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Connect the World

Incendiary Balloons Hit Israel, Which Responds With Airstrikes Posing Challenge to Ceasefire; Conservative Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi is Considered the Frontrunner; Hardliners Leads the Pack in Iran's Presidential Race; CNN Speaks with Co-Chair of U.S./China Working Group; Rakuten Working to Speed Vaccination Process; More Hardship for a Country Hammered by Poverty. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Burning balloons from Gaza put Israel's new Prime Minister to an early test. I'm Becky Anderson. You're

watching "Connect the World". Thanks for joining us.

The now 28 day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza on increasingly shaky ground it seems today. This is why fires on the Israeli

side of the border caused by incendiary balloons as they are known launched by militants in Gaza.

And Israel, which in the past has not responded to these sorts of balloon attacks. Launching targeted airstrikes at Hamas' positions in Gaza is

something the new prime minister had pushed for before taking office. So far, no casualties are reported.

This all started off of a controversial march on Tuesday in East Jerusalem, that included Jewish extremists, some of them chanting death to Arabs.

Well, Hadas Gold reporting for us since the very sad of what have been this latest conflict and the ensuing ceasefire connecting us tonight from


And of course, this is a first and very early test for this new government and a new Prime Minister. What's the appetite for confrontation at this

point, if any?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky only four days really into this new government. They were only sworn in on Sunday and already a crucial

early test for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also showing that the tensions between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza very much still

simmering and could easily boil over at any moment.


GOLD (voice over): A fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas led militants in the Gaza Strip rocked Tuesday. Militants in Gaza launching

incendiary balloons over the border earlier in the day colorful party decorations often attached to explosive devices or just lit on fire,

sparking at least 20 blazes in Southern Israel, according to Israeli officials.

The Israeli Air Force responding overnight striking what it says we're come as a military complexes and meeting places. Palestinian media reporting

material damages, but no casualties.

Hamas calling the Israeli airstrikes a failed attempt to stop our people solidarity and resistance in the holy city militant say they sent the

balloons in reaction to a right wing Israeli flag march in Jerusalem on Tuesday, where demonstrators danced and sang in front of one of the main

entrances for Muslim worshippers to the Old City chanting Jerusalem is ours some even saying death to Arabs.

The annual March which celebrates Israel gaining control of the Western Wall and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war rescheduled to Tuesday after it was

cancelled last month when Hamas launched rockets towards Jerusalem helping to trigger the 11 day bloody conflict.

The airstrikes overnight a harsher response to these incendiary balloons than in the past were tolerated. A test and a message from the newly

installed government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has previously advocated for greater military action in response to these

incendiary balloons.

More balloons launched Wednesday, sparking at least four more fires, according to Israeli officials showing the possibility that an imminent and

serious escalation cannot be ruled out.


GOLD: Now, Becky, we just received in the last few hours confirmation from Israeli authorities that there are five more fire started today as a result

of these incendiary balloons. But I think it's notable that since Tuesday night, there have not been any more Israeli airstrikes.

And you'll also have to look at that this is pretty much limited exchange. And I think that suits, both sides. Hamas sending over these balloons

because Hamas has been portraying itself as the defender of Jerusalem, especially after that Flag Day march on Tuesday.

Israel showing that it will respond now to these incendiary balloons, but Israel striking, rather unimportant positions, they are Hamas military

positions, but they didn't - but there were no casualties involved there. And I don't think there's necessarily an appetite on either side for

something bigger.


GOLD: However, the situation is still very tense and one move one way or another could trigger something bigger.

ANDERSON: Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. Hadas thank you. I want to get you to U.S. President Joe Biden's European tour now. He is back at the White House

after what has been a sort of whirlwind, eight days of diplomacy. His message America is back that played out in England, where he met with the

heads of the world's leading economies at G7.

He pledged a donation of 500 million COVID vaccines to poor nations. Mr. Biden also hammered on threats from Russia and from China and his message

played out in Brussels. As the President warned against autocrats in "Phony populism"

Well he pressed hard on these "New Challenges" with NATO allies when he met with the Russian President himself by all accounts accordion meeting,

despite major areas of contention. Let's get to some of our reporters who've been covering the trip.

