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Ex-Detective Exposes China's Torture Of Uyghur Prisoners; Whistleblower: Facebook And Instagram Placing Profit Over Public Good; Report: Up To 3,200 Pedophiles In French Church Since 1950. Aired 12- 1a ET

Aired October 05, 2021 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Hello, everyone, I'm John Vause.

In the hour ahead, after years of denials from Beijing, a former Chinese security officer talks exclusively to CNN about his orders to arrest and torture ethnic Uyghur Muslims.

Facebook's terrible horrible, no good, very bad week is getting worse. The global outage on the eve of testimony from a whistleblower detailing how the company knew that spreading hate, anger and misinformation was good for the bottom line.

And another devastating report into child sexual abuse by clergy will be released in the coming hours. An independent investigation in France identifying about 3,000 child abusers, most of them priests working for the church over the past 70 years.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: We begin with a CNN exclusive for nearly three years. CNN has investigated allegations of gross human rights violations and a modern-day system of internment camps in China's Xinjiang region. Beijing has denied accusations from the U.S. State Department that up to two million ethnic Uyghurs and members of other minorities have been detained in internment camps.

But now, CNN has spoken to a former member of the Chinese security forces who says he was ordered to routinely arrest and torture Uyghur detainees.

And a warning, our report from Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson contains graphic details of violence and sexual abuse.


ABDUWELI AYUP, FORMER DETAINEE IN XINJIANG: Pushed electric stick here and it's just like burning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the story of a victim and his self-confessed torturer.

Do the police officers use electric batons to shock prisoners?

JIANG, FORMER CHINESE DETECTIVE (through translator): Yes, everyone uses different methods.

WATSON: For years, stories of arbitrary arrests, unspeakable cruelty and mass internment camps have been trickling out of China's Xinjiang region.

Testimonies from people like Abduweli Ayup.

When you were detained in 2013, what was your main job? A kindergarten teacher.

Abduweli says police took him from his Uyghur language kindergarten.

AYUP: Put the black hood on my face and they put me in the -- this is the interrogation room and inside the iron cage, there's a tiger chair. You're like wrist shackled there and you're like feet also shackled.

WATSON: He says police accused him of espionage, plotting against the Chinese government and the crime of separatism and they demanded a confession.

AYUP: You just confess, you just admit what you have done. It's good for you.

WATSON: Now, for the very first time CNN has spoken to a former Chinese police officer who claims his job was to arrest and extract confessions from ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

JIANG: Some cops would play the good cops and some would play the bad cops. After we beat them, we'd offer them a cigarette.

WATSON: Did you have to be the bad cop sometimes?

JIANG: Of course.

HAUGEN: The man who asks to be called Jiang says he worked more than 10 years as a cop before fleeing China after growing disillusioned with the ruling Communist Party, I met him in a European country. He wore his police uniform to authenticate his story but does not want to be identified to protect himself and relatives who are still in China.

To prove that he was a Chinese police officer, Jiang is showing me many photos of different police badges, training certificates, even portraits of his graduating class at police academy. Images that we cannot show on television because they would reveal his identity.

Jiang says he was sent from his home province to work in Xinjiang at least three times during which he was ordered to arrest hundreds of suspects, all of them ethnic Uyghurs.

How were the interrogations being conducted?

JIANG: Beat them, kick them, beat them bruised and swollen. Knock their heads on the radiator. Police would step on the suspects face and tell him to confess.

WATSON: Jiang says some suspects were as young as 14 and all of the detainees were beaten.

Were the suspects all men?

JIANG: Men and women.

WATSON: Did you witness women being beaten?


WATSON: CNN cannot independently confirm Jiang's allegations nor those of Abduweli, the kindergarten teacher who says in addition to beatings, he was raped on his first night of detention by Chinese prisoners who followed the orders of prison guards.

AYUP: It's really bad.


WATSON: This was prisoners who sexually assaulted you.

AYUP: Yes, the prisoners.

WATSON: More than one?

AYUP: More than one. Yes, look, just -- first of all, they surrounded me and the police there ordered me to like, take off my underwear and like be --

WATSON: And bend over.

AYUP: Bend over. Don't do this. Don't do this, I cried. Please don't do this. And then, like, one of -- I don't know, just hold my hand like this.

