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Interview With International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva; Interview With Chilean President Gabriel Boric; Interview With "Red Carpet" Author Erich Schwartzel; Interview With "The Walk" Artistic Director Amir Nizar Zuabi. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 28, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Tonight, we're bringing you some of our favorite news making interviews from the United Nations General Assembly. Here's what's coming up.
From inflation to climate change, IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva on how she's tackling global instability.
Plus, one of the world's youngest leaders, Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, reflects on his bold gamble to reimagine the social safety net.
Then, the larger-than-life puppet raising awareness about the plight of child refugees.
Also, ahead, Hollywood's surprising role in the rivalry between the U.S. and Cchina.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Inflation might be an unwelcomed guest this holiday season for families around the world, burning a hole in their wallets, at the grocery store,
and gas pump. Russia's war in Ukraine and the torrent of climate catastrophes are fueling even more despair. But, my first guest tonight is
trying to get a handle on all these crises. Kristalina Georgieva is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. And we spoke at the
U.N. General Assembly in September after she released a report warning of what's to come in the new year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Kristalina Georgieva, welcome back to our program.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: The first time, really anger with so people in person because of COVID, but also a huge cascade of crises. You put out a report that it's
going to be very bad and, you know, even worse than we expected. What's in store?
GEORGIEVA: Well, this year, tough. Next year, tougher. Why? Because of a shock upon shock upon shock in just saw three years. The pandemic, not yet
over. The war, Russia's invasion pushing energy and food prices up. And then. the result a cost-of-living crisis.
Last year, if you remember, we were talking about it and we were somewhat not optimistic because it looked like shot in the arm would push the
pandemic away. And then we were proven wrong by Omicron, on the 24th of February, by the invasion of Ukraine, and the accumulation of drivers of
price increases that have made inflation today our biggest enemy.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, because for you it's personal as well. First of all, you come from that part of the world. Secondly, you have a brother,
I believe, who's been in Kharkiv, he and may still be in Kharkiv. What is the situation, personally, for you? The stakes in this war in Ukraine?
GEORGIEVA: It is so devastating to see a return of what was a cold war for 38 years of my life. I lived in it. My brother and his wife are back in
Bulgaria. His mother-in-law is in Kharkiv. She is celebrating the fact that the Ukrainian army has managed to liberate most of this area. But she tells
me that every morning she wakes up worried about the day in front of her.
What I am also devastated to see is the steel over of this war to the rest of the world. We now have a massive increase of people in desperate
situations. No food, cannot afford energy even if it is there, and this is because a decision to invade a sovereign country was made. This madness has
to stop. It has to end.
AMANPOUR: I think you've agreed with the necessity to increase interest rates. But many say that could plunge a country into a recession. Who would
that hurt? The most vulnerable?
GEORGIEVA: Well, if we don't bring inflation down, this will hurt the most vulnerable. Because an explosion of food and energy prices for those that
are better off is inconvenience. For the poor people, tragedy.
So, we think of poor people first when we advocate for attacking inflation forcefully. But then it doesn't mean we do nothing on the physical side. We
need to remember that space to help shrank. We used all of it during COVID. So, the remaining, as much as there is, it has to be very, very well
And I have a very simple message to people who watch. Monetary policy, not choice but to increase interest rates to tame inflation. Physical policy,
if it goes generously to help everybody will be actually on the way of monetary policy actually. It would be the enemy of monetary policy because
you increased demand --
AMANPOUR: Right, right.
GEORGIEVA: -- and that pushes prices again up. And then, there has to be more tightening. So, Christiane, the critical question in front of us is to
restore conditions for growth. And price stability is a critical condition.
AMANPOUR: You know, this United Nations conference was meant to, you know, deal with -- among other things, obviously the war in Ukraine, which is
exacerbating everything that we're talking about. But also, climate. The secretary general has said, this is the issue without which everything else
can just -- we can forget about it --
AMANPOUR: -- if we don't fix this one. And yet, this week, there was meant to be a heads of state climate conference. Biden isn't going. Macron isn't
going. They've all got other things to do. At what point do we make this central and serious? Because, frankly, do you not agree that our energy
crisis now is because we didn't take sustainability and green and alternative energy seriously?
GEORGIEVA: So, look, we can survive inflation. We even can survive recession because it happened in the past. What we can't survive,
literally, is unmitigated climate crisis. We are talking about an existential threat to humanity.
I am very keen to see that we absorbed the science and translate it in our actions. This is what we do at the front. I can tell you proudly, the IMF
today is systemically significant institution in the fight against climate change. We bring it in everything to do, in our policies, in our financing.
