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Kabul's Largest Currency Exchange Market Reopens; Taliban Tase, Beat Women Protesters; Death Toll Rises To At Least 50 After Storm Hits East Coast; Cuban Doctors Criticize Government's COVID-19 Response; U.S. President Joe Biden's Agenda Faces Setbacks On Multiple Fronts; Biden To Visit All Three 9/11 Attack Sites; Over 40,000 Afghan Evacuees In U.S. For Resettlement; China Aims To Ease Inequality With Antitrust Probes And Fines. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired September 05, 2021 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Fighting back against the Taliban. One group in Afghanistan is refusing to surrender. We'll have a live report from Kabul.
Plus, Hurricane Ida's aftermath: a new look at the storm's trail of destruction and its growing toll.
Also, COVID and kids: why the number of cases among children is surging in the United States and one state is having relative success in fighting it.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber this is CNN NEWSROOM.
BRUNHUBER: Fresh fighting was reported Saturday in Afghanistan's Panjshir valley, the only territory the Taliban haven't captured. Panjshir is home to the National Resistance Front, which has been opposing the Taliban for decades.
Both sides are claiming military successes as the fighting intensifies. But CNN can't independently verify the accuracy of those reports.
In the capital, the company's fragile economy got a small boost Saturday when the largest currency exchange market reopened for the first time in nearly three weeks. Ordinary Afghans have been starved for cash because banks are limiting withdrawals. Journalist Ben Farmer is in Kabul and joins us by phone with the latest from there.
Ben, let's start with the fighting in the Panjshir.
What is the latest on the conflict there?
It looks as though we may have lost Ben. We might try and reach him again later on.
Now earlier, I spoke with Ben and so we're going to play a little tape of that interview here.
BEN FARMER, JOURNALIST: Both sides have claimed there's victories and successes. For some of the only independent information we know, is that there is an aid agency which runs a hospital in the valley, quite a significant way into the valley.
They've released a statement, saying that the Taliban have reached that far. So the Taliban have made significant inroads into the valley.
Last night, Amrullah Saleh, who says he's the acting president of Afghanistan, released a statement, calling on the international community to do its utmost, as he puts it, to stop the onslaught. And he warns there's a humanitarian crisis inside the valley because it's filling up with refugees.
And the power lines and telephone lines have been cut and people are running out of food.
BRUNHUBER: All right. Let's turn to life in Kabul. When we spoke yesterday, the money exchange market had just reopened. I understand you spent time speaking to people about the challenges of trying to get access to cash in what is a cash-heavy economy.
What did you find out?
FARMER: People are really struggling. The banks are open. And you mentioned some of the exchange markets are starting to open. But there are strict restrictions. The banks are only giving a maximum of $200 a month. And that's for people who have money in their accounts.
A lot of people here are paid by the government. The government payroll is very large in Afghanistan. There's a lot of the teachers, a lot of the people in the security forces, so on. Those people haven't been paid for up to two months, not just since the takeover of the Taliban; they weren't paid in the last days of the government.
So they're really struggling. The queues outside the banks are very, very long. We saw Taliban fighters, trying to keep order, whipping them, using sticks to try to keep them in line.
BRUNHUBER: That was journalist Ben Farmer in Kabul, speaking to me earlier.
While the world waits for the Taliban to announce how it plans to govern, women activists again marched in Kabul to demand equal rights under the new regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The demonstration was noisy but peaceful until they tried to march to the presidential palace. That's when Taliban militants reportedly turned hostile. One protester described what happened.
SORAYA, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS PROTESTER (through translator): Together with a group of our colleagues, we wanted to go near the former government offices for a protest.
But before we got there, the Taliban hit women with electric Tasers and they used tear gas against women. They also hit women on the head with a gun magazine and the women became bloody. There was no one to ask why.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: America's top general says he feels pain and anger over Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley says it comes from seeing everything that unfolded over the last 20 years and the last 20 days of the war.