WATSON: Jiang, the police officer who fled China describes in graphic detail methods of sexual torture that he says police officers used.

JIANG: If you want people to confess, use the electric baton. We would tie to electrical wires on the tips and set the wires on their genitals while the person is tied up. The result is better.

He also says police sometimes ordered prisoners to sexually assault detainees.

JIANG: We call it an in-prison investigation.

WATSON: The Chinese government insists it is battling violent extremism in Xinjiang. Beijing also denies any human rights abuses whatsoever are being committed there.

ZHAO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I want to reiterate that the so-called genocide in Xinjiang is nothing but a rumor backed by ulterior motives and an outright lie.

WATSON: But Jiang, the whistleblower cop says he got double his normal salary to join tens of thousands of other police sent to Xinjiang as part of the government crackdown.

How many of the people that you arrested in Xinjiang do you think were actually violent extremists?

JIANG: None.


JIANG: Xinjiang is not a warzone. And those people are our fellow citizens, not foreign enemies.

WATSON: If you didn't carry out the arrests, what would happen to you?

JIANG: Then I would be arrested as well, because that means I too am a part of a terrorist organization. I become their enemy.

WATSON: Abduweli says after 15 months in detention, he confessed to illegal fundraising and was released. He later fled China.

Since then, he says several of his relatives have been detained, including his niece Mihriay.

Where was your niece held?

AYUP: The same detention facility I stayed. I don't know how she -- I don't even know. She is the -- she is the first one. I hope she is the first baby I hope (PH) in my life. She's just like my daughter.

WATSON: In response to written questions from CNN, the Xinjiang government denies that Mihriay died in detention, saying the 30-year- old woman instead died of organ failure due to severe anemia after being treated in a hospital after suffering from an unknown illness.

The Chinese government did not respond to written questions concerning allegations made by the former police officer.

Abduweli now lives in Norway with his family and publishes children's books written in Uyghur. He insists he can forgive the men who jailed and tortured him.

AYUP: I don't hate them. Because all of them, victim of that system.

WATSON: If you met one of these prisoners, what would you say to them?

JIANG: I'm scared. I would leave immediately.


JIANG: How do I face these people? You'd feel guilty. Even if you're just a soldier. You're still responsible for what happened.

Yes, you need to execute orders. But so many people did this thing together. We are responsible for this.


WATSON (on camera): John, I want to stress that this report is part of a much broader body of work that CNN journalists have done investigating allegations of human rights abuses committed in Xinjiang on a virtually industrial scale.

We have published leaked Chinese government documents revealing the nature of the arbitrary mass detentions. CNN's Matt Rivers has traveled to Xinjiang, been harassed every step of the way by Chinese security forces.

CNN's David Culver has traveled there to try to find children separated by parents -- from their parents who were either in detention or a children themselves who've been put in detention and denied access to their own parents.

We have also interviewed camp survivors in countries like Kazakhstan and in Turkey and relatives who have not been able to talk to their family members for years in part because of China's strict censorship, the internet firewall in China, and who have described the agony of being cut off from relatives who've disappeared into the detention system.


WATSON: The Chinese government continues to deny any abuses whatsoever. And in fact, Chinese state media has accused some of the traumatized people who have shared their allegations of sexual assault and their trauma have accused without evidence those people of being paid actors. In essence, victim shaming, John.

VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, our senior International Correspondent in Hong Kong, great report. Thank you, Ivan.

An already bad week for Facebook only got worse Monday, a global outage left the social media platform and its family of apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, inaccessible to billions of users for hours.

Services have slowly returned to normal and Facebook has apologized, blaming the problem on a faulty configuration change and says there's no evidence that user data was compromised.

Just a day earlier, a whistleblower appeared on CBS "60 Minutes" publicly accusing the social media giant of covering up internal research, which details how the various platforms fuel misinformation, as well as anger and outrage while also harming the mental health of younger users, especially teenage girls.

And on Tuesday, this coming Tuesday, that whistleblower a former Facebook employee will testify before lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

We get more now from CNN's Brian Stelter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER PRODUCT MANAGER, FACEBOOK: It was substantially worse at Facebook than anything I'd seen before.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Frances Haugen is preparing to testify under oath.

