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Chinese Defense Minister Li Not Seen Publicly In Two Weeks; UAW: Bargaining With Big Three To Resume Saturday; Hurricane Lee Approaches New England And Canada At Cat 1; Aaron Rodgers Ran "Gamut Of Emotions" After Injury. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 15, 2023 - 15:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Ivan, what's going on? Where is he?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a bit of a mystery. We don't really know. He hasn't been seen in public since August 29th. A little bit more than two weeks ago, and he didn't show up at a meeting with senior Vietnamese military officials that was scheduled around September 7th.

And there was never really public -- any public explanation for why. So there were questions asked to the Chinese Foreign Ministry today, where is the Defence Minister? Is he under investigation? And the Foreign Ministry spokesperson kind of said I'm not really aware of this situation.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency, it has ten sources saying that the defense minister is actually being investigated and it has to do with military procurement, which he used to be in charge of before he got this current job. Now, you've got the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, that's Rahm Emanuel. He's basically been trolling the Chinese government on Twitter on X. Last week he had this post where he said, quote:

President Xi's cabinet lineup -- that's President Xi Jinping of China -- is now resembling Agatha Christie's novel, "And Then There Were None." First, the foreign Minister Qin Gang goes missing, then the Rocket Force commanders go missing. And now Defense Minister Li hasn't been seen in public for two weeks.

What is he referring to? Well, back in July, the foreign Minister Qin Gang of China, suddenly he stopped showing up at meetings with senior U.S. officials. He didn't attend a regional summit and people started asking questions. Where is he? And then abruptly, he got stripped of his post and his predecessor was put in as the foreign minister.

And then there's been two top officials who were -- two officers running the Rocket part of the armed forces -- that's basically ICBMs and nuclear weapons -- they kind of disappeared and suddenly were stripped of their positions and replaced with no explanation.

So what does this all get to, Brianna? Well, we don't know what's happened to the Defence Minister exactly. We'll be watching that. But there's a pattern here of senior officials in Xi Jinping's government suddenly disappearing. No explanation why. Being replaced. And that's kind of how governance seems to work in China these days -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Very interesting. We'll be watching this. Ivan, thank you for that report -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Coming up, new developments in the auto workers' strike. The head of the UAW says they're returning to the negotiating table tomorrow with the big three automakers.

Plus, one of the toughest 24 hour stretches of his life. Aaron Rodgers speaking out on his season ending Achilles injury and his future in the NFL. Is he going to try to come back? You'll hear from him next.



KEILAR: We have breaking news on this historic auto workers strike. The UAW says bargaining with the big three automakers will start back up tomorrow. The Union President, Shawn Fain, saying, quote:

Today we are rallying with our members. Tomorrow, we expect to be at the bargaining table. All three companies have received a comprehensive counter offer from our Union. And we await their response.

Of course, we are following all of the latest on this unprecedented labor strike -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Preparations for Hurricane Lee are underway in New England as tropical storm conditions start to move in this afternoon. The category One hurricane has been in the Atlantic for more than a week now. Let's get right to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray, who has the latest forecast -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Boris, yes, this is one we've been watching for a long, long time. And it's finally starting to show impacts along the coast of the U.S. 80 mile per hour winds with 100 mile per hour gusts. This is moving fast at 18 miles per hour. So while this is going to stay away and avoid a U.S. landfall. Most likely you have to remember that tropical storm force winds extend about 300 miles from the center and so we are going to see tropical storm force winds along the Cape, Eastern Massachusetts possibly as well as Maine.

And so, the biggest threat with this is going to be really the power outages. Because when you think of the strong winds, the downed trees, power lines, things of that nature. Most likely staying at category one all the way through tomorrow morning and we're going to be seeing this just shoot up into Canada over the weekend.

So the forecast satellite and radar showing the rainfall pushing through. We're going to see just a couple of inches of rain across New England. Highest amounts are going to be across eastern Maine and then on into Canada. Where we could see anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of rain. But we do have those tropical watches and warnings up. The forecast

wind gusts, we're going to see the strongest winds along the Cape, Eastern Massachusetts tonight. Once we get into tomorrow morning, that's when the peak winds will reach Maine and then this will quickly push on out by tomorrow afternoon. So the storm surge looks to be about one to three feet. We could see some coastal flooding, some beach erosion, things like that. But I think the biggest threat, Boris, is going to be the power outages.

SANCHEZ: A rough weekend potentially for those folks. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A new team, a big new contract, just 94 seconds and one really, really bad injury. Now we're hearing more from New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he tore his Achilles tendon ending his season just plays into it. Rodgers says he, quote, ran the gamut of emotions.

