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Press Freedom Under Fire; Progress On Taiwan; NASA's Warning After Anti-Satellite Test; Intensifying Arms Race Across Asia; ISIS Claims Kampala Bombings; Lekki Toll Gate Shooting Report; Racism In English Cricket; Tennis Stars Voice Concerns About Chinese Player Peng Shuai; China's First Formula One Driver. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 17, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN Newsroom, CNN was there when the Polish security forces fired water cannons on rocks throwing migrants at the border with Belarus. We will bring that to you.

A reckless and dangerous move in space. How Russia's actions sent astronauts have as found scrambling to safety, and why the danger may not be over.

And gripping testimony in parliament as the most quintessential English sport, cricket, is mired in a racism scandal.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us.

Well, the migrant stranded along the Belarusian/Polish border are facing another day of uncertainty after Tuesday's melee, that's when their frustration over not being allowed into Poland, and the rest of the European Union boiled over.

Migrants threw rocks at Polish border guards who responded with water cannon and teargas. Belarus claims the canons fired toxic chemicals and Poland has accused Belarus of equipping the migrants with stun grenades.


MARIUSZ CIARKA, POLISH POLICE SPOKESPERSON (through translator): There are people throwing stones, but also grenades. These grenades are not taken from Iraq, Syria, or other countries. These grenades could only be handed over to those who threw them at the policeman, by representatives of the services of the Belarusian regime.


CHURCH (on camera): The E.U. is calling on Belarus to take urgent action to restore security, while the United Nations calls conditions at the border catastrophic.

Matthew Chance has our report.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This humanitarian crisis in Belarus is now a physical assault on Europe's borders. Migrants in desperate conditions here are trying to force their way in. Throwing rocks at Polish border guards who are pushing back, and pushing back hard.

God. I just got blasted with a water cannon. Let me tell you, the tension has really started to raise here as you can see on the border between Belarus and Poland. You got all these migrants angry at their conditions, throwing stones, breaking down the fences here of the border. Furious, furious that they are not being allowed in to the European Union, into Poland.

UNKNOWN: if they give us flower, we will give them flower. But if they give us gas, we will give them stones.

CHANCE: At times, the violence seemed to surge out of control. These young migrants, desperate to enter Europe tore at the barricades in fury.

Last night, when we left this place, it was a peaceful scene. But now, the women and children have been pulled back and the young men, angry, have come to the front.

Belarus is accused of orchestrating this crisis, directing vulnerable migrants, mostly from the Middle East to provoke these scenes to make Europe look weak and inhumane. What they got was a dangerous escalation on an international frontier.

They're throwing stones, and you see the Pols are responding with water, with water cannons, covering us in water, sometimes that water is quite acrid, it has some sort of pepper component to it. And so, it's sort of stinging your eyes a little bit. They are throwing rocks on the ground to get smaller pieces, and then they're using those rocks to throw at the Polish line.

But, however manipulated these people have been, there are raw feelings of desperation of having nothing to lose are real.

UNKNOWN: We are fighting to stay alive.

CHANCE: To stay alive?

UNKNOWN: Yes, to stay alive.

CHANCE: Are you going back to --

UNKNOWN: If we are going to die, we are going to die here.

CHANCE: Are you going to go back to Iraq?




CHANCE: But after these events, they may have no choice. Poland has made it clear it will not let them in. It's Belarus who may have to back down.

Matthew Chance, CNN on the Belarus/Poland border.


CHURCH: Well, Belarusian forces have cleared the area outside the border checkpoint where migrants were camped. Officials say at least some were taken to a processing center to be given shelter, and receive medical attention.


Authorities in Belarus say a decision has not been made yet on deporting the migrants.

Well, among the thousands of migrants at the border is a 9-year-old Kurdish boy and his family. He was born with a bone disease, but his family couldn't get a visa to travel to a German hospital that could help. Doctors in Iraq decided to amputate his legs. He and his family made their way from Iraq to the Polish border last week. His father says they can't take much more.


SANGAR, TAMAN'S FATHER (through translator): We have been living in a jungle for 8 days now. It's very cold here. We all came from Iraq, and wanted a better life for all my family, we came here so that he can enjoy life like a normal child. We are so tired. We have no energy left, no food, and no patience. We can't do it anymore. We are calling on everybody who can help us.


