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Violence Erupts Between Migrants And Polish Forces; Belarus Accused Of Instigating Migrant Standoff; Germany Bans The Unvaccinated From Some Public Spaces; 2 Million Unvaccinated Austrians Under Temporary Lockdown; India's Top Court Takes Up New Delhi Pollution Issues; Analysts Warn Of Intensifying Arms Race Across Asia. Aired 1- 2a ET
Aired November 17, 2021 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, this is CNN Newsroom. And coming up this hour, a border crisis becomes a border confrontation. Thousands of angry and frustrated young men trapped in limbo and going nowhere for days, violently clashed with Polish security forces, and CNN was there. Extreme measures to try and ease India's air pollution emergency but the smog and haze choking New Delhi and beyond expected to get worse.
And new hoax, a cure for HIV might be possible. Now that a second person has been found whose immune system eliminated the virus without drugs or treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.
VAUSE: They are the weapon of choice for Belarus and it's hybrid war on the E.U. Desperation for a better life cynically exploited by Alexander Lukashenko to create chaos in the West, but it's desperation nonetheless. And on Tuesday, thousands of mostly young men turn frustration into fury tried to force their way across the border and into Poland. That anger was met with water cannons and tear gas by Polish border guards.
Belarus claims the cannons provide toxic chemicals. This is Poland's Defense Ministry accusing Belarus of equipping the migrants with stun grenades. NATO and the European Union say Belarus created this crisis, retaliation for earlier sanctions with the E.U. calling on Belarus to take urgent action to restore security. Well, the United Nations call it conditions at the border catastrophic, CNN's Matthew Chance has a report now from the Belarusian-Polish border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just warming my hands and drying some of my clothes off because it's been an absolutely tense dramatic situation here on the border between Belarus and Poland. We've all been saturated with the water cannons that have been fired by the Polish border guards onto these refugees as they tried to storm the barricades. And you can see the border fence here.
If I bring you up towards it, it's been broken down by sheer force by young men trying to get close as they can to the border of Poland, the border of the European Union. And look, the situation has calmed over the past several minutes. People have moved back. They're not firing water cannon anymore. Rocks aren't being thrown anymore by the refugees towards them.
But you can see the the water cannons still there. The troops are still on the border. And absolutely determined not to allow these refugees to pass. Look at them, spread out here over this area on the border between Belarus and Poland.
The U.S., of course, accuses Belarus of orchestrating this refugee crisis. In order to create a humanitarian catastrophe on the border, let's say, it's a cynical exploitation. This is Secretary Blinken saying this yesterday, a cynical exploitation of vulnerable people.
And the polls have made it absolutely clear that they are not going to back down and they're not going to let people through. Earlier we saw dramatic scenes here at the official border checkpoints with people rushing forward, you know, throwing rocks towards the barricades. The Polish security forces, the border guards, the water cannon responded in kind, pushing people back with water sprays, and pepper spray.
And, you know, we all got covered in it as well. And there's something accrued in the water that was, you know, quite stinging of the eyes, made everybody cough. And, you know, the result has been that it's pushed people back. And so, this is all been an expression of the kind of frustration that's been building in this camp, in these areas along the border with Belarus and Poland for the past week or so since a couple of thousand people started to gather here with hopes that they would be able to go through into Poland and to get political asylum as refugees in the European Union.
There's still some, you know, sort of tear gas in the air as I speak to you now. But, of course, that has not happened. And so it's left them still in this very severely bleak that situation here on the border. And there's very little sign at this point of any side backing down. Belarus is still bringing people in. The polls, the European Union are still refusing to let anybody out the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, for more now, CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us from Los Angeles. Dominic, thanks for being with us.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: So back in 2015, about a million migrants arrived in Europe over that 12 month period, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And that was a crisis. In this instance, we're talking thousands, about hundreds of thousands of people trying to enter the E.U. via Polish (ph). There's a short-term solution here that does not involve water cannons and tear gas.
THOMAS: Yes, you're right, John. The situation has deteriorated dramatically. And what is clear is that Lukashenko from the very beginning clearly understood the vulnerability of the European Union around this question of migration, around the kind of the PTSD of 2015 in the way in which it impacted European politics because of the oxygen it gave too far-right political and parties. And it clearly does not want to set a precedent here by opening up its borders to neighbors that are willing to weaponize migrants in this particular way.
It's clear that there are really two solutions at this moment. First of all, they need to absolutely continue to pressure Lukashenko to stem the flow of migrants arriving into his country, in Belarus. And I think the second aspect of that is, as you said, we're talking about thousands, not millions as we were back in 2015. And either the European Union misswork (ph) at processing these migrants and finding a safe haven for them, or setting up some kind of international safe zone in which they can do a case by case analysis of what it is these individuals are, whether they're migrants, refugees or asylum seekers, and go about processing them.