And that is how the world has to absorb it.
What is my role? What is, I can do to ensure that my daughter, my grandchildren have a future?
AMANPOUR: Do you think we are at risk of actually, I mean, not meeting all those pledges? And look at what's happened at Pakistan and --
GEORGIEVA: Oh, we are very much --
AMANPOUR: -- other places.
GEORGIEVA: Very much. So, look at the data. By 2030, we have to cut emissions by half to stay within the Paris Agreement. We are not nearly
close to that. We are actually half of the half in terms of progress being made. Unless we act, this year, next year, the year after, unless we turn
the trend in this decade, we are at very high risk to live with three degrees Celsius average higher temperature. And this is what my message is
to everybody. We can do it. We have the technologies to do it, and we have the money to do it. But we are not moving them fast enough.
Christiane, we need to be between $3 and $6 trillion a year to turn the track. We're at $650 billion. So, we are five to 10 times below. And yet,
we have hundreds of trillions that are looking around for good investments. So, my institution, this is what we concentrate, move the money to emerging
markets to make a difference.
And by the way, if you look today what is happening, we are taking a step back. Why? Because, as you said, we haven't moved fast enough. But I'm
confident that with the right decisions over this next year, we actually will accelerate the transition to low carbon economy. In other words, it is
a tango in which we are now taking a step back. But then, we have to step - - take two steps forward and tango all the way to reach the objectives we have.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about, you said investments. You have trillions that you could invest. Investments and the kind of things that
would help mitigate this. How concerned are you by the fact, and I'm going to quote you now from the University of Education, today, 70 percent of 10-
year-olds in low and middle-income countries cannot read. And it's been accelerated because of COVID, obviously.
And obviously, one of the major barriers is the debt. They can't invest in educating their children. So, you, yourself, were invited in the IMF in
what was the meant to be a summit --
AMANPOUR: -- right now --
AMANPOUR: -- focusing on this education. But you didn't attend. And I wonder why or would you announce debt relief for these countries that
invest in education and how serious, do you feel as -- at the IMF a problem that it is?
GEORGIEVA: Well, thank you for giving me a chance to say that I may not have been on the panel, but I'm on the job. At the IMF, we have taken steps
to put a floor on the social spending. And we are particularly focused on education, health, social protection.
So, when we work with countries, this is not your grandmother's IMF. We actually want to see them building a resilient future for themselves. What
is resilience, Christiane? Resilient people, educated, healthy with a floor they can step on, not fall over a cliff. And this social protection system
is what the fund is now mustering to support.
A resilient economy that is fair where people find the jobs that they can feed their families. They can prosper in a resilient planet. Unless we
integrate this triage of resilience, and we at the fund, we embrace it and we bring it to our members, we cannot succeed. No more. The fund is about a
narrow path of banking sector resilience. The fund is about resilience for the future.
We marshalled the debt service special initiative. And I believe that it is time to think about extending this debt service suspension. Why? It was
done when COVID hit and now countries are hit even harder and their response capacity shrank. So, it is fair to say, poor countries should be
given space to first spent for their people, including for education of children before they service their debt.
AMANPOUR: Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, thank you very much for being with us.
GEORGIEVA: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Laying strong groundwork for the future is also the goal of my next guest. Gabriel Boric got his start in politics as a grassroot
activist. Now, the age of 36, he is the progressive president of Chile. He tells us what he's learned from an early setback, after voters rejected
what would have been the first new constitution since military rule. We also discuss his relationship with the United States, and harnessing the
power of Taylor Swift.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Boric, welcome to the program. It's great to have you on. You are noticeably, I think either the or one of the youngest leaders
in the world right now.
GABRIEL BORIC, CHILEAN PRESIDENT: I think with Sanna Marin from Finland.
AMANPOUR: OK. Great. Two pretty dynamic leaders in the world right now. You started politics, you know, as a young person at the grassroots. How
does it feel to actually be president now?
BORIC: Well, first of all, thank you very much for this interview. It's a great honor for me to be with you. And I know that you have interviewed
such great leaders throughout your career. And for me, it's a huge responsibility. And I take accountant for that.
And I'm really proud about what we're doing in Chile because a new generation with new ideas. But that also learns from the past. We know and
totally understand that the world doesn't start with us. So, we have to learn about history -- Chilean history and world history. And I'm really
excited about also feeling the responsibility that we have nowadays. Not only in our country in Chile, but also in Latin America and the world.
And yesterday, I had some great meetings with some leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Jacinda Ardern, Pedro Sanchez, et cetera. And I think we can
push some leaderships to the world to make it better.
