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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Exclusive Interview With Taiwan's President; Europe's COVID Divide; U.K. Nightclub Boycott. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 17:00   ET


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello to our viewers around the world. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Our top stories: Taiwan's president tells CNN in an exclusive interview that she has faith the U.S. will defend the island.


Then, Europe's COVID divide. As cases rise, distrust in government is butchering Eastern Europe's vaccine rollout.

And nightclub boycott. Why thousands of British women are calling for better security.

Taiwan is not trying to get into an arm's race with China but does need to defend itself. That's according to its defense ministry. It clarified

Taiwan which is democratically governed, will not submit to pressure.

China claims the island as its own territory and is pushing for Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty.

Part of China's pressure campaign involves rapidly expanding its military capabilities, the country reportedly recently tested a nuclear capable

hypersonic missile system, which the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, today described as very close to a Sputnik


Now in her first international TV interview in close to two years, Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, talks exclusively to CNN in Taipei, saying rising

tensions between Beijing and Taipei brings the most challenging time for the people of Taiwan.

This comes as Beijing steps up the military pressure over the democratic island just off China's southeastern coast.

Here's Will Ripley's exclusive interview with President Tsai.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this temple in Taipei, prayer and politics go hand in hand for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN'S PRESIDENT: Normally when I go to the temple, there are hundreds of people there. I will shake hands with each one of them.

RIPLEY: People are remarkably happy at ease.

ING-WEN: You have to give them a sense that there's somebody there to take care of them.

RIPLEY: Elected in 2016, Tsai won re-election by a landslide last year, on a promise to keep people safe from what she calls a growing threat across

the Taiwan Strait.

Is Taiwan more safe today than it was when you became president in 2016?

ING-WEN: If it's a threat from China, it's increasing every day.

RIPLEY: The Mainland's massive military, 2 million strong more powerful than ever. China flew 150 war planes near Taiwan in just five days this

month. This democracy of more than 23 million governs separately from the mainland for more than 70 years since the end of China's Civil War, still

seen as a breakaway province in the eyes of Beijing's communist rulers who have never controlled the island.

China has pressured most of the world to sever formal diplomatic ties with Taipei. Chinese President Xi Jinping says reunification is only a matter of


Are you interested in speaking with President Xi? Would you like to have more communication with him?

ING-WEN: Well, more communication would be helpful so that we would reduce misunderstanding given our differences, differences in terms of our

political systems. We can sit down and talk about our differences and try to make arrangement so that we'll be able to coexist peacefully.

RIPLEY: Your predecessor, as you know, did meet with President Xi. Why do you think that things -- the communication has really gone south since


ING-WEN: Well, I think the situation has changed a lot and China's plan towards the region is very different.

RIPLEY: That plan includes war threats over Taiwan, clashes with Japan and the East China Sea and militarizing manmade islands in the South China Sea,

posing a direct challenge to seven decades of U.S. military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific.

In response, the U.S. ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, selling the island $5 billion in weapons last year. President Tsai confirms exclusively to CNN,

U.S. support goes beyond selling weapons.

Does that support include sending some U.S. service members to help train Taiwanese troops?

ING-WEN: Well, yes. We have a wide range of cooperation with the U.S., aiming at increasing our defense capability.

RIPLEY: How many U.S. service members are deployed in Taiwan right now?

ING-WEN: Not as many as people saw.

RIPLEY: Defense Department records show the number of U.S. troops in Taiwan increased from 10 in 2018 to 32 earlier this year. The State

Department asked for more Marines to safeguard the unofficial U.S. Embassy in Taipei.

Any U.S. military presence in Taiwan, big or small, is perceived by Beijing as an act of aggression, state media says.


When reports surfaced earlier this month of U.S. Marines training Taiwanese troops, China released this video, a training exercise targeting Taiwan

independence and interference by external forces like the U.S.

A warning for President Joe Biden, who vowed to defend Taiwan at this CNN town hall last week.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So are you saying that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense --


COOPER: -- if China attacked?

BIDEN: Yes, we have a commitment to do that.

RIPLEY: The White House later walked back Biden's comments. They seem to contradict the long-standing U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity, leaving

U.S. military involvement in Taiwan, an open question.

ING-WEN: People have different interpretation of what President Biden has said.

RIPLEY: Do you have faith that the United States would defend Taiwan if the Mainland were to try to move on Taiwan?

