens.

PERRY: Not once, not once, as God is my witness, not once was a Biden name, not the former vice president, not his son, ever mentioned.

COLLINS: The energy secretary wasn't on the July call at the center of the impeachment probe, but Democrats may still want to talk to him.

In addition to the new subpoenas for the Pentagon and Budget Office today about that hold on the Ukrainian military aid package, two more key witnesses are expected to testify this week.

The president spent the weekend firing off dozens of tweets, as Republicans struggle to defend his actions.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): When I asked the president about that, he completely denied it. He adamantly denied it. He vehemently, angrily denied it. He said, I would never do that.

COLLINS: Not a single White House official went on television Sunday, leaving the task up to Republican lawmakers, who struggled with this shaky defense:

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): You really think he was serious about thinking that China is going to investigate the Biden family?

COLLINS: Even the White House hasn't claimed Trump was kidding when he suggested China should investigate the Biden.


COLLINS: CNN has confirmed that the chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, during a senior staff meeting last week, told people in the room that he thought, if President Trump was impeached by the House, that he would win 45 states in the 2020 election, a statement that caught some people in the room off guard.

It does confirm some Axios reporting and also follows CNN reporting that the president was frustrated when he thought aides were trying to form this impeachment defense strategy because he argues, it makes him look weak. One of the people involved in those conversations was the chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


RIPLEY: Up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, the National Basketball Association is facing a growing backlash, they have managed to tick off both U.S. and Chinese leaders -- for very different reasons. It all boils down to one tweet.

Plus, a deadly crash in the U.K., a diplomatic disaster for the U.S. As one family grieves, the British prime minister vows to get answers.





RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley, live from Hong Kong.

The National Basketball Association, the NBA in the U.S., is facing huge backlash for lawmakers for this tweet by the Houston Rockets' general manager, who tweeted pro-democracy demonstrations right here in Hong Kong.

The NBA makes billions of dollars in the Chinese market and is apparently siding with Beijing, calling Daryl Morey's tweet "regrettable." Despite his apology, several Chinese businesses are now suspending ties with the Rockets over this. The NBA's response has is also raising questions over the lengths the businesses in the U.S. have to go and are willing to go to stay in favor with the Chinese government for access to the lucrative Chinese market.

The response is drawing bipartisan criticism from U.S. politicians, who say the league is bowing from pressure to Beijing.

Republican senator Marco Rubio summed up this way, "NBA players have no problem speaking out on politics & social issues in America. But they apologize to #China for a pro democracy tweet from an @NBA team executive. Hypocrites."

And Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell tweeted, "Listen....some things are more important than money. Like doing the right thing. @dmorey tweeted about human rights and supporting #HongKongProtests. How ironic that you're siding with communism to advance your greed."

In the upcoming hours the NBA commissioner will hold a news conference to address the controversy surrounding Morey's tweet. His comments come just ahead of the Rockets' game with the Toronto Raptors, which is being playing played right here in the region in Japan.

Joining me now, discussing this backlash now is Alex Thomas in Japan and David Culver in Beijing.

This story just goes to the file of nothing good ever comes from Twitter, ever.

Alex, what are they saying there in Japan?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You would have a supertyphoon here in Japan at the weekend but already a storm of a different kind is upon us and a bit like a real one. It is gaining momentum with each passing day.

When you think that Daryl Morey, the Houston general manager tweeted last Friday, and here we are five days later, seeing the implications getting more and more potent as far as the NBA is concerned.

You're right in saying it all revolves around their huge financial investment in China as a growing market and dating back a long time. Here we are in Japan, where the NBA is playing a game here for the first time since 2003, a 16-year gap.

The NBA sponsored deals a couple of years ago with Rakuten and in the intervening years, since the regular season games in Japan in the 1990s, China has emerged as a more important market.

Back here in Japan and we should be speaking about an interesting preseason game between the Houston Rockets and the NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, after the Raptors' deal with Kawhi Leonard, who went to the L.A. Clippers, and Russell Westbrook, who is back with old mate James Harden at the Rockets.

When Harden and Westbrook took before the media, including me, after practice on Monday, instead it was Harden that said sorry.


JAMES HARDEN JR., HOUSTON ROCKETS: We apologize -- you know, we love China, we love playing here and I know for both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most support and love. So we appreciate them as a fan base. And we leave everything thereabout.