CNN's White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond is that the White House and our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, joining us from London.

Let's start with you, Jeremy, how has this trip not least this one on one with President Putin? How is all of that being perceived through the prism

of Washington?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, I think that the White House certainly views this as having been a successful trip.

Again, it is important to note how low they set the bar for this meeting with the Russian President.

They made very clear going into it that they were not expecting any clear deliverables, not expecting any major agreements between the two leaders

after a few hours of meetings. And of course, we know that ultimately, they met for less time than we actually anticipated.

So that's the Democratic perspective. Now on the Republican side, it's been a bit more mixed, including the top Republican in the House, Kevin

McCarthy, saying that he believes that President Biden gave Putin a pass at a time when Russia is not only holding a pair of Americans in its prisons,

but also at a time when it is pressing forward with these cyber actions against the United States.

Of course, that's pretty rich coming from Kevin McCarthy, who for four years stood idly by as President Trump offered one of the more obsequious

performances, in terms of U.S./Russia relations, of course, that famous Helsinki news conference when President Trump at the time sided with Russia

over U.S. intelligence in terms of Vladimir Putin's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

So it's certainly been night and day between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin and yet still some Republicans are finding a way to criticize President

Biden for this. Now, that being said, there is some fair criticism to be leveled here.

And that is mainly on the question of what did the United States gain by having President Biden meet directly face to face with Vladimir Putin? Some

foreign policy experts have noted that this has given Vladimir Putin what he wants in terms of elevating him to the same level as Joe Biden and on

the international stage.

Of course, that's why the White House decided not to have a joint news conference between the two leaders yesterday.

ANDERSON: Nic, what did Europe gain from the U.S. Presidents for stop trip through England and continental Europe?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, again, the perspective that they have an ally back in the White House, that they're

not dealing with recalcitrant Former President Trump who confuses and confounds various terms.

So there, it sort of reaffirmed that it was something that they intrinsically knew but he was Biden. And he was, you know, the message

before he arrived in - in Cornwall was OK, let's, let's hear your words. Let's hear your explain yourself. Well he did that, and he appears to have

done it to their satisfaction.

But I think more broadly speaking, you know, when it comes to the European position, a lot of the concerns they have about Russia are shared with the

White House. Not all Germany has a different position, particularly when it comes to Nord Stream II.

President Biden seems to have given some leeway to the German Chancellor on that recently, but I think through it all, writ large has been China. And

China I think, you know, though it didn't come up a lot in the conversation directly between President Biden and President Putin.

And that was a theme when President Biden was pushed on why he was making these overtures to the Russian President. It wasn't for those immediate

gains. Biden's belief is that China is the long term threat to the U.S.

And what he appeared to do when he was pressed he said, look, you know, Russia has thousands of kilometers thousands of miles long border with

China. It's being economically squeezed by China. He is giving Putin a chance over Putin's next many years in office, to sort of reorient a little

bit and not be aligned potentially with China in the future, which would be to the United States deficit.


ROBERTSON: And perhaps swing away, if not aligned with China, then more, more free to move. And I think that's part of the broader subtext.

ANDERSON: Nic, this America is back line that sends to Europeans that America is reasserting itself in its position as a sort of strategic

leader, I just wonder how that sits with those in Europe who had been advocating sort of European strategic decoupling from this States after 70

years, as it were?

I'm not suggesting that people weren't, you know, happy and contented to see, pretty much as they were probably described at the back of Donald

Trump, and this sort of, you know, this supportive attitude towards the U.S.'s regional allies, particularly that of its NATO allies. But there is

definitely this sense across many parts of Europe, that Europe needs to begin to think about going it alone, as it were, or at least, you know,

decoupling from the States in the future. What's your sense?

ROBERTSON: You know one of the principal architects of that view, particularly when it comes to the sort of transatlantic alliance; NATO has

been the French President Emmanuel Macron. Yet we saw him arm and arm, arm round shoulders rather, with President Biden.