He spoke of losing soldiers killed in action as well as the wounded and the grieving families. The general visited with troops returning from Afghanistan. He praised them for their role in one of the largest airlifts in military history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, USJC CHAIRMAN: You guys did an incredible job, all of you, everybody. The Army, Navy and Marines and Air Force flying out, 124,000 people, that's what you saved. That's what came out of there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: We'll have much more coverage of Afghanistan ahead this hour, including the Taliban's request for help removing explosive devices they created.
Here in the U.S., the country is reeling from a devastating week of extreme weather. The death toll climbed to at least 50 in the Northeast from Ida's record rainfall and flooding. The hardest-hit state is New Jersey. The governor announced Saturday the death toll stands at 27.
In Louisiana, there are widespread power outages across the state amid the scorching heat. Long lines outside gas stations and shortage of food and water underline the struggle many face to recover in the wake of the storm. CNN's Nadia Romero is in New Orleans, where thousands are trying their luck elsewhere, moving to shelters outside the city.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been several days now since Hurricane Ida made her way through this city and residents say it's the aftermath that is really starting to wear on them. Not having power, which means no AC, in the middle of what is a hot time in the Gulf Coast, the heat index so high, residents say it's unbearable.
Many have come outside the convention center and over here you can see there is a line of coach buses that have lined up to pick up people, up to 2,200 evacuees a day, through the city of New Orleans.
They get picked up from 12 different locations, they come to the convention center, go through a registration process, get on a coach bus and they take them out of the city to northern Louisiana, like Shreveport or to Texas.
Listen to why one woman says she had to evacuate now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: What are you missing in home right now that's making it unlivable?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it smell bad in there. You know, it's setting up mold. Yes.
ROMERO: Is it hot?
Do you have any food?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ain't got no food. It's spoiled, my food is spoiled. I don't have no food. I had to throw it out. And it's rough. And there's -- then we getting so much of heat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: So the city says they went to assisted living facilities and nursing homes to try to reach out to special needs cases, to make sure they were OK; if not, to get them loaded on a bus and to safety. They'll have the convention center open for the next couple of days to take more people who are in need -- Nadia Romero, CNN, New Orleans.
BRUNHUBER: Louisiana is ordering seven nursing homes that evacuated residents to a warehouse ahead of Hurricane Ida to close immediately. The state's Health Department confirmed seven deaths among hundreds who were moved; five deaths are classified as storm-related.
Officials say the temporary shelter was overwhelmed, resulting in power and sanitation failures. CNN reached out to the owner of the nursing home facilities but hasn't heard back. The state attorney general is launching an investigation.
The White House says President Biden will travel to New Jersey and New York on Tuesday to survey some of the storm's damage. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Pennsylvania, getting a look at recovery efforts there.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you wonder where most of the water that was flooding neighborhoods, you are basically looking at it here. You can see Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have worked around the clock to pump that water out of the roads and into the Schuylkill River here, actually reaching two feet above major flood stage a couple of days ago.
We have seen the water level here drop considerably and that signals the end of one phase and perhaps a start of another, which will be clearing out all the debris that was left behind.
SANDOVAL: To give you an idea of what this river carried into the city here, usually you'd see people walking out and about but now you see the river sediment, trunks and other debris. Now the question is when and how will the city of Philadelphia will be able to clear spaces like this out.
Really, there are bigger concerns in neighboring New Jersey, which is where we saw at least half of the total fatalities. And I heard people there in the Garden State the last couple of days, yes, many families are grieving and also many families lost their homes all together. So the question of when they'll be able to pick up the pieces and move on, that's still up in the air.
They will want to hear from President Biden as he makes the time to visit early next week and certainly there will be a big spotlight on him as millions of Americans are waiting to see what will happen next -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, Philadelphia.
BRUNHUBER: Now over to the western U.S., where improved weather conditions in northern California are giving firefighters a much needed edge against the Caldor fire.
Authorities say its growth has slowed and hundreds of people have been allowed to return to their homes. According to state fire officials the Caldor fire burned over 200,000 acres and is 43 percent contained.
These recent extremes in weather have the world's attention as the climate crisis plays out in our own backyard.
