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Interview with Former EPA Administrator and Former White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy; Interview with Journalist and "My Fourth Time, We Drowned" Author Sally Hayden; Interview with British Labour MP and "Code of Conduct" Author Chris Bryant; Interview with Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Senior Fellow Toshi Yoshihara. Aired 1- 2p ET
Aired August 09, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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AMANPOUR: A breakthrough as Amazon countries assemble to protect the lungs of the world that fall short on specifics to fight deforestation. I asked
President Biden's former top Climate Adviser, Gina McCarthy, how to turn talk into action.
Also, ahead, longtime Labour Party MP, Chris Bryant, discusses his new book, "Code of Conduct." He also reveals shocking allegations of his sexual
assault inside Westminster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOSHI YOSHIHARA SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS: It is really using all means possible to gain a greater
situational awareness of its opponents and of its adversaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- China's post pandemic economic recovery is faltering. But Hari discusses Beijing's growing sphere of political influence, and what
its Taiwan end game looks like with Toshi Yoshihara at Georgetown University.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And we begin with the precarious state of the earth's vital cooling system. Rainforest help prevent our planet from overheating and deliver the oxygen
we need to breathe, by absorbing huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, they're also home to have the earth's animal and plant life.
But they're under attack at an alarming rate, despite splashy global pledges to end deforestation by 2030, an area of tropical forests the size
of Switzerland was completely lost last year, and to put that into context, that's the equivalent of losing 11 soccer fields of forest every 60
This week, eight South American presidents have been meeting in Brazil, where they all agreed to stop the rainforest destruction before the point
of no return. But deciding on a destination is one thing, agreeing on how to get there is something else. And without much detail in the plan, the
question now is how to turn talk into action.
Gina McCarthy was EPA administrator under President Obama, which safeguards people and the environment from health risks, and enforces environmental
regulations. She was also President Biden's top climate adviser until last year, and she helped spearhead a landmark climate bill to slash America's
Now, the president has just told the "Weather Channel" that climate change is the number one issue facing humanity. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you prepared to declare a national emergency with respect to climate change?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've already done that. We've conserved more land. We've moved in. We've rejoined the Paris Climate Accord. We've passed
the $368 billion climate control facility. We're moving. It's the -- this is the existential threat to humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Gina McCarthy is joining us now from Boston. And welcome to the program.
GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR AND FORMER WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISOR: Thank you. It's great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Could I just ask you to weigh in on the idea of the emergency? Obviously, it hasn't been declared formally an emergency in the United
States, but the president says he's done everything in practical terms to make it such. Explain that for us.
MCCARTHY: Well, I don't actually know what people mean by a national climate emergency. I think the president has been acting understanding that
climate change is the biggest existential challenge that we all face. And one of the reasons why he's shifted his efforts to really focus on methods
of reducing carbon emissions using the IRA, our Investment Reduction Act, as the primary motivation to move was that we can make claim energy
competitive against fossil fuels.
We know we are investing more than $375 million, and that matters. That is actually enticing projects to be opened and started in 44 states across the
U.S. We're talking about creating 170,000 plus new clean energy jobs. And those investments are now totaling 278 billion from the private sector
So, we have to do two things on a climate. We have to start moving and investing in clean energy, because that is our best way to reduce carbon
emissions. But as you know, we also have to address the challenge of the Amazon and other places where we cannot afford to see the destruction and
deforestation continue. That's why all of these efforts have to be coordinated and moved forward in a coalition kind of process --
AMANPOUR: Do you think that --
MCCARTHY: -- so that countries work together.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that coalition exists? I mean, we just saw for the first time in many years the eight Amazon nations gather. And they said the
right things, but they didn't come up with a plan, and that's worried some climate activists obviously. What do you think is going to take?
MCCARTHY: Well, part of the agreement that was reached is not just to agree to work together to reduce illegal mining and illegal logging, but it
was also an effort to properly monitor. Part of the effort underway, I think, needs to be, how do we turn these challenges into real-life stories
for people? How do we make people understand the damage that is happening?
I think when you begin to monitor, when you begin to use all of the technologies, we now have available to understand the damages that are
happening, it gives people a better sense of the need to act. And hopefully, this eighth-country coalition on the Amazon will see the damage
that is being done, and there will be a much broader effort than those eight countries to try to protect the Amazon. That's the best I can come up
with right now.
The commitment right now is a good, but we need something that translates that into actions that need to happen in a way that's visible and people
can feel and see and taste.
AMANPOUR: You know, you have worked so hard and so long under several presidents, as we mentioned, for this. You stayed in the Biden
administration until the IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, was pushed over the line.
AMANPOUR: Talk to me about how hard it was to get a coalition, in the U.S. sense, to actually agree to that.
