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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

More Sanctions On Belarus; Xi Jinping's Path To Power; Finland's Gender Pay Gap Plan. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 11, 2021 - 17:00   ET


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, Latvia's foreign minister says this is not peacetime, it's crisis time. The rhetoric ramping up between the E.U. and Belarus as the migrant

situation worsens.

Then, China's ruling elite is attempting to rewrite history behind closed doors.


How President Xi Jinping is paving his path ahead.

Plus, how much do you earn? How Finland is planning to tackle the gender pay gap.

The forbidden area, that's how a Syrian refugee who made it through the Belarusian-Polish border is describing the gauntlet of razor wire and

soldiers that he had to cross. Thousands of migrants are still stuck in harsh conditions while the rhetoric between the EU and Belarus gets


Poland's right-wing government is refusing to let migrants in. It accuses Belarus of deliberately pushing them to the border, hoping to create havoc

in the European Union.

The EU says new sanctions are coming.


HEIKO MAAS, ACTING GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The European Union will expand and tighten its sanctions against Lukashenko's regime. This is what we'll

decide at our foreign minister as meeting in Brussels Monday. Those involve in the human trafficking will be further sanctioned, no matter where on the



NOBILO: The Belarusian Dictator Lukashenko isn't backing down, either, saying he might shut off a natural gas pipeline to Europe.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If they impose additional sanctions on us, which are indigestible and unacceptable

for us, we must answer.


NOBILO: Belarus's ally, Russia, says it is not involved in this crisis. But for the second day, it flew bombers over Belarus, a clear warning side

to the West.

Vladimir Putin told Germany's chancellor on Thursday that the EU needs to talk to Lukashenko to resolve the standoff, something the EU refuses to do.

Another solution may be in the works. Turkish airlines says it won't allow Syrian, Iraqi, or Yemeni nationals to board flights to Belarus, and Iraq

says it will send a plane to pick up its nationals who want to return home.

Back at the border, even children are pleading for help. These migrant children stood next to the razor wire today, holding signs that simply

said, sorry, caught up in an international showdown not of their making.

Polish border guards say more than 460 migrants tried to push their way into Poland in just the past day, and humanitarian groups are pleading for

access to bring food, blankets and other supplies to the desperate refugees.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is near the barbwire lines in the Polish town of Kuznica, where few who made it across are telling him their frightening

story of their survival.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day in limbo in the freezing cold, gathering any material that will

burn to stay warm. Thousands of migrants remain stranded on the Belarusian side of the border as Poland says it will not let them enter.

Only a few have made it across like Youssef Atallah from Syria who says he was abused by Belarusian border guards.

YOUSSEF ATALLAH, SYRIAN REFUGEE: When we came close to the Belarusian border, the Belarus guards catch us. They searched us and hit me in the

face, broke my cheeks here, and my nose, broke to piece, and I have painful ribs here. Then they took us to the forbidden area.

PLEITGEN: The forbidden area means the border between Belarus and Poland. Belarus denied abusing migrants and instead accused Poland of a heavy-

handed approach. The EU says it will further sanction Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, saying he's luring migrants here in a bid to

destabilize Europe.

MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, PRIME MINISTER, POLAND (through translator): Now from distance, those events on the Polish-Belarusian border may look like a

migration crisis. But this is not a migration crisis. It's a political crisis and calls for a specific purpose, for the purpose of destabilizing

the situation in the EU. So, what we're facing here and we have to state it fairly, is a manifestation of state terrorism.

PLEITGEN: Lukashenko is counting on support from his biggest backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hailing Russia's strategic bombers that

flew over Belarus on Wednesday and threatening to cut off Russian gas supplies to Europe.

LUKASHENKO (through translator): We are heating Europe, and they still threaten us with closing the border. And what if we shut off natural gas

there? I would therefore recommend that the leadership of Poland, Lithuania, and other headless people think before speaking.

PLEITGEN: The migrants are caught in the middle of this standoff, unable to advance into the EU or head back to their countries of origin.

The situation of those camped out at the border between Poland and Belarus is growing more desperate by the day. It's extremely cold and damp out here

with the temperatures dropping below freezing virtually every night.