HAUGEN: It is subsidizing, it is paying for its profits with our safety.

STELTER: Bringing her explosive comments on "60 Minutes" to a Capitol Hill audience.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): A whistleblower approached my office to provide information about Facebook and Instagram.

STELTER: That whistleblower was Haugen, but she says she's not out to destroy the company. She wants to save it. Her warnings are dire.

HAUGEN: Facebook's own research says it is not just that Instagram is dangerous for teenagers, that it harms teenagers. It's that it is distinctly worse than other forms of social media.

STELTER: Haugen provided an internal research to back up her claims and lodging complaints with the SEC.


STELTER: Her attorney John Tye suggesting Facebook could be legally vulnerable.

TYE: Everything from how much hate speech is removed from the platform to some of the very serious problems that they've had expanding user demographics.

STELTER: Now, Facebook is aggressively defending itself calling many of Haugen's claims misleading and saying users benefit from its services. A sharp contrast to Haugen who makes it sound like a toxic swamp.

HAUGEN: People enjoy engaging with things that elicit an emotional reaction. And the more anger that they get exposed to, the more they interact and the more they consume.

STELTER: A global problem causing a vicious cycle of poisonous politics.

Facebook V.P. Nick Clegg, however, saying advertisers don't want anything to do with that. So, neither does Facebook.

NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS, FACEBOOK: We have absolutely no commercial incentive, no moral incentive, no

companywide incentive to do anything other than try and give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible. And that is what we do day in, day out. STELTER: Facebook's Global Head of safety Antigone Davis, calling into CNBC to defend the company and try to reassure investors saying Facebook wants to be regulated.

ANTIGONE DAVIS, GLOBAL HEAD OF SAFETY DIRECTOR, FACEBOOK: It's one of the things that we've been pushing for.

STELTER: Haugen also says regulation is the answer.

HAUGEN: I'm hoping that this will have a big enough impact on the world, that they get the fortitude and the motivation to actually go put those regulations into place.


STELTER: So, that is Haugen's goal. And she lays it out in her prepared testimony obtained at a time by CNN. She says "Congress can change the rules Facebook plays by and stop the harm it is causing."

Of course, a lot easier said than done with lawmakers disagreeing on almost everything. We will see if they find a way forward during or after the hearing on Tuesday.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

VAUSE: Josh Golin is the Executive Director of Fairplay. A group which is leading the campaign to stop the new children's version of Instagram from ever being released by Facebook.

He joins us this hour from Watertown in Massachusetts. Josh, thank you for your time.

JOSH GOLIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FAIRPLAY: Thanks so much for having me.

VAUSE: OK, I want to start with something Facebook's Vice President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg said to CNN. Here he is.


CLEGG: I think the one thing which is deeply misleading is this idea that we commissioned research then deliberately brushed it under the carpet because we don't like the implications of that research. Because somehow, we like to have bad and unpleasant content on our platform. Of course, we don't.


VAUSE: Isn't that precisely what's been exposed by the whistleblower?

GOLIN: Well, I think that's really interesting because I -- you know, I would actually agree, they don't necessarily want to have bad content on their platforms. But the thing is, they don't care what kind of content they have.

[00:15:04] GOLIN: So, Facebook, all they care about is that we keep watching, that we keep going to Facebook, that we keep posting, that we keep commenting and it turns out that the things that keep us posting and keep us coming back over and over again is angry content, is rabbit holes, is misinformation, is conspiracy theories. So, that's why Facebook promotes all those things to us. It's not because they're setting out to harm society or setting out to harm children, it's just because they measure the absolute wrong things. The only thing they care about is engagement, because that's what drives Facebook's profits. And that leads to a lot and lot and a lot of bad content.

VAUSE: Yes. In fact, according to Facebook's own research, one study says 13.5 percent of teen girls say Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, 17 percent of teen girls say Instagram makes eating disorders worse.

And here's the whistleblower Frances Haugen (INAUDIBLE) on how Instagram magnifies those problems.


HAUGEN: What's super tragic is Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed and it actually makes them use the app more. And so, they end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.

Facebook's own research says it is not just that Instagram is dangerous for teenagers, that it harms teenagers, is that it is distinctly worse than other forms of social media.