ING-WEN: I do have faith, and given the long-term relationship that we have the U.S. and also the support the people of the U.S., as well as the

Congress, and the administration has been very helpful.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's defense minister says China could launch a full-scale war by 2025. He says military tensions are the worst in more than 40 years.

ING-WEN: We have to expedite our military reform so that we have the ability to defend ourselves. And given the size of Taiwan compared to the

size of the PRC, developing asymmetric capability is the key for us.

RIPLEY: How prepared is Taiwan today?

ING-WEN: We are trying to make us stronger in every aspects and increase our military capability and our international support.

RIPLEY: Support bolstered, she says, by Taiwan's critical importance to the global supply chain. The island is a world leader in semiconductors.

Taiwan was Asia's fastest growing economy last year -- a fact President Tsai proudly points out over lunch.

ING-WEN: This is one of my favorite foods.

RIPLEY: All right.

Despite everything, she appears calm and confident.

You talked about how really the situation is so complex now.

ING-WEN: Yes, it is very complex. This is probably the most challenging time for people of Taiwan.

RIPLEY: You read the outside headlines, the most dangerous place on Earth.

ING-WEN: We read these reports as a reminder to us as to what's the threats that we're under and we have to get ourselves better prepared. But

we're not panic, we're not anxious because we have gone through so many difficulties in the past.

RIPLEY: She says Taiwan's future must be decided by its people -- the people who've worked hard over the last 70 years to build the world's only

Chinese speaking democracy, a democracy under growing threat.


NOBILO: And Will Ripley joins us now live from Taipei.

Will, welcome to the show. Phenomenal access, I don't know many journalists who can sit down with world leaders over noodles and discuss the pressing

issues of our time.

My first question on the back of that report, and would be -- how is China going to respond to the content within it when you consider China sees

every bit of involvement in the U.S. as a provocation of some kind?

RIPLEY: China has certainly known for a long time that even though the U.S. has no formal diplomatic relationship or military alliance are Taiwan,

not only do they sell weapons but there are a limited number of troops here involved and they have been over the years involved in training operations.

It's just it always been kept very hush-hush. And to have it confirmed by the Taiwan president is something that we have to watch for a response from

Beijing if indeed they choose to respond at all.

NOBILO: Will, thanks so much for your report and for joining us this evening. We know you'll be keeping a close eye. Thanks so much.

As competition between the U.S. and China becomes more material, America's communication agency is throwing a major Chinese telecom provider out of

the country. The Federal Communications have canceled China's Telecom America's permission to operate in the U.S. after 20 years. It says the

company is subject to control by the Chinese government and that raises national security concerns. China telecom said it is disappointed.

Half of the world's current COVID infections are coming from Europe, according to the WHO. This as the continent's COVID divide is becoming all

the more clear as Eastern Europe -- Eastern European countries continue to spiral.

Russia and Ukraine are seeing record deaths. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has marked the highest daily increase in cases. Other countries including Romania are

also working to curb rising rates.

But the numbers we need to be paying attention are vaccinations. Eastern Europe is well behind Western Europe despite having access to several

vaccines. Hesitancy is playing a huge role in what can be seen as butchered rollout programs.

Our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley has been looking into how distrust in government is impacting public attitude toward the virus.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, a lot of the take up of vaccinations in the form of Soviet sphere of influence starting

with Russia but extending to Ukraine and then into the European Union, places like Romania and Bulgaria has been woeful in some cases. This has

been due to a lack of supply.

But above all, it is really about a refusal of many, many people into these counties to actually get the jabs. Now, if you look at Ukraine, the take up

has been up 17-1/2 percent. That has jumped recently because of government legislation that is requiring vaccinations of teachers and other government


Here in Russia, the take up is about 28.5 percent. That is causing great frustration and as a result of burgeoning levels of infection and

increasing levels of death. Moscow and other major cities are going into a mixed form of lockdowns and the whole nation is being required to go on

holiday for a week to try to break the cycle of infections.

Now, this, of course, is partly to do with the new delta variant but also because culturally in this sphere of politics, even in places like Romania

and Bulgaria, they remain with the Soviet influence because of the authoritarianism of Putin himself, deep suspicion of central government,

particularly here in Russia because Sputnik, the Russian vaccination was the first in the world to get rolled out. There are suspicions over there

and there's also a great deal of superstition in these countries, just an instinctive fear of things like mass injections. And that is playing in

very strongly, Bianca.


