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China Committed to Reunification with Taiwan; U.S. Sub Hit Unknown Object in South China Sea; Afghan Girls' Robotics Team Begins New Chapter; Biden Signs Bill for Better Care of Victims of Havana Syndrome. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired October 09, 2021 - 02:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to CNN.

Coming up, vowing to pursue reunification, the Chinese president commemorates an anniversary with strong rhetoric on Taiwan.

Meanwhile, compensation for victims of Havana syndrome is once again in focus. We hear from a former CIA officer about the mysterious illness.

And recognizing two brave journalists not afraid to stand up to authoritarians, the winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: We begin in Beijing and the extraordinary military pressure China has recently displayed toward Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a major public address, reaffirmed China's commitment to Taiwan's reunification.

He said that Beijing would pursue peaceful means but also said that supporters of independence are on the wrong side of history. Take a listen.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): Secession aimed at Taiwan independence is the greatest obstacle to national reunification and a grave fender to national reunification and rejuvenation.

Those who forgot their heritage betrayed their motherland and seek to split the country will come to no good and they will be detained by the people and confined by the police state.


CURNOW: Beijing, right now, is celebrating one of China's biggest national holidays, the Shanghai revolution of 1911, marking the end of China's imperial court and the beginning of modern China.

Ivan Watson joins us now for more on Xi Jinping's speech.

What struck you about this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of this was Xi Jinping calling for unity and patriotism and claiming credit for China's growth, saying this is all due to the Chinese Communist Party.

But then he made it very clear that part of China's growth and revival also depends on bringing Taiwan back under Beijing's control, even though the Chinese Communist Party has never really ruled Taiwan.

It was taken over by fleeing Chinese nationalists, who lost the civil war against the Communists in 1949. His message is that the Chinese people should be united and anyone who is against this is basically against the Chinese people.

Beijing's line consistently has been to deny that Taiwan has any right to its own sovereignty, judging it as a breakaway republic. And this comes on the eve of Taiwan's own national day celebration, when they are going to hold their own parades, including military parades.

And this is -- any kind of demonstration of independence or sovereignty is really anathema to the government in Beijing.

The Taiwanese government has put out a statement in response to Xi Jinping's comments, basically saying that the future of 23 million Taiwanese people lies completely in their own hands and that Beijing should stop intrusion, harassment and destruction and focus instead on peace, parity, democracy and dialogue.

And though we have seen a big show of China's military aviation muscle over the past week, with 150 warplanes flying into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, I should point out that Xi Jinping stressed peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

He even laid out a formula for it, calling it the one nation -- I'm sorry, I'm garbling this for a moment -- but called for basically a peaceful reunification there, Robyn, which may alleviate some of the tensions that have developed over the past week.

CURNOW: Great to speak with you, thanks so much, Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Thanks Ivan.

So China is demanding answers from the United States on an incident involving a U.S. nuclear powered sub in the South China Sea last week. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann has more on the rising tensions between the two countries. Oren?


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What's important about this story is not only the accident with a nuclear powered submarine but also the context in which it happens. On Saturday, the U.S.S. Connecticut, a Seawolf class nuclear powered

submarine, was operating in the South China Sea, when it hit an underwater object. It's unclear at this time what that object is. There were a number of sailors injured; though none were life- threatening injuries.


LIEBERMANN: The sub was able to make its way to Guam, where it will undergo repairs and an investigation as to what happens and what went wrong. The key is where this happened.

The U.S. specifically simply said it happened in international waters of the Indo-Pacific region. But we've learned from Defense officials that it happened in the South China Sea.

The U.S. says that's international waters, mostly under international law. But China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territorial waters. And that's where the friction comes in, in this disputed piece of water.

And it's not just that there was a submarine there. There's also the U.S., the U.K. and other nations, doing what is essentially a multinational show of force against China, led by the U.K.'s Carrier Strike Group 21. They were just operating around the South China Sea as well.