MCCARTHY: Well, it took a long time. And really, the challenge was that there wasn't unanimity, even in the Democratic Party. So, those issues had
to be worked out.
But honestly, when you -- we flip the dynamic here on climate, which is always about sacrifice, how can we sacrifice to address our climate
challenge? But the climate challenge isn't about sacrifice. So, how we won this battle was to make sure the Inflation Reduction Act was all, how about
we build our future together. How we actually strengthen our academy. How do we save families money?
You know, I absolutely insist that we already have available to us across the world the kind of technologies and products and practices we need to
fight climate change. But what we need to do is get people to understand that that shift to a clean energy future is absolutely beneficial to them,
to their families, to their communities, to their health and well-being, and frankly, to our international instability that we are facing as a
result of climate impacts and the continued reliance on fossil fuels.
AMANPOUR: Gina McCarthy, this IRA, which as you say, spent three -- well, promised $369 billion is expected to slash U.S. carbon emissions by 40
percent, that's big, by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. You've just talked about getting the story out, getting the message out. Don't talk about
sacrifice, talk about both.
Obviously, for the president, this is an issue politically, right? Because even though, you know, so many Americans, certainly the Democrat Party,
wants to see him do this, a new poll in Maryland -- "The Washington Post" University of Maryland poll found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove
of his handling of the climate issue. But as I say, he's presided over the largest investment in combatting climate change in U.S. history. What is
not being translated?
MCCARTHY: I think we have a lot of work to do, both the administration does and all of us do, about getting the information out at the local
level. This was a huge bill that is complicated. It has tax credits. It has other incentives in it.
The private sector certainly gets it, and there's certainly enough money being expended in interesting projects across red and blue states. So, the
private sector understands the investment opportunities. What we need to do is to do a better job at the local and state level, work in coalitions and
partnerships, which I'm working on already with America Is All In that Mike Bloomberg has.
We have to get together and make people understand what's available to them. What are their opportunities? How is that going to make their lives
better? And we are seeing change happen already. But don't forget that this is a bill that was intended to fund over 10 years. Already, we're almost
gathering enough money in private sector investment to actually almost meet the goals. But what we have to do is a get people engaged. What we have to
do is get them excited, and make them hopeful again. We have what we need to succeed. We need people to get excited about it, motivated, and
understand what opportunities exists for them and for the future of our kids.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to --
MCCARTHY: We can't sit around thinking about this, we have to act.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to come back to the kids in a moment, because they're actually taking some very important action and initiative on their own
through courts and otherwise. But first, I want to talk about, you know, the coalition, the global effort, because as they all say, if they don't --
if you don't all do it together, it's just not going to work.
Obviously, you know, President Biden's climate envoy, John Kerry, has gone back and forth to China, to India, to all these places, trying to get as
much agreement as possible. His last trip to China proved unsuccessful. The former U.K. prime minister, Tony Blair, has basically said, we can't solve
climate change without China. And so has a governor Chris Christie, who's a presidential candidate for the Republicans, this is what he told me about
it yesterday on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter what we do here in the U.S., we're not going to make this better
unless we get everyone involved, and that's going to be an agenda item for me with the Chinese when I become president. We need to work all together
to try to deal with this issue, and we're not doing that right now because the Chinese aren't going the exact opposite direction that a good amount of
the rest of the world is going. And given their population, if we don't get them on board, we're not going to be able to deal with this problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I assume you would agree with that. And then, what's the solution to getting them on board?
MCCARTHY: Well, part of the reason the administration under President Biden went with an investment strategy is because we had to shore up our
own economy after the -- after COVID. What China is now realizing is their decision to start building coal again, their decision to not participate as
an active player in the climate effort internationally has not benefited their economy at all. In fact, just the opposite. So, hopefully, they'll
begin to do what really countries across the world have done in the developing world.
Look, as soon as the IRA got pushed out, it ended up being a race to the top. We had the E.U. put out their green deal industrial policy. You had
France put out a new climate framework. You had Canada adjusting their budget to make investments in new minerals and E.V. -- for E.V. components
and other things. Germany then stepped in for self-production and other efforts. So, we are seeing the developed world step up.
What China needs to do is look at whether this has benefited them from being against the rest of the world or whether or not they have an
opportunity to succeed by collaboration again, coordination with the U.S. We had strong relationships a few years ago, those need to be
reinvigorated. And frankly, without China, we can't win. But frankly, without the rest of the developing world, neither can China.
AMANPOUR: Can I go off piece a little bit and ask you something slightly different but the related?
AMANPOUR: It's about leadership. I listened to a podcast recently where you yourself were interviewed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus about wisdom and age.
It's called "Wiser Than Me." And you had some really interesting things to say, and she asked your age and et cetera. I ask you this because, as you
know, one of the driving pieces are President Biden is everybody poking about his age.