VAUSE: And actually the latest scenes of chaos on the Belarusian- Polish border, we heard from Russia's Foreign Minister, he had this criticism of Poland. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): The behavior of the Polish side is completely unacceptable. I think the water cannons and tear gas and shots over the migrants' heads towards Belarus state, all of it reflects a desire to hide their own actions. And they cannot but understand that they violate all thinkable norms of the international humanitarian law and other international law norms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, always takes a liberal with a grain of salt, but he does put this focus on what was a fairly harsh response by Poland. And in the past, this sort of response has been encouraged by the E.U. for countries which are on its border as a way of deterring illegal immigration. You know, they've had this sort of eat their cake approach if you like.
THOMAS: Yes. And I think you're right. Once again, Lavrov here is absolutely right that when it comes to talking about Poland, they currently finds itself at odds with the European Union over a number of legal justice-related issues, particularly around the legal amendments that have been put through that allow them to protect their borders in this way, under the aegis of a party, the Law and Justice party that was elected to protect Polish identity. And Lavrov is absolutely right that the bigger context years, the international law, and certainly humanitarian standards have been flouted because of the greater issues and concerns. But having said that, the level of hypocrisy here from Lavrov is quite striking. Over a week ago, one phone call to Lukashenko would have ended this. We all know that the President of Belarus serves at the pleasure of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. And I think that the responsibility ends there as well.
VAUSE: The Belarusian President warned of a possible escalation in this crisis, while also denying any role in creating what is essentially a no man's land of human misery. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): We haven't deployed any platoon or division at the border. The commander in chief hasn't given such order to the army. But we have plans to counter any aggression from their side. We don't collect refugees from all over the world and don't bring them to Belarus, as Poland has told the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, I guess he's being honest when he says they don't collect refugees from around the world. The truth is they mostly come from the Middle East. Now that he sort of backed into a corner, it's all made worse by the sort of unbelievable denials over the last couple of days. How does he get himself out of this crisis?
THOMAS: Yes. Well, he's got himself in a real mess here. I mean, he's engaging in sort of a great sort of, you know, revisionist sort of narrative here about how this crisis which he engineered, you know, ended up coming into place. And he's already demonstrated a willingness to disrupt and to sort of increase polarization within the European Union. His hope, his ultimate goal was that this would pressure the European Union to reduce sanctions.
And of course, we see that that has completely backfired. At this particular stage, it's clear that under international pressure, what he needs to do and stop doing is incentivizing migrants coming based on false promises to his country in an attempt to cross over to the European Union. That's number one.
Now, the flip side of that coin is this awkward aspect, which is this sort of repatriation and sending people back to their countries of origins, but seems to forget the fact that these already vulnerable populations, in many cases, have spent thousands of dollars, perhaps even their life savings or their family savings to try and come to Belarus and enter into the European Union. So it's not quite that easy.
But I do think that, ultimately, at this particular stage, the greater geopolitical issues in the region involve Russia. They involve the whole Nord Stream 2 issue around natural gas pipelines. They involve Ukraine, they involve the Baltic States and I think that the issue has now escalated and become so volatile that it's really out of Lukashenko's hands.
And what we're going to be looking at the next few days and weeks is this relationship between the European Union and what role Russia plays in hopefully trying to resolve this crisis.
VAUSE: Russia, Russia, Russia. Dominic Thomas there for us in Los Angeles.
China and Europe are imposing new pandemic restrictions to try and slow new outbreaks of the coronavirus. Starting Wednesday, Beijing will allow just one flight a day from medium and high-risk areas. A negative COVID test will be required to enter the capital.
The unvaccinated will face increased restrictions in some German states as well. Unless they've recovered from the virus in the last six months access to some public venues will be denied. And two regions in France now requiring masks outdoors.
While France is under a state of alert, there are no plans to re- impose a lockdown unlike some other countries in Europe. We get the latest from CNN's Melissa Bell.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These sparkling decorations in Parisian windows, a celebration of the return of the Christmas season, also returning the threat of more COVID restrictions.
SUZANNE HEUFPEL, PARISIAN RESIDENT (through translation): That's why we came here as soon as we learned that the decorations were up to make the most of what little free time we might have left.
BELL (voice-over): Already, two regions in France announcing the return of mandatory masks in outdoor spaces. New infection rates in France are skyrocketing.
GABRIEL ATTAL, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON (through translation): Over to 10 days ago, the virus was taking the stairs. Now it's in the elevator.
BELL (voice-over): This new wave of COVID-19 already harshly impacting France's neighbors. Germany battling its worst infection rates since the pandemic began, again, imposing restrictions in Berlin. Allowing only people who've been vaccinated or who recently recovered from COVID-19 to enter restaurants, cinemas and sports facilities.