THOMAS: So Harden is a real leader of that team, understands how important this issue is. Ironically, the Houston Rockets are the most popular team in China because all the years that Yao Ming, the Chinese-born player who ended up playing for the Rockets for so many years, played a part in them, he is now in charge of the Chinese Basketball Association, one of the organizations to sever ties with the Rockets, certainly suspending links with the Rockets in light of this controversy and leading to all sorts of withdrawals and retractions.

Morey, the Houston Rockets GM, taking back to social media to say that it's his personal view and not that of the NBA or the team's.

"I was merely voicing one thought based on one interpretation of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."

You mentioned, Will, about the NBA, part of their statement reading, "We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together."

The timing cannot be worse. This is the first of two games later on Tuesday in Japan, the second is on Thursday. The same day as the first of two games in China to take place involving the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets, who have a Canadian Chinese owner in Joe Tsai, co-founder of the Alibaba group.

So just a horrible sporting political storm at just the wrong time for the NBA -- Will.

Over to David Culver in Beijing thanks for that.

And, Alex, thanks for that

But David, would China even allow them to play if theoretically they didn't do this apology?

We've seen so many foreign companies being forced to bow down to Beijing if they run afoul with the authoritarian government there.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have. And to Alex's point there, the timing couldn't be worse. When you think about the timing here, it's the end of what was a weeklong celebration for the founding of China 70 years ago, when it became a Communist state.

So this is an extremely sensitive time for this to have come out over the weekend and it was highly offensive as they perceived it. But as you point out, it's two separate things now. It's the first tweet that goes out that causes the backlash here in China and you saw the severing of ties with CCTV that they broadcast, saying they weren't going to air Rockets games.

You saw Tencent, a big company, saying there were no longer going to livestream the games, as Alex pointed out. The Chinese Basketball Association led by Yao Ming, saying that they want nothing to do with the Rockets for now and then you had the apology, which was a whole another storm that is brewing right now in the U.S.

It's rare that we see lawmakers on both sides agree on something. But even down in the state of Texas we're seeing two prominent lawmakers there, Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat who's running for president, both are agreeing, in their criticism of the NBA for apologizing.

Beto using strong words that this is a blatant prioritization of profits over human rights and Cruz saying that this is the NBA choosing money and shamefully retreating here.

So it's causing anger in both countries; it's a geopolitical mess. As you point out, this is not the first time that China has used the bottom line in order to manipulate free speech. We've seen that in recent happenings for airlines, Cathay Pacific, their CEO resigning after employees were caught up in the protests.

We have seen it with Marriott last year, who had to apologize for their app showing Taiwan and Hong Kong and Macao as separate countries, which is highly offensive to China, as the one China policy there. A lot of these companies are finding themselves in a very difficult position as to balancing democracy and profit.

RIPLEY: It seems like money is often winning. You worked in Washington. Compare the ability there for the U.S., for public figures to express their opinions as to what happens if people speak out and have the wrong opinion in China?

CULVER: It's been fascinating contrasting the two. I spent nearly seven years covering Washington. And people will comment on just about anything and on any topic. There's a comfort for them to speak out.

Here, even if you go back to one of the other headlines we've been covering, which was China being called on by President Trump and his suggestion that they investigate the Bidens, there still hasn't been a response to that. The responses here are controlled, calculated and are done with a choreography and are highly scripted generally too.

You're not just going to get a general reaction or get someone to speak off the cuff. Yesterday, we were speaking to young basketball fans.


CULVER: We were talking to one teen, who was dancing around his words and saying that he didn't think it was that big of a deal. But he also supported his country and was looking out at the side as people were approaching, a little bit uneasy about what they were interpreting from what he was saying. So there's concern in speaking out there.

RIPLEY: I've been on the streets in Beijing in similar positions many times and you'll have much more to look forward to, David Culver thanks for that. And we will check in again soon.

British prime minister Boris Johnson says that he will go straight to the White House if necessary to seek justice in that car crash that killed a British teenager on a motorcycle. He says the collision involved the wife of a U.S. diplomat who has now left the U.K. CNN's Anna Stewart reports she is now claiming diplomatic immunity.


CHARLOTTE CHARLES, HARRY DUNN'S MOTHER: He was a really, really good lad, fun loving and a big heart. At the age of seven had his first motorbike. That was his main passion. He's a very, very accomplished rider.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the evening of August 27th the lives of this family change forever. Nineteen-year- old Harry Dunn was riding his motorbike to visit his father when he collided with a car driving on the wrong side of the road near this exit of an RAF airbase run by the U.S. Air Force.

CHARLES: The hospital would come to Harry they were doing their best to keep him alive. They got him stable as they possibly could and took him to the hospital where we lost him.