So I, you know, it's an opportunity, I think these face to face meetings were an opportunity to give vent to some of those ideas and frustrations.

But, you know, the bottom line reality is the all these nations are going to look to their national self interest.

And I don't think any of them are fooling themselves that the political makeup, an extreme polarization in the United States is going to dissipate

over the next four years. And there isn't a risk of, of having potentially a Republican in the White House who is as antagonistic, almost as President

Trump was to Europe in some of those relationships, or at least not wanting to have America, taking that global leadership role more America going back

to America first.

I don't think anyone's sort of given up on those concerns. But I do think that, you know, the way that the issues are being articulated are not at

the extreme end of the spectrum. You know, it does seem that on the issue of NATO Macron was placated by what he heard from President Biden, it gives

Europeans a few more years to figure out the relationship.

But the default in these post-World War II years is to go back to this America leads position. And there is a sense of that default coming back


ANDERSON: Nic Robertson, with some analysis on the European perspective of this, this eight day trip that the U.S. President has just completed. And I

Mr. Diamond thank you. It's fascinating to get the sense, both from the Democrats who seems to be supportive of what was achieved, and indeed the

voice of the Republicans and we will describe as less than supportive attitude. Thank you, Jeremy.

Well, on the eve of Iran's Presidential Election, many voters plan to sit this one out. We'll look at why some Iranians are not enthused about the

field of candidates? Whoever wins the election, they will have to take on some pretty big issues. We'll look at the outcome and its effect potential

effect on Europe.



ANDERSON: Well, Iranians tomorrow will line up at the polls to elect a new president but the outcome likely will not be a surprise all but four of the

approved candidates have now dropped out of the race, leaving Iran's hard line Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi as a front runner.

Political insiders don't really consider his competitors as much of a threat or whoever takes office will have his hands full. He will have to

repair and it will be a - he'll have to repair an economy that's in tatters, thanks to sanction after sanction imposed by the United States.

Not to mention salvaging the nuclear deal abandoned by the last U.S. President. Well, Iran Supreme Leader and President have both been urging

Iranians to get out and vote. Despite that opinion polls suggest that turnout can be as low as 41 percent Fred Pleitgen with a look.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Only hours ahead of the elections Iran's presidential candidates are trying

to get out the vote the events very small because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Front runner a hardliner Ebrahim Raisi displaying confidence and saying he would remain in the nuclear agreement.

EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: I say this honestly, we view the Iran nuclear deal as an agreement with nine articles that the Supreme

Leader has approved. We will stay committed to their core as an agreement and commitment just like any deal which administrations have to be

committed to.

PLEITGEN (voice over): The future of the Iran nuclear agreement is only one topic on the minds of many Iranians. The country is suffering under

crushing sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration and is still in the grasp of the Coronavirus.

Iran's Guardian Council the body that the candidates are vetted by disqualified many of those looking to run in the election, giving Ebrahim

Raisi a major boost, but possibly also leading to low voter turnout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in the best situation if you have to choose only the one that you have they have introduced to us and we know him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not interested in voting. Maybe I would have voted if there were different candidates, but now all of them are the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the telling of why people around me they won't be holding to and that's most people's opinion, I guess.

PLEITGEN (voice over): Even Iran's Supreme Leader has criticized the many disqualifications and is urging voters to come out and cast their ballots.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER: If we have low turnout, the pressure of the enemy will be high. If we want the pressure and sanctions

to diminish, there must be high turnout and popular support on the system.

PLEITGEN (voice over): After eight years of holding the presidency, moderate forces appear headed for major losses, even as their main

candidate hopes to pull off a last minute surprise.

ABDOLNASER HEMMATI, IRANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe those who have said no to ballot boxes will reverse their decision. And they will

change their idea in favor of voting for me. And the trend over the last few days shows that my popularity is growing.

PLEITGEN (voice over): But after eight years of fairly moderate government under President Hassan Rouhani, Iran now seems set for a swing towards the

conservatives with major implications for both Iran and its relations with the West. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


ANDERSON: Well, my next guest is following the election and indeed these nuclear talks which continue in Vienna. From the European perspective,

Eldar Mamedov writes, and I quote, there is a risk that if Washington finds a way to talk Tehran some European countries might be tempted to assert

their own relevance by complicating such talks. He adds that would be a repetition of what happened during the Obama years?