BRUNHUBER: Coming up, COVID cases among children are skyrocketing across the U.S., just as many head back to class. We'll talk to a doctor about the best ways for schools to keep students safe.
Plus, Cuba's health care system is facing critical shortages as COVID cases soar. Now some doctors are taking unprecedented steps to speak out about the crisis. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: COVID cases among children are soaring in the U.S., they made up nearly a quarter of all new infections during the last week of August, according to the American Pediatric Association.
Nearly 4.8 million kids in the U.S. have tested positive since the pandemic started but in the last 1.5 months, weekly cases have increased fivefold, from nearly 38,000 in mid-July to more than 200,000 at the end of August.
Of course, all of this comes as kids across the country are going back to in-person learning. While many schools require everyone to mask up, some areas have actually banned mask mandates. Earlier I spoke about the problem with Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine with Scripps Research. Here he is.
DR. ERIC TOPOL, PROFESSOR OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE, SCRIPPS RESEARCH: I think that the proof for the benefit of masks is unequivocal and we need to stop denying that. It's an inconvenient truth, of course, but all the studies on masks converge on that being the finding, it is protective.
And again, if children are wearing a mask and if they get COVID, they get less of a dose of COVID so symptoms will be much less, much less likely to transmit to other children.
So the masks and vaccines obviously help quite a bit. We need to get more adolescents advantage vaccinated because they network a lot, they are important conduits for other kids. So these are the things that we can do.
BRUNHUBER: But masks in schools, as you know, a very heated topic and many schools don't have those mandates. So many parents are nervous, understandably. And we saw a recent survey by the National Parent- Teacher Association, a survey funded by the CDC, I understand, found that more and more parents these days want their kids to have online option.
And that number has increased recently. But many schools, they aren't offering it anymore.
Are we going to have to change the way that schools are run going forward to account for endemic COVID?
BRUNHUBER: Or maybe for the next mutation?
TOPOL: That is a really important point you are getting at, which is how can you force schools to go open when you have such high circulating levels as we've seen with the kids in Kentucky and Georgia and many of the Southern states now?
So it is not a problem, when you have things in check, like in New England, for example, which is the best region of the country that has been vaccinated.
But when you have so much virus, pulling out all the stops may not be enough. So we'll get through this Delta wave in the weeks ahead, we're just starting to turn the corner. And when we get down to lower levels, then we can get back to opening the schools, hopefully getting more embracement of masks and getting vaccinations.
And eventually, of course, we'll get kids being able to be vaccinated later this year, I hope, and that will help matters, too.
BRUNHUBER: Dr. Eric Topol, Really appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining us.
TOPOL: Thank you, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Health officials are keeping an eye on a new COVID strain. The World Health Organization has flagged the Mu variant as a variant of interest. And a global database that tracks variants says Mu has been detected in all but two U.S. states.
But authorities don't believe it's an immediate threat. CDC numbers show the Mu variant accounts for less than half of 1 percent of U.S. cases; by comparison, the Delta variant accounts for just over 99 percent.
Cuba's public health system is being pushed to the brink amid a surge in new COVID cases fueled by the Delta variant. The country is averaging around 6,500 new cases per day, almost six times the number of new cases from three months ago.
Hospitals have started running low on beds and doctors are grappling with shortages of medicine, oxygen and other critical supplies. Some doctors are taking an unprecedented step, using social media to criticize the Cuban government's handling of the pandemic. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the first months of the pandemic, Cuban health care received applause, every night. Cuba's government calls the doctors and nurses heroes in white coats, sending them to work in countries, around the world, to earn the hard currency the Communist run island desperately needs.
But as Cuba's socialist health care system faces shortages of medicine and hospitals are overwhelmed by COVID, tensions have emerged between the government and the doctors and nurse they usually praise.
During to a province hard-hit by COVID-19 in August, Cuba's prime minister said that health care workers there had committed errors and were undisciplined.
"There are complaints about lack of medicine," he said, "but they are less than the complaints of mistreatment, of neglect, where the doctors don't make visits. That is incredible."