DR. LOTHAR WIELER, PRESIDENT, ROBERT KOCH INSTITUTE (through translation): We have to assume that the situation throughout Germany will get worse. And without additional measures, it will be unstoppable.
BELL (voice-over): Austria seeing their cases exploding, taking more extreme measures, placing some 2 million unvaccinated people on partial lockdown. The new mandate, unvaccinated people in Austria age 12 and older can only leave their homes for work, food shopping, or emergencies,
ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): If the incidents vaccinated people is down, it continues to rise exponentially for the unvaccinated.
BELL (voice-over): The lockdown which began on Monday enforced with random spot checks and police patrols being stepped up for at least the next 10 days. The move causing an outcry from some Austrians about the disparity of treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I'm here today because I want to fight for my rights. These measures are absolutely discriminatory.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): (Speaking Foreign Language)
BELL (voice-over): In the Netherlands, protests against lockdown measures announced last week amid a jump of new COVID-19 infections, reaching a tipping point over the weekend. With police firing water cannons on angry demonstrators. Perhaps, most alarming about the rise of new infections across Europe, new cases striking areas with fairly high vaccination rates.
In the Netherlands, almost 85 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. In France, that number is almost 75 percent, Germany more than 65 percent and Austria, almost 65 percent. Leading many to wonder watch if anything will be able to stop a seemingly never ending pandemic.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
VAUSE: The toxic haze hanging over New Delhi and what to do about it is now before India's Supreme Court. For days now New Delhi and surrounding areas have been choking on heavily polluted air. The government has ordered schools and colleges in and around the capital city to remain closed or classes are now on line. Work at non- essential construction sites on hold and thermal plants have been shuttered.
CNN's Vedika Sud live from New Delhi. And, you know, we talked about this I guess this time every year, the pandemic was a little different. It wasn't quite as bad but it was still wasn't great. And it gets worse every year.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, according to Greenpeace, almost 57,000 die prematurely in the year 2020 which is last year, even during the pandemic lockdown in Delhi. Those are the numbers when you had three successive lockdowns in Delhi and the rest of India. So you can well about imagine the impact this pollution has on the health of people not only in Delhi, but surrounding states as well.
The measures you've just mentioned are temporary measures. There have been long-term measures in the past but not long enough to curb the pollution levels in and around Delhi. [01:15:03]
It's so difficult to breathe, John. I've had a cough for the last two weeks myself. It's so difficult to step out. Air purifiers inside the house also don't help. The air quality remains poor despite those air purifiers.
This morning, Delhi is experiencing heavy layers of pollution. It's in the very poor category. And we'll slip into the severe category by this evening. The Supreme Court is hearing that petition in court. This is another day of hearing with the central government or the stakeholders and the Supreme Court. Yet again, the judiciary has had to step in to ask the executive what are they really doing on ground so that children who anyway away from schools, and were online for the last year and a half can go back into the classrooms so that people can breathe easy.
Now according to environment experts, it's not only Delhi's problem, this problem is for the entire national capital region to resolve. Here's what an environment expert had to say to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANUMITA ROY CHOWDHURY, EXEC. DIR. OF RESEARCH & ADVOCACY, CSE: The challenge of Delhi is just not a challenge of Delhi, it is a challenge of this region. If you look at India right now through satellite, you will find that the entire Indo-Gangetic Plain in Northern India is wrapped in a blanket of smog. And this is because this time of the year, when you don't have integrated plan for the entire region and aggressive action to address each and every source of pollution in the entire region, that's where we have to step up the action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SUD: Along with the measures that are being implemented, it's very important that the central government and the Delhi government are on the same page in an insight called, John. The blame game continues and it's people of Delhi and the surrounding areas that suffer. The right to breathe is every Delhi citizen's right. It's every Indian citizen's right, is the right of every citizen in the world. And as of now, it's just not happening for us back home in Delhi. John?
VAUSE: Vedika, good luck breathing. We appreciate you being with us. Vedika Sud, get well. Stay healthy.
Let's get to Pedram Javaheri more on the weather conditions in India. We're just waiting for that wind to magically blow all this pollution to another planet, away from the environment, the other environment.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
JAVAHERI: That would be ideal, right?
VAUSE: Yes. JAVAHERI: And, you know, it's been the opposite of that, John.
JAVAHERI: It's been so calm in this region. The temperatures have cooled off a little bit, about 25 degrees across New Delhi, so certainly comfortable in the way of temperatures. But you take a look at some of the scenes, we've talked about the stubble burning across this region. Our farmers essentially clearing land for next season by burning the straw that's left on the ground, and about 23 million tons of that are burned every single year around this time.
And of course, as the atmosphere is sets up in the state that it's in right now with the calm winds, the change in pressure. And of course, the drop in temperatures, you get these inversions, where the air aloft kind of caps the atmosphere and creates this toxic umbrella right at the surface where you have all the pollutants linger.