Well, Eldar Mamedov joining us now from Latvia. He's the Foreign Policy Adviser to the European Parliament, Socialists and, and Democrats. What

exactly did you mean by that, sir?

ELDAR MAMEDOV, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER, EU SOCIALISTS & DEMOCRATS GROUP: Well, thanks for having me. I'm expressing my personal opinion here, not

speaking in the name of European Parliament.

Indeed, in the past, when the original JCPOA was concluded, there was a face in which some European countries for example, France, they have taken

a harsher more hawkish position on nonproliferation, then the Obama Administration that time.


MAMEDOV: However, despite some complications during the talks that we are witnessing, I do not think that the European countries are going to be a

problem in coming to the conclusion. There might be some demands, some more hawkish position or non proliferation.

But eventually I think if Washington and Tehran find a way of agreeing on most issues, such as lifting sanctions and Iran coming back to full

compliance, then I do not see how Europeans would stand in the way of the of the agreement?

ANDERSON: When Iran first agreed to the JCPOA and the agreement was inked back in 2015. Of course, there was what we would consider, most people

would consider was a reform minded President, and that would be Mr. Rouhani.

And he will no longer be president, post Friday's election in Iran. And we just heard in my colleague for Fred Pleitgen' piece from Ebrahim Raisi, who

is the likely President for Iran going forward. This is as many people suggest a selection rather than an election.

And he says he thinks Iran should stay in the nuclear agreement. From the EU's perspective, how does Ebrahim Raisi impact European attitude towards

Iran? And does this mean smooth sailing, if indeed he is elected, or selected?

MAMEDOV: Well, I think that the interest of the European Union when it comes to Iran, they go beyond any particular personality or political

faction that's in power in Iran. And obviously reviving and safeguarding and fully implementing the JCPOA is one of the top priorities from the

European perspective.

Indeed, the candidate Raisi has strongly indicated that he would live by the nuclear agreement. Indeed, this is because - this is so because this is

a decision of the system of the establishment as a whole.

And that is because what the establishment wants is the lifting of sanctions, which are not only hampering economic development in Iran, but

also negatively impact the business interests of those circles, who supports Ebrahim Raisi, including Revolutionary Guards and those economic


They do suffer because of the impact of the sanctions. And those interest are not the same, not so much in the West, as in the neighboring countries

and Turkey and Iraq, and even doing business there is hindered by the existence of the sanctions, so there is interest in the system to get them


ANDERSON: I'm broadcasting today as ever, from the Gulf from Abu Dhabi and the perspective of many in the Sunni Arab world is that Iran's malign and

expansive behavior poses a threat to regional stability. And you speak to experts in this part of the world, despite the fact that we are seeing

efforts to de escalate any sort of bellicose rhetoric around this region.

There are experts who suggest but the European position on Iran and these JCPOA talks and the enthusiasm that Europe has for getting back into this

agreement is seen as appeasement by some people around this region, your response?

MAMEDOV: Well, I think this assessment could not be more wrong. Why, because JCPOA was conceived from the beginning as strictly an agreement on

the nuclear issue. However, from the European perspective, this agreement should not be - in the EU/Iran relations, but the foundation the

foundation, on which you can build later on, including engagement with regional partners and antagonists.

And perhaps build some confidence and actually with the revitalization of talks in Vienna, and a somewhat more nuanced position of the Biden

Administration when it comes to Saudi Arabia and Iran. What we actually are witnessing in the region is that they are two chief antagonist Saudi Arabia

and Iran actually talking to each other.


MAMEDOV: So, that process that hopefully will lead to the restoration of - will also open and deepen these emerging channels of communication between

the regional players. So it's going to be positive development for regional and this coalition as well.

ANDERSON: You are a foreign policy adviser to one block in the European Parliament, I wonder, from your perspective, what the opportunities are of

an Iran back in the fold, as it were, albeit with a more hard line leader likely going forward?