The backlash, across the island from some Cuban health care workers, was swift and unprecedented.
"We are demanding the minimum conditions to offer decent care to our patients and health care workers," this doctor said. More than 3 dozen doctors and nurses, have posted videos to social media, saying that the government's pandemic response is failing.
"We want to keep working, we want to keep saving lives," says this doctor. "We are not responsible for the sanitary collapse in our country."
The Cuban government says, the doctors are being used for, quote, "new enemy campaigns" but has recognized that the health care system is at its limits.
OPPMANN: For much of the pandemic, Cuba seemed to have the spread of the coronavirus under control but then, in late 2020, the island reopened borders, without first requiring travelers to have a PCR test before arrival. Now with the Delta variant, the number of cases and deaths are skyrocketing.
OPPMANN (voice-over): Cuba turned down offers from other countries, to send vaccines. Instead, developing their own.
"We trust, 100 percent, in our vaccine candidates," she says. "The numbers of cases that we have today, in a few months, our vaccine candidates will show they are effective and the situation will improve."
So far, more than 30 percent of the island is completely vaccinated, according to the health ministry. The government predicts they will vaccinate every Cuban by the end of the year. Despite the massive effort, cases and deaths remain at an all-time high.
For the rebellious Cuban health care workers, who have spoken out against their government's handling of the pandemic, even if the vaccines succeed, it is already too late -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.
BRUNHUBER: New Zealand is reporting its first COVID death in six months. A woman in her 90s, who had underlying health conditions, died in the hospital Friday night. Another person from her household has tested positive. The country also reported 20 new cases on Saturday, the lowest number in two weeks.
The worsening coronavirus pandemic is also one of the many challenges facing Joe Biden right now. That includes mixed messaging on boosters, combined with the surging Delta variant and a bumpy economy. We'll break down the U.S. President's turbulent week -- next.
Plus the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is less than a week away. We'll explain how the U.S. President will mark the event, after the break.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
U.S. President Joe Biden is facing setbacks for his agenda on multiple fronts. The president spoke several times this week, defending the pullout from Afghanistan but he's still facing relentless criticism for how that was handled and how quickly the Taliban took over almost all of the country.
The Biden administration has been trying to clear up confusion and mixed messaging getting COVID-19 booster vaccines to the American people.
And the economy isn't recovering from the pandemic as fast as analysts hoped. Only 235,000 jobs were created in August, the lowest number in more than six months. Economists expected more than three times that amount.
Finally in Congress, U.S. Senate Democrat Joe Manchin is threatening to derail a key pillar of the president's legislative agenda. Here's how Phil Mattingly described it for us and how the White House is responding.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House has a lot of work to do. White House officials openly acknowledge that. They believe that they can get control of what has happened over the course of the last several weeks.
However, there are still Americans on the ground in Afghanistan. That is something the White House needs to continue to work on. There is obviously still a surge in the pandemic, that is something that we are going to hear the president, I'm told, talk about a lot in the coming days, trying to restore a sense of confidence in the U.S. approach to that.
And then there is the economy, which is quite intertwined with that pandemic and how it ends up. Again, no shortage of issues for the White House to deal with. A
number of issues that run headlong into what the president pledged he would bring to office. White House officials confident that they can get the country back to the place they thought they were a few months ago and perhaps much further than they thought they could be, depending on that legislative agenda.
But a lot of work ahead and certainly officials acknowledge that they are happy to get the month of August behind them.
BRUNHUBER: In the midst of these challenges, Biden's public approval rating is taking a hit. Just 43 percent of Americans approve of the job he's doing. More than half, about 51 percent say they disapprove. That's according to a new poll from NPR, Marist and PBS NewsHour.
Earlier, I spoke to Thomas Gift, an associate professor at University College London. And I asked him how the turbulent month of August might impact the president's agenda.
THOMAS GIFT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Approval ratings for the White House have dipped in to negative territory according to some polls.