CNN's Patrick Snell joins me now. Patrick. I mean he he's trying to sound a confident note here and basically daring folks to say, it'll take him a long time to come back.

PATRICK SNELL, HOST, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, man, it's the spirit of the man, Jim. I tell you what, though, jarring, really heartbreaking scenes to witness what we did. But the good news for him and his fans is, successful surgery on that Achilles underwent this past week -- midweek -- successful surgery. And that is a really encouraging sign. But no question, this has been a highly emotional and tumultuous week for both Rodgers and the Jets nation as a whole. Simply a whole roller coaster of emotions.

You know, a week ago Jets fans were dreaming of a Super Bowl triumph from their new prized acquisition, who is a four-time MVP and now they are left wondering if, and indeed when, he will come back to the field of play. He will turn 40 years of age later on this calendar year. And he's been conducting, actually, Jim, his first on camera interview since Monday's season ending Achilles injury. Speaking on the Pat McAfee show, have a look at this.


AARON RODGERS, NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK: Give me the timetables. Give me all the things that you think can, should or will happen? Because all I need is that one little extra percent of inspiration. That's all I need. So give me your (INAUDIBLE). Give me your doubts. Give me your prognostications and then watch what I do.


SNELL: And then watch what I do. Those are spirited words indeed by Rodgers. Of course, we all wish him all the very best in his recovery. There's no question about that. As a player, of course, had a long and storied career as well with the Packers. And remember before the injury, he did say, Jim, he could actually see himself playing until his mid 40s. Just like fellow greats and fellow icon of the sport, Tom Brady. Well, the road has now become a whole lot tougher for him. But I know this much. I would not count him out, as I say, turns 40

just before -- well later on this year in December in fact. As for the Jets, it doesn't get any easier at all for them. They play at the Cowboys on Sunday, this coming weekend. We'll be watching it all very closely indeed.

As I said off the top, I do want to wish the player himself all the very best in his recovery. There's no one in the sport that doesn't wish him all the very best at this time with that, Jim, it's right back to you.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and he's got a surgeon who actually has a history of getting folks back up on the field quickly after a surgery like this. We'll see if he can manage it this time, Patrick Snell, thanks so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Still ahead, the Biden administration slapped new sanctions on Iran, as today marks one year since Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the Iranian morality police. We'll have details ahead.



SCIUTTO: As Russian missiles began barraging Ukraine in February 2022 millions of Ukrainians fled their country. They included more than 60 ballet dancers who joined a new company for dancers in exile.

KEILAR: The United Ukrainian Ballet based in Holland this Sunday on "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Cooper. Chief International anchor Christiane Amanpour will bring us the story of this ballet company and their efforts to fight the war on the cultural front as Russia tries to annihilate their country.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Do you feel that you are doing your bit to protect your country and to tell the world about your country by dancing, by having left by not being on the frontline?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying. I'm trying. All our company try to represent our country, that people will fall in love in our country and in our people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we want to in a good way with a soft weapon. We want to remind people that we still need help. Please don't forget about it.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Christiane Amanpour joins us now with more on that report. Christiane these dancers are really trying to make a contribution to the war effort through that, that soft weapon, as that dancer described it through art. How is their message being received?

AMANPOUR (on camera): Well, I'm really smiling because I remember when that dancer said to me, I hope that we can do our bit to help the people of the world fall in love with our country and fall in love with our people. And then you had the choreographer saying, and we need more help.

These two are inextricably linked. They need more help for the war effort. And that's why, you know, they're really out there trying their hardest to do that. But they also want to give joy to their own people, to people of the world, to introduce people to Ukrainian culture and to remind everyone that, as you mentioned, you know, culture, art history, identity is very unique to Ukraine.

And it's what the Russians are trying to annihilate. And trying to tell the rest of the world that there is no such thing as an independent Ukraine. Hence you know, our war is perfectly fine. We just want to, you know, all get together again.


So I think this is really important and it just also makes people sit back a little bit, breathe a little bit, enjoy the music, enjoy the dance, enjoy the storytelling from these remarkable people who've come out. And also, I was in Ukraine and interviewed some of the ballet dancers who decided to stay there and their stories are incredible as well. So it's a lovely, lovely hour.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you mentioned that there are still performance there. When I was in Lviv last year, I saw some of them. I saw ballet performance there. So what did they say to you about why they stayed behind and what that experience has been like because it's dangerous?