CHURCH (on camera): CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now live from London. Nic, we saw the dire situation there at the border of course. So, what diplomatic efforts are underway to find a solution to this problem at the Belarus/Polish border?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, they've been underway for a little while. But as always, with the wheels of diplomacy, they move slowly, particularly until the reality on the ground settles. And particularly in this case, for Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, until he sort of realizes that what he's tried to do with the migrants is not going to work.

So, on Friday, you had Angela Merkel talking to President Putin in Russia, who can undoubtedly bring diplomatic and other pressures to bear on Lukashenko. You also had Emmanuel Macron in Paris, or rather his foreign minister, meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister on Friday last week.

Monday this week Angela Merkel talked with Lukashenko as well. Yesterday, Lukashenko talked with Putin about the current situation. And then late yesterday we found out that the E.U. foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, spoke with his opposite number a few other foreign ministers in Belarus.

So, you can see that there is, you know, efforts and diplomatic levels to drawdown the tensions and Borrell has said that there absolutely must be security restored to the border with Poland. But the European Union has made a very clear as a bloc, not just Poland, the European Union has made a very clear, Germany has been very strong about this of well, that the migrants that Lukashenko is manipulating in bringing to the border are not going to be able to cross.

So, where diplomacy seems to be standing now and the effect that it's having, that conversation between Josep Borrell and the Belarusian foreign minister yesterday.

The Belarusian foreign minister through the -- through the foreign ministry office said that they talked about the seriousness with which Belarus is taking the humanitarian situation, talked about allowing the UNHCR. And the International Office of Migration, their representatives to get access to the migrants to give them a better humanitarian situation. We saw the women and children taking back from the border and given some shelter last night.

So, you can see there is a diplomatic effort. The moment it's having a minor humanitarian impact at the border marginally improving the situation but we don't know yet today how it's going to play out on the border and how Belarus essentially is going to respond and try to move forward from there. Because the ball seems to be in their court.

CHURCH: So, let's take a closer look at Russia's role in all of this, because as you mentioned, we know the influence President Vladimir Putin has over the leader of Belarus, so what is going on here, what's Russia's likely next move.

ROBERTSON: Well, I think you have to say as well, that Alexander Lukashenko is kind of a rule unto himself as well. You know, what has unfolded and precipitated here that the European leaders clearly believe is an absolute abomination and manipulation of people who are desperate to try to get to the European Union.

The way that this is gone down is perhaps not really something that President Putin would have act advocated. Yes, it has the impact of sort of destabilizing, or an effort to destabilize unity within the European Union. Yes, perhaps it masks what he's doing with his troops, masking troops on the border with Ukraine.

But Lukashenko is the one that did this, Lukashenko is the one that, you know, that won an election, in what's widely seen as a very fraudulent in a very fraudulent way last August. [03:10:02]

He's been crushing descends since then, he's been trying all sorts of different tactics to, you know, to manipulate the situation where he can maintain his leadership, that's certainly something that President Putin would like to see continued.

But President Putin, absolutely, is going to be the person who can bring the most pressure to bear on Lukashenko and say, look, this is now out of control, you're not going to have to find a way out of the situation, whether it's helping migrants get back to their original countries, or house those migrants and take proper care of them. And not ship them to the border, and put them up, you know, expect them to live in the woods and forests.

So, Putin can bring that kind of pressure. Yesterday, there was that conversation between -- a phone conversation between Lukashenko and President Putin. But it is not clear how much longer President Putin is happy to see this happen. This issue and problem for the European Union, this pressure on the European Union go on.

And I think that's very important when you try to analyze how quickly Lukashenko himself tries to resolve this, he's looking out for himself, but he's also going to listen to Putin.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Nic Robertson joining us live from London, many thanks.

The World Health Organization warns new COVID infections are on the rise around the world. Up at least 6 percent from last week. In its weekly report published Tuesday the WHO recognize Europe, the Americas, and the Western pacific as regions showing a 6 percent or higher increase in new cases.

The U.S. is hoping a new COVID antiviral pill made by Pfizer will help turn the tide. The White House announced a purchase of 10 million doses of the drug, which has not yet received emergency use authorization.