So, when you hear that, what do you think and what is your view on the ability to lead, you know, at a certain age?
MCCARTHY: Yes. You know, I think that trying to find something that would be a good opposition strategy to President Biden. But frankly -- and I
think Julia Louis-Dreyfus and I talked about this, is, you know, there is nothing like experience.
You know, I've been working for 44 years in this arena, the environmental arena on climate, you know, you learn a lot. But what you also learn in
Washington is how to move things forward. This president has gotten more bills over the finish line than anyone before them, not just small ones,
but really big change is happening because of this work.
So, I don't think that age can be a factor in determining whether somebody is capable and active and engaged. You know, I am more excited about today
than I've ever been. I know more in this little brain of mine than most people do about climate. I am not going to sit in the shadows and
contemplate my grandchildren all day long. I love them dearly. I hang around with them, but me, I'm in the game and everybody has to be.
So, I think it's utterly ridiculous to suggest that somebody who's performing as well as President Biden is now being denigrated because he's
three years older than perhaps the person that they'd rather have in there. That's crazy.
AMANPOUR: Well, very, very well said. And I want to put the other end of the spectrum, young people, teenagers are taking their states to court, are
taking fossil fuel companies to court, and trying to make a point on climate, particularly holding the fossil fuel companies accountable through
the legal process.
At the moment though, there is a DOJ sort of legal battle over whether a youth climate lawsuit should be allowed to go to trial. It's called Juliana
vs. the U.S.
AMANPOUR: It could be the first federal climate case to go to trial. What is your view on trying to get climate mitigation through the courts, and
should the DOJ prevent this one?
MCCARTHY: I think there's actually a lot of discussion going on, not just in the current litigation strategy, but even beyond. You know, part of the
reason why, you know, you have strong regulations is to provide longevity to these issues in a way that lawsuits actually help to spur along.
So, I don't know this one in particular, but I do know that one of the things that we struggled with, and I've struggled with, is how to not just
invest in clean energy, but how do we start weaning off a dependent sort of fossil fuels? We have to take action, much more broadly than we are doing
now, and it's a very hard. You know, the laws in the U.S. allow a lot of production of fossil fuels.
MCCARTHY: You know, it's very challenging. So, it is a legal framework that's untenable, if you really want to reduce dependence on fossil fuels,
which we must do.
AMANPOUR: Gina McCarthy, thank you so much for joining us.
MCCARTHY: Great to be here. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Estimates put the number of people who will be displaced by climate disasters in the next 30 years at more than a billion. Today,
another heartbreaking reminder of the risks that people are taking, another 41 lives lost in the latest Mediterranean migrant ship wreck, according to
the Red Cross.
Now, Sally Hayden covers the migration crisis in her role as Africa correspondent for "The Irish Times," and she's also author of "My Fourth
Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World's Deadliest Migration Route."
Sally, welcome to the program. You have just come from Tunisia. You are right now, I believe, joining us from Beirut. And this boat that sunk was
from Tunisia. What do you know about the status of the people? What was it -- was the push factor for them?
SALLY HAYDEN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, "MY FOURTH TIME, WE DROWNED": Yes. So, yes, I was just in Tunisia, and I was meeting many, many people who are
planning to make this journey. In fact, some of them probably have already made the journey. And there're coming from all over, like many different
countries. I met people from the Ivory Coast, from Sudan, Liberia, Sirha Lyon, Somalia, and they're fleeing all sorts of different things. So, wars,
dictatorships, persecution, crushing poverty; corruption, and just, yes, a sense that they can't make any sort of secure life where they're from.
And I ask people, do you know that you could die on this journey? They all said, yes, that's a risk they're willing to take, because at this point,
they feel like they have no other option.
AMANPOUR: We saw a horrible crisis, a tragedy happened again in the sea, but this time off Greece in June, where some 750 people, we understand,
were drowned. Just drowned, as theirs sank as well. And there seems to be a major uptick in people coming across.
We're just going to put some graphics up. There is 276 percent increase in arrivals in Italy and Europe, that's just this year. And the UNHCR says so
far there have been more than 120,000 arrivals, this, you know, includes from all these places where we're showing on the map.
You've written about migration routes and what could be done to more formalized some kind of safer route, which the IRC is now calling for. What
can be done from your investigations?
HAYDEN: Yes. I mean, so I'm a journalist. I don't specifically propose policy, but I've spent years investigating the abuses that are happening on
Europe's borders as a result of European anti-immigration policy. And what I found is that huge amounts of money are being spent that are effectively,
in many cases, propping up dictatorships, militias, systems that oppress people further and actually increase the reasons why they have to flee. And
in some cases, there are actually like war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place.
And not to totally plug my book, but "My Fourth Time, We Drowned," it's now been used in a submission to the international criminal court, calling for
names E.U. officials to be investigated for crimes against humanity and also in their legal challenge against the Rwandan governments challenging
the -- or sorry, against the British governments challenging the Rwanda deportations.