Republicans are using the images coming out of Kabul to reinforce this narrative of an unreliable commander in chief. Even Democratic allies have questioned how Biden's recent decisions square with a leader, who promised to be a steady hand and to restore American trust.
So this is really Biden's first true foreign policy test and it is not a trivial one. I think what will ultimately determine whether this sticks, whether this is just a down political period for Biden or the beginning of a more protracted loss of political capital, is how well the administration can flip the script.
We're already seeing the White House communications office try to pivot back to domestic issues. But even here there is no safe harbor, given the depressing data that we see on COVID-19, disappointing job numbers, Manchin's strategic pause on the reconciliation bill, et cetera. So to the extent presidents are granted even a modicum of a honeymoon period anymore, we're well past that with Biden.
BRUNHUBER: So let's drill in on the economy. Between the high gas prices, rising inflation and now the disappointing job numbers, if the midterms come down to it, is the economy, stupid, then Democrats might be in trouble.
GIFT: Exactly. The jobs report really shows that the Delta variant is continuing to have a depressing effect on the labor market and the economy generally. So the number of jobs that were created in August, just over 200,000, that is the smallest figure since beginning of the year. All in all, the United States is down about 5 million jobs across the
country since before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. So the destiny of the U.S. economy is really tied to the ability of the Biden administration to get this COVID under control, especially heading into the fall.
Definitely not the news that Biden was hoping for as he grapples with all of these other challenges. Outside of infrastructure, the number of fiscal levers that remain at Biden's disposal are limited.
And when we're likely to see the Federal Reserve continue to keep interest rates low, that, too, is going to raise alarm bells about inflationary pressures. So between now and the midterms in 2022, I think that lot of what American voters will be looking at is the state of the U.S. economy.
BRUNHUBER: Next Saturday marks 20 years since the 9/11 attacks, when terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in the U.S. in multiple locations. It's an important anniversary that compels the presence of U.S. president Joe Biden.
BRUNHUBER: He also moved to meet a longstanding demand by family members of the victims. Here's Arlette Saenz with more on that.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden is preparing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by visiting each of the memorial sites next Saturday.
The White House announced plans for the president and first lady to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City as well as Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. This comes after President Biden signed an executive order, directing the Justice Department to conduct a review to declassify documents relating to investigations into the 9/11 terror attacks.
The president had been facing some pressure from the families and survivors of that 9/11 attack to release these documents. They sent a letter to the president, saying if he did not take steps to release these documents relating to 9/11, that he'd not be welcomed at Ground Zero and other memorial sites.
But the president says the 9/11 families have always been in his heart and their voices have been appreciated in that process. This order would require that any items that are declassified be released within the next six months.
As for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will also be on hands in New York City. Former president George W. Bush will be speaking at Shanksville. Vice President Kamala Harris will also be attending the event in Shanksville before joining up with the Bidens at the Pentagon.
The country unites around this moment for a solemn day to commemorate the thousands of people who died on those attacks on September 11th -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.
BRUNHUBER: In the decades of war that followed 9/11, the Taliban planted an unknown number of land mines and explosives across Afghanistan. Now they're asking for help in removing them.
Some Afghan women have been working with the U.N. to do just that. But now under Taliban rule, they may not be allowed to continue. As CNN's Max Foster reports, it's a tricky dilemma for the head of the U.N.'s land mine unit.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: High up in the English Yorkshire moors, famous for being used as a set for the Harry Potter movies, Paul Heslop whiles away the days, negotiating with the Taliban.
He left Kabul, shortly before the country was taken over. And he's trying to find a way back in, to continue his work, running the U.N. mine clearance program.
PAUL HESLOP, U.N. MINE CLEARANCE PROGRAM: The country, is absolutely littered in explosive remnants of war. There are the IEDs that they laid, to try to disrupt government and military operations.
And then there is just the normal detritus from conflict -- the grenades, the rockets, the shells that are being used, plus what was dropped on them.
FOSTER (voice-over): The irony is, the Taliban is now asking for help in clearing the IEDs that they laid in the first place.