Countries in Europe are doubling down on restrictions in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Starting Thursday, all pubs and nightclubs in Ireland will have to close at midnight after the country recorded its highest case numbers since January.

In Germany, more states are putting restrictions on the unvaccinated by requiring both shots or proof they have recovered from the virus in the last six months to enter some public venues. And two regions in France are now requiring masks outdoors, to slow the spread of new infections.

France is under a state of alert due to the spike in new COVID cases, but now there are no plans for a lock down unlike other countries in Europe. Which have started to reimpose tough restrictions.

The latest now 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.

UNKNOWN (through translator): That's why we came here as soon as we learned that the decorations were out, to make the most of what little free time we might have left.

BELL: Already, two regions in France announced the return of mandatory masks in outdoor spaces. New infection rates in France are skyrocketing.

GABRIEL ATTAL, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON (through translator): A good 10 days ago, the virus was taking the stairs. Now it's in the elevator.

BELL: This new wave of COVID-19 already harshly impacting France's neighbors. Germany battling its worst infection rate since the pandemic began. Again, imposing restrictions in Berlin. Allowing only people who have been vaccinated or who have recently recovered from COVID-19 to enter restaurants, cinemas and sports facilities.

LOTHAR WIELER, PRESIDENT, ROBERT KOCH INSTITUTE (through translator): We have to assume that the situation throughout Germany will get worse. And without additional measures, it will be unstoppable.

BELL: Austria seeing their cases exploding, taking more extreme measures. Placing some two million unvaccinated people on partial lockdown. The new mandate, unvaccinated people in Austria aged 12 and older can only leave their homes for work, food shopping or emergencies.

ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): If the incidents for vaccinated people is down, it continues to rise exponentially with the unvaccinated.

BELL: 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 outrage from some Austrians about the disparity of treatment.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I'm here today because I want to fight for my rights. These measures are absolutely discriminatory.

BELL: 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.

Leaving many to wonder what, if anything, will be able to stop a seemingly never-ending pandemic.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH (on camera): Well, parts of Asia are also taking precautions to slow new infections. Beijing is now limiting all flights from medium and high-risk areas to just one per day due to outbreaks of the Delta variant. Anyone entering the city must test negative for COVID.

And Hong Kong, Disneyland, closed its gates Wednesday after a park guest tested positive for COVID-19. All park workers are now being tested and the government is requiring testing for any guests who were present at the time.

Well, right now, India's Supreme Court is taking up the issue of pollution in the nation's capital. A thick smog has been choking New Delhi and its surrounding areas for days. Now the government is introducing new measures to reduce the toxic case.

Schools and colleges in and around the capital city will remain closed and work at all nonessential construction sites and thermal plants will be halted.

CNN's Vedika Sud has the details.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Had a very similar conversation, the issue was the same, it's just that the air has changed quite essentially. Because the matter still persists in Delhi and surrounding areas when it comes to air pollution.

Now, you've mentioned most of the measures that have been put in place since late Tuesday night with immediate effect, adding to those there will also be a ban on construction of non-essential needs in the city and the surrounding. And trucks with non-essential supplies will also not be allowed to enter in the coming days into Delhi.

Now, there's nothing about these measures which is extraordinary, these are temporary measures as usual. And it's something that the Delhi government or the central government could have done without the Supreme Court intervening. And that's the point here. Why does it take, for the judiciary to step in every time for such measures to be put in place? For people to at least try to breathe easy in Delhi and the surrounding areas.

Today, the air quality index stands very poor. It's supposed to slip into the severe category by this evening. The coming days there is going to be no breather quite literally from the air pollution surrounding us.

Now, the issue at hand according to the environmental experts also is that this is not only Delhi's problem. It's a problem of neighboring state as well. And that's what an environment experts said to CNN a couple of hours ago. Let's listen in.


ANUMITA ROY CHOWDHURY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & ADVOCACY, CSE: The challenge of Delhi is just not the challenge of Delhi, it is the challenge of this region. If you look at India right now through satellite you will find that the entire region of northern India is wrapped in a blanket of smog.

And this is because this time of the year when you don't have integrated plans 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.