MAMEDOV: Well, in case Ebrahim Raisi is indeed elected, then I expect that the relations between the EU and the Iran will be rather minimalistic,

which is to say, there'll be focused mostly on security issues such as JCPOA, such as regional affairs, obviously, human rights is always high on

the agenda of European Union, even if somewhat inconsistently pursued.

But I do not expect that in that case, we could witness the flourishing of EU/Iran relations and broadening them to areas such as people to people

exchanges, such as trades, such as educational exchanges, and so on.

ANDERSON: It's good to get your perspective sir. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. We are a day away from these Iranian elections. Thank you.

Up next--


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly the whole country is you know, destroyed within a couple of months and it's just too much to bear.


ANDERSON: A country in shambles with too many politicians too busy bickering to get it back on track. We'll connect you live to Beirut up

next. Plus, for the first time Chinese astronauts have boarded China's brand new space station we'll tell you what they are doing there and why

China has decided to go it alone?



ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. Well, hundreds of Hong Kong police have converged on a pro-

democracy newspaper seizing materials and arresting editors and executives.

Now this early morning raid happened at the offices of what's known as the Apple Daily now, the paper live streams. What went on its Facebook page -

Hong Kong's new National Security Law, Police accused the journalists of colluding with foreign forces.

The newspaper was founded by media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is currently in jail for his role in the 2019 pro democracy protests there. China meanwhile

boosting hits international image in the space race. There it is, the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft launching from the Gobi Desert early Thursday with

three astronauts on board.

They have successfully docked and entered China's space station, which is under construction, its Tiangong, and that is heavenly palace in English.

State media report, the crew will stay in orbit for three months to test the life support system and maintenance.

Do the astronauts expect you to do two spacewalks during this mission? There's been a long standing goal of Beijing to build its own space

station. Chinese astronauts aren't allowed on board the International Space Station the ISS, mostly for political reasons.

So imagine the news is extremely exciting for the Chinese government, but the people of China and that's where we find David Culver, who is live for

you from Shanghai, David.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky I think back during the pandemic time here and really even at the height of the outbreak, they did not slow

down and moving forward with their space ambitions. And they have poured billions of dollars into this endeavor.

And today marked a huge milestone, now that they have those three astronauts in space and as you showed video, they're walking into what is

the foundation of their space station. And interestingly enough, as you pointed out, they weren't allowed to take part in the International Space

Station, they were barred from that so they created their own.


CULVER (voice over): Three astronauts bound for the heavenly palace. That's China's space station still under construction. From a launch pad in the

Gobi Desert, the rocket ship dubbed the divine vessel blasting off designed to arrive at its destination in just six and a half hours, but at a total

length of 55 feet and a living space of just 50 cubic meters.

These astronauts are going into orbit and a capsule a bit larger than a city bus. Any claustrophobic thought, surely forgotten when the men do to

plan spacewalks to install equipment on the exterior of the Space Station.

Inside they'll test the tech in the living area and run experiments. Two more laboratory modules expected to be launched in upcoming missions with

the aims to have its space station fully operational by the end of next year.

China wants its own because the U.S. government borrowed it from participating in the International Space Station project. China says their

heavenly palace will be truly international.

Foreign astronauts are certainly going to enter the Chinese space station one day. There are a number of countries that have expressed a desire to do

that, and we will be open to that in the future.

In just the past seven months, China has put a rover on the moon and one on Mars becoming the second country in history after the U.S. to land a rover

on the red planet. They also plan to send humans to the moon in the 2030s. But for now, these three men will spend three months building the

foundation of the space station.

NIE HAISHENG, COMMANDER, SHENZHOU-12 SPACEFLIGHT: We will obey orders and instructions and keep calm while meticulously carrying out the mission.

CULVER (voice over): Chinese experts likewise confident in this mission and its safe returned to Earth as the vessel carries precious cargo along with

the pride of a nation rapidly advancing its work in its new frontier.


CULVER: Becky, you might recall last month China faced a lot of criticism mainly from the U.S. with an out of control rocket that was returning to

Earth and was fear to going to cause some damage or even harm. Well, it didn't. It's blast to the ocean.