AMANPOUR: You just mentioned it's a dynamic new era in Latin America.
AMANPOUR: Some five nations, obviously, including yours, including Colombia just recently, have moved to left of center politics, out of a
very sort of right of center tradition. How do you explain that?
BORIC: Well, I think that there are two crises in parallel. The COVID and economic crisis that happens since then. But also, the willing of the
people of more justice and equality that has not been able to being provided by just market and just the ideas that right wing parties have in,
at least in Latin America that they think that -- or they tend to think that only if big companies do well, we all going to do well. And I think
people is really tire of that, of seeing the inequality that we have in our country.
AMANPOUR: You know, you say people are tired of the status quo and the inequality. And actually, you put so much personal political capital into
the new constitution. And this was a constitution that many say was a vision of the triumph of hope over fear, as they described your election.
It had -- you know, it had articles and clauses for just about every stakeholder in your country. And yet, it failed epically. 62 percent of the
nation, that you say are tired of the current status quo voted against it.
AMANPOUR: In the days since, have you had a -- I -- have you had a moment to think about why that happened. Why they rejected it?
BORIC: Yes, actually we have been thinking about it even before the election. So, one of the first lessons that we've got and that's -- and
historical lesson also, is that you cannot go faster than your people. And I have said this before in some interviews, but like, pretending to be
ahead of your time, it's an elegant way of being mistaken, in my opinion at least.
And so, the verdict it of the people of Chile, it was -- we want changes. We want profound changes, that's my interpretation. But we want to keep
what we have earned through the last decade and we know that changes does not fulfill from night to day.
So, we have to go a little bit slower. And that's OK. And we're going to fulfill a new agreement to have a new constitution during our period. And
I'm pretty sure we are going to make it there. It's going to be a little bit longer than we would have liked. But that's democracy.
And one of the main things that I am proud of is that in the most difficult times that Chile has experienced in the last two decades, at least, we
decided to resolve our difference with more democracy, not with less, and we respect that.
AMANPOUR: There are critics who say that it was an entirely leftist constitution. That the idea of the center right or further right was not
represented. Do you accept that?
BORIC: No, I don't think that's true. It was a constitution that was built with two-thirds of agreement in the convention. And before that we had a
big election and that's what people expressed then. You have to remember also that we had another plebiscite before that where 80 percent of the
Chileans said we want a new constitution written by a special organ totally elected for that matter.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously democracy is a key theme of your presidency. And you -- it was the key theme of your speech here at the U.N. In your region,
in Brazil, very soon, there's going to be election. And we've already heard the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, suggest that if it doesn't go his
way, he may pull a Trump. He may decide to not recognize it and say it's all fake news and it's rigged, et cetera.
Do you anticipate that? Have you had a chance to talk to him? And what do you think yourself and your continent can do to protect democracy even in
another country like Brazil?
BORIC (through translator): What I'm saying is that we cannot take democracy for granted. We're in times the countries that are democratic, we
get use to them and you think they can last forever. But we don't have to see how they are eroding underneath. And there are certain leaderships
which, actually, they didn't seem to believe in democracy, obviously with Jair Bolsonaro -- but only with Jair Bolsonaro. We've also seen it in the
case of Nicaragua.
So, then, I think that the countries with which we share our values, I'm thinking about -- in particular about Latin America or about the European
Union -- well, America in general. We have to associate with each other a lot more. It's been a long time since there has been a relationship -- I
would say, a deep relationship beyond the commercial relationship between Europe and Latin America and the States and Latin American. I think we have
to improve it on it a lot more so that we can fortify those values.
Aside from that, we have to teach why is democracy so important Why, nowadays, why do we believe and we have the conviction that we have to
solve our problems by way of other collective deliberation, which is much better than taking an authoritarian way? That's not obvious for a lot of
people. And I think that we are leaders in that. If we are going to be leaders in that, we have to have those convictions very strongly.
AMANPOUR: Can I quickly asked you about relationships with North America? There is a movement around the World to ask for justice and apologies and
accountability in post-colonial, post-empire, and post-interventionist periods. Of course, the world knows what happened in Chile and America's
role in the support of the military dictator Augusto Pinochet. Do you, as today's president, do you expect an apology from the United States?
BORIC (through translator): The United States has had a very important role in terms of the overthrow of the President Allende in September 11,
1973 by way of the CIA. And that has been -- well, also a President Nixon at that time. He was very clear, in terms, of strangling the Chilean in the
economy so that the situation could be generated. And this is something that, of course, in Chile we cannot forget. But we are also capable of
turning a new page and understand that nowadays we're in a very different place.