SUD (on camera): Representers from the central government and other stakeholders including the Delhi government, Rosemary, are in Supreme Court today. They are responding to the Supreme Court's question over what is being done today and in the coming days to reduce the levels of pollution in and around Delhi.

This has to be a long-term solution, Rosemary. These quick fixes will not do anymore for people in Delhi to breathe easy, which is their right. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Many thanks there to Vedika Sud.

Well, in the Pacific northwest, at least one person has died after a heavy rain and flooding triggered mudslides in British Columbia. Hundreds were rescued after they were left stranded on a major highway. Evacuations are underway throughout parts of the Canadian province as floodwaters continue to rise.

So, let's being in CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So, Pedram, what is the latest on this deadly flooding?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the pattern here that's continue for about six weeks, Rosemary. Still going to bring some heavy rainfall. We think Thursday we get the last round of this heavy rainfall. You see some of these scenes across highway one, this is the trans Canadian highway across British Columbia and parts of it are now shut down.

And of course, the scenes across portions of British Columbia are incredible, this is right near the border between United States and Canada in the southern portion there of (Inaudible). And we kind of see the damage that's been left in place, the moisture content through the roof.

And we often talk about these atmospheric river patterns that develop, and this particular one at its height was a category four on a scale of one to five for the amount of moisture it had entrained within.

[03:19:58] And anytime you look at these atmospheric river patterns it's essentially a very narrow stream of moisture about two miles above the Pacific Ocean that directs moisture in any given location.

And this go around -- it was around parts of the Pacific northwest, and they have the ability to transport about 20 times the water that the Mississippi river, but they do so in the form of vapor, not liquid. And of course, that vapor eventually ends up in the form of clouds and we get these tremendous amounts of heavy rainfall.

And what's really most impressive about this area of British Columbia, is that this was the same exact region that had incredible all-time record temperatures set back in June. So, there's been 140 days ago, we saw the hottest temperatures on record here. Forty-three to 50 degrees in the past 24 to 48 hours. We're now seeing the wettest observations on record here. Doubling the previous record from 1998. About 100 millimeters coming down in Abbotsford, Canada.

Again, right near the Canadian-U.S. Border. But you'll notice these observations very, very impressive here. In a matter of couple of days, 100, 200, almost 300 millimeters in that forecast that have been verified in this region. Again, we think Thursday night we get one more round of heavy rainfall here.

Potentially see high pressure try to build going in towards say Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Maybe get a brief break, but you'll notice the mountains still got to see tremendous amounts of snow to this.

So, it's been incredible run of wild weather this summer across this region of the U.S., Rosemary. We talked about it in depth here when it came to the excessive heat and the fires. And now it's the opposite end of the spectrum here with a lot of wet weather.

CHURCH: It is, and we appreciate you watching all of this for us. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks.

Well, coming up, an American journalist is back home after spending months in a Myanmar prison. But many other journalists are still behind bars. Why some countries have bene cracking down on press freedoms. That's just ahead.


CHURCH (on camera): Journalist Danny Fenster back in the United States after spending almost six months in a Myanmar prison. His family greeted him with hugs when he landed in New York on Tuesday. Fenster was released Monday after Myanmar's military government negotiated with former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson.

Fenster was convicted of visa breaches and spreading false information as he covered the military coup in Myanmar earlier this year. Fenster says despite the isolation in prison he knew his family was working to get him freed.


DANNY FENSTER, JOURNALIST: I was able to get little hints of what was going on occasionally throughout the experience. If I was outside of the prison in court, maybe some police aides they could speak a little bit of English would flash a picture on his phone of my entire family wearing t-shirts with my face on it on CNN, which is a pretty bizarre thing to see sitting in a courtroom there.



CHURCH (on camera): Fenster says he was not physically mistreated while in prison.

Robert Mahoney is the deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He joins me now from New York. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, American journalist Danny Fenster arrived back home in the United States Tuesday after being released from a Myanmar prison where he spent almost six months, while his family fought furiously for his freedom. And this came just days after he was sentenced to 11 years in prison on those trumped-up charges. So, how is he successfully released just after that sentencing?