Nonetheless they certainly redeemed themselves with this precision perfect launch today. And the mission is underway now and going to last three

months. You got to think about the timing of all this. This is happening just a couple of weeks before this country will celebrate the Chinese

Communist Party's 100th Anniversary that's certainly been talked about online here.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. David, thank you. Well, China has made extremely heavy investments in realizing its space ambitions from its first satellite

launch in 1972, successfully putting a rover on Mars just last year.

You can see just how much money it is investing compared to the other major space players. And 11 billion dollar budget according to the latest data

way ahead of Russia or China for example.


ANDERSON: Its goals are lofty going forward not only aiming to fully crew its own space station by 2022, but also putting a Chinese Russian base on

the moon by the 2030s. It's also aiming to crew missions to Mars by the year 2050.

Well, my next guest co chairs, the bipartisan U.S. China working group, the group was the first foreign delegation to visit the launch center in the

Gobi Desert, where this - launch took place in also a U.S. Congressman chairing the house Subcommittee on Aviation, Democratic Representative Rick

Larsen joining me from Washington.

Sir and it's so terrific to have you. China now has its own space station, more than a dozen other countries involved in the ISS, the International

Space Station. From the U.S. perspective, how much of a threat regarding national security or otherwise is this extremely ambitious Chinese Space

project and this new space station that was built and will be run by China?

REP. RICK LARSEN (D-WA): I think that the United States and the rest of the world need to look at space as a place where there's as little conflict as

possible. And so I think there's room for the U.S., China, Russia and others that play in space to really come together to ensure that that space

ambitions aren't any more a threat than they are today.

It should not come as a surprise, but China's doing as you noted, I was at the Jiuquan Space Launch facility I think it was 2009, middle of the Gobi

Desert. They are - they have two major three majors, space launch facilities in the country.

It was - it's a top flight, literally top flight facility. I've been to their astronaut training facility in China. They are - there's - the U.S.

have tried to stop this from happening through sanctions in early 2000s. Let's clear the China's making this investment.

ANDERSON: So I mean, they're all claims that it's Washington's fault. The U.S. and China aren't working together in space. The Americans and the

Soviets managed to work together on space projects during the Cold War.

Do you think there are opportunities for the U.S. and China going forward after all, David Culver pointed out in his report that foreign astronauts

are likely or certainly are invited to enter the CSS in the future?

LARSEN: Yes, I remember. I think I was nine or ten and the Soyuz space capsule went up. And there was some cooperation. And you know, at the most

in early 2000s, mid 2000s in Congress, I and Republican, we're just - we're only trying to get the United States, Russia and China to design a common

docking facility.

Just in case there was a necessity to rescue astronauts at in space stations, just to the docking rings matched up regardless of what country,

but we couldn't even get here in the United States get people to do something as simple as that, weren't talking about joint missions when

talking about sharing, sharing technology, just the joint talking in the event of the need to rescue people in space. And Congress wasn't willing to

go that far.

ANDERSON: Do you see that as a big loss? You know, you've said - you know, it will be we should look for opportunities to work with China in space. We

hear a similar rhetoric from Washington, about working with China, in climate change around the climate crisis.

And there will be those folks who are watching this today. You say it's fascinating to hear Washington. Look for opportunities, as it were in

inverted commas to work with China when it suits them, but not across trade, tech, and various other things where we are seeing and we've seen

this with Joe Biden's recent trip to Europe where China was very much in the crosshairs, the metaphorical crosshairs, talking about how we counter

China going forward.

LARSEN: There are areas where the United States and our policies here and the Chinese government policies will be in conflict will be in competition.

Trade is an area on the economic side; there are other areas as well.

There are areas of cooperation as well, I can think about North Korea on climate change and international terrorism on this issue of space. There is

a way to approach this so that the science and technology sort of stays inside the science and technology box. Without getting outside of that word

becomes national security issues for either country.


LARSEN: But we do - we would both benefit from some cooperation in space. But again, I think it will probably if it does happen would it happen

inside some sort of prescribed set of boundaries that prevent national security issues from becoming too much in the forefront.