NOBILO: Thanks to Sam Kiley for his report from Moscow.

Let's take a look at other key stories making international impact today.

Protesters march for a third day in cities across Sudan, and doctors and oil workers said they're joining a strike against Monday's coup.

Meanwhile seven foreign ambassadors including the U.S. and the EU met with Sudan's prime minister. He's at home and no longer under house arrest but

it's -- no longer under arrest, but it's not clear into he's free to move about.

Mexico has send 450 troops to the popular beach resort of Tulum to beef up security after a shooting killed two foreign tourists at a restaurant last

week. Authorities say the tourists were not targeted but were caught in the cross fire between rival gangs.

Protesters in Ecuador blocked roads on the second day of anti-government demonstrations. They're angry over the president's economic policies which

have led to soaring fuel prices. Five police officers were injured in Tuesday's protests.

The European Union's top court has ordered Poland to pay a fine of 1 million euros per day until it dissolves a controversial disciplinary

chamber for judges. The chamber was set up in 2018 and it can dismiss judges and prosecutors.

The ECJ is worried it could punish judges for showing independence. It ruled back in July that the chamber is compatible with E.U. law.

The COP26 climate summit kicks off in Glasgow in four days and there one notable absence, Queen Elizabeth. She was supposed to attend an evening

reception, but Buckingham Palace says she has regretfully decided to stay at home.

We've been seeing a lot less of the Queen lately. CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster tells us why.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Concerns about the Queen's health were raised earlier this month when she arrived at an

engagement with a walking stick or cane, which is rare to see in public.

The last time we saw her in person at an event was last Tuesday, meeting business leaders at Windsor Castle. She looked well, but the next day she

canceled a visit to Northern Ireland on the advice of her doctors.

In a statement, the palace insisted she was in good spirits, and separately, we were told she'd be resting for a few days at Windsor Castle.

The next day, however, a British tabloid revealed that not to be true. The palace was forced to confirm she had in fact, spent the night in hospital

for some preliminary investigations. We haven't been told what those investigations were for.

The Queen has continued light duties this week in the palace's words. Virtual engagements from are the desk at Windsor. But then another

announcement this week that she had regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend COP26, where she was due to host world

leaders at the summit.


She will instead send a video message.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Moving forward, especially to move into the winter with COVID, we will see the Queen doing more Zoom calls,

less in-person meetings. But I think that as soon as the winter is over, she'll be keen to get back on her feet, back out there meeting people. It's

just whether or not the doctors are going to agree with it.

FOSTER: But a CNN analysis shows the Queen traveled at least a 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles this month even before she canceled her trips to

Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Prince Charles will now step up for her at COP26, something he's increasingly having to do, though there's no suggestion from anyone in

Royal circles that the Queen would ever give up her role completely.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


NOBILO: Still to come tonight --


ALEX MILLS, STUDENT "GIRLS NIGHT IN" CAMPAIGNER: I don't want to be that one person that is part of the statistics.


NOBILO: Women across the U.K. say enough is enough. They're sick of feeling unsafe. Why their boycotting nightclubs after the break.

Plus, how an Australian football star is hoping to change the sport beyond the pitch.


NOBILO: In tonight's "Debrief", we're focusing on women's safety. Across the U.K., tonight, thousands of women are boycotting nightclubs and staying

in. Why? Because they want to raise awareness about the rise in spikings and sexual harassment at venues. There have been 198 reports of drink

spiking made to the U.K. police in the last two months, according to the national police chief's council. And now, growing reports of drugs being

injected into people at clubs as well.

These women are saying they don't feel safe and are demanding clubs increase protection. We spoke to one of the student campaigners from

Nottingham, Alex Mills, about why she's joining the protest.


MILLS: Women don't feel safe going out. We don't feel like there is enough measures in place to protect us. Spiking has always been a thing for quite

a long time and ever since I've been going out, it is something I'm always aware of it.

But the sudden increase in the last few weeks is really scary. The amount of people that I know and friends of friends that it is happening to is

terrifying. Although, it could be a one in a million thing with being spiked by viral injection, I do want to be that one in a million, I don't

want to be that one person that's part of the statistics. I want to just be safe.