MAHONEY: Well, I think the work was done before the sentencing, the continuous lobbying, as you say, by his family who are wonderful, particularly his brother Brian Fenster and with the Richardson center, the former governor of New Mexico who helps and organizations like mine, the Committee to Protect Journalists, we have kept the pressure up and the spotlight on the rights of journalists since the coup in February.

And the numbers of journalists in Myanmar who are in prison has just soared since that coup. Danny was one of them, he was caught up in the crackdown.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely, and of course it doesn't always and as well as it has for Danny. Your organization released a mid-year president census for Myanmar, showing that as of July 1st 2021, there were 32 journalists behind bars, making Myanmar of course one of the world's worse jailers of journalists.

So how many still remain behind bars, and what happens to those local journalists who don't have anyone to help with their release?

MAHONEY: Well, most of the journalists who are in jail, local journalist there's a least 24, 25 there. That maybe a very conservative estimate because some are in hiding and we can't count them. And also, we discovered that media sometimes when the staff were arrested didn't want to publicly name as journalists, fearing that that would actually complicate things for them with the military that was holding them.

So, it's probably at least -- at least a couple of dozen journalists still behind bars. They released 15 journalists in October. But Myanmar is now one of the worst places to be a journalist in times of getting jailed. It's right up there with China, or in Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. And you know just a year ago, before the coup, we could only count one journalist in jail in Myanmar.

CHURCH: Yes, that is quite a comparison, isn't it? You mentioned the top jailers across the world but let's look globally. How many journalists are imprisoned for simply doing their job? And you mentioned there, China and Turkey, and others. That they tend to be the big jailers, but there are many other countries as well, aren't there?

MAHONEY: Yes, this is a growing problem. Last year we saw a record number of journalists jailed for the second or third year in a row. It's part of what I would call a closing of the democratic space across the world in which journalists operate.

Growing authoritarianism, and China is at the top of that list, but countries that weren't on the list a few years ago are now jailing journalists. And we find a lot in places like the Middle East, Egypt, Iran, Turkey. It's a form of censorship, which is becoming more and more the go-to tool for dictators and authoritarian leaders.

CHURCH: Right, and of course you mention that uptick in the jailing of journalists across the globe. What is the international community need to be doing to put protections in place for journalists?

MAHONEY: Well, one of the things that we do at the Committee to Protect Journalists is simply to report on the jailing of journalists and keep the spotlight on those who are in jail so that they don't go forgotten or, you know, unremembered by the wider community.

It is absolutely essential, in our experience, and getting better conditions for journalists while they're in prison, and hopefully getting them out of jail that we keep the spotlight on them. That's the first thing that we can do.

Governments can also use their whatever pressure they have, diplomatic, commercial, or other forms of influence that they may be able to wield over people who rule countries that are jailing journalists. They need to put human rights, freedom of expression, and a free press on the agenda.

So, we're looking to those countries that have a relatively free press to try to stand up for those values in their dealings with those countries that just have no respect for free speech.


CHURCH: Yes. It is critical, of course. Robert Mahoney, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

MAHONEY: My pleasure. Thank you. [03:30:00]

CHURCH: Well, one day after their high stakes summit U.S. President Joe Biden says talks with his Chinese counterpart led to progress on Taiwan. More on that just ahead.

Plus, we are getting our first chance to hear NASA's warnings to the crew of the International Space Station after a Russian antisatellite test.


CHURCH: The U.S. and China have agreed to ease visa restrictions on journalists from each other's countries, an issue that's been a source of contention between the two sides. This development comes one day after the high stakes summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Under the agreement the countries will issue visas good for one year up from the current three months and will allow multiple entries. The issuing of new journalist visas was largely halted after China expelled a number of American journalists during Donald Trump's last year in office.

And President Biden says he made progress on the topic of Taiwan when he met virtually with his Chinese counterpart. The two leaders spent a good part of Monday summit discussing Taiwan which has, of course, been a source of recent tensions amid Chinese military aggressions. Mr. Biden said, Taiwan, quote, "Makes its own decisions," and later clarify the comments when it came to its independence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I said that they had to decide, they Taiwan not us. And we are not encouraging China -- we are encouraging that they do exactly what the Taiwan act requires. That's what were; doing. Let them make up their mind, period.