And of course, you take a look at this. And it's not just the burning there. But of course we know vehicles, combustion particles, fireworks in recent weeks, all of these, these combustion particles are about 2.5 microns in diameter, or smaller. That's about 25 times smaller than the width or the diameter of an average human hair.
So again, small enough to easily get into your bloodstream, get into your lungs. This is why people are reporting all these issues with breathing, and just difficulty all around. And we know Diwali was taking place a couple of weeks ago, and those celebrations also contributing to this as well. A lot of fireworks are banned across India, but people still managed to allow them to take place.
And you notice just a single firecracker can cause heavy pollutants within a 10-cubic metre area. So, of course, you take millions of this and then you see why we're in the situation we are. And the air quality index sits at 224, the very unhealthy category, one step just below what would be the highest tier there.
And of course, the Himalayas kind of act as a barrier capping all of this and keeping it in place. So if the winds are not going to arrive, the conditions don't improve. And this is not dispersed essentially downstream to somebody else. And you'll notice the forecast doesn't show much improvement. We remain very quiet in the weather pattern here. So air quality kind of just wavers in that very unhealthy category.
And that's the concern here, John, over the next several days.
VAUSE: Pedram, thank you. Yes, a big concern for the next couple of days, next couple years, it seems. From (inaudible), thanks Pedram.
Well, a day after their first face-to-face summit virtually, U.S. President Joe Biden says talks with his Chinese counterpart led to progress on the contentious issue of Taiwan. We have on that in a moment. And that meeting comes as tensions flare across parts of the Asia Pacific without us warning of a growing arms race details in a live report with CNN's Will Ripley in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: U.S. and China have agreed to ease restrictions on journalists visa is just one of many issues, which has been a source of contention between Beijing and Washington. Under this agreement, visas will be good for a year up from the current three months and will allow for multiple entries. New journalist's thesis were mostly on hold after China expelled a number of U.S. journalists during Donald Trump's last year in office.
And U.S. President Joe Biden says progress was made on Taiwan during his virtual meeting with China's President Xi Jinping. The two leaders spent a good part of their summit on Monday discussing Taiwan, which has been a source of recent tensions with Chinese military aggression. Biden said Taiwan, quote, makes its own decisions, then later clarified a comment he made about independence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said that they have to decide. They, Taiwan, not us. And we are not encouraging independence. We're encouraging that they do exactly what the Taiwan Act requires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Still, all of this comes against the backdrop of an intensifying arms race across Asia. China's military build-up now posing a challenge to the U.S.
CNN's Will Ripley live in Taipei of the details, of course, much of this is focused, this military build-up on the future and the fate of Taiwan.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. Taiwan is right in the crosshairs with scores of missiles directly pointed at this island from the mainland that could arrive in a matter of minutes. But there are other weapons being developed in China right now that the United States is particularly concerned about in the nuclear sphere. And that's why advisers to President Biden say there could be arms discussions on the heels of that summit, and they say it couldn't come at a more important time.
RIPLEY (voice-over): U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting virtually this week, as the world faces what analysts call a growing threat. In intensive intensifying arms race across the Indo-Pacific, potential flashpoints across the region raising the risk of a nuclear conflict, threatening the U.S., its allies and the world.
PETER LAYTON, VISITING FELLOW, GRIFFITH ASIA INSTITUTE: If you have a serious conflict, you could end up with the nuclear weapons being used. And we're not talking atomic bombs, we're talking hydrogen bombs, and this is a different level of warfare entirely. RIPLEY (voice-over): The world's most assertive nuclear power, China. New satellite images suggests Beijing is building nuclear capable missile silos, testing more ballistic missiles than the rest of the world combined, the Pentagon says. Including what the U.S. calls a potentially game-changing hypersonic weapon, a claim China denies.
The Chinese navy now the largest in the world, with a catch. Most of their warships are small, but they are getting bigger. A new aircraft carrier in Shanghai could launch early next year. With technology rivalling the larger more advanced U.S. carrier fleet.
(on-camera): How long is it going to take for China's Navy to pose a credible threat to America's Navy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they still need through a lot of time.
RIPLEY (on-camera): Are we talking years? Are we talking decades?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes, 20 to 30.
RIPLEY (on-camera): 20 to 30 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 20 to 30 years.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Full-size mock-ups of U.S. warships dot the desert in Xinjiang, possibly for target practice, analysts say. China also flexing its flight muscles, flying warplanes near Taiwan in record numbers.
The islands leaders warn cross strait tensions are at 40-year highs. Taiwan racing to modernise its military, new ships, more missiles, billions of dollars in American-made weapons all to guard against an invasion. Taiwan's Defense Minister says could be possible by 2025.
A war that could involve the U.S. and other Democratic allies. Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN last month in this exclusive interview.