And I think like the E.U.'s role, it's often painted as inaction. But actually, what is happening is decisive action, both in terms of long-term
exploitation of many countries, extracting wealth, and then erecting borders and making it so that people from those countries can't travel. And
I think we can't forget that this is a global inequality crisis, that there are many people in this world who can't get visas, they can't get on
plates, and the result is the deaths that we're seeing.
And all Europeans, certainly, but everyone in the rich world, I think everyone in the West should be questioning and asking ourselves every day,
how has the mass draining of people become normalized? And when we use words like, you know, migrant, refugee, we have to remember, these are
people. You know, they are people like us. They have hopes, dreams, families, many people will mourn them. And, yes, this is a constant ongoing
AMANPOUR: Sally, you know, the E.U. has spent a lot of money, you know, getting other countries to take care of these migrants or not to allow them
to cross the Mediterranean, not to allow them to leave Turkey and come to Europe. Again, as a journalist, you've been covering all of this. How are
they treated at the other end when this money that's been given to those countries?
HAYDEN: Yes. So, I specifically have been investigating the central Mediterranean route, which is the route that the deaths happened on --
today, that were reported today. And that specifically the E.U. has been spending money in Libya, so encouraging the interceptions of people rather
than locked up, often indefinitely in detention centers that have been compared to concentration camps by Pope Francis among others. And now,
there's been a new deal being done with Tunisia, and questions are being asked as to whether Tunisia could also become effectively a new Libya.
And, yes, there are things that are happening are just absolutely horrific. It's not just the deaths in the Mediterranean, like you said, it's
everything that's happening on land as well. And people who, you know, try and cross the sea, they've often spent years getting to that point and
years being exploited and abused and trying to struggle through these systems as it gets harder and harder to make these journeys.
AMANPOUR: Sally Hayden, thank you so much for joining us and keep up that really important reporting.
The migrant and refugee crisis has turned into a toxic political football for many western nations. They keep failing to deliver workable government
policy. Here in the U.K., some asylum seekers are being held at a barge, which is moored off the coast while their applications are being processed.
So, Chris Bryant is a longtime to have Labour Party lawmaker. His new book is called "Code of Conduct: Why We Need to Fix Parliament and How to Do
It," which takes aim at sleaze, at rule breaking and lying in the highest offices of the land. And Chris Bryant is joining me now. Welcome to the
CHRIS BRYANT, BRITISH LABOUR MP AND AUTHOR, "CODE OF CONDUCT": Thank you very much for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you the first question, obviously, coming off of this and Sally has some really important information, obviously, about her
coverage and what we're seeing happening to migrants. And talking about the constant challenges that this government is receiving to what they first
wanted to do, which was send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Now, they're putting them on a boat, a barge, some 500 crammed into something that's good for 200 people, and it's causing quite a lot of
concern. Where do you stand on this?
BRYANT: I've argued for a long time that, actually, if we really want to tackle the problem of migrants traveling all around the world, we're going
to have to deal with climate change. Because I think the statistic you gave earlier is absolutely right. We're talking about possibly a billion people
needing to travel and leave their homes in future years because their home is simply not a place where they could live.
Now, if we could also tackle war and civil war in particular, and oppression in certain states, then that would mean that we'd have far fewer
push factors that were making people take these terribly dangerous journeys.
But, I mean, look, the honest truth here is in the U.K., I think the government is just trying to manage its own decline rather than trying to
come up with workable policies. I don't think -- the barge, even it were full of 500 people, which I think is a very dubious concept, even if it --
even if that were the case, it would barely touch the sides of the major problem that we've got, which is we've got thousands and thousands of
people waiting for their determination of their status.
AMANPOUR: Already here?
BRYANT: Already here, in hotels, up and down the land.
BRYANT: And that's because the government, unfortunately, took -- got rid of loads of people working in the department that were meant to be
processing these asylum applications. Interestingly enough, when Labour came to power in 1997 after a long period of conservative rule, the asylum
system was completely broken and I think it's broken again now. And, you know, in the end, what you've got to deal with is not only the climate
change issues, which push people away from their home places, most people would prefer to live -- stay in their home country, but also, you've got to
tackle the real problem much further down the line of the criminal traffickers.
BRYANT: But I guess one of the reasons that I've written a book about how projects work in this country, and it's very different in the U.K. from
other countries like the U.S., is because in the end, politics only really matters because it delivers or it doesn't deliver for ordinary people. And
if you're not coming up with policy decisions that really work, then you've kind of lost the plot.