VAUSE: How is this any different from big tobacco knowing as far back as 1959 smoking caused cancer but refusing to say so publicly while also knowing even earlier than that, that nicotine was addictive.

GOLIN: I think the comparisons to big tobacco are very apt. You hear you have an company that wants to get kids as young as possible, wants to hook them on Instagram, not for the money that they can necessarily make off of young children at that moment, but to keep them on the platform for life because they know a lifetime user just like a lifetime smoker is worth a heck of a lot of money.

Facebook is casting doubt on other people on academic research when they're suppressing their own research. So, I think the comparisons are very apt. And I -- and it's hard to argue right now that Facebook isn't just like big tobacco.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, here he was talking back in March, listen to this.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: The research that we've seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits and wellbeing benefits, like helping people feel more connected and less lonely.


VAUSE: And more doctors endorse Camels cigarettes than any other brand. Clearly, Facebook cannot be trusted to make a full disclosure. What should Congress be doing? And not just about Facebook, but all social media platforms?

GOLIN: Well, I think the first thing that Facebook -- I'm sorry, that Congress should do is they should launch and immediate investigation of Facebook. And they should demand all of their research and all of their plans regarding children, because the whistleblower may have only revealed the tip of the iceberg and we need to know exactly what Facebook knows about how its platforms are harming children and what its plans are because that's really important for all of us to know.

But we should also be passing laws like updates to the children's online Privacy and Protection Act, which are now in front of Congress. And Senator Markey's KIDS Act, which would restrict platforms from amplifying harmful content to children.

Because ultimately, we need to regulate not just Facebook, but all of these social media platforms that have this really exploited a business model that rely on getting kids to be online as much as possible, so they can collect as much data from them as possible and deliver as many ads as possible.

And ultimately, that business model is terrible for children. And so, we need to regulate companies like Facebook to prevent them from harming kids.

VAUSE: And just to bring this full circle, it's fair to say in your opinion at least, Facebook may not have started out intending to do harm. But it's been more than willing to maximize profits after finding out that tapping into anger and outrage and other negative emotions kept users on the platform for longer.

GOLIN: Absolutely. Whenever Facebook is faced with a choice between its profits and the wellbeing of society or the wellbeing of children, they choose their own profits, which is why we need regulators to step in.

VAUSE: Yes, a good point. Josh, good point to finish on. Josh Golin there, executive director of Fairplay. Thanks for being with us.

GOLIN: Thanks so much.

VAUSE: Still to come, a survivor describes the tsunami of victims ahead of a new report on child sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church, details in a moment.



VAUSE: The Vatican is bracing for another devastating report detailing widespread child sexual abuse mostly by priests. This time within the Catholic Church in France.

After 2-1/2 years, an independent investigation has found about 3,000 pedophiles were employed by the church over the past 70 years, 22 cases have been sent to local prosecutors indicating the abuse of the case is still active.

The number of victims has not yet been made public but some have warned of a tsunami of victims.

CNN Religion Commentator Father Edward Beck is with us now from New York. Father Beck, it's been a long time. Good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, I just want to say from the outset, the point here is that you are here in your role as a CNN Commentator, you're not a spokesperson for the Vatican, right?

Because if you were a spokesperson for the Vatican, you refuse to comment until the full report is made public. So, I just want to make that point before we begin (PH).

Let's start with the numbers involved in this report. Almost 3,000 sexual abusers out of 115,000 clergy is one survivor who is part of the inquiry in putting those numbers in context. Listen to this.


OLIVIER SAVIGNAC, SEXUALLY ABUSED BY PRIEST WHEN HE WAS 13 (through translator): We're talking about less than one percent of men who have pedophile tendencies. And in the church, we see at least three percent of pedo criminals, meaning those who did the act. That means that in this Catholic institution, we see three times more abusers than in French society.

So, these are the real questions we have to ask ourselves on why we find these abusers. And that's where we see the systemic aspect of it that has become institutionalized.


VAUSE: This really ends that sort of longtime argument that the church is a reflection of society, at least in the case in France, is one reason is because it allowed this to happen for 70 years, and the church in France became some kind of haven for sexual predators?

BECK: Well, John, I think others may dispute that statistic. I mean, generally, what I have heard is four to five percent of the population.