(on-camera): Is Taiwan strategy to try to be able to defend for a period of time before other countries could assist?
TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT: We definitely want to defend ourselves as long as we can. But let me reiterate, it's important that we have the support of our friends.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's closest friend, at least geographically, Japan, signalling support for Taipei. A thinly veiled warning for Beijing.
NOBUO KISHI, JAPANESE MINISTER OF DEFENSE (through translation): What could happen in Taiwan would likely be an issue for Japan, in which case, Japan would need to respond accordingly.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Japan is staging its largest military drills in decades, moving missiles, radar and troops to its southern islands about 100 miles from the Taiwanese coast. Sending ships to the East China Sea, the site of territorial disputes with China.
Japan also facing a threat from North Korean missiles. Pyongyang believed to be ramping up production of uranium for its growing nuclear arsenal. South Korea's speeding up its own weapons development, including submarine launched ballistic missiles. Australia will get nuclear powered submarines, part of a deal with the U.S. and the U.K. to counter China's rapid expansion, militarizing manmade islands in the South China Sea.
Another military build-up, in the Himalayas, the site of deadly border clashes last year between China and India. Another nation with nuclear weapons.
LAYTON: And military forces are definitely being built up. And getting into those sort of those arms races like that is certainly a difficult path.
RIPLEY (voice-over): A path charted primarily by Presidents Biden and Xi today and whoever leads tomorrow.
VAUSE: Well, Will, we have military hardware matters but technology matters more. And that's where the U.S. has traditionally held the lead, it has technological superiority over the Chinese military. China's certainly closing that gap and closing it fast. But it's not quite that simple. It's more of a nuanced picture.
RIPLEY: It is. It's a great point, John. And as you look at the different military capabilities, China's advancement is at different stages. For example, naval superiority analysts say it's still, by far, the United States largely because of the nuclear powered submarine fleet that is vastly superior to China as well as the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, China only has two, a third coming into commission potentially early next year, at least being launched early next year.
But the U.S. has a lot of institutional knowledge. They've been operating these carriers for decades. China doesn't have that, but they're supplementing it with artificial intelligence. That's an interesting point that one analyst told me. China, in the event of a conflict, might actually be relying pretty (ph) heavily on A.I. showing the probability of success.
If an attack were to be launched, Chinese military leaders, this ML (ph) says wouldn't want to launch an attack unless there was a certain percentage guaranteeing that they would be successful. But when you think about A.I. making split second decisions in a nuclear armed conflict, that is certainly something that can be pretty unsettling for people in the areas of space. China is making rapid advancements, as well as in ballistic missile and hypersonic missile technology, these weapons that can not only fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound, but also evade radar. And then, of course, there is the area of cyber and we've reported in the past about China's growing cyberattack capabilities as well. So these arms talks couldn't be coming, John, at a more crucial time, if indeed, they do happen as a result of this summit.
VAUSE: Well, at the same time, we can't ignore the fact that the U.S. continues outspend what I think, 11 of the next -- 11 of the -- the next 11 countries when it comes to defense spending combined, 10 of those are allies. So the U.S. still have a sizable defense budget here to try and keep bubble try to maintain that lead. I guess --
RIPLEY: A lot of that money is in salaries, though, that could be a bit deceptive --
RIPLEY: -- because when you're talking about, you know, China's military is actually less expensive in terms of personnel, 2 million strong. But yes, you're right. The U.S. vastly outspent but they're also covering essentially the whole world, whereas, China right now is still hyper focused on the Indo-Pacific region.
VAUSE: And that's my question. Do they -- does it only comes to the point where the U.S. withdraws forces from other parts of the world to focus on the Pacific, to try and counter China and that then has a ripple effect?
RIPLEY: Yes, a military build-up in this region would be a very troubling development and that is something that a lot of analysts say we really want to watch very closely. And the world should try to avoid because there's already a lot of hardware here, a lot of military hardware and more and more every single day.
VAUSE: Will, thank you. Will Ripley in Taipei. Appreciate the chat. Thank you.
Still ahead, the very survival of English cricket at stake as a former player described years of racist abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that the pain that I went through for those few months, no one could ever, ever put me through that pain again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
In a new six-month series called "White Lies", CNN's "AS EQUALS" investigates the world of skin whitening. This series aims to expose the underlying drivers of colorism, the discrimination against dark- skinned people within the same racial or ethnic group and to hold those involved in the skin whitening industry accountable.