HESLOP: I'm expecting to have a call with a Taliban representative in the next few days, to discuss how we can start. At the moment, about 40 percent of the demining teams in Afghanistan are working. We would like, by the end of September, to have that back up to 80 percent or 90 percent.
FOSTER (voice-over): One of those teams is female and Heslop is taking advice on whether there might be a compromise, to allow them to keep working. Perhaps, if they were accompanied.
HESLOP: One of the things we are reaching out to, us some of the academic scholars and theologians, who understand the Taliban's interpretation of the Quran and what's sharia law means to them and how that affects women.
And seeing, are there any interpretations that would allow your husband-wife team, your father-daughter, a brother-sister team, to work together, to be able to do that? FOSTER (voice-over): If Heslop can find a way to get back into Kabul
and especially if he can retain female staff, it could be a useful test case for other employers, hoping to operate there -- Max Foster, CNN, North Yorkshire, England.
BRUNHUBER: The airlift of tens of thousands of Afghans out of Kabul is over. Now comes the hard work of getting them resettled.
Over 40,000 Afghans have been admitted into the U.S. Many are being housed temporarily at government facilities until permanent relocations can be arranged.
BRUNHUBER: Joining me is Uyen Nguyen, the cofounder of the 75 Viets for 75 Afghan Refugee Families Project. The group is trying to connect families in Washington state with Afghans needing to settle in the United States.
Thank you so much for joining us here.
BRUNHUBER: You saw the comparisons between the fall of Kabul to the fall of Saigon, the side-by-side pictures of helicopters evacuating Americans.
For many people in this country, it was just a symbol, an echo of military failure. But for many Vietnamese, it must have been much more personal.
How did you first decide to get involved?
UYEN NGUYEN, COFOUNDER, 75 VIETS FOR 75 AFGHAN REFUGEE FAMILIES PROJECT: Yes, basically those images were just so triggering and also so sad for me. It was around dinnertime 2.5 weeks ago, on a Monday, that I just couldn't stand to not do something.
So I basically texted a group of friends and I asked them if they would join me in recruiting Vietnamese families to host Afghan families. And I was basically spamming them right at dinnertime. Luckily this group of friends are very interested and eager to do something to help. So we essentially brainstormed and started working on it right away.
BRUNHUBER: So the group is called 75 Viets for 75 Afghan Refugee Families.
What's the meaning of 75 specifically?
NGUYEN: That was the year when our country fell and also many of us became refugees. So we picked that number as a reminder of essentially where we came from and where we are right now. It's definitely not a cap in our project. We want to overshoot that by
a lot. But we wanted to name it specifically 75 as a reminder for our own connection to the refugee experience and our connection to the Afghan experience.
BRUNHUBER: That was Uyen Nguyen, the co-founder of the 75 Viets for 75 Afghan Refugees Families Project, speaking with me earlier. Learn more on viets4afghans.org.
China is cracking down on some billionaires and some of its biggest companies. We'll explain why next on CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: China is cracking down on some of its biggest and most profitable businesses, with new regulations that have wiped out $3 trillion of their market value. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout explains why this is happening and what it could mean for China's future.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: A sector under siege: China's leading tech players, from major e-commerce platforms and ride-hailing companies, to education tech groups, all have been targeted by Beijing's crackdown on private enterprise.
Casualties include some of China's leading tech firms: Alibaba, ByteDance, DiDi, Meituan, New Oriental Education, Pinduoduo, Tencent and the list goes on.
STOUT (voice-over): Companies have been slapped with fines, banned apps and, in order to overhaul the business, prompting sharp falls for listed Chinese tech firms and stoking fear about the future.
But observers say the end goal of Beijing's bid for control is not about creating chaos; it's all part of a top-down plan.
STOUT: Why is this happening?
DAN WANG, GAVEKAL DRAGONOMICS: This isn't simply a power play by Beijing to crush these upstarts, these billionaires, these entrepreneurs. A lot of this crackdown is driven by political campaigns like Common Prosperity.