CHURCH: And CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Taipei. Good to see you, Will. So after the virtual meeting between the leaders of China and the U.S. President Biden was forced to clarify comments on Taiwan because China misled the world on what was actually said on that topic? What's the latest on this?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): That is certainly the view of the ministry of foreign affairs here in Taipei, Rosemary. They put out a statement blasting Beijing and particularly Chinese state media for mischaracterizing in their view what President Biden said on the issue of Taiwan.

They talked about President Biden supporting the one China policy and maintaining the status quo. What they didn't say is that President Biden also said that U.S. relations with Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.


You heard President Biden talk about it just a moment ago. The Taiwan Relations Act compels United States to sell Taiwan defensive weapons to protect itself from any attempts by the mainland to unilaterally absorb this democracy.

The United States view hasn't changed, it's pretty clear cut the people of Taiwan should be the ones to decide the future of Taiwan and not an authoritarian government that has vowed to reunify even using military force if necessary.

And there is a growing number of military force to be recon with here in the region. A lot of it coming from China and some are concerned that what we are seeing here if President Biden and Xi are not able to get this situation calm down is an intensifying and growing arms race across the Indo-Pacific.


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.

An intensifying arms race across the Indo-Pacific. Potential flash points across the region. Raising the risk of a nuclear conflict threatening the U.S. its allies and the world.

PETER LAYTON, VISITING FELLOW AT GRIFFITH ASIA INSTITUTE: If you have a serious conflict you put it up with the nuclear weapons been used. And we're not talking atomic bombs, were talking hydrogen bombs and this is a different level entirely.

RIPLEY: The world's most assertive nuclear power, China.

New satellite images suggest 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 can launch early next year with technology rivaling the larger more advanced U.S. carrier fleet.

How long is it going to take for China's Navy to pose a credible threat to America's fleet?

UNKNOWN: I think they still need to -- a lot of time.

RIPLEY: Are we talking years? Are we talking (inaudible)?

UNKNOWN: Twenty to 30. RIPLEY: Twenty to 30 years? Full-size mockups of U.S. warships dock

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 prostrate tensions are at 40 years high. Taiwan racing to modernize 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.

Is Taiwan's strategy to try to be able to defend for a period of time before other countries could assist?

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: 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: Taiwan's closest friend, at least geographically, Japan. Signaling support for Taipei. A thinly veiled warning for Beijing.

NOBUO KISHI, JAPANESE MINISTER OF DEFENSE (through translator): What could happen in Taiwan would likely be an issue for Japan. In which case Japan would need to respond accordingly.

RIPLEY: 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 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 man made islands in the South China Sea.

Another military buildup in the Himalayas. A sight of deadly border clashes last year between China and India another nation with nuclear weapons.

LAYTON: The military forces are definitely being built up. They're getting into those arms races like that is certainly a difficult path.

RIPLEY: A path charted primarily by President Biden and Xi today and whoever leaves tomorrow.


RIPLEY (on camera): Who is leading right now, really depends on the aspect of military technology that you're talking about, analyst say. The navy? It's the U.S. with its submarine fleet nuclear powered subs that vastly out powered the Chinese fleet. Not to mention 11 aircraft carrier versus China's two, with one more coming into circulation in the coming months.


But when you're talking about the air force, the United States probably still winning there. But ballistic and hypersonic missiles, China is making great strides even though their arsenal still is dwarfed by United States and by Russia, particularly the nuclear arsenal.

In the area of space, China is doing very well, they're catching up very quickly and in the area of cyberattacks as well. Another interesting fact, Rosemary is because China's military is relatively inexperienced. They lack that kind of institutional knowledge of the United States.

Analysts are saying that if there were conflict that would break out, China might rely very heavily on artificial intelligence to make decisions. Split second decisions during a battle. So if you're talking about a nuclear armed conflict, imagine if you had Chinese generals essentially looking at A.I. to try to figure out whether to strike or not to strike.

It's certainly a frightening propositions for a lot of people which is why if indeed the U.S. and China can start having arms talks, many say it couldn't come soon enough.

CHURCH: Absolutely. That is a nightmare scenario. Will Ripley, joining us live there, many thanks, I appreciate it.