But we in the U.K., and the reason I've called it "Code of Conduct" is because I'm chair of the --
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
BRYANT: -- Conduct Committee, as it were, it's called Standards Committee in our system, but the Conduct Committee in the House of Commons, is
because over the last few years, since December 2019, we've had 22 MPs, 22 lawmakers, suspended from the house for a day or more or have left
parliament before a report into misconduct was published. That is by a country mile, which I understand means as far as you can see into the
horizon, the worst parliament in our history.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to that in a moment. But what I want to ask you again is about this migration business. Because as you said, the government
actually does need to come up with a workable policy, particularly for asylum, and particularly, because you actually need workers in this country
since Brexit, right?
AMANPOUR: But here's what the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, the ruling Conservative Party, Lee Anderson, said, if they don't like
barges, they should go F off back to France. Number 10, the prime minister's office has backed his comments. Is that extreme? Is that even --
I mean, how does a senior official, a government official or a party official get away with saying that?
BRYANT: You've tardied (ph) out what he said. He didn't say F off. He said the more radical version of that. Look, I just think thuggish language
doesn't belong in British politics. The truth is that migrants are actually people. They -- each of them has an individual story.
Last year, 2022, I think it was 70 -- my figure might be wrong, but it's from the House of Commons library, 76 percent of all the people who came
here were -- and who had their application verified turned out to be real asylum seekers.
BRYANT: And so -- but even more worrying is, this man, Lee Anderson, not a person of international renown, I guess, but he's deputy chair of the
Conservative Party. He also hosts a television program paid I think 100,000 times a year, I think that that's inappropriate.
How can you host when you're a member of the government? Host a television program? And those are the kind of conflicts of interest that I think are
really problematic. But also, he said -- he's meant to be a conservative, you know, part of the team, he said that they are not getting this right.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, there are layers upon layers upon layers that you're investigating in your book. And as you say, your head of the
Standards Committee, right?
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, you said that, what is it, 23 members have been suspended since the Johnson government came in in 2019.
AMANPOUR: Do you -- it is said, in some of the reading I saw for this, that on the 3rd of November, 3:30 in the afternoon, 2021, you thought
democracy here was done for.
BRYANT: Yes. Look, we --
AMANPOUR: What happened there and why?
BRYANT: So, we've had a rule in parliament since 1695, OK, which says that you -- as an MP, you have to speak and act without fear or favor and you
cannot take a bribe. You cannot engage in paid lobbying. A man called Owen Paterson, former Conservative, Northern Ireland secretary, so former member
of the cabinet, have been being paid tens of thousands every year by two companies, and he had been going around parliament and around Westminster
lobbying on behalf of those companies. It's expressly forbidden.
We produced a report which found that in 14 different instances he had engaged in an egregious -- we called it egregious case of paid lobbying.
(INAUDIBLE), every journalist I spoke to said so. But what did the Conservative government do at the time under Boris Johnson? It decided to
tear up the rule book, at the very last minute. There was going to be a vote in the House of Commons, decided, oh, no, we're going to scrap all of
this just to protect a named individual.
Now, that, you would expect that in China or Russia, or somewhere where you have an authoritarian state that, you know, intervenes to protect a friend
or to damage a foe, but not in Britain. We're the country of the rule of law.
AMANPOUR: Do you think things have gotten better? Obviously, Boris Johnson was forced to resign because of all these committee's investigating this
kind of thing.
BRYANT: Well, because he lied.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, do you think it's got better?
BRYANT: No. I'll give you an instance. For start, Rishi Sunak, the new prime minister, he didn't turn up at all to vote on that, passing the
report that I told you about, when we lost by 18 votes, but then, in the end, we managed to overturn it a few weeks later because some people came
to their senses. And he didn't turn up for that.
He didn't turn up to vote on whether Boris Johnson lied to parliament. So, no leadership at all on standards. And when another report was produced by
the House of Commons Committee which said that a bunch of Conservative MPs had deliberately sought to undermine the work of the committee by calling
it a kangaroo court and trying to, again, tear up the rulebook, he didn't even turn up for that vote either. And on top of that, he perpetuates some
of the lies that Boris Johnson engaged in.
Now, we have a system. We don't have many checks and balances. The United States constitution is built on checks and balances. You see that all the
time. And that's partly because, you know, people were stepping away from the kind of monarchy that we had then in the U.K. But I would argue that
we've got a form of elective tyranny now here, because the prime minister of the day can decide when parliament sits, how long it sits for, what it
debates every single day, when it goes on holiday, and what amendments can be voted on, how long we get to vote on each individual amendment, and so
on. That power is so phenomenal in our system that I want a great reform act which changes all of this.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you're obviously speaking as a member of the opposition, Labour Party. So, what would you say if the Labour Party wins? And do you
think, actually, given everything that's going on, do you think, Kier Starmer, the Labour Party have a credible path to win the next election?
BRYANT: I'll come to the second bit in a moment. I'm not avoiding the question.
AMANPOUR: No, no.