Now, you remember here in the United States, when we looked at that same time period, it was about four percent of clergy, if you look at comparable other groups.

And again, this is not to excuse this at all, this is just to put it in context, since we started with that sound about statistics. So, teachers, public school teachers in the United States, it's five

to seven percent have abused. So, you're talking about double the amount of this number that we're talking about here.

So, I think you have to be very careful with these statistics because most say that the clergy statistics are below. Other things like Boy Scouts, teachers, other helping professions, and we just have to put that in context before we continue to the conversation I think.

VAUSE: Yes, and to make the point does not excuse it for a moment. But in a recent newspaper interview, the head of this investigation said from 1950 to 1970, the church is completely indifferent to the victims. They don't exist. The suffering inflicted on children is ignored. The periods that followed were different. Our objective, he says, is to furnish a concrete diagnosis of all the abuses to identify the causes and draw all the consequences.

You know, Pope Francis has recently changed canon law regarding sexual abuse by clergy. He's met with survivors. He said the scandal is a worldwide catastrophe. He's saying all the right things.

But why isn't the Vatican leading these investigations as opposed to just going on for the ride and waiting to comment for yet another report to be made public?


BECK: Well, again, the Vatican is taking on some of these cases and anything brought to the Vatican is put for further investigation. France decided to have this commission, the church in France had this independent commission that's making this report of 21 people. They've been working on this report for 2-1/2 years. It's been independent. The church has not had any control over it. And they are the ones that have come forward with this.

So, the Vatican feels as though local entities such as local diocese, these kinds of commissions are the ones on the ground, and they should be the ones doing the investigations.

VAUSE: Well, VICE News recently had a report saying over the last year, at least a dozen priests have returned to their parishes or new positions within the church. In some cases, the Vatican has even overturned recommendations from local dioceses.

New York Times recently reported on a church bracing for another scandal after a conservative Catholic blog seem to show priests at multiple levels of the Catholic hierarchy in both the United States and the Vatican using the gay hookup app Grindr.

I mean, there is no end to this story, because it seems there's been no real serious attempt to clean house. If this was any other institution embroiled in a decade's long scandal, it wouldn't have survived.

BECK: Well, I think that there has been a real concerted effort to clean house since 2002 in the United States. Now remember, the report in France, 22 of those 3,000 people can be

prosecuted, most are dead, or the statute of limitations have ended. So, those are old cases. So, we're talking about in recent years, this is relatively rare.

So, in the United States, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, you'll remember, out of those 300, only two could be prosecuted were still alive and still able to be prosecuted.

So, I have think -- I do think there's been great advancing in this issue. The problem is the cover up that for so long allowed it to be perpetuated.

And also, I think in some way, all of these cases now are coming out because they were never reported. They should have been reported a long time ago, they should have been dealt with, people shouldn't have been moved around.

So, yes, there were mistakes made there. But I think there's been great advancement here and especially, I know more from the United States, because this is where I live. Since 2002, the Dallas Charter, the cases have been minimal in the United States. Most of the things we hear about are old cases, people are dead, or they're no longer prosecutable.

VAUSE: I guess the question is, when does it end? When is it no more reports coming from independent commissions into clergy sexual abuse listing thousands of victims?

BECK: Well, I don't know if it ever ends, John. I think so many organizations are coming with this reckoning. Look at the Boy Scouts in the United States, I mean that -- those numbers are astronomical in compared to the Catholic Church.

I mean, sex abuse is an issue in our culture. It's an issue in families, the 80 percent of sexual abuse occurs by stepfathers, brothers and families.

So, again, the church you expect more of the church, these are moral arbiters. You know, these are people who is supposed to be uplifting others, not abusing others. I think that's why it's so treacherous when we hear of clergy being involved in such a thing.

And getting humanity as humanity, it's going to be sinful, it's going to be criminal and it has to be prosecuted, it has to be weeded out.

But I don't know if you can ever say we're going to hear the end of it until we see the end of humanity. I mean, because we're seeing it in every sector of society. And I don't think we'll ever totally extinguish it.

VAUSE: Father, thank you so much. As I said, not a spokesperson for the Vatican, just someone here to help us understand what's happening. We very much appreciate your time. Thank you, Sir.