Activist Piotr Bystrianin tries to help them, showing the clothes, food and water he tries to supply them with.

PIOTR BYSTRIANIN, PRESIDENT, OCALENIE FOUNDATION: People are deteriorating very fast. They are more exhausted. They -- some of them are sometimes one

week or two weeks or even longer only in the forest without proper food, without any drinking water.

PLEITGEN: Poland says it has registered more than 4,000 attempts to illegally cross its border in November alone, but says it will not back


Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kuznica, Poland.


NOBILO: Ukraine now says it's sending thousands of troops to the border with Belarus for military drills, in case they have to face a migrant

crisis as well. And Lithuania and Latvia are dealing with a lesser but similar situation as Poland.

Earlier, I spoke with Latvia's foreign minster and asked him if this could ignite and a military conflict.


EDGARS RINKEVICS, LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I do hope that common sense is going to prevail in Minsk and also in Moscow, and I do hope that while this

situation is very intense, that they're not going to -- escalation to the military conflict.

NOBILO: What can you tell us about the latest situation on the border between Poland and Belarus and also on your border with Belarus?

RINKEVICS: Well, the situation on the Latvian border is tense but stable. We do have some cases where we see people trying to cross the border, but

those are not big numbers.

NOBILO: Are there any indications there will be a surge in your direction next?

RINKEVICS: Look, we are currently discussing this visit. The government, our border guards, National Guard, police forces are prepared for also

worst case scenario. We are preparing for that. But we do hope that diplomatic efforts, also the pressure that I was talking earlier actually

can de-escalate the situation.

NOBILO: Minister, do you think it's possible to de-escalate and hopefully solve the crisis with Mr. Lukashenko still in office?

RINKEVICS: Well, I would be very bad diplomat if I would be saying no way. It's up to politicians and diplomats to try to find ways out of this

crisis, but indeed, but we have seen since August 2020, the internal operation of opposition of civil society and representatives, also

journalists, the hijacking of plane in may that actually triggered the latest round of sanctions we adopt in the June. Shows that, well, this is

very difficult, and I do believe that the only way how we can de-escalate this, that people in Minsk understand the economic, political costs to

their actions is too high.

NOBILO: Given the desperate situations that migrants find themselves in on that board, are you concerned also about maintaining you know, the optics

and integrity of the values of the European Union when you think of freedom, human dignity and human rights, when the EU is in the process of

erecting fences and trying to secure itself from this influx of migrants?

RINKEVICS: Well, it is very difficult situation indeed. I think in Latvia, we have ways to protect borders and, let's say, have decent human rights

policy to those who are in real need. We are admitting people with meddle medical conditions, people with some special needs.

However, you know, the situation that we are facing right now reminds me of the situation we were facing some six, seven years ago when disinformation

campaign started. And social media was used to attack democratic institutes both in Europe and in the United States.

At first there were many people saying, oh, this is about the freedom of speech. It took us some time to find a sufficient response to the

propaganda warfare, and we do understand there is a difference.

I think also here we should distinct between what is refugee flow and what is organized migration flow and used as hybrid warfare.

NOBILO: Just as a follow up, is there a normative distinction between legitimate migrants who arrive at the border and migrants who may have been

pushed there under false pretenses by Belarus or orchestrated by Russia?

RINKEVICS: Well, there is distinction, and of course there is, let's say, a possibility for those people who are in need to apply for asylum. The

trouble that we have been seeing, this flow of migration was organized deliberately.

People are offered to look at the packages to -- from Middle East could you repeats from Iraq to Belarus. They are told that they'll get free passage.

They are actually sometimes deprived from their documents. Those are also cases we have seen.

And then they are brutally pushed over the border. I think that we are in this situation where there is very, I would say, aggressive neighborhood,

and we should understand that this is not peacetime. This is a rather crisis time and we need to react in a balanced but responsible way.


NOBILO: The United States national security adviser says the, quote, stiff competition between the United States and China does not need to turn into

a new Cold War. The comments made after China's President Xi Jinping warned against confrontation.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds are bound

to fail. The Asia Pacific Region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of a Cold War era.