Of course -- and aside from that, even in the United States as to which changing its position. From supporting a coup d'etat, of supporting a
dictatorship from the beginning to one or more critical to position. I think that it would be very good that the United States should reflect in
terms of its conduct this within the world. It has contributed to improving democracy, I don't think so.
But that doesn't mean that we can avoid or tarnish our relationship with the United States on health. And I was a witness to see how there was a
certain sector. A sector of American politics which directly does not believe in democracy as we saw in the takeover of the Capital of the
declaration of the ex-president, I think to the relationship with President Biden -- I had a very good conversation with ex-President Obama yesterday.
And I think that very positive things could come forth for Chile and for United States.
AMANPOUR: You've made climate and the environment a key plank of your government. And it was meant to be represented in the constitution as well.
And yet, Chile also makes a huge amount of its economy on certain metals in the extraction of lithium and other things that are needed in the tech
world, but also very environmentally, you know, destructive as well, the extraction of them.
How do you plan to push forward, you know, climate change goals and need to, you know, your government and the economy, et cetera?
BORIC (through translator): Chile is deeply committed with the challenges, with the genetic confront climactic crisis. We only produce .44 percent of
the emissions that produced the greenhouse effect regarding contaminating gases. We have committed, by law, to be carbon neutral by 2050. And we're
going to reach that goal, as much as possible, before then.
But we have -- some of this very particular is that effectively we have the raw materials. And those -- that is a necessary pathway to for a green
economy in terms of the carbon, lithium, the production of green hydrogen. It is extremely important for the changes that we have to make in the
So, I feel that nowadays, Chile needs the world. The world actually, as it is today, and the world needs Chile as well. So, what we are doing is to
raise the standards regarding the extraction of these minerals and to link in the knowledge of production in terms of the production chain for a
technological transfer, but also consciously knowing that we're trying to help the climate change.
But aside from that, we are on a very important campaign in terms of the protection of the oceans. Chile, 42 percent of its coastline is protected,
along with a New Zealand, along with Norway, along with Fiji, along with the United States, along with Ecuador, and other countries, we -- as well
as Canada, we are in alliance to protect the entire Pacific coastline. And of course, the other coast little countries that I mentioned. It's very
important because the ocean is one of our main assets to be able to fight against climate change. And Chile, in this, has been a pioneer and we want
to continue contributing in that direction.
AMANPOUR: Can I just move to a more personal issue which also has bigger resonance around the world right now? And it is actually up about mental
health. And you have spoken quite openly and freely about your own issues, OCD and the like. My question is, why have you decided to speak openly
about it? What do you say to your people and people around the world? And how has it affected you? I mean, your president of your nation?
BORIC (through translator): Yes. Well, thank you for the question. I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder that's completely under control. And,
thank God, I've been able to undergo treatment and it doesn't make me unable to be able to carry out my responsibilities as representative as the
president of republic. And I think this is something that's very difficult to accept for a lot of people, but we have to be able to speak about mental
health because mental health is very important.
In my country, only 2 percent of the budget regarding public health is destined for mental health because we haven't outspoken enough about it.
And more than anything, it's a burden. It's something that we keep it deep inside. And I think that when persons like me who have a public committee
and I can speak freely about this, we must help a lot of people who can -- to be able to feel better and also, to facilitate the access for treatment.
Mental health does not have to be taboo and I have no problem in I'm speaking about it openly.
AMANPOUR: Well, I really do appreciate and a lot of people appreciate your frankness and your openness on this. So, you know, as part of a part of all
this, you said during your speech here at the U.N., as a young person who was on the street protesting not very long ago, I can tell you that
representing unrest is a lot easier than producing solutions.
AMANPOUR: So, a little bit about that. And then, some of the things you do to unwind, it's very well known that you really love music, you play music,
you listen to it a lot. Give me -- talk to me a little bit about that.
BORIC (through translator): Regarding the first thing, it's a lot easier to be able to be in the middle of the moment of the party regarding the
protest, the revolutionary party. But in any event, the following day, we still have to pick up the garbage, and we have to make sure that the
institutions run well. And for that, this is a point I always wanted to make is that one does not possess the ultimate truth to be democrat. It
means that you have to understand that whoever might think differently from you might have an interesting point of view that could improve yours.