It's a show of force against China, as we see more aggressive actions from the Chinese against Taiwan. We saw, not only on the day of the accident, when the Chinese flew more than 30 military aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, but also a couple of days later, when they flew more than 50 aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone.

In fact, earlier this week, the Taiwanese defense minister said that China could try to make a move on taking over Taiwan by 2025, even though they would have to pay a price to do so.

And that's also part of the friction around Beijing-Washington relations. National security adviser Jake Sullivan just met with a high ranking Chinese official, trying to set up a virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping.

Even if that was successful, to ensure stability, there is still this underlying tension around Taiwan and the South China Sea -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


CURNOW: Thanks, Oren.

At least 46 people are dead after a third explosion in Afghanistan this week. A suicide bombing hit a Shia mosque in the north, leaving more than 140 others injured. ISIS-K later claimed responsibility for that attack. Clarissa Ward is in Kabul and looks at what the growing violence means for the Taliban as they try to rule the country. Clarissa?


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban's whole appeal to people here is the promise that they can provide security. After decades of war, they have, essentially, put themselves on a platform to say, we are the ones who can bring about an end to the fighting.

So when you have these sorts of terror attacks, the likes of which we've seen, over just the past few days, hitting soft targets, mosques, innocent people, the bombing today in Kunduz attacking a Shiite mosque, that is exactly the sort of ugly, sectarian violence that Afghans have become all too accustomed too but are also deeply sick of.

And so can the Taliban get a grip on the situation?

Can they try to contain the threat, posed by ISIS-K?

We have just seen that ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for this attack and one can only assume they will continue to try to hit these soft targets.

The Taliban spent years being an insurgency; now they're the ones in charge and they're having to grapple with an insurgency. And they see for themselves it presents a number of challenges.


CURNOW: Clarissa Ward there in Kabul.

Senior Taliban representatives are set to meet with a U.S. delegation in Doha this weekend. It will be the first meeting of its kind since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August. Officials say they will focus on safe passage out of the country for Afghans, Americans and other foreign nationals.

A State Department spokesperson says the U.S. also intends to push the Taliban to, quote, "respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls."

And a group of trailblazers for women's rights in Afghanistan is starting a new life far away. The girls' robotics team, once the face of progress in their nation, five team members have recently fled to Mexico. But as Matt Rivers now reports, they still hope to inspire young girls back home.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just four years ago, the half dozen girls from Afghanistan strode confidently into competition, waving their country's flag. The global robotics competition, held in the U.S., was a chance to show what so many in their country doubted, that girls can accomplish anything. And accomplish they did, winning an award for, quote, "courageous

achievement," given to teens who persevere through trying circumstances. So much has changed since then.

In a matter of months this year, the Taliban swept back across Afghanistan, toppling city after city, a mortal threat to girls like those on the robotics team -- educated, progressive, the exact opposite of how the Taliban believe women should be.

And so five of the original team made the decision to flee in a harrowing journey.


RIVERS (voice-over): They went from Herat, Afghanistan, to Kabul; there they managed to get on one of the last commercial flights before the Taliban took the city.

From there, Islamabad, Pakistan, was next, eventually followed by Doha, Qatar, then to Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Mexico City.

Landing in the Mexican capital, where the government has allowed them to stay while they figure out what is next, it is here in the city we got a chance to meet in person. Safe in Mexico, their first thoughts are, of course, about home and the cruelty of the Taliban regime.

FATEMAH QADERYAN, CAPTAIN, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: The rule of the government is just mockery and insult to Islam. But Islam is the religion of kindness. We kindly request not only the United States but the entire international community to eradicate the Taliban generation from Afghanistan.

RIVERS (voice-over): They know that the U.S. has limited options in that regard after their withdrawal and a terrible situation for those opposed to the Taliban. They also know how lucky they were to get out.