NOBILO: All eyes will now be on a highly anticipated virtual meeting with Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, which is expected the take place


The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China colluded its sixth plenary session in Beijing on Thursday, with a historic resolution paving

the way for Xi to potentially remain president for life.

David Culver explains.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China's ruling elites meeting behind closed doors for four days in Beijing, rewriting the

Communist Party's history to chart a new course.

The 350 or so top officials is passing an almost unprecedented resolution and this time highlighting the role of its current leader and Chinese

President Xi Jinping in the nation's triumphant rise on the global stage.

VICTOR SHIH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: He wants to really highlight his own contribution to be the development of the party that also

will seal his legitimate rule over China in the foreseeable future. Then, of course, no one would challenge his power within the party.

CULVER: Unrivaled control that puts Xi on par with past Paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, both oversaw the only two previous

resolutions. The first 1945 firmly placed Mao at the apex of the party.

The second 1981, five years after Mao's death, in effort to push past his disastrous policies as Dung open China up to a surge of prosperity, an

economic boom that's lasted decades.

Now, 100 years since its founding right here in Shanghai, the Chinese Communist Party has just passed a third such resolution, this one widely

seen as elevating Xi Jinping as undisputed supreme ruler of what many here believe will become the world's strongest nation.

China's already become the second largest economy in the world. It has successfully lifted millions of its people out of poverty and making other

countries including the U.S. uneasy with its rapid military expansions.

Its ascendance, the leadership proudly displays at so called Communist Party pilgrimage sites, historically revered spots that downplay or ignore

failures and controversies from the tumultuous cultural revolution to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Instead, they focus on a century of successes

and credit Xi alongside Mao and Dung for the nation's rejuvenation with Xi's two immediate predecessors barely mentioned.

Xi is now even a mandatory part of school curriculums, all students must learn Xi Jinping thought. Since taking power in 2012, Xi has methodically

consolidated control, launching an anti-corruption campaign that simultaneously eliminated his political rivals.

In 2018, he rewrote the Constitution, getting rid of presidential term limits. And this year with a series of regulatory tightening on business

and tech, he showed the tycoons that the party is above all else. And loyalty to the party now means loyalty to Xi.

JEAN-PIERRE CABESTAN, HONG KONG BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: Now we've back to a strongman politics with the danger of course, relying on one person to make

decisions but also rely on his health, on his own character to decide about the future of a nation of 1.4 billion people.


CULVER: So much power handed to one man, history has taught us what that could mean.

But for now, the world's biggest governing party, keeping history in check and paving the way for a future where its strongman leader could rule for


David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at other key stories making an international impact today. The last leader of apartheid era of South Africa has died.

F.W. De Clerk released Nelson Mandela from prison and negotiated an end to the decades-long system of racial segregation and violence against the

country's black majority. the first fully Democratic action to Mandela and the two shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

The COP26 Summit is nearing its end, but now a group of 22 nations wants to remove an entire section from the final deal. It's on the key component of

reducing emissions. Fossil fuel exporters like Saudi Arabia are part of this group, as well as coal-reliant countries like India and China.

Germany is facing challenges that together are unprecedented. Coronavirus cases are soaring to record heights as the country is in a leadership

limbo. Chancellor Angela Merkel will step down as soon as a new government is formed. Her likely successor wants a strong response to coronavirus.

He's calling for new restrictions in order to get through the winter and says it's time to bring back vaccination sites.

Dutch officials are considering whether to bring become a partial lockdown, the first in Western Europe since the summer. The government's advisory

panel recommends shutting down theaters and other entertainment venues and closing cafes and restaurants earlier. Surging COVID cases are putting

pressure on hospitals around the country and people are going to test sites in droves.


ANIKA GANS, TEST SITE WORKER: At first we saw a little growth, and on that we anticipated by adding another unit to test more. And day by day, it

became way, way, way more. So now we start a day with a full agenda, and a lot of people come by without appointments because they want a test so

badly. But we just don't have place anymore.


NOBILO: Elon Musk just sold about $5 billion in Tesla shares and, that and other recent actions are provoking new debate on a wealth tax in the U.S.