STEWART: The police identified the wife of the U.S. diplomat as the suspect. They say engaged fully with their inquiry before, without notice, leaving the country under the protection of diplomatic immunity. She is now being named by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of laws that carried out in this country. If we can't resolve it then of course I will be raising myself personally with the White House.

STEWART: Dunn's family said they are delighted the prime minister has committed to help them and urge them to do whatever it takes to get Sacoolas back on British soil.

If you could speak to the wife of the diplomat, the suspect in this case, if she was listening to this right now, what would you say to her.

CHARLES: I do not understand how as a mom you could get on a plane, go back to your own country and completely avoid not only the family that she's broken -- but our justice system as well.

STEWART: The U.S. State Department have expressed their condolences but said, "Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this received intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given a global impact such decisions carry, immunity is rarely waived."

Harry's family are hoping an exception will be made in this case and they're looking to the British government for support. This week they'll meet with the U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and they won't stop there.

A funding page has been set up to support the campaign.

CHARLES: We will use that money to go to Washington, we will do our best to talk to President Trump. We will do everything we possibly can do.

STEWART: But no amount of money can buy a waiver of diplomatic immunity or put an end to their grief.

CHARLES: I just want to say that everyone in America that's come forward to support us so far through social media and at the channels have been amazing. It meant a lot to us. We don't feel like we're on our own.

STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, Northamptonshire, U.K.


RIPLEY: Here in Hong Kong the city's embattled leader is facing the press after yet another weekend of violence. We'll tell you what Carrie Lam had to say when reporters asked who is really calling the shots, you or China?


RIPLEY: Welcome back. I'm Will Ripley in Hong Kong, and here are headlines on CNN NEWSROOM this hour.


U.S. President Donald Trump getting nearly universal backlash over that decision to pull troops out of northern Syria. It essentially opens the door for a Turkish attack on Kurds in the region. Those forces helped the U.S. defeat ISIS, though Turkey sees them as terrorists.

The NBA's Houston Rockets are set to face off against the Toronto Raptors in Japan in the coming hours. The game, its being overshadowed by fall out over a tweet by Rockets general manager, backing pro-democracy protests here in Hong Kong. That tweet, predictably, angered Beijing, and the G.M. and the NBA have apologized.

Iraq's army admits it used excessive force against protesters in Baghdad's al-Sadr district early Monday. The interior ministry says at least 104 people have died in protests across the country, and that's just in the last week. Protestors are demanding the government's ouster over declining economic conditions.

Here in Hong Kong, the embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, says it's too early to say whether her new anti-mask law is a failure, although it certainly failed to stop the violence this weekend.

Just days ago, Lam invoked a draconian law, theoretically giving her unlimited power; and she used that power -- it's known as the Emergency Regulations Ordinance -- to ban face masks at public gatherings. And it sparked some of the most intense violence since protests erupted in July.

Lam spoke with reporters just a short time ago. And this is after a real confrontation that made a lot of headlines at the Chinese military garrison here in Hong Kong.

A lot of people don't know there are thousands of Chinese soldiers in this city. And they actually interacted with protesters. They raised a flag warning them against targeting their barracks with lasers, like the ones that they regularly point at police, trying to blind them.

Hong Kong protesters, well, they made their voices heard on Monday, gathering in a shopping wall to sing with a volunteer orchestra. And you can see here, it looks like hundreds of demonstrators came out, singing and demanding democracy. Police were also out in force in Hong Kong on Monday night. And just

like they have week after week, they used tear gas. They used rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

Week 18 of demonstrations with no end in sight. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now, live from Hong Kong.

And Kristie, you were at Carrie Lam's press conference. You asked her about the communication that she's having with Beijing, because a lot of people wonder if it's really officials in Beijing calling the shots and not her.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and she would insist that she is governing the Hong Kong people, being the chief executive of Hong Kong. But she is in this impossible position of serving two masters: the people here in the territory, as well as Beijing.

The chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, just gave her first press conference in the building right behind me since the introduction of that controversial ban on face masks took effect. She says, despite the additional violence and arrests over the weekend, that measure is not a failure but needs more time to be effective.

This follows more unrest, more scenes of all-out chaos playing out over the weekend, where we saw not just thousands but tens of thousands of demonstrators turn out and defying that face ban. Many of them wearing those facial coverings that are now outlawed by the Hong Kong government.

They targeted the MTR or subway system here in Hong Kong. They set up barricades, blocking roads. At one point, we saw the entire mass rapid transit system in Hong Kong, which services up to 5 million people a day, completely shut down. Stores, businesses, restaurants, entire shopping centers were closed or forced to close early.