SAGHAR SALEHI, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: It was really hard to, you know, leave our beloved ones in Afghanistan. But we are happy that today we are safe, not only because of ourselves but here we can be the voice of thousands of girls, who want to be safe in Afghanistan and who want to continue their education and make their dreams become true.

RIVERS (voice-over): A dwindling reality for girls in that country. In the weeks and months after the Taliban took over, their subsequent actions have reaffirmed a return to a society where women are treated as wholly unequal to men. Still, the team has a message for those left behind.

KAWSAR ROSHAN, AFGHAN GIRLS ROBOTICS TEAM: So my message and my message to my generation is that to please don't lose your hope, your spirit, wherever in Afghanistan you are. I know it is difficult, because I am an Afghan girl, too. And I fully understand you.

But please don't lose your spirit. There's always light in the height of darkness. And just make your dream and follow your dream and believe that, one day, your dream will come true, because I experienced that.

RIVERS: And we asked all of the girls what do you want to do next, both in the near future and in the long-term future?

All four girls that we spoke to told us they do plan on going to college somewhere, hopefully in the United States, they say.

As for the long-term future, they all have hopes to return to Afghanistan some day -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: U.S. officials say the United States and Mexico have worked out the framework of a joint security pact. It would replace a 13-year old agreement meant to fight drug trafficking and organized crime.

The U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken says the updated plan aims to tackle the root causes of security concerns. The countries plan to invest in public health and address the impact of drug use. The deal would target smuggling, human trafficking and arms trafficking across the border.

It would also pursue criminal networks and how they are financed.

And next a medical mystery that is baffling the experts.

Who is behind the Havana syndrome that has afflicted diplomats around the world's?

And what is the U.S. doing about it?

We have that story.

Also speaking truth to power. A closer look at the two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.





CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow, thank you for joining me.

A mysterious syndrome that is sickening diplomats and spies has been given legal recognition by the U.S. president. Joe Biden signed an act, giving victims of the so-called Havana syndrome, better access to medical care.

It is not known what the cause of this condition is, which has sometimes resulted in brain trauma. One theory has blamed Russia, suggesting it could be directing microwave energy from devices but that remains unproven. The White House press secretary saying, a major investigation, is underway. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We, of course, are determined to get to the bottom as quickly as possible of the attribution and cause, of these incidents. The intelligence community in the lead on that.

They launched a large-scale investigation into the potential causes. They're actively examining a range of hypotheses but they have not made a determination about the cause of these incidents or who is responsible.


CURNOW: Cases have been reported by the U.S. at numerous locations around the globe, including last month, when an intelligence officer showed symptoms on a trip to India. The list dates back to 2016, where the first case of the syndrome was reported at the U.S. embassy in Havana.

So exactly, what do the symptoms look like?

They include vertigo, pounding headaches, nausea and popping in the ears. Sometimes, accompanied by an unidentified hissing noise that seems to be coming from a specific direction.

A study compared 40 MRI brain scans of U.S. government personnel reporting the syndrome. It found significant differences in their brain tissue, compared to healthy adults.

The study authors say, the clinical significance of the findings is uncertain.


Mark Polymeropoulos is a former senior intelligence service officer with the CIA. He joins me now.

This is personal for you.

What kind of a day has it been?

MARK POLYMEROPOULOS, FORMER SENIOR CIA INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OFFICER: Today is an extraordinary day. So many of us have had, since 2017, some of the victims from Havana, since 2016. But really a watershed moment, where finally the president is signing this legislation, this is validation. That Havana syndrome, really, does exist.

The U.S. government is going to provide financial remuneration to, many of the victims, it, really, is a special moment, a special bipartisan effort. I can't thank so many people in Congress, the National Security Council and certainly the president as well. So I think many of us are feeling good today.

CURNOW: It's obviously called Havana syndrome because this was, first, picked up in Cuba. Diplomats and also spies, targeted. You are also a former CIA officer in the intelligence services. But you were targeted, you say, in Moscow.