NOBILO: Recently, incidents of gender-based violence have dominated the new cycle in the United Kingdom. Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa who were

kidnapped working near their homes and London and murdered. And yet, the conversation around how to ensure women's safety and freedom is gridlocked.


The onus is put on the women to change her behavior, the emphasis on protection, not prevention.

This is not an issue isolated to the United Kingdom. Recently we put out a call on social media to ask women what they do to feel safe after dark, we

received responses from Kenya, to the Netherlands, to Sri Lanka, to the United States, the refrain eerily identical.

Before we start the video, I must warn you that this contains reference to sexual assault and harassment and may be a trigger for those watching.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrifying being a woman after dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always lived with that fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't go anywhere at night walking any more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always been socialized to understand that being outside by myself after dark could have dire consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think as a woman, it is sort of ingrained that you are not safe at night and you need to alter the way you behave in order to

prevent any danger happening to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think about if I have to use anything of mine that I'm carrying for a weapon, like what would I use.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether it's mace, whether it's pepper spray or flashlight or a whistle, I make sure that have one of these things with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only thing that gave me an kind of comfort was my canister of pepper spray.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Recently I bought a personal alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make sure that I'm always ready to defend myself. You can't rely on other people to help you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other thing is just wearing baggier clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Putting my hair away so it can't be grabbed. Wearing shoes I feel comfortable to run in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I am wearing something that is exposing more skin, it is easier to tear off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This means to cover ourself from head to toe. So that no one towards us any looks, so basically (INAUDIBLE) would mean that they

are asking for it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After I got assaulted, I spent $3,000 on a peloton because I didn't feel safe running alone in the morning any more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a constant and I think that that is one of the things that is very misunderstood about this aspect of women's lives

that is just wildly misunderstood and miscalculated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shouldn't be a successful evening that you didn't get accosted, that you didn't get, that you didn't get flashed, that you

didn't get cat called.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I got assaulted and I got away, and I called someone close to me, and told them what happened, the first thing they told

me is, why were you out? Why were you out that late? As if I'm not allowed to do anything. As if I went out and was asking for it. At the end of the

day, we lived with the trauma but we're also left with the blame.

SUBTITLE: To stay safe, women are commonly told:

"Don't go out alone after dark."

"Don't wear revealing clothing."

"Don't use public transport after dark."

"Don't walk home after dark."

"Do tell your friends you got home safely."

Recently in the U.K.: "Do question lone police officers."

The responsibility should not e put on the woman. The conversation needs to change, or nothing will change.


NOBILO: Those responses reflect just how tightly framed the current conversation is towards the behaviors of women. But no matter how much

women do to protect themselves, incidents still occur. Women are encouraged to learn self-defense but my producer is a black belt in taekwondo, I

trained in several martial arts, and this is a problem for us as well.

People could alter their behaviors to avoid becoming a victim, but in reality, people don't stop becoming victims until the conversation and

action focuses on the perpetrators. So we've seen where the conversation is now. It needs to change and we'll be investigating how that could be done

here on this show.

I'm Bianca Nobilo, you're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF, and we'll be right back after this.



NOBILO: An Australian football star is taking a stand that he hopes won't require so much bravery in the future. Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo

announced that he's gay. It's a rare admission in football. So rare that Cavallo is the only top flight male player who is openly gay. He said he

fought his sexuality and learned to mask his feelings, caring an internal and external burden for years and he explains why he's taking this step



JOSH CAVALLO, ADELAIDE UNITED PLAYER: I want to inspire and show people that it's okay to be yourself and play football. It is okay to be gay and

to play football. I want to show all of the other people that are struggling and that are scared, you know, whoever it may be, that don't act

like someone you're not. Be yourself. You're meant to be yourself, not someone else.

I'm Josh Cavallo, I'm a footballer and I'm proud to be gay.


NOBILO: Cavallo says he's had support from his family, friends and football club. But he believes the sport needs to make critical changes to

be more accepting of everyone.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said it is committed to the freedom, dig fit and equality of all people of every gender identity. They just

issued the first U.S. passport with an X gender marker for binary, intersects and gender non-confirming persons.

The department's spokesperson says that they are looking to offer the option to all routine passport applicants by the end of 2022.

You've been watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo, and you could find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Thank you for joining us, and

we'll be back tomorrow night. Good night.