Now, given the ongoing unrest, I posed that question to the chief executive earlier this day, and I asked her what is it going to take? You know, how bad does it need to get in Hong Kong before she feels compelled to call on Beijing, the Chinese central government authorities, to step in and to restore order? This is how she responded.


CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: At this point in time, I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves. That that is also the position of the central government; that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own, OK? But if the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least -- to have another chance.

But at this moment, I and my team, we are still very committed to making sure that we can use our own instruments, legal instrument, political instruments like continuing dialog, policy instruments like addressing some of the deep-seated problems on the livelihood and the economy side, to try to restore calm and order in Hong Kong.


STOUT: The chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, there answering my question, saying that Hong Kong can handle the situation on her own.

This after, again, taking that dramatic step on Friday, invoking emergency powers to put a ban on face masks in the territory. The government here still believes that it will be effective, that it will deter and discourage protesters, especially young people and students, from turning out onto the streets in protest.

Already on social media, we're seeing photos of students returning to school this day, wearing face masks -- Will.

RIPLEY: Yes, open defiance, Kristie. And you have to wonder when Carrie Lam told you last week that if this doesn't work, other steps will be taken. But she didn't explain what those steps were. Certainly, in the minds of some here in the city, there's concern about what that could mean for civil liberties here in Hong Kong.

But we'll have to leave it there for now. Kristie Lu Stout, appreciate it, live from outside Leg Co (ph) here in Hong Kong.

U.S. President Donald Trump, he sidestepped a question about whether the protests here would be linked to U.S.-China trade talks. President Trump denied promising Chinese President Xi Jinping in June that the U.S. would stay silent on the demonstrations in Hong Kong.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to see a very humane solution to that. I hope that's going to happen. And, you know, Hong Kong is very important as a world hub, not just for China, but for the world.

I do say that we are negotiating. If anything happened bad, I think that would be a very bad thing for the negotiations. I think politically, it will be very tough, maybe for us and maybe for some others and maybe for him.


RIPLEY: Meanwhile, President Trump signed a trade deal with Japan, two and a half years after he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement reduces Japanese tariffs in stages on more than two billion dollars' worth of beef and pork.

Much more to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, including hundreds of arrests around the world. Climate crusaders known as the Extinction Rebellion shutting down city centers, demanding action.


RIPLEY: Around the world, thousands of climate change protesters are bringing cities to a standstill. It's part of a two-week movement by the group Extinction Rebellion, demanding that governments do more to cut carbon emissions and avoid ecological disaster.

In London, demonstrators blocked roads, bridges and squares around Westminster. Police arrested nearly 300 protestors there just on Monday. Some of them actually glued themselves to the ground and scaffolding in Trafalgar Square.

Dozens were also detained in Sydney, where activists blocked a key street in the city's central business district.

In Amsterdam, police arrested more than 100 climate activists. They blocked a road in front of the Dutch National Museum.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Climate justice!



RIPLEY: And that's Berlin, where thousands of protesters blocked two main roundabouts, some forming a human chain as they braved the bitter cold weather.

Police in New York arrested at least 90 people for civil disobedience at Extinction Rebellion rallies. Protestors poured fake blood on themselves, and then they laid on the ground and staged die-in's on Wall Street, nearly blocking the entrance to the New York Stock Exchange.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in the city, covering those bloody -- or at least fake bloody -- demonstrations.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've seen these protests in cities all over the world: in Sydney, in Paris, and London, and Amsterdam, and now right here in New York City.

We've had dozens of protesters who have been arrested, peacefully, some blocking intersections, like this intersection here at Broadway and Pine. This is in downtown New York.

This started this morning when organizers from Extinction Rebellion descended upon Wall Street to try to draw attention to the issues involving the climate change crisis. They've got several goals here. Mainly, they want governments to take

action to address climate change. In addition to that, they want governments to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.

And to draw more attention to that, they're holding acts of civil disobedience. Again, we've seen them in other cities across the world, seeing them again in New York City today. This one sightseeing bus getting an extra sightseeing vision when they descended upon Broadway and Pine and found a number of protesters blocking the intersection.

Again, they're being arrested peacefully, many of them having fake blood on them, that fake blood to symbolize how they say there have been victims all over the world, due to climate change crisis and due to, they say, governments not doing enough to meet this crisis.

So once again, acts of civil disobedience taking place in New York City. Extinction Rebellion members say they're going to keep this up until governments take action.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


RIPLEY: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Live from Hong Kong, I'm Will Ripley. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news. And after the break, WORLD SPORT.