BRYANT: But I think -- look, I chair a committee which has seven lay members of the public on it, former chief constables and things like that,
and lawyers and so on, and seven members of parliament of different political parties, the majority of whom are conservatives. I don't operate
in that capacity at all in a partisan way. We only get things through a unanimous report, because we all work together. And all of these things, I
would say, whether it's a Conservative or a Labour government, I think we need proper checks and balances in our system.
But -- so, for instance, if a minister misleads the house, that happens accidentally sometimes. You say a billion instead of a million.
BRYANT: You might even occasionally --
BRYANT: -- got a billion or a million. And of course, it's embarrassing, but you correct the record, absolutely fine. We have a system for doing
that, a former system. Rishi Sunak refuses to correct the record, even when he's told by the U.K. Statistics Authority, and they are a pretty dry set
of people, not partisan at all, that what he said has misled parliament.
Now, I just think that if you mislead parliament and refused to correct the record, you should be out in your ears as a government minister. Pretty
simple. You asked the question about, do we have a credible route to power? Well, first of all, I hope that many of the things that are in my book --
some of them might get implemented before we get to a general election even by a Conservative government. But some of them, I think, may wait -- have
to wait for a Labour government, and I really hope a lot for the lot of them will be in the Labour manifesto, things about changing the
constitutions so that there are more checks and powers, taking back control from the House of Commons, all of that is in, as I say, in my book "Code of
And I should say that I am not a good person. I'm not -- you know, you referred to sleaze earlier. I've gotten to lots of scrapes myself.
AMANPOUR: I was going to bring some of them up.
BRYANT: Well, fine. Let's move onto that. But you were asking about whether we have a credible route to power. I think at the moment it feels
like, at this parliament, has -- is well past its sale by date.
AMANPOUR: That may be true. I want to get back to some of the more personal stuff, because in your book you do -- you know, I mean, you do mea
culpa. So, let's leave it there because I don't have a huge amount of time.
AMANPOUR: But I think people, certainly on our -- you know, in our audience, would be interested to know, you know, you report in your book
that you were sexually assaulted and groped like -- well, several times in parliament, in the House of Commons.
BRYANT: So, I don't use the word assaulted, other people have use that and others might conclude that. It's true that most -- all of these instances
happened quite some time ago. I've been an MP for 22 years. And it's true that I'm an openly gay man, and I was openly gay when I arrived in
parliament. But some older male MPs did touch my backside, none of them out at the time, and maybe that is part of the problem.
Now, in those days, shamefully, what we did was we swept all of that under the carpet. That was wrong. And today, if it happened today, I would be
reporting it because we now have -- we're the first parliament in the world or legislature in the world to have a confidential system called the
Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, where any member of staff or MP can go complain confidentially, make an allegation, and it will be
investigated properly, and it has led already to several MPs for sexual harassment or bullying being removed from parliament.
And so, that has all changed. But, you know, the simplest thing we could do, because some of the worst behavior I've seen in the House of Commons is
in the division lobbies, bullying and sexual harassment, is we should just have cameras in the division lobbies. It's really simple.
AMANPOUR: There you go. Cameras in the courtroom, as they say, and the division lobbies.
BRYANT: Well, so that's why I called it "Code of Conduct" --
BRYANT: -- because it's about attacking misconduct and making sure some simple things we could do, but some really big changes as well.
AMANPOUR: So, Chris Bryant, thank you very much indeed.
AMANPOUR: And turning next to China and signs of trouble for the world's second largest economy, which has now slipped into deflation. High rates of
youth unemployment, a housing market crisis, and ballooning local debt all slowed their post pandemic recovery. But Beijing's political influence
oversees is growing. Toshi Yoshihara is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Toshi Yoshihara, thanks so much for joining us.
Let's start with some recent news. Just in the past few days, we have seen a couple of different forms of what could be called Chinese aggression. One
was a joint naval exercise between the Russian navy aid the Chinese navy up near the Aleutian Islands. And for most of us, that geography lesson is
sort of long tale of Alaska., very close to Russia out in the Bering Sea. And then, there was an interesting case just the other day of Philippine
coast guard ship trying to do a resupply run, and they were intercepted and stopped on their way by a Chinese coast guard ship that used water cannons
to, I guess, divert them and slow them down and stop them.
So, I wonder, when you look at this kind of events and these are just the most recent events, what goes through your mind?
TOSHI YOSHIHARA, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS: It seems to me that what we are seeing is China's rise as a
naval power, China is demonstrating its ability to show the flag, if you will, in America's backyard, near Alaska, along the Aleutians.