CNN spoke with people of color from around the world about how the industry and perception of beauty has impacted them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) that my skin tone's as a problem because there's an (INAUDIBLE) all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She immediately said, oh wow, you know, your daughter is much darker compared to the rest of the family members. And he jokingly said, where did you find her?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I walked into the living room and she looks at me, she was likewise why is this one so black?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't go out in the sun, you won't be successful. You won't find a partner. You won't find someone -- you're going to have a life marred with this extra melanin. So just stay out of the sun and protect your skin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would say oh you look so dark. You look like you've been burnt. Please don't go out and play in the sun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People will always say to you, don't be under the sun. You know, you'll get dark. You're already dark and you'll really get dark.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't a child that was swayed by much, you know. What you thought of me didn't really bother me before. But that really bothered me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go back and give that little dark girl a big hug.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The color I am (INAUDIBLE). You want me to be darker, so it fits into your narrative of what you think a person of color should be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really think -- especially when I was younger, I always had foundation shade that was like four shades whiter than me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually would use products like Fair and Lovely or things like that because I wanted to present myself to be light.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad's from India and my mother's white and American. I would check my skin tone next to the swatches on the side of a Fair and Lovely package to see where I was. And I think I started to realize really young that I had skin that many women were trying to achieve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all-whitening, or lightning, or brightening or removing dark spots. But the whole emphasis is on the fact that if you are not light enough, you're not beautiful enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day I feel like people make it seem like dark skinned women just are now existing but we've been here for years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to challenge what we consider as beautiful. We need to challenge the rules that we allow certain darker skin toned people to play as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is where colorism plays in. And why we've got a long way to go where women can just be seen equal. Equally beautiful, equally white. Equally intelligent, irrespective of their skin tone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One really powerful tool that I've seen among especially young women, is the power of social media.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hopeful basically, you know, when I look at the younger generation, they get it, they get how people, you know, are all equal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still feel really radical every time I sit out in the sun. You know, it's a big act of rebellion just to sit on the beach but yes.
VAUSE: Two people you saw in that report referencing Unilever product "Fair and Lovely", a cream well-known for skin lightening which had received some widespread criticism. Unilever has now renamed "Fair and Lovely". It's now called "Glow and Lovely". Adding (INAUDIBLE) "the branding suggested a singular idea of beauty".
Find out more about CNN's "WHITE LIES" series and the investigation into the dangers of skin whitening on our Web site, CNN.com.
English cricket has been plunged into a racism crisis after emotional and dramatic testimony to lawmakers from former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. The CEO of English cricket says if it's not already an emergency, it's close to one.
Tom Harrison testified Tuesday before a parliamentary committee investigating harassment and abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM HARRISON, CEO, ENGLAND AND WALES CRICKET BOARD: We know we've let you down. And we are going to fix this. We are going to fix it quickly. We are going to fix it fast. Because the survival of our sport depends on it.
And it's actually, you know, the core of the ACB and we will work, you know, endlessly to insure that very quickly that message is received through our network. We will transform this game very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Earlier Rafiq was almost in tears recounting harassment and bullying from some of the biggest names in English Cricket and how racism cost him his career.
We have more now from CNN World sport anchor, Patrick Snell.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: On Tuesday, it seemed the heartbreaking testimony of Azeem Rafiq, the former cricketer at the center of the racism scandal that's rocked the English game and beyond. Fighting back tears as he went before British lawmakers saying the treatment he received was inhuman.
The now 30-year-old who played for Yorkshire as England's most successful as decorated club for a decade, speaking to a select committee of elected officials, this in Britain's parliament, Rafiq has made over 40 allegations against the club that he says took place between 2008 and 2018.
This, according to reports summary of an independent inquiry conducted on behalf of the club, which noted that in almost all cases, he alleged he was subject to racial harassment or bullying.
Rafiq even saying the experience left him close to taking his own life. At the hearing Rafiq sharing his experience at Yorkshire, saying racist language aimed at his heritage was use constantly but nobody ever stamped it out.
Rafiq born in Karachi Pakistan, but grew up in Barnsley, Yorkshire speaking this Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFIQ: I've got Karachi -- (INAUDIBLE) raised me. I know that the pain I went through, no one could ever, ever put me through that pain again. I can't imagine as a parent hearing me speak now why I would ever want my kids to go anywhere near game. And I don't -- I don't want my son to go anywhere near cricket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So -- but I think this is where the ACB of the counties to show that they can actually use this as an opportunity for the change. And get their parents to understand and ensure that we've messed but we are going to do this, this and this and make sure it doesn't happen to your kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNELL: Courageous words there of Azeem Rafiq. In a statement the new chairman Lloyd Patel describing this Tuesday as an incredibly difficult day for all associated with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club adding in part, "Azeem's courage ion speaking up should be praised and nobody should underestimate how difficult it would have been to relive all of this in public.
"His wish to bring a voice to the voiceless should be an inspiration to provoke real change in the sport. There is no quick fix to the clear problems which have been identified and the issues are complex, not least the charge of institutional racism, which must be addressed head on."
Azeem noted that this is not about individuals, but rather the structure and processes of the club. And we need to tackle this.
With that, it's back to you.
VAUSE: Patrick thank you.