BECK: Thanks, John. VAUSE: Well, Beijing piles on the pressure on Taiwan sending a record number of Warplanes near the island but Taiwan's Air Force has actually sent its own blunt message or counter message to the main light, that came on Facebook when it was working. Details in a moment.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Taiwan's foreign minister has warned preparations are underway for a looming war with mainland China. Joseph Wu appeared on Australia's state-owned broadcaster, the ABC, and urged increased intelligence sharing and security cooperation between Taipei and Canberra, as Beijing ramps up already heightened tensions within the region.


For the third day in a row, or plans from mainland China flew into Taiwan's air defense zone, according to officials in Taipei Monday. So 56 planes, the highest number so far.

Well, state-controlled media in China has confirmed the incursion, describing it as part of last week's National Day celebrations.

Meantime, Taiwan's air force sent its own message, posting these images online, showing fighter jets scrambling and warning there will be no compromise when it comes to defending the self-governed island.

CNN's Will Ripley, live for us now in Taipei with the very latest. There's a lot of talk going on. Some of it sounds very serious. What's the reality?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, the fact that Beijing is claiming that these military incursions that continue to get bigger and bigger, that they've broken their own records three out of the last four days. That's kind of like your next-door neighbor, you know, firing weapons across their backyard, from the perspective of the Taiwanese government. Because their air defense identification zone, it may not be their country -- their island's airspace, which extends to nautical miles from the coast.

But it is an area where, wherever these military aircraft enter, they scramble their own fighter jets. They deploy anti-aircraft and missile defense systems. They issue radio warnings.

And I mean, if you just look at the numbers, John, of Chinese planes that have -- that have entered the self-declared air defense identification zone since Friday, it's pretty stunning. You have 149 in total: fighters, bombers, anti-aircraft, anti-early warning aircraft. I mean, the list just continues to grow.

And so, yes, as a result, you have the Taiwanese air force putting out their own propaganda video, because if this is how how the mainland does propaganda for the domestic audience, well Taiwan is now responding. Take a look.

Or maybe we don't have that. The video says that Taiwan's air force will never compromise when it comes to defending their airspace, John. And it shows show soldiers in a readiness position, a state of readiness, responding and taking off in fighter jets. Basically, the same kind of imagery that, you know, Beijing may be sending in a form of its own propaganda to the mainland.

But you also have, in addition to the Chinese activity in disguise near Taiwan, you have naval activity with the United States, the U.K., Japan, Canada, New Zealand. All of these countries have been conducting various naval exercises and even posting their own images of these warships flying their respective national flags on Twitter.

And so we don't know for sure is it, in fact, are these Chinese flights the result of that naval activity? Is it the result of rhetoric out of Washington, where they criticized Beijing for being provocative. Of course, Beijing then fired right back, said it's the United States is being provocative and destabilizing. So they're both continuing to point the finger at each other.

Or is it actually just the biggest National Day celebration that you can imagine. To just fly, you know, 149 planes right near an island that you claim is your own territory.

VAUSE: Yes. A lot of possibilities. I mean, one reality. We'll find out. Will, thank you. Will Ripley, live for us in Taipei.

In male-dominated South Korea, it's been a long, slow journey towards gender equality. And while women have made some significant gains in recent years, there's now backlash with the demonization of feminism, especially among young men.


CNN's Paula Hancocks reports now from Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As feminist movements around the world lobby for equality and women's rights, South Korea is no exception.

What is different here is the fast-growing power of the anti-feminist movement. A male-dominated society with a poor record on women's rights, things were starting to improve, but now a male backlash is on the rise.

Bae IngGyu is the leader of New Men's Solidarity, a group that organizes rallies denouncing feminist as misandrists, hating men. He has more than 370,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, the target of numerous complaints claiming he was inciting violence. His account has been shut down by YouTube more than once for harassment.

Last month, he heckled a feminist rally dressed as the Joker, spraying them with a water gun. While being filmed for his livestream, he shouts.

BAE INGGYU, LEADER, NEW MEN'S SOLIDARITY (through translator): I'm going to catch some insects. Insects are in the air.

HANCOCKS: Later in the livestream saying --

BAE (through translator): Wake up, people! Ask why they're using nonexistent misogyny to make men and women hate each other. Lawmakers are making crazy laws to send Korean men to jail on women's false accusations.