I have a person from the left. And I highlight the historical principles of the left and particularly the Latin American internationalism. But in any
event, I know that people who might think differently, for example, people from the sector to the right in Chile, they might have ideas that are very
Saying this, in terms of the other question, to be president doesn't turn you into a machine. It cannot turn you into a machine. I don't believe that
a good president is the one who's a 24/7 with -- in the midst of papers or in meetings all the time. To be able to read literature, to be able to read
poetry and Chilean poetry is exquisite. Not only Gabriela Mistral or Pablo Neruda who are the better-known ones but also, Remfry Kalim (ph), Marta
Brunet. But also, music. I listen to a lot of music, from classical, even to contemporary music. It gives you a better perspective to be able to
think. Books and music is a void to unknown dimensions at times that help you make better decisions, from my point of view.
AMANPOUR: And what's with the Swifties, and Taylor Swift?
BORIC: Amazing you asked.
BORIC (through translator): I do not know much about her, Taylor Swift. But when the campaign began, she has a large number of fans here in Chile
and they started to show me her music, her records "Cardigan" red. And it's not the type of music that I would say that I would be -- have -- listen to
the most in my life. But it seems like incredibly interesting, her career. How she's been able to rerecord her records as a product of being in her
fights and being swindled.
And I think it's pretty beautiful how she has been an inspiration for an entire generation and to be able to raise her voice and -- as I say, "Only
The Young" -- the song, "Only The Young," I think it has been incredibly expiring -- inspiring for a whole generation. So, a big hug to Taylor and I
hope we can meet one day.
AMANPOUR: President Gabriel Boric, thank you so much indeed.
BORIC (through translator): Thank you very much. A very strong hug. It's been wonderful to speak with you, and I'm completely available to answer
more questions about Chile of -- for which we feel very proud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Next, from Chile to China, and its dispute with the United States. After meeting with President Xi at the G20 Summit, President Biden
sought to lower the temperature.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm absolutely believe there's need not be a new cold war. We -- I have met many times with Xi Jinping, and we were
candid and clear with one another across-the-board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the rivalry spreads far and wide, even all the way to Hollywood. Journalist, Erich Schwartzel explores how, in his book, "Red
Carpet." And he tells Hari Sreenivasan about this global battle for cultural supremacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Erich Schwartzel joining us now. Thanks so much.
Now, I have to start by saying, you know, here we are in a climate where we are talking about very real consequences about the diplomatic relations
between the United States and China. And here, you've got a book that points out that there's a whole another game of soft power that's going on
right through our movie screens.
First, I guess, what made you want to look this? Why is this such an important battlefield, if you will?
ERICH SCHWARTZEL, AUTHOR, "RED CARPET": When I started covering the film industry here in Los Angeles, I started to notice Chinese influence in
really unexpected ways. Sometimes it was on screen, you would see Chinese actresses or Chinese plot points being introduced to films and then, you'd
have Chinese financing, sometimes funding the films behind the scenes. And you're right, it seemed unexpected. But what I learned was it really was a
proxy for the broader relationship between the U.S. and China.
And over the past decade or so that's become only more so the case because, in many ways, China is trying to replicate America's success in soft power,
right? Like, over the last century or so, America has really established the playbook for a how to sell country overseas using its pop culture. And
what we've seen over the past decade or so is China trying to do the same.
And so, all of these conversations we have about China and the U.S., sort of serving as alternate forms of governance for the rest of the world to
follow, really are playing out in the movies we watch and in the movies that the Chinese audiences are watching too.
SREENIVASAN: Just give me a rough ballpark, how much money is at stake here? I mean, how much money in terms of maybe investment from Chinese
companies might be steering Hollywood movies that were not that aware of?
SCHWARTZEL: Well, a lot of the investment that came in from China behind the scenes has dried up as relations between the two countries have
deteriorated over the last couple of years. But what hasn't is the market that China represents.
And think about it. You know, Hollywood has been a global business since it start. I mean, we have shipped movies around the world for decades. But,
after Mao Zedong's revolution, all of that western influence wasn't allowed into China until 1994. So, it's only been about 20 or 30 years that Chinese
audiences are seeing American films. And it's a market that appeared, seemingly overnight out of nowhere. 1.4 billion potential ticket buyers.
And so, very quickly, it really only took about 15 years or so, China's box office grew to rival the U.S., and now, it's quite common to see movies
there routinely gross $600, $700, $800 million. And again, I think what's so extraordinary is we expect big numbers out of China these days. But
what's so extraordinary is that it's only taken about 20 or 25 years for it to get there.
SREENIVASAN: How has the pandemic changed things? If the Chinese box office is such a big draw, right now, we still have cities, entire cities
in China that are completely shut down that, you know, at a moment's notice, so to speak, if the contagion is spreading in their community.
So, what does that do to box office sales? What does that do to kind of any kind of leverage or conversation that studios might have?