In the case of the Philippines, this has been an ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines, in which the Philippines has
sought to assert its presence on the second time ashore (ph), and China has been more aggressively seeking to push the Philippines off of that
particular feature. And so, what we're seeing is really China trying to assert its prerogatives in its backyard, in the South China Sea with the
Philippines, and China demonstrating that it has emerged as a global naval power by operating much further from Chinese shores that in the recent
SREENIVASAN: You know, we also had a case recently where there were charges brought against two U.S. navy sailors. They were arrested for
allegedly spying for China what is that potential kind of infiltration say to you on the kind of different layers of chess, I guess, that China is
YOSHIHARA: I think the espionage cases that we've witnessed recently is really part of a much broader pattern of Chinese espionage. China has been
engaged in a sort of all of nation effort to gather as much intelligence and information from its opponents and its adversaries.
And so, China has been trying to steal intellectual property, it has been trying to gain intelligence and information through open sources. It is
really using all means possible to gain a greater situational awareness of its opponents and of its adversaries. Well, we've, of course, witnessed the
recent balloon incident where China deployed a balloon that crossed over into the continental United States. Again, these are multiple pieces that
are operating at the same time to give China essentially an informational advantage over its opponents and its adversaries.
SREENIVASAN: Why is it still important to have a large navy? I mean, right now, Chinese navy production seems to be far outpacing the United States.
YOSHIHARA: China has many reasons for building a large oceangoing navy. The first primary reason is that China is a global trading power, and that
means that China needs to have an independent capability to defend the sea lanes that transport their goods and services that are so essential to
China's growing economy.
And so, this is consistent with the familiar adage that the flag follows the trade. A big oceangoing navy also has the capacity to engage in
humanitarian missions, to protect Chinese nationals living overseas who might be stuck in unstable regions of the world in times of crisis, an
oceangoing navy also essentially allows China to flex its muscles, to show the flag, to show that it has arrived on the world stage. A powerful navy
also appeals to Chinese nationalism, which is, of course, a critical pillar of the Chinese hardest party's regime legitimacy.
But I think, ultimately, the most important aspect of a powerful navy is that it is a critical tool for fighting and winning a nation's wars. And,
of course, China has many territorial disputes in the maritime domain that require China to have this standing naval force to fight and win its wars.
And, of course, among those flash points, we have Taiwan, territorial disputes with Japan and the East China Sea, and territorial disputes with
the Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. All of these are intensely maritime in character. And therefore, China needs this large navy
to resolve those territorial disputes in its favor.
SREENIVASAN: I want to get to Taiwan in a second, but give me some perspective here on how the U.S. navy and the Chinese navy stack up. I
mean, it's not necessarily just sort of how many ships do you have versus how many ships do you have. I mean, technological capability wise versus
sheer numbers. Is there some sort of a tipping point where the Chinese navy gains parody, if not, an advantage over the U.S. navy?
YOSHIHARA: I think it's worth noting that in terms of elite size, China is already the largest navy in the world. It has well over 340 battle force
ships compared to the U.S. navy which is just around 300, or a little under 300.
Of course, as you mention, fleet size or the number of ships isn't really the only way to measure naval power. There are a lot of qualitative
factors, including the quality of equipment, the quality of personnel, the quality of training, the quality of their operational experiences and their
traditions. And in terms of these more intangible factors, I think most would agree that the United States is still in the lead. However, I would
add that the Chinese navy is trying to remediate its deficiencies, it's improving its quality and it is very methodically and systematically
catching up to the U.S. navy.
I think one other things worth mentioning is -- just to get a sense of the speed and scale of the China's naval buildup, it really is a naval building
spree. Many of the modern worships that we see in the Chinese navy today did not exist just a decade ago. We are talking about a navy that's growing
at an extraordinary speed, something that we haven't seen certainly since the Cold War, perhaps even since World War II.
SREENIVASAN: Let's talk a little bit about Taiwan. And right now, Taiwan is in the news a lot because there is this kind of constant concern, will
China become more aggressive? How valuable Taiwan is in terms of semiconductors and everything out that's important to the rest of the
world? And you see kind of forces lining up to try and show their flags and say, we support Taiwan, we want to keep free trade with Taiwan. What is
China's interest and how does a growing naval presence on the ocean play into that? And is there something inevitable about how they are amassing
their navy and how they can reclaim Taiwan?
YOSHIHARA: China has a variety of interest in Taiwan. China considers Taiwan and its return to China as a vital national interest. In fact, it is
so important to China that it is, in fact, willing to go to war over it.
Now, there are many reasons for why China values Taiwan to such an extent. The first is that Taiwan's strategic terrain. It is simply geostrategically
very well located in the Western Pacific. It sits at the midpoint of the so-called First island chain that runs from the Japanese islands through
Taiwan down to the Philippines.
And of course, if you look at that island chain, the United States has former ally relations with Japan, in the Philippines, it is a close friend
of Taiwan. The United States has forward bases located in Japan. And so, from China's perspective, getting Taiwan back would essentially break that
first island chain in half because it sits at the midpoint of that island chain.