And joining me now live from London, is Bushra Shaikh founder of "Run Racism Out", an anti-racism campaign launched a day before Azeem Rafiq testimony before that parliamentary committee.
Thank you for getting up early and thank you for being with us.
BUSHRA SHAIKH, FOUNDER, RUN RACISM OUT: Thank you. My pleasure.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, so many people were left sort of shocked and outraged after Rafiq revealed an abhorrent level of institutional racism within British cricket. How many British Pakistanis were surprised when they heard about his humiliation? The abuse and the bullying motivated by that racism? I bet you it wasn't a whole lot.
SHAIKH: You know, the entire country was not shocked by it at all. We all knew that all of this happened. It never just -- it's never come out in the public. So, you know, people weren't shocked. Oh my god that's happening. People were more shocked about the fact that he had gone public with it.
VAUSE: It seems like that is what happens almost on a daily basis for so many people within Britain and it's never really addressed, it's never really spoken about.
SHAIKH: No it's not. and we have no idea why. Although I've had several conversations with people to understand why this is. Within the British Pakistani community, there is an inherent fear of them, worried about the repercussions of opening up about these experiences.
VAUSE: So is British cricket reflective of British society? Or is it worse in a way?
SHAIKH: I would probably say it's worse. It's worse because there is no space that is safe enough for people of color, for brown people, for black people, to openly talk about what is going on. I mean racial slurs, racial abuse in any capacity is unacceptable.
VAUSE: I want to hear a little more from Rafiq's appearance before lawmakers on Tuesday, this is quite emotional, this part here, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFIQ: Do I believe I lost my career for the rest of it? Yes I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That must be a terrible feeling.
RAFIQ: Horrible. But you know what maybe, maybe what was written for me was this. Maybe that's just what it was. I'm a massive believer everything happens for a reason.
Like I said, hopefully five years behind me we're going to see a big change. And I can look back at it that I did something that was far bigger than any runs I got -- any wickets I got. But yes, it's horrible and it hurts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, he took the hard road. Clearly there is now this awareness about racism. It's in focus. How do you take a moment and make it a movement?
SHAIKH: Because you bring everyone on board. You create A campaign and YOU make those people that have been silent for years to speak up.
And this isn't just one isolated case. It's an isolated case that we now know about. Now it's time for people to come forward and honestly tell us what is going on within the working kind of employment areas within the industry is to talk about what's happening. We've got to get people talking.
VAUSE: Here's a opinion piece which I read in "The Guardian" about what the treatment of Rafiq says about the power structure in Britain.
"The treatment of the Rafiq was no startling anomaly. It was the very opposite of unforeseeable. It was entirely consistent with the way British society works in 2021. The way the British establishment has operated for decades.
This is a country built on the idea of punching down, of accumulating and retaining personal capital by any means necessary even if it means trampling on the weakest and poorest."
I guess if you look at it from that point of view, is that how racism is allowed to flourish across Britain?
SHAIKH: Of course. I mean that is actually -- I'd probably say the core essence of it.
You know, issues like this don't start from the bottom. They always start at the top. And it's the hierarchy system, a tier system which unfortunately we are still seeing. We are still seeing almost the white privilege that happens within the kind of institutions.
And I am just grateful and happy that these institutional trees are now actually going to clear (ph) what's going to happen to them.
VAUSE: Bushra, thank you so much for being with us. And all the best of luck with your campaign. It's the first time it's lead by a British Pakistanis. Run Out Racism. Good luck.
SHAIKH: Yes. Thank you. VAUSE: Well, an extremely rare HIV case is offering hope to researchers and around the world. Coming up why they think one discovery could move science just that little bit closer to a cure. We will tell you in a moment.
VAUSE: For only the second time ever an HIV positive patient has eliminated the virus completely, without treatment or drugs.
Jacqueline Howard reports now on what this could mean for finding a cure for a disease once thought incurable.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Researchers say they found a patient whose body seemingly has rid itself of and intact HIV virus from within her cells.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. And if scientists are able to determine exactly how this patient's body was able to achieve what they are calling a possible cure, then that could help pave the way to developing a cure for more people.
Now researchers wright in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" quote, -- these observations raise the possibility that is sterilizing cure maybe an extremely rare but possible outcome of HIV 1 infection.
The international research team looked at blood samples from the patient. A 30 year old woman in Argentina. And they also examined samples of her placental tissue after she gave birth last year.
You see, she was first diagnosed with HIV in 2013. The only time she received treatment was during her pregnancies from September 2019 to March 2020.
And the researchers analyzed billions of her cells and those blood and tissue samples. They found no intact HIV virus. All they could find were seven defective pro viruses. That's a form of a virus integrated into the gene of a host cell.
So bottom line, the researchers and the patient say this gives hope that we could be closer to finding a cure.
Back to you.