POLYMEROPOULOS: That's right. A made a trip in December of 2017 to Moscow, which was a routine trip. But something really awful happened to me. During that time period, I woke up in the middle of the night, with a terrible case of vertigo, a splitting headache, tinnitus, ringing in my ears.

And it started this for your health journey which, still, is continuing. Today, I still have a headache, it hasn't gone away, I've received treatment but I have a long road ahead in my recovery.

CURNOW: This is obviously supportive and an acknowledgment that this is an issue that many of you have brain trauma. As somebody who has been leading the fight to get recognition, who is responsible, in your opinion, and why?

POLYMEROPOULOS: I think the culprit is Russia, for a variety of reasons. They've experimented with these weapons in the past.

CURNOW: And what are these weapons?

POLYMEROPOULOS: It's a directed energy weapon, something that was used, a microwave weapon, something used certainly against our embassy in Moscow, for years. The Russians, also, we know, from declassified documents, developed such a weapon.

One of the things that is, really, interesting about the recent cohort, starting not from Havana but from my case in 2017, as many intelligence officers from the CIA had the common denominators, we worked on Russia.

So I think it's the likely culprit. We will see where the CIA, and intelligence community investigation takes us. We have to get it right, there's no doubt. But ultimately, as Senator Collins and many others have stated, this was an act of war.


POLYMEROPOULOS: So we have to hold those accountable.

CURNOW: You are saying and many former colleagues are saying, you have been deliberately targeted, that this is an act of war. It is taking place not just in Moscow or in Havana but I think, I also understand, Australia, in China and, also, some suggestions are of it taking place on American soil.

POLYMEROPOULOS: It's pretty extraordinary. And I hate to use the word brilliant but it is a terror weapon. It is something that is designed to cause chaos and sow a lot of confusion.

For many of us, I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, this was, by far, the most terrifying experience in my life. So you also see family members being hit, spouses, children.

CURNOW: How do you counter this? POLYMEROPOULOS: Ultimately, the CIA has task force. It is led by veterans of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. That's a really good thing, the best case officers and analysts on the planet. I think we will get retribution, I think we have, to sooner rather than later.

Because, ultimately, the other part we didn't mention, is during the vice president's trip to Hanoi and the recent trip of the CIA director to New Delhi, officials were hit there as well. So it is almost a message that even our seniormost VIPs are at risk. So we have got to get to the bottom of this.

CURNOW: It's also not just incapacitating many people but it is handicapping. Senior members of the intelligence services, of the U.S.; you had to go into early retirement. Give us a sense of what we know about what this weapon does to your brain.

POLYMEROPOULOS: What a great question. I went to Walter Reed's National Center of Excellence, one of the world's leading traumatic brain injury programs. They diagnosed me with a traumatic brain injury, based on exposure events.

This is a weapon that affects your -- it is a neurological event and it is something that, for me, has given me a headache for four years. It -- my life is OK but it can be quite miserable at times, because the headache has never gone away.

The vertigo and the dizziness come back every once in a while and so what it does, is it takes people off the playing field. So ultimately, it is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I'm learning how to do so but it's not easy.

CURNOW: This legislation, no doubt, is making a huge difference in terms of how you do go forward. Mark Polymeropoulos, thank you very much for joining us. I wish you all the best.

POLYMEROPOULOS: Thank you very much.


CURNOW: Ahead on CNN, from persecution, to prosecution. The difficulties two journalists have overcome, just to tell you the truth. Now they have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Their stories are next.




CURNOW: A pair of journalists winning this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia. Nina dos Santos has more on their struggles to speak truth to power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): The ultimate recognition for the role of a free press. Norway's Nobel Committee awarded its highest accolade to two journalists for tirelessly shining a light on events in their increasingly autocratic homelands.


BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN, NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE CHAIR: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Maria Ressa is the founder of Rappler, a news outlet in the Philippines, where she has documented allegations of abuse by president Rodrigo Duterte's regime and warned of the manipulation of social media.

Named "Time" magazine's Person of the Year in 2018, she has been hounded by lawsuits, which human rights campaigners say are politically motivated.

Reacting to the news of the prize, she said she would never give up the fight.

MARIA RESSA, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE: Journalists will continue doing our jobs but there are always repercussions if you do a story someone doesn't like. Journalists will keep doing those stories. And that is what I hope. That is what I hope will give us more power to do this.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Dmitry Muratov is the cofounder and editor of Russia's independent news organization, "Novaya Gazeta," which, since 1993, has probed correction and President Putin's iron grip on power.

The committee said six of its journalists have been killed. Muratov dedicated the prize to his fallen colleagues. He was congratulated by the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev and, more cynically, by the Kremlin, often the target of his newspaper's investigations.

DOS SANTOS: The winners were selected among the biggest pool of contenders ever to have been considered, 329 people, including champions of highly topical causes, like the fight against climate change and victims of politically motivated poisonings and persecutions.

However, the committee said that this year's prize underscored the vital role that reporters and editors play in an increasingly fractious world, one in which journalism has come under relentless pressure for the advent of fake news and creeping tyranny.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Even free speech bodies were taken aback.

JOEL SIMON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: I was stunned. I was so happy. The power of the Nobel Prize is its ability to shine a spotlight on a key issue, at a critical time. And that, is what I, hope has been achieved. This is the most dangerous and deadly time, ever, to be a journalist.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): This isn't the first time journalists have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the body's more than 120-year long history. The last to do so, was Tawakkol Karman in 2011, who campaigned for the rights of female reporters in her native Yemen.

Ten years later, the message from the Nobel Committee remains the same, even in 2021 the pen is still mightier than the sword -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


CURNOW: Just hours after the Nobel prize announcement, Russia declared nine people and three organizations, as foreign agents. Eight of those people are journalists. One of them works for the BBC's Russian service and one of the organizations is Bellingcat, an investigative news site that has worked with CNN in the past.

Foreign agents in Russia are required to provide detailed financial reports and put warnings on their content. This latest move is part of a wide-scale assault on democracy and journalism, in Russia.

Coming up on CNN, a difficult time for Romania, as COVID cases surge and overwhelm the health system.

Plus how climate change is threatening the U.K.'s coastline. That story also, just ahead.





CURNOW: Welcome back to CNN. It's 31 minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining me, I'm Robyn Curnow in Atlanta.

In some parts of the world, the Delta-driven COVID surge shows some signs of easing but not in Romania, where some of the lowest vaccination numbers in the E.U., hospitals and health care workers are struggling to keep up with the rising number of cases. Kim Brunhuber has the story.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like a war. That is how the staff in one hospital in Romania described conditions, as they treat the surge of COVID-19 patients, overwhelming the country's health care system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Who can remember how many?

In the hundreds. Last night, we had 20 ambulances waiting outside and we had nowhere to put them. And this was the solution.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): A makeshift tent is set up outside the main entrance, where exhausted workers treat the sick. There aren't enough ICU beds inside or anywhere in the country, the government said earlier this week.

Some spaces only opening up, when someone dies. This man is one of the lucky ones. He's been in the hospital for nearly a month, saying, he's recovered from the virus. The manager at this hospital says over 90 percent of the COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

GEORGICA VIERU, ORTHODOX PRIEST AND COVID-19 PATIENT (through translator): It is a terrible disease. I was one of those who thought the vaccine was not good. But I'm telling you now that it was a mistake on my part, an awful choice.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Romania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the European Union with less than a third of the population fully vaccinated. It recently tightened its virus restrictions after the number of new COVID-19 restrictions, sharply, increased over the past month.