STOUT (voice-over): Common Prosperity is the prosperity of all the people, says the Chinese president Xi Jinping, as he pledges to redistribute wealth in China. Analysts say the crackdown is out to fix social ills like income inequality and hypercompetition. WANG: The government believes that these companies are mostly in the
business of monetizing status anxiety, in which you have the sales people from these online education firms really preying on the middle class dreams of sending the kids to the best universities.
STOUT (voice-over): There's another force behind the takedown: redirecting the sector toward hard tech like semiconductors and AI.
KEYU JIN, ECONOMIST, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: The Chinese government wants to have technological supremacy, that means setting global standards, shaping future, technologies, especially in the critical and high-tech areas, creating general purpose technologies that will influence economies all around the world.
STOUT (voice-over): That's one reason why influential investors still see opportunity. BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, is reported as saying investors should as much as triple their allocations in Chinese assets.
While billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio says investors should keep their faith in China, writing, "I urge you to not misinterpret these sorts of moves as reversals of the trends that have existed for the last several decades and let that scare you away."
But as China's sweeping tech crackdown continues ...
STOUT: Could this crackdown kill China's entrepreneurial spirit?
WANG: That's something of considerable debate. A lot of regulatory crackdown has focused on 10-20 of China's best and bright entrepreneurs. So these are including the founders of Meituan, Alibaba, Pinduoduo. But I think for the broader masses of entrepreneurs, this is not so much bothering them.
JIN: Especially in the new generation, these eager young minds are very motivated by China's large market. They see lots of opportunities.
STOUT (voice-over): A sector under siege is also being remade to serve the people and their master planners -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
BRUNHUBER: The Paralympics are about to wrap up in Tokyo. China dominated the competition. We'll look back at the two-week event coming up. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: The closing ceremony for the Paralympics is just hours away. Athletes from around the world competed in Tokyo and broke dozens of records.
China is dominating the medal count with 96 golds and 207 total medals, Great Britain a distant second with 41 golds and 124 total medals, followed by the United States and the Russian Paralympic committee.
Despite warnings from health officials, tens of thousands of school- aged children have been attending the games. Two teachers in eastern Japan tested positive for COVID-19 after escorting their students to the Paralympics. Blake Essig has more from Tokyo.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a month, this is what it's looked like inside hospitals and clinics across Tokyo. Children, in some cases as young as 1 month old, testing positive for COVID-19.
Fueled by the Delta variant, the number of kids testing positive for COVID has increased by about 350 percent since the end of July at Dr. Chikako Takeda's clinic. During that time, for people under the age of 20, confirmed cases in Tokyo have increased nearly 270 percent.
DR. CHIKAKO TAKEDA, PEDIATRICIAN (through translator): I don't think it's surprising. The infection between children will spread. And the symptoms will become stronger than they are now.
ESSIG (voice-over): Yet Paralympic organizers and the Japanese government are allowing tens of thousands of elementary through high school students attend events. Health experts worry that decision could lead to more cases.
But organizers remain committed to allowing children to watch the games in person in a safe and secure manner.
ESSIG (voice-over): With many hopeful that the opportunity for kids to see athletes with disabilities compete will help change the attitude of future generations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There's still a lot of prejudice against people with disabilities in Japan. I really hope that the Paralympics can inspire people to change their views.
ESSIG (voice-over): But medical professionals call this decision irresponsible, especially as some people diagnosed with COVID-19 die at home, unable to receive medical care because hospitals and staff simply can't handle any more patients.
According to the government, nearly 120,000 COVID patients are currently trying to recover at home. About 30 percent of them should be hospitalized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The medical system is already collapsing and we also know that the Delta variant infects children. Given all that, I don't think it is a good idea to form big groups or attend events in person.
ESSIG (voice-over): But kids are attending events and, so far, two teachers who escorted children have already tested positive for the virus, requiring 120 kids, who had contact with the teachers, to be tested and their school to be temporarily closed -- Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.
BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. For viewers in the U.S. and Canada, stay with us for "NEW DAY SUNDAY." For international viewers, "CONNECTING AFRICA" is next.