Taiwan, of course, is also a reminder to the Chinese communist party that the Chinese people and democracy are not fundamentally incompatible. And of
course, that's a daily rebuke, essentially, to the Chinese communist party's claim that somehow Chinese society and democratic values are
Taiwan, of course, as you've mentioned, is a major economic asset. And of course, that would also, of course, add to China's economic power, if it
were to return to China. And so, for all of these reasons, Taiwan is a vital strategic asset for China, and conversely, it is also a very
important terrain, if you will, for the United States and its allies in the Western Pacific.
As for the role of the Chinese navy with the regards to Taiwan in a potential crisis or war, because, of course, Taiwan is an island, China
will need to use naval assets to achieve its operational aims, to achieve its war aims should war break out. China will need to have a significant
amphibious capability to land forces on Taiwan in a major invasion scenario. China will also need to use its submarines and its ships to keep
out third-party interventions, including the United States and its allies.
And so, naval power is going to be one of many components of China's strategy if it were to conduct an invasion against Taiwan.
SREENIVASAN: The Biden administration has asked Congress to increase funding to aid Taiwan, specifically with arms. I mean, that would be the
first time U.S. taxpayers' dollars would be involved directly in funding munitions that could stand this close against China. Does this further
heighten the tension? Does it serve as a deterrent that the U.S. probably wants it to serve as?
YOSHIHARA: In my view, I think the recent efforts to support Taiwan with arms is really long overdue. There has been long-standing backlog of
military items that has been due to Taiwan for quite some time.
I think it's also important to note that, really, it's China that is been attempting to change the status quo by engaging in essentially increasing
pressure tactics against the island using regular air patrols, air sorties flying near Taiwan, conducting naval sorties around circumnavigating
Taiwan. And so, I think it's important to note that, you know, it is an interactive process in which the United States and its allies are, in many
ways, responding to China's growing assertiveness when it comes to Taiwan.
And so, I think it's important that the United States continues to provide the necessary arms to ensure that the United States and Taiwan and the U.S.
allies can deter Chinese efforts to change the status quo.
SREENIVASAN: I also wonder about what China and Taiwan take from the actions that Russia has been taking on Ukraine for the past 18 months. Is
there sort of a playbook that China can follow considering that this war has dragged on for as long as it has? And at the same time, you see Taiwan
starting to dig in its heels and tried to figure out how to build up their defenses for what they perceive might be coming?
YOSHIHARA: So, I think both China and Taiwan have been closely monitoring the war in Ukraine. Let me say a few words about the Chinese perspective on
the war in Ukraine. I think there are those in the United States who have argued that because Russia has done so poorly up to this point in its war
against Ukraine that we could draw a similar parallel to China. That China might also not perform as well against Taiwan in a conflict.
In my view, I think that perspective is overly sanguine. It seems to me that China will study the war in Ukraine very closely and try to improve
its chances of success. In fact, the war in Ukraine has likely convinced Beijing that it needs to double down on its current strategy. It's military
strategy, for example, focuses on the overwhelming application of force. And so, when they look at the Russian example by using token forces, for
example, during the initial phases of the war, I think the Chinese leadership is convinced that that is not the way to go. The way to go is to
apply overwhelming force as has been laid out in Chinese military doctrine.
I think Beijing may have also learned some potentially troubling lessons with regard to Putin's nuclear saber-rattling against NATO and the United
States. Now, while Putin's nuclear threats did not deter the United States and NATO from helping Ukraine, it certainly and still a greater degree of
caution on the part of the West. And so, it is likely that Beijing may have learned that in a crisis over Taiwan, that Beijing should rattle its
nuclear sabers early on in a crisis or in a conflict to get the United States and its allies to back down.
I think another really interesting lesson is the role of Zelenskyy. He, of course, played a very important role in galvanizing international support.
China would have an interest in ensuring that a Zelenskyy like leader does not emerge in Taiwan during a crisis or a conflict. And therefore, Beijing
might be convinced that it needs to double down on a decapitation strategy to assassinate or kill by other means Taiwan's political and military
leadership at the outset of a crisis or of a conflict to prevent the emergence of charismatic leader on the island.
So, it seems to me that many of the lessons that emerged from Ukraine will likely convince China to double down on its existing strategies and
SREENIVASAN: From the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Senior Fellow Toshi Yoshihara, thanks so much for joining us.
YOSHIHARA: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: With an extremely stark assessment there. And join us tomorrow night where I'll discuss the plight of Afghan women and girls with the
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is the U.N. global education envoy, as we approach the second anniversary of the Taliban
regaining power. Brown is calling for their treatment of women to be declared a crime against humanity. He calls it gender apartheid.
That is it for now. If you ever missed our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can always
catch us online, on our website and all over social media. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.