AMANPOUR: It is dangerous, and indeed some of them, certainly in the, you know, ballet corps that I interviewed, one of the main, most important ballet dancers, a man had gone to the front and he actually got killed. And you know, that was something very, very difficult for them. And you know, they did a wonderful tribute to him. They brought his coffin draped in their cultural flag to the ballet theatre. But it's in everybody's mind.

And some of them don't leave because they have family. Because, you know, they just want to stay to do ballet for people still in Ukraine. So each one of them has made their own decision about whether they think they can be of best use. But all of them, whether outside or inside, talk about, you know, being part of the war effort no matter what they do.

The ones outside say that we are the cultural ambassadors in the world for Ukraine. And you saw in a picture there they've already brought their dance to the Kennedy Center in Washington and it's been very well received. They have other international engagements as well.

KEILAR: It's amazing what emissaries they are, how effective they are. And also Christiane, we've learned that Ukraine's President Vladimir Zelenskyy is going to be visiting Washington next week. What are you looking for as he visits?

AMANPOUR: Well, he's coming first to UN or to the UN as well. I don't know what the dates are, but certainly next week he'll be at the UN. And when President Biden is speaking on the Tuesday, I believe the first day of the major world leaders at the UN General Assembly. And what he will be doing, President Zelenskyy, will be trying two things.

One, to get the rest of the world's nations who are not necessarily on Ukraine side, who are still straddling the fence, who take a lot of Russian narrative about this war and who are hurting, by the way, because of the grain shortages and the food prices and the hunger due to all of this. And he's going to try to address them and get them on side.

Then he's going to go to Washington, as you say, and he will meet with President Biden and individually, we understand, with members of Congress, the Senate, et cetera. No joint address as he did before. But his job there is to say thank you but we need more.

And this counteroffensive -- I was in Ukraine just a week or so ago -- and I see that it's making progress, but they definitely need more if they are to achieve what the United States and NATO has laid down as a marker that they must win -- and Putin must be defeated. So -- in Ukraine. So this is going to take a lot more help.

SANCHEZ: Christiane, a big week for you. Not only because of the report. We're all excited to watch this weekend, but also because earlier this week you marked 40 years at CNN. And Brianna is wearing a very fashionable statement, something that that is attributed to you, a very important message. Be truthful. Not neutral. Your reflections on 40 years with CNN.

AMANPOUR: Well, I just, I'm so I can't believe it. I mean, where did 40 years go? And I'm so happy to see you wearing the sweater that CNN created for some of us women at the network. And I learned that in Bosnia, that you had to be truthful, not neutral. Because a mistaken notion of objectivity that sometimes can mean drawing false equivalence between, you know, moral or factual when there is none.

So what I'm trying to say is, in a situation like Ukraine, for instance, it's the victim of this Russian war in a situation like Bosnia all those years ago was the victim of Serbian aggression. We had to figure out as young journalists exactly where the truth was, and that's where it was in being truthful and not falsely creating a moral or other kind of equivalence that meant neutrality. Which then means you're an accomplice, actually, because you're telling lies about the story.

So it was a very big lesson for me, and it applies to everything, including climate change. You know, there is no equivalence between actual climate science and those handful of deniers. And if we the press had been, you know, serious about understanding that for the last several decades, we may not be in this calamitous situation that we are now.


KEILAR: It's so important. And it's why you are our compass. It's why you are an icon to us at CNN and to so many people in journalism. Christiane, thank you so much for being with us on the show today.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. Thank you. It's a great pleasure.

KEILAR: And be sure to tune in. This is an all-new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Cooper, one whole hour, one whole story. It's going to air Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN to see Christiane's wonderful report. More news ahead after a quick break.


SCIUTTO: When this CNN hero learned about the thousands of children in juvenile detention centers and residential treatment facilities across this country, he knew he needed to do something different.

SANCHEZ: He gave them a voice. Mike Ball started a songwriting program to help kids who've experienced trauma begin to heal.


MIKE BALL, FOUNDER OF NONPROFIT, LOST VOICES: They all have different stories and the point of what we do is let them tell that story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day will come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we see each other.

BALL (voice-over): Sometimes they're silly, but beneath the silliness they're really revealing.


Sometimes they're really heartbreakingly real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love is hard for me to understand.

BALL: You know, think about it. Being in a position where nobody has really cared what you feel. And instead now you talk about what you feel and a whole bunch of people go, yeah. It's life changing.

BALL (voice-over): We can plant a seed in that child with self- confidence, self-worth, it's just so powerful.


KEILAR: That is beautiful.

SANCHEZ: It is beautiful. It makes you tear up.

KEILAR: It does. For more go to

SANCHEZ: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.