Well, the Pentagon says space debris from a satellite destroyed by a Russian missile could pose a threat for years to come. The U.S. strongly condemned the test which forced crew members on the International Space Station to scramble to safety. And now we are hearing NASA's first warnings to the astronauts and cosmonauts.

CNN's Jim Sciutto has our report.


UNKNOWN: We will need to activate dragon safe haven and close centerline hatches for the next two crossings.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the moment when the crew of the International Space Station was ordered to put on their spacesuits and enter their shuttle spacecraft, as the station was threatened by approaching debris from Russia's antisatellite missile test.

UNKNOWN: Alright. Station copies that the next time of closest approach is 0706 and that we intend to activate safe haven in dragon.

SCIUTTO: The cloud of debris detest generated which the U.S. describes as reckless and dangerous remains a threat and will for years.

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The most immediate concern is the debris itself. Which is now floating out there and could become a hazard including to the International Space Station.

SCIUTTO: The missile struck a Russian satellite creating a debris field of some 1500 tractable pieces. NASA already tracks tens of thousands of pieces of orbital debris throughout earth's orbit with Russia test now adding to the clutter threatening thousands of active satellites orbiting the earth, they provide everything from phone and broadband services to GPS systems. Even connecting key aspects of the financial system.

JONATHAN MCDOWELL, HARVARD SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS: All of this debris whizzing around in all different directions there is lots of times spent dodging the debris.

SCIUTTO: Perhaps even more ominous is the potential for increased militarization in space. In August the chief of operation for U.S. space force told me the U.S. is ready to counter the growing threats from Russia, China, as well as North Korea and Iran in space.

Weapons are last resort from the U.S. perspective?

JOHN RAYMOND, CHIEF OF SPACE OPERATIONS, U.S. SPACE FORCE: We prefer to remain free of conflict. But like in any other domain, like, air, land, sea and now space. Will be ready to protect and defend.

SCIUTTO: Russia accused the U.S. of ignoring its overtures to negotiate a treaty to prevent an arms race in space.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It is hypocrisy at the very least to claim that the Russian Federation poses a risk to peaceful space activities.

SCIUTTO: But the missile test is the latest to the series of destabilizing acts by Russia. Russian forces had been amassing near its border with Ukraine, leading to U.S. concern, Russia may be preparing for an invasion.

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't have clarity into Moscow's intentions. But we do know its playbook.

SCIUTTO: Russia also conducted military drills in recent days with Belarus which has been accused of manufacturing a dangerous migrant crisis on the border with Poland. Russia has defended Belarus's handling of the crisis while denying any involvement.

The U.S. sees Russia and China as the primary threats in space. Both had tested weapons ranging from missiles, to space deployed kill vehicles, to directed energy weapons and lasers. The U.S. military increasingly seeing space as a new front in any new war.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And still to come, an update on our reporting into the Lekki tollgate shooting in Lagos, Nigeria. And what a Nigerian commission is now recommending for the victims of that massacre. We'll be back in just a moment.



CHURCH: ISIS is claiming responsibility for two suicide bombings in Uganda's capital that killed at least three people and injured dozens more on Tuesday. The explosions rocked Kampala city center within five minutes of each other. The first happened near the city central police station then just moments later two more bombers attacked near parliament. Police say they also managed to thwart another would be bomber before he could attack. Officials are urging people to remain vigilant saying the country is still facing active bomb threats.

A follow-up now on our reporting into the Lekki tollgate shooting in Lagos which has now been described as a massacre by a judicial panel in Nigeria. Their report repeatedly references the investigation done by CNN which pieced together what happened when Nigerian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters.

We get an update now from CNN's Nima Elbagir.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been much anticipated and much delayed but finally the panel of inquiry tasked with investigating what happened at Lekki tollgate in Lagos in October 2020 has admitted that yes, a massacre did take place. Corroborating CNN's investigation at the times. These were our findings.

People gathered at Lekki toll gate protesting against what they called systemic police brutality and corruption. What they don't know is that the army is already on its way.

This is bonnie camp, a military garrison on the south side of Lagos. We know through analyzing footage they left at 6:29 p.m. heading towards Lekki tollgate.

We can see here the Nigerian government forces approaching the protesters are gathered on the other side of the gate. As Nigerian forces get closer you can see shots. At 6:43 p.m. we start hearing gunfire. We know this from the time stamp and data on this video. Here's another angle.