The country's president calling the situation a catastrophe. The manager of one hospital, with patients lining the hallways, says he believes the whole system is near its breaking point.

CATALIN APOSTOLESCU, MANAGER, MATEI BALS HOSPITAL (through translator): We are right at the point of collapse. If the situation goes on like this, in one or two days tops, the health care system will succumb because we already don't have the space for the patients who require hospitalization.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): The country is looking to neighbors like Hungary to divert some cases and ease the strain. But with so many unvaccinated citizens in Romania there could be no break in sight for these weary health care workers -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


CURNOW: And even as many parts of the world struggle to give even their first dose, the U.S. is seeing an unprecedented demand for COVID-19 booster shots. More than 7 million people have gotten an extra dose of the vaccine so far in the U.S.

It's now outpacing the number of people getting their first and second shots. And when it comes to the U.S. economy, there are troubling signs the coronavirus continues to disrupt recovery efforts.

Only 190,000 jobs were added in September, much lower than expected. It's the second straight month of discouraging jobs news. Clare Sebastian has the details -- Clare.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This jobs report reveals that while the U.S. labor market continues to recover, that recovery is nowhere near as fast as many had expected.

Take a look at what happened over the past few months. You can see that over the summer in June and July, the job numbers started to come up quite significantly. And then in August and September, they have slipped back, as the Delta variant concerns really started to take hold in the economy.

We see that reflected as well in the numbers we got for leisure and hospitality for September. That sector added just 74,000 jobs, well below the monthly average of this year, of almost 200,000 jobs.

Women also lost 26,000 jobs in this report, a sign that COVID-19 continues to complicate child care arrangements, especially with the Delta variant.


SEBASTIAN: Now it wasn't all bad. The numbers were revised up for July and August. And wages also showed a notable increase. That's a sign that employers are competing to hire people in this tight labor market.

As for President Biden, for whom this was actually the worst jobs report of his presidency, he took the opportunity to use it to make the case for his spending bills.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The jobs numbers also remind us that we have important work ahead of us and important investments we need to make. America is still the largest economy in the world.

We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world. But we risk losing our edge as a nation if we don't move.


SEBASTIAN: Speaking of moving, the big question from this report is will the Fed move ahead and start tapering or scaling back on those pandemic era bond purchases in early November?

Most analysts agree this jobs report was just about strong enough to keep that plan on track -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: In the U.K., important habitats and ecosystems are facing the threat of disappearing and fast. Climate change is wreaking havoc on some of England's most famous landscapes. Salma Abdelaziz has the story.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The northwest coast of England, where sand moves with the tides. But the climate crisis is disturbing the rhythm of this ecosystem, with more than intense storms wrecking a barrier of sand dunes, says local official Paul Wisse.

PAUL WISSE, COASTAL EROSION RISK MANAGEMENT LEADER, GREEN SEFTON: These natural systems do provide an important defense for Sefton. The sand dunes obviously hold an awful lot of sediment that when it's released on the beach helps raise the level of the beach to reduce the wave impacts.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Global warming also means rising temperatures and longer tourist seasons.

WISSE: We have an awful lot of tourists and they can have in some areas a detrimental impact on the vegetation and the dune systems.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): And with tourists comes trash. Tom Norbury runs a volunteer group that picks up litter on the beach.

TOM NORBURY, HIGHTOWN BEACH CLEAN: Let people come here and keep it protected, very fine balance. And people just think they can come here. They didn't realize, you know, it's a special place.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Coastal erosion is happening at an alarming rate. Experts say large suedes of coastlines here are at risk of retreating more than 65 feet in the next 20 years.

ABDELAZIZ: British scientists warned that if the climate crisis continues unchecked here, it could threaten railways, roads and more than 100,000 homes across the U.K. coastlines like this one could disappear in the next century.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): On this protected beach, rangers are repairing the sand dunes, home to rare species of lizards and toads. But unpredictable weather events made more likely by climate change are a threat to recovery, says leader ranger Kate Martin.