SCHWARTZEL: Well, I think it's really shined a light on just how dependent the studios are because you're right, that market that appeared out of
nowhere also seems to have gone a way out of nowhere. Not just because of the COVID lockdowns, but also because, when U.S. China tensions rise,
Hollywood movies have a tougher time getting into the market.
And so, whenever, you know, Xi Jinping and Joe Biden are having intense phone calls, the Ministry of Propaganda is not too keen on importing a
bunch of American films in that kind of climate. And so, Hollywood, there's a sense out here, frankly, that in some ways it's gotten played, because
here was a market that has been written into business plans, and that in some cases, it's controlling what movies get made and which movies don't
get made, and you see how quickly a state-run economy can just shut off all of that access.
SREENIVASAN: So, give me an example of a movie that you might think is OK here, it actually does a better overseas and perhaps the producers and the
people writing it are actually thinking about that market even from the very design of the film.
SCHWARTZEL: My favorite example is a movie from 2014, that was the fourth film in the "Transformers" franchise. Now, the "Transformers" franchise, I
mean I know that this is not exactly a movie that comes up in a lot of conversations about geopolitics but I argue that it should, because in 2014
the studio releasing this film, Paramount, knew that the Chinese audiences were flocking to these movies about giant robots that they were making.
And so, they started to cast Chinese actresses, they filmed about a third of the film in China. The even held a reality show competition to cast bit
roles in the movie. And if you watch the film, it almost feels half Chinese. There's a scene where Stanley Tucci is drinking out of juice box
with Chinese lettering on it and there's a scene where Mark Walberg uses an ATM that is a Chinese bank. It feels very Chinese.
But what I found so interesting and, in some ways, troubling when I watched it more recently, was that at the end of film, there's a scene, it's
obvious -- it's the climactic battle that we all know, the cities being destroyed and the city, in this case, is Hong Kong.
And before the bad guys ultimately win, some good guys come in from Beijing and they arrive before the Americans can show up to save the day. And when
I found out when I was reporting the book, is that that was a specific request by the Chinese authorities in order to gain access to the country
and to film in the country, they said, we've read your script and we have one note, we'd rather have Mainland China rescue Hong Kong than the
Americans. And this is in 2014.
And so, when you're re-watching the film now having seen Beijing's plans for Hong Kong, it seems like almost a bit of a sneak preview for what those
geopolitical priorities were playing out in a movie that I think a lot of us, maybe rightfully, perceive as just a silly action film.
SREENIVASAN: What gets censored in China? What is it that American writers or directors make that will automatically, you know, raise red flags?
SCHWARTZEL: They have what they call the three T's, Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen. You don't touch any of those topics. But then it gets a little
looser, right? And there are some rules that have been published. For instance, no scenes that portray China in a bad light.
So, we have an example of a James Bond movie having to cut a scene in which he shoots a Chinese security guard because that makes China look weak.
Portrayals of homosexuality go against certain CCP ideas of what a family should look like. So, you have movies like "Green Book" and "Bohemian
Rhapsody" cutting references to homosexual characters.
And what I learned, and it shouldn't come as a surprise, is that that is a culture of censorship, but it doesn't take long for Hollywood to adopt a
culture of self-censorship, because any executive working today and many writers working today know what to put in a script and what to avoid before
it even begins filming.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that you sort of mentioned was time travel is kind of --
SREENIVASAN: -- not a good plotline? Why?
SCHWARTZEL: Time travel hits at a metaphorical concern. And this is why film studies professors are often among those who screen films for release
in China and it's because they are watching for deeper metaphors that might prove to be politically problematic. And in the case of time travel, time
travel is a concept that implies there is a history different than the one the government has taught you.
And so, imagining a world where you can go back in time and discover that things were different, or you can go back in time and change what would
eventually happen is an area that you can imagine authorities in Beijing don't want to explore and maybe don't want to have viewers get too creative
SREENIVASAN: So, what happens when someone decides that they want to speak out against China? And I'm thinking back an old example of Richard Gere and
his famous remarks at a Hollywood speech and is he radioactive now?
SCHWARTZEL: You're right. In the early '90s, he was arguably our most famous supporter of the Dalai Lama. He was wearing prayer beads on the Red
Carpet. He was interrupting Oscar speeches to talk about human rights abuses in Tibet. And he was able to marry that activism with his career for
quite some time.
And when I looked back, when I was reporting the book, I realize that he hadn't been in a major studio film since 2008. And that is a very critical
year because that is the year that Hollywood really woke up to the potential of China's Box Office and started to see that China would
inevitably become the world's largest Box Office at some point.