UNKNOWN: They are using fire.

UNKNOWN: They shoot. They Shoot.

ELBAGIR: Nigerian authorities say they fired blanks into the air and not at protesters. But CNN obtained video that appears to show the army shooting toward the crowd. Here and at the top of your screen here. In the midst of the chaotic scenes is DJ Switch. A Nigerian celebrity and activist, she is broadcasting live on Instagram.

DJ SWITCH, NIGERIAN CELEBRITY/ACTIVIST: And I wanted people to see what was happening. I didn't want anyone to come and twist the story.

ELBAGIR: Witnesses tell CNN, ambulances were stopped from entering by Nigerian authorities. You can see here, people at the scene trying to conduct CPR.


UNKNOWN: Everybody look at this.

ELBAGIR: We were able to verify that these bullets were used by the Nigerian army and that the army used a combination of blank and live ammunition. The commission verified our findings. In total our investigation was cited by the panel of inquiries report 37 times.

Another key CNN finding which the commission verified? That the CCTV footage was tampered with. This after a year of Nigerian government denials and allegations that CNN is fake news. So what happens now?

Well, the commission has recommended that the Nigerian government set up compensation for victims. That they sanction military and police officers present at Lekki tollgate on the night of the incident and they set up a commission looking into human rights violations such as this one.

But survivors tell us that the government which colluded to cover up the incidents of October 20th at Lekki tollgate shouldn't be trusted.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And still ahead here on "CNN Newsroom," the very survival of English Cricket is at stake as a former player describes years of racist abuse.


CHURCH: English Cricket is facing an alarming crisis over racism and diversity. The CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board 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. And former Yorkshire player, Azeem Rafiq, told lawmakers the harassment and bullying was so bad they ruined his career.

More now from "CNN World Sport" anchor, Patrick Snell.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS REPORTER (voice over): On Tuesday seeing the heartbreaking testimony of Azeem Rafiq, the former cricketer at the center of the racism scandal that has 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 and 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 (inaudible), 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. (Inaudible) the hearing, Rafiq sharing his experience at Yorkshire saying, racist language aimed at his heritage was used constantly that nobody ever stamped it out. Rafiq born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in Barnsley, Yorkshire speaking this Tuesday.

AZEEM RAFIQ, FORMER YORKSHIRE CRICKETER: I've got (inaudible) aimed at me. I know that the pain that I went through for those few months, no one could ever put me through that pain again. I can't even imagine as a parent hearing me speak now why would I would never want my kids to go anywhere near the game.


And I don't want my son to go anywhere near cricket. So but I think this is where the ECB in the counties to ensure that they can actually this as an opportunity for the change and get the parents to understand and show them that we've messed up. But we're going to do this, this and this and make sure it doesn't happen to your kid.

SNELL: And a courageous words there of Azeem Rafiq. Well, in a statement a new chairman Lord Patel describing this Tuesday as an incredibly difficult day for all associated with the Yorkshire County Club. Adding in part, Azeem's courage in speaking up should be praised and nobody should underestimate how difficult it would had been to relive all of this in public. His wish to bring a voice to the voiceless should be and inspiration to provoke real change in the sports.

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. As he noted that this is not about individuals but rather the structure and processes of the club and we need to tackle this. And with that it's back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that. Well, tennis stars are speaking out after one of their fellow players suddenly disappeared. Earlier this month, Peng Shuai took to social media to accuse a retired Chinese state leader of sexually assaulting her. The post was quickly removed and Peng hasn't been seen in public since.

Tennis authorities have called on the Chinese government to investigate her allegations saying she should be heard not censored. Naomi Osaka is adding her voice tweeting, "Censorship is never OK at any cost. I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and OK. I'm in shock at the current situation and I'm sending love in light her way." Well, some good news for racing fans in China. Guanyu Zhou has become

the country's first ever Formula One driver. Zhou signed on to race for Alpha Romeo in the 2022 season, something the 22-year-old said is a dream come true. Alpha Romeo hails him as a trailblazer who will be a pivotal part of China's motor sport history.

And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church, enjoy the rest of your day. "CNN Newsroom" continues now with Max Foster.