ANDERSON: A couple of other questions for you very briefly, do you see a conflict between the very sort of, I don't want to call it bellicose. But

the very, very sort of noisy rhetoric we hear from Washington with regard China and countering China's growing influence, not least in the field of


And U.S. business, which is very much looking to China as a growth opportunity going forward and I'm thinking about, you know, the big finance

houses, for example.

LARSEN: I think that the - where the U.S. government policy under the Biden, Harris Administration and where U.S. business can come together is

in the area of what we're trying to do here at home.

The U.S. Innovation and Competitive Act has passed the Senate, we're trying to do something similar here in the U.S. House of Representatives. And this

would be a major investment in the basic infrastructure, research and development infrastructure and the roads, bridges, highways infrastructure

here in the United States to ensure that we have our own economic house in order.

I just talked with the AmCham, American Chamber of Commerce China this morning about these issues this morning, DC time about these issues. And

you know we're all in agreement that getting our own house in order is part of being competitive vis-a-vis China and the U.S. business community has

Foursquare behind those efforts.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, bipartisan members of the U.S. House will introduce legislation this week to boost U.S. support for Taiwan. How do you plan to

boost support while avoiding driving a wedge even further between Washington and Beijing at this point?

AmCham well, I don't think the Biden and Harris Administration has been at all coy or shy about demonstrating to the Chinese government and Chinese

leadership that we're going to stand up for our values and our interests and approach those in a way we think is appropriate.

And that's through working with friends, partners and allies in the region. And we'll also include ensuring that we have a strong relationship with

Taiwan. I also think that the Biden Harris team has her eyes wide open in this regard as well, understanding that the Chinese government may respond

in some way, but are willing to deal with that response in an appropriate way through diplomacy and dialogue.

And that's what we would call upon I'm pretty sure they call upon the Chinese government to respond in that manner.

ANDERSON: Rick Larsen pleasure having you on, your perspective is really interesting and really useful for us. Thank you very much indeed. You're

watching "Connect the World" folks with the Tokyo Olympics just a few weeks away and nerves severely rattled by this COVID pandemic.

A Chinese sorry, let me start again. A Japanese ecommerce giant is jumping in to help, coming up what Rakuten is doing to speed up COVID vaccinations.



ANDERSON: You're watching "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson now wherever you are watching in the world. Welcome back. Japan lifting the

state of emergency in Tokyo this Sunday, it's just weeks ahead of the Olympics.

And as the country battles a fourth wave of the virus so far less than 10 percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. Selina Wang has an

exclusive report now on how the COVID Vaccine rollout is now picking up.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Pro soccer player's online consultations, a speedy tech process. The CEO of e commerce giant Rakuten

thinks he's got the solution to speed up Japan's sluggish Vaccine rollout.

HIROSHI MIKITANI, RAKUTEN CEO: I think we're probably 3-5X more efficient than other vaccination centers. Hopefully, you know, the Kobe would become

the role model of entire Japan.

WANG (voice over): Rakuten, which owns the Vissel Kobe Soccer Team, is working with Kobe City to vaccinate up to 7500 people a day at no of your

stadium, Kobe. Five weeks from the games less than 6 percent of Japan is fully vaccinated.

MIKITANI: I'm not very supportive of the hosting the global Olympic event, but if they are going to do it, then we need to super accelerate the

vaccinations as fast as possible.

WANG (voice over): In its first week, this center vaccinated more than 10,000, but Mikitani is attempting something much bigger.

MIKITANI: I'm hoping that we can open more vaccination centers all over Japan. Let us do maybe 500,000 shots per day.

WANG (voice over): Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to accelerate Japan's rollout.

YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: From October to November of this year, I hope to finish vaccinating all the people who need and want to be

vaccinated. I want to realize this.

WANG (voice over): Vaccinations for the broader population start later this month at workplaces, including at big companies like Rakuten and Softbank

and at Universities. In this war room, Rakuten employees are brainstorming ideas to quicken the pace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at from the registration to actually getting vaccinated, we only take about four minutes. And we're trying to think how

we can reduce three seconds, five seconds, ten seconds.