So, 2008 is really this inflection point in Hollywood, and it's no coincidence that is the last year that Richard Gere is cast in a major
studio film. And when I set out to report this book, I wanted to get to the bottom of this because there had always been a question as to whether or
not China was behind Gere's decline. And I asked around, and it turns out that is true.
I talked to an executive at Warner Brothers who described the situation like this, they said, you know, it's like, if you can get someone else, why
not just get somebody else? Why incur the risk? If -- you know, if Gary Oldman is available, get Gary Oldman. You know, we don't need to take on
the risk and the jeopardy involved in working with this person if it's not necessary.
SREENIVASAN: What about companies? You spent a good amount of time looking at Disney. I mean, here's a company that not just makes movies, but also
has theme parks. And they also see hundreds of millions of potential customers going to theme parks in China. But it seems that once you start
to do deeper levels of business in China, then things are kind of dependent on one another.
SCHWARTZEL: If we were having this conversation five years ago, we would be talking about how Disney had one China. And that Disney had figured out
China better than any other major studio. You're right. It took them more than 15 years, but they've got a theme park outside of Shanghai that was a
$5.5 billion investment. They have superhero movies that were routinely grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in the country. They were selling
toys. They even launched a string of English language schools that taught Chinese children their ABC's using Disney characters. And that was their
rather creative way of introducing Disney mythology to children who were not familiar with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck.
Now, all that success though is looking more and more like a vulnerability in a world where doing business in China is getting harder, and more
politically problematic. It speaks to just how intertwined so many of these studios and corporations are in China, because let's say you're running a
division of Disney, and you want to make a movie, an animated film about a Tibetan character. Well, it's not like you need to worry about that movie
not being released in China. You need to worry about that movie jeopardizing all of Disney's holdings.
Because in the past, what the Chinese authorities have indicated is that if they want to punish a company or a studio for making a movie with a
narrative they disagree with, they often look to hit it anywhere they can. So, for instance, in the late '90s, Sony made a movie called "Seven Years
in Tibet" starring Brad Pitt. And when the Chinese authorities learned of this film, they threatened not kick out just Sony Studio, but Sony
Corporation, the maker of VCR's and televisions, and the parent company, the electronics giant that owned the studio.
So, you see how even a small animated film with a storyline that no one in China would ever see could threaten a $5.5 billion theme park. And this is
the case at Disney, it's the case at Universal, it's the case for so many studios where they are part of parent companies with much broader interests
in the country.
SREENIVASAN: Well, a lot of companies will say, look, I have to live by the local rules and regulations if I want to do business in that country.
And that is the defense for social platforms, technology companies, a lot of companies that do business in China. Do we have any sort of
responsibility to be projecting our values through these films? Is there something different about art versus widgets?
SCHWARTZEL: I think it's because we all know, inherently, the power of the American film, right? This has been the ultimate example of hearts and
minds campaign. There is a quote that I came across, that I love, that talked about how in the 20th century, the movies allowed America to become
an empire by invitation. And it speaks to the success that the movies have had in shaping public perception of the country, of shaping attitudes, of
shaping fashion, of shaping, you know, language, hairstyles, everything.
I mean, this medium that is still relatively young has had incredible emotional, and in many cases, political power around the world. And I think
what the Chinese authorities have identified is the power, really the propagandistic power that you might have by ensuring that that medium
doesn't explore certain narratives.
In defense of the studios, they might ask, you know, why should we punish a 15-year-old Chinese student who wants to go see a superhero movie or why
should we deprive them of a nice Saturday afternoon, right? Why can't we entertain a billion people? It's what we are called to do, and what's the
harm in that?
I think though what you're hitting on is the political situation that's shifting here in the U.S., because it is different when it's China. A lot
of executives that I spoke to will say, you know, we censor movies for Saudi Arabia, we censor movies for airplanes, we censor movies for cable
TV, and this is no different. But I think it is different whenever we're talking about a country that, in many parts of the world, is presenting
itself and its values as an alternative to American liberal democracy.
I'll give you an example. The last reporting trip I took before COVID was to Kenya where there has been a massive push by China in investing and
infrastructure and highways, ports, airports, all kinds of investments being made as part of China's belt and road initiative. And we've learned a
lot about Chinese investments of that kind, but I was shocked to learn of the cultural investments that China's making in those countries.