HANCOCKS: Despite this and more extreme livestream statements, Bae denies harassment, claiming he supports women's rights, but not feminists in South Korea.

BAE (through translator): The Joker, as you may know from the movie, is a character filled with joy and sorrow, who was suppressed, bullied, and silenced by the world. I dressed like him and want empathy from the public.

HANCOCKS: A leader of the feminist group Haeil, targeted by Bae, says some of her members have had therapy for trauma after the Joker incident.

KIM JU-HEE, FOUNDER OF TEAM HAEIL FEMINIST GROUP (through translator): Anti-feminists have shared, organized and empowered their words in the Internet community. Now, they think they're right, because there are numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

HANCOCKS: Kim also worries about the courting of the anti-feminist vote in politics, ahead of a presidential election, saying many women are too scared to admit to being a feminist these days, for fear of discrimination at work or in their personal lives.

KIM (through translator): Rather than the original thought that there is discrimination against women, phrases like, It's more unfair for men, or there is no misogyny began to rise in the public domain.

HANCOCKS: A 2019 report, published by Korean Women's Development Institute, show just over half of men in their 20s surveyed said they were anti-feminists.

Sentiments now evident in mainstream politics. The new leader of the opposition People's Power Party is 36 years old, the youngest conservative party leader ever.

He says young woman in Korea no longer face gender discrimination and blames, quote, "radical feminists" for stirring gender conflict. Recently, he called for abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality, for wasting taxpayer money.

One anti-feminist argument of an uneven playing field, is that men have to do a near-two-year mandatory military service, but women do not.

CHEON GWAN-YUL, ANALYST AND AUTHOR (through translator): Young men do feel they're being discriminated against. They feel their opportunities and middle-class jobs are disappearing. However, their focus is all wrong. They claim their problems are because of women, and this situation worries me.

HANCOCKS: A soon-to-be published survey by Hankook Research found that the No. 1 priority of men looking for a wife is no longer income or education level, but a woman's feelings on feminism. Further signs feminism really has become a dirty word in South Korea.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


VAUSE: T minus 5 hours and counting. One giant leap for moviemaking as a Russian crew prepares for blast-off, making the first movie in space. Details in a moment.



VAUSE: For one Russian actor, it was preparation for a movie role like never before. Along with the movie's director, he's heading to the International Space Station on Tuesday to film the first ever movie in outer space.

CNN's Julia Chatterley has our report.


JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): It's the final frontier of filmmaking. And a first for one lucky star, who will feature in the first movie made in the stars.

It seems like a role custom-made for actor Tom Cruise, known for his gravity-defying stunts like hanging off the side of a plane, or scaling the world's tallest building.

Last year, NASA said it was planning to make a movie with Cruise on the International Space Station. But the winner of this space race is Moscow over Hollywood. Russian actress Yulia Peresild lifts off Tuesday in a Soyuz spacecraft to travel to The International Space Station in what could be one of the most unusual commutes ever to a movie set.

YULIA PERESILD, ACTRESS (through translator): I'm not afraid of anything. I just really want us to make a good movie. And I really want our health, which as it turns out to be generally good, to not let us down.

CHATTERLEY: The lead actress will be accompanied into space by her director. Both had to learn not only their screen parts but work with professional cosmonauts for months, undergoing weightlessness training with a backup crew, as well as centrifuge tests and parachute drills.

KIM SHIPENKO, DIRECTOR (through translator): During this time, they really tortured us. They didn't beat us up, though, but made us memorize a lot of unknown abbreviations, and squeezed us completely. CHATTERLEY: The team will spend 12 days filming on the space station.

Cosmos on the ISS will also appear in the movie, which is currently titled "The Challenge."

And that is what the actress says she expects the experience to be, as she and her colleague will have to play multiple roles.

PERESILD (through translator): Since he will have to be a camera operator, director, and a lighting engineer, I will have to be a makeup artist, costume designer, and an actress.

CHATTERLEY: Fans will have to judge if the film becomes an international blockbuster, but its out-of-this-world location already makes it a groundbreaking movie.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up after the break. But then I'll be back at the top of the hour. See you then.