KATE MARTIN, LEAD RANGER, NATIONAL TRUST FORMBY: The storms are a real issue. You don't really know when they're coming. We're also getting freak storm events happening in August and other times of the year. And that makes it a lot harder for us to plan our management.

ABDELAZIZ: Manmade infrastructure blocking the back of the dunes is another challenge, Martin says.

MARTIN: If those dunes can't move and shift as they want to move and shift and can't adapt, then that is an issue because if they suddenly, the dunes go, then the whole of the sea defense in this area goes.

ABDELAZIZ: But beyond this coastline, humans will also need to adapt their behaviors to preserve these beaches for future generations -- Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Sefton Coast.


CURNOW: Netflix says a show which portrays a kind of economic "Hunger Games" could be its biggest hit yet. "Squid Game" is a dystopian drama from South Korea and, as Paula Hancocks tells us, it's one of many South Korean films and TV productions that are enjoying global acclaim.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On social media these images are everywhere, on television...

JIMMY FALLON, NBC HOST: I'm here with the cast of "Squid Game."

HANCOCKS: -- everyone is talking about it.

FALLON: Welcome.

HANCOCKS: Amazon's Jeff Bezos tweeted, "I can't wait to watch the show."

Already hitting number one in 90 different countries on Netflix. "Squid Game" is a South Korean T.V. show where 456 debt ridden contestants compete in childlike games for a prize of nearly $14 million. But the penalty for losing is death.

Show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk wanted to make this show for more than a decade but studios rejected it.

HWANG DONG-HYUK, "SQUID GAME" CREATOR (through translator): When I showed it to people, a lot of them said that it was unfamiliar. It's strange and unfamiliar.

What is this?

What the hell is this?

They said this in a negative way.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): South Korea already has a strong film industry with deep talent pools and large profitable studios. But its TV shows were predominantly romantic soap operas until Netflix arrived.

HWANG (through translator): I suddenly thought, will I be able to bring the show to life as I wanted if Netflix is involved?

I took that script from 10 years ago and showed it to them. Netflix said they loved it.

HANCOCKS: Netflix says it has already invested some $2 billion on Asian content and will invest another half a billion on making new Korean content alone this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think in the past couple of years we've seen Korean content viewing grow four times in the region.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Parasite." HANCOCKS: This is a golden age of Korean cultural exports. One when after another. Music, films, TV shows, dubbed Hallyu or Korean wave and it's swept far beyond Asia, where it's been popular for the past two decades. Hwang says that this shows message resonates around the world.

HWANG (through translator): The world is getting much harder to live in. Even in the last 10 years, wealth disparity is growing. Nations are facing economic strife and the added element of the COVID pandemic has made the wealth gap even worse.

HANCOCKS: Social disparity mirrored in Oscar winning Korean film Parasite. Film experts say that content from South Korea with its turbulent history of war and military dictatorship traditionally carries a strong political message.

HYE SEUNG CHUNG, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: Media is not just means of entertainment, like in the United States or in the West. Or media has been always considered a very important tool for political incitement or political resistance.

HANCOCKS: But it's not all politics.

HYE: It is still relatively cheap to produce some dramas in South Korea compared in America. In the "Squid Game," each episode cost less than $2 million, which is half of the price Netflix invested in each episode of "House of Cards."

HANCOCKS: And the younger generation is far more open to foreign language content.

JASON BECHERVAISE, PROFESSOR OF ENTERTAINMENT, SOONGSIL CYBER UNIVERSITY: If you look at those who watch "Parasite," a big number of the kind of audiences or the audience that went to see "Parasite" in the United States was younger people. And they were -- they've been really keen to kind of break that one-inch subtitle barrier.

HANCOCKS: The success of "Squid Game" is already helping other Asian content to trend on Netflix. Streaming platforms are looking to replicate this enormous success -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.


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