And for instance, in Africa, there's an initiative out of Beijing called the 10,000 Villages Project, which is distributing low-cost satellite
dishes to 10,000 African villages. I met, when I was there, with the Kenyan film minister, the man who's in charge of policing, frankly, what people in
his country watch on screen. And he was a very socially conservative man. And he said to me, I love importing Chinese movies because they've already
been censored. And I don't need to worry about your western values polluting my country.
So, if that's how the movies are being interpreted, then you -- you know, to the earlier point we made, you see how this is a proxy for the China-
U.S. rivalry that is going to define this next century.
SREENIVASAN: Erich Schwartzel, the book is called "Red Carpet: Hollywood, China and the Global Battle for Global Supremacy." Thanks so much for
SCHWARTZEL: Thank you, Hari.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, the 10-year-old Syrian girl winning hearts around the world. Her name is Little Amal, but she's actually a large
puppet standing 12 feet tall. And she represents children fleeing violence and persecution.
She's already traveled over 5,000 miles and across 13 countries. And as Amal made her way through New York, I spoke to one of the people behind
this project, Amir Nizar Zuabi. He's the artistic director of The Walk Productions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. So, let me ask you this Amir, this Amal -- Little Amal has gained so much popularity and touched so many hearts
across her journey that began more than a year ago. But it was really meant to go from the Turkish-Syria border to Manchester, England and has added
some stops including, New York. Why did you decide to do that?
AMIR NIZAR ZUABI, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, "THE WALK": Well, when we were walking across Europe, we kind of -- surprise and our great pleasure, that
people are reacting very warmly and very affectionately to this project, and it means something to them.
So, we kind of almost unintentionally created this symbol of human rights. And then, we felt a responsibility to take her to other places to keep this
topic relevant and to make communities welcome this 10-year-old in their best way and keep this project going to other places in the world.
We were in Ukraine earlier this, which was very moving and very important to do. We're in New York right now engaging with communities and all five
boroughs and we're creating 55 events in the city where communities can meet Little Amal and show her their welcome. And by showing her their
welcome, maybe they can extend their welcome to real people that are coming to the city as we speak, and need support and need empathy and need their
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, as you mentioned -- I mean, she did meet a couple of busloads of migrants who have been, you know, shipped up from Texas. And
obviously, this has become a big story here in the U.S. what the governors of Texas and Florida have done with people.
When she -- when Little Amal, the puppet, who's actually huge Amal, 11-foot high or however, how big, how do people --
ZUABI: She's 12-foot high.
AMANPOUR: -- react to something that big? Yes.
ZUABI: You know, from the beginning when we set out to do this project, it was about trying to challenge the narrative. When we think of refugees, we
think of misery, we think of hopelessness, and we want to show that refugees and immigrants can bring added value into our society. They come
with knowledge. They come with experience. They're some of the most resilient people on planet Earth. And we wanted to celebrate their huge
So, from the beginning, the attempt was to create something that is beautiful and joyous and that connects communities together. And people
react to that very warmly. It's very moving to be amongst the crowd. Looking at Amal, she's very beautiful. She's very big. She was created by
Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa who are brilliant puppet makers.
But she tags the string of the hearts of people. And people tell themselves their stories through her. There are stories of migration, their family
stories of migration. People they know. And it becomes a very personal encounter. And this act of empathy is what this project is all about. If
you can't empathize with this big puppet and feel something, and do that in a joyous hopeful way, I think that's how we tell the narrative. Because, of
course, the refugee and migration crisis is crucial and its current. And unfortunately, it is always current.
And it's our responsibility, as artists, to talk about it. To raise it again and again and again and get people thinking differently about it. Not
as a burden to the economy or a burden to societies, but as an opportunity to get societies richer culturally, richer economically because these
people come here to create a better life.
AMANPOUR: Amal means hope in Arabic. And I just wondered, what went into your decision to make her this big and towering over people. And also, how
challenging is it to get her to move because I know it's a group effort. And she's been going now for much more than a year. I think it started in
the summer of July, in the summer 2021. How challenging and why so big?
ZUABI: So, why so big -- you know, refugee and immigrant children are invisible. It's -- when we think about refugees, we omit the fact that most
half of them -- at least half of them are children. Refugee children and unaccompanied minors and immigrant children are invisible in our societies.
And giving them visibility was a big part of this project.
So, making her as big as we could, technically, was what we wanted to create. It was important for us that she's not a mechanical thing. She's
create -- she's operated by people, and she's nimble, and she's quick. And you can see her breathing.
I'm working with an unbelievable team of devoted people, devoted puppeteers, that each and every one of them is putting the best into this.
It's very grueling, physically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Amir Nizar Zuabi and a truly labor of love.
And that's it for this special holiday edition of AMANPOUR. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.