And the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. A moment shared by many across the world today. We'll look at that coming up -- coming up




NOBILO: Elon Musk has sold around $5 billion worst of his Tesla shares this week. But we're talking about a billionaire known for his antics. So,

of course, this came with the usual publicity stunt. He shared this on Twitter just a few days ago, a poll asking if he should sell 10 percent of

his stake in his electric car company. It's first big sale since 2016. So, why now? He needs to exercise a massive amount of stock options before they

expire in August.

Musk's recent actions and conversations with the World Food Programme have triggered more debate on this key issue of how to tax the ultra wealthy in

the U.S.

Paula Newton takes a closer look for us.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Bianca. So, Elon Musk went through with it. He finally sold those shares. Now, despite what he said about this

being perhaps a Twitter poll and him listening to whatever the Twitter verse told him to do, he actually had to sell those shares. It was an issue

of use them or lose them.

So the whole Twitter thing was likely a stunt, obviously keeping in character with Elon Musk. But it really brings to the fore a very serious

issue, right? This is a man who ProPublica, its investigations learned he doesn't pay income tax, even though he's arguably the richest man in the

world, and keep in mind in terms of his tax bill now, even from the shares he sold, it is a third of 1 percent of his total net worth.

At issue here is how much should these billionaires be paying year in, year out in terms of taxes? And Elon Musk hasn't been afraid to enter and that

debate. He's prolific on Twitter in terms of insinuating himself.

You know, he said when this discussion was going on about how much billionaires should pay, he said, raising a debate here, who is best at

capital allocation, government or entrepreneurs? Is indeed what it comes down to, and Elon Musk certainly suggesting, look, entrepreneurs are better

at it so perhaps we should not pay the high rates of taxes as everyone else does.

Also pushing back is the Biden administration and a multitude of others and many have been quick to point out that, look, Elon Musk might be a

billionaire and Tesla might be uber successful, to use a word, but he's made use of public goods, things like public roads, and even government

subsidies to try to get electric vehicles to really take hold. So this is a debate that will continue, and Elon Musk is certainly to be at the center

of it -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Paula Newton, thank you.

Tesla CEO's stock dump comes as its rival Rivian surges on Wall Street. The electric carmaker backed by Amazon made its Wall Street debut on Wednesday

and became the largest IPO since Facebook hit the market nearly ten years ago.

At the end of its first day of trading, Rivian was valued at $86 billion, putting it ahead of auto giants like GM and Ford, and that's after only two

months of production.

Transparency, it's almost a taboo word when it comes to discussing salaries, both our own and what others get paid. Finland is trying to

change that. The government is planning a new law that will allow workers to check what their colleagues are earning if they suspect they're being

discriminated against.

It's part of an effort led by the prime minster to shrink the wage gap between men and women. The OECD reports that Finnish women earned a

whopping 17.2 percent les than men in 2020. The country also ranks low on gender pay equality, placing itself 37th compared to neighbors Norway,

which comes in 8th, and Denmark which comes in 9th, Sweden in 12th place.

The bill has been criticized by workers' unions which want even more transparency and the biggest employers organization, which said it would

great conflicts within the workplace.

Is a Finnish journalist and blogger and she's been sharing what she earns on social media and toll us why she does it.


MERJA MAHKA, INVESTEMENT BLOGGER: I usually encourage people to discuss their salaries and even to find out what people in similar positions make

so that people would know their worth and how much they can ask, sort of happening now that people are talking more about money. It has to do with

Finnish pension systems and people actually in system and people who are awakening to the reality that maybe they're not getting the kind of pension

that they were expecting to get.


So, money is sort of a hot topic at the moment. So is investing.


NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Finally tonight, we want to pause to recognize remembrance ceremonies around the world this November the 11th, marking the 103rd

anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I, and sacrifices made to achieve peace and protect our liberty.

In Australia, poppies illuminated the sale sails of the Sydney Opera House at dawn.

Here in London, ceremonial guards marched towards the war memorial playing bugle and bag pipes before holding a two minute silence to honor the


In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron attended commemoration at the iconic Arc de Triomphe.

And in the U.S., Veterans Day is observed, honoring not just those lost in World War I, but all military veterans.

Thanks so much for joining us this evening. See you tomorrow.