VAUSE: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez is an internal medicine specialist and a viral researcher. He joins us live from Los Angeles.
It's good to see. I should mention this, before you became a coronavirus expert if you like, your specialty was and still is HIV research right? DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST: Yes absolutely.
I've been doing this for 30 years, back from the days where the only thing available was AZT to the advent of, you know, these cocktails that revolutionized everything from the treatment of Hepatitis C, to now this new Pfizer drug that is supposedly to be stopping COVID once you get.
Those are derivative of HIV medications. So it's all very interrelated, John.
VAUSE: So just give me the big picture here. Sort of the overview. When you found -- because this was reported -- I think the findings came out a while ago, but it's only sort of being publicly released in the last couple of days.
When you first heard about this, what was your sort of first overall reaction?
DR. RODRIGUEZ: My first reaction after all these years, you know, you tend not to try to jump out of excitement for the first thing that you hear.
But there have been very few patients who have been able to get rid of HIV in their body. Apparently, this woman in Argentina is one of them.
HIV is very complicated. It invades your body and it actually invades the actual immune cells, called t-cells. It gets into them and it uses their DNA to make more viruses.
Now we are lucky that the medications and the cocktails that are used are able to stop the virus from making new viruses inside the blood. But the catch is John, that many of these viruses have gotten in to cells throughout the body in the dormant state.
So there have been trials in the past where you've stopped the medication of people who have controlled viral replication, what we call an undetectable viral load. And lo and behold a few months later, the virus creeps up because it has been dormant.
And this is a very special case, where the patient by herself supposedly, has no dormant virus. They checked billions of cells and again they only found seven of them that were sort of misshapen and couldn't do anything.
VAUSE: As far as I understand, there is one other patient in the exact same situation that managed to eliminate HIV. Not just control it, but eliminate it completely.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Right.
VAUSE: So when you have one patient, that's what an oddity, that's unique. When you have two patients, what do you have?
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Well, you have a pattern perhaps. You have something to investigate. You have now the ability to look and see what these people have in common that is different from everybody else.
And that's how you start innovating changes. That's how you say wow, maybe it's this protein that this person has that allows that. So if we can analyze that protein, if we can separate that, if we can then inoculate other people with it, perhaps we can cure them.
And I'm sure that there are actually more people throughout the world. We just haven't been able to discover them. And as they say, the truth is out there and Now we know where to search.
VAUSE: You'll be looking at the similarities, but there are differences between these two women. One of them may be the fact that the woman in Argentina, her partner actually died from AIDS a few years ago. There's a theory that she may have developed some kind of HIV specific immune response before she became infected.
So how do you look into that, if it happened -- if she was infected? I think one thing I was reading is that maybe back in the 90s or maybe it was you know, 10, 20 years ago? A long time regardless.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Well John, one of the things that we can now look at which we couldn't see before. Are the genes that the virus has gotten into in many different types of cells.
And we can also see, for example, T cell responses. Now, I don't want to get too into the weeds here. Or something called T-8 responses which are immune responses that some people may not have had.
So you know, I don't know if that's actually something that I believe was the cause because so many people have gotten infected prior to developing the disease. And yet, they haven't developed immunity.
But it's a road. And it's leading us in a certain direction. And there were 2 other cases in the world, one of which I was very actually honored to meet -- Timothy Brown, who also got rid of HIV but for a different reason.
He received a transplant. A bone marrow transplant of cells that could not get infected. So once we got rid of his HIV with medications, it went away.
So we know that there are places that the virus has to bind to. That some people just genetically do not have. And it's in that direction that science is going.
VAUSE: It's just -- in sort of a general overview if that road we're not heading down is the road of possibility. There is now this possible cure out there. It sort of changes the assumptions that this thing is incurable.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely John. And this is something that you have to remember has killed worldwide probably 40 million people. And there are 37 million that are affected at this time. So it would be huge.
And again, what we learned from HIV, we can then extrapolate to other viruses. Primarily at this point, COVID. So it can open up a treasure chest of possibilities.
VAUSE: Which is one thing which is great.
Thank you for being with us. And thank you for everything you do.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Oh, thank you.
VAUSE: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, here we go. Good man. See you next week probably.
DR. RODRIGUEZ: Hope so.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. Back in a moment.
VAUSE: So if you're at a loos end in London tonight, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew are ready to put on a show. Christmas at Kew has returned for its 9th year. Visitors will make their way through a trail lit up by more than a million lights. The festival runs through until January 9th.
An 86-year-old great-grandmother has been crowned Miss Holocaust Survivor. The annual Israeli beauty pageant is designed to honor women who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. Organizers say the contest preserves respect on Jewish women who had their youth stolen in World War II but went on to build new lives.
Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause.
Please stay with us NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague Rosemary Church.
I'll see you tomorrow.