WANG (voice over): A major bottleneck in Japan's Vaccine rollout is a lack of medical staff to administer the doses. But here staff from local

universities is helping and some pre screenings are conducted online. With Rakuten's help Kobe aims to finish vaccinating those 65 and older by mid

July. That's ahead of the central government schedule and before the Olympics.

I'm really relieved to be vaccinated here she tells me, I want to have a normal life again and be with people. Last month COVID-19 cases and Kobe

were surging, and the City Council its local marathon cases have been declining. But the city remains under a state of emergency.

KIZO HISAMOTO, KOBE MAYOR: We are seeing more of the new strains circulating in the city. So we cannot let our guard down. And we have to

encourage the citizens to continue taking all precautions.

WANG (voice over): Many medical experts continue to warn that the games pose a risk to the Japanese population. The majority will still be

unvaccinated when the games begin.

I don't think the Olympics need to be held, he says, there will be so many coming into Japan that will probably go out and could give us infections.

In the meantime, Kobe City along with Rakuten is racing to protect its residents. Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


ANDERSON: Still ahead coping with crisis after crisis. Lebanon's latest nightmare we will connect you live to Beirut ahead.



ANDERSON: Right now I'm asking how much more Lebanon can take, the famous Lebanese ability to get by being strained to the limit. Even its army is

now looking for help to pay its soldiers France hosting an un-backed conference today to drum up humanitarian aid for the Military and just

about everyone waiting for hours at the gas pump because the country is running out of fuel.

Lebanon doesn't have the money to import fuel at this point. I'm connecting you to Beirut and to CNN's Ben Wedeman, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The situation here is dire. When you consider not only a fuel crisis, there's a shortage

of medicine. There the many doctors are leaving because they simply cannot make ends meet.

The currency has collapsed, the economy is in freefall, but yet somehow people are just trying to cope with the situation at this point.


WEDEMAN (voice over): As if Lebanon didn't have enough problems already, along comes another petrol shortage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly the whole country is you know, this destroyed within a couple of months and it's just too much to bear.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Lebanon's currency has lost 90 percent of its value in less than two years. Inflation is soaring. A massive blast and the

Beirut port killed more than 200 people last year. Coronavirus killed thousands more and the country hasn't been able to form a proper government

in almost a year. Taken all together, it's grim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hell.

WEDEMAN (on camera): These long lines outside the gas stations are a manifestation of a much bigger problem of a government that's bankrupt

that's broke, that doesn't have enough hard currency to import fuel to keep the lights on.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Also in short supply fuel to run the country's decrepit power plants. The normal lengthy power outages are getting even

longer. The electric grid is antiquated. Those who can afford it depend on private generators to make up for the difference.


WEDEMAN (voice over): Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar warns as bad as things are now worse maybe yet to come.

GHAJAR: The blackout will be a true blackout, not public electricity blackout will be a complete darkness. And I think this is - you know, it's

a calamity. It's not a scenario that's livable.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Iraq has reportedly promised to provide cut rate fuel, but it hasn't arrived yet. And meanwhile, Lebanon squabbling

politicians do nothing to fix the country's many problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we are just biding the time. We are kicking the can down the road without reforms without a complete solution for this.

WEDEMAN (voice over): And Lebanon is running out of time, fuel and it seems everything else.


WEDEMAN: And most importantly, Lebanon is running out of money. The government says that it may soon have to live lift subsidies on basic food

items in which case, as bad as things are now when that happens, it will be indeed a calamity. Becky?


ANDERSON: You've described a government that is bankrupt in the true financial sense of the word. Many, many argue that Lebanon's ultimate

problem is that its politicians are morally bankrupt. If it's running out of money and is soon to run running dry, where does it go for support at

this point?

WEDEMAN: Well, for instance, as you mentioned before, France is holding a donor's conference to try to help the army because of the army we heard,

for instance, Joseph Owen, the Commander of the army, saying that the army is the only and last cohesive institution in this country, if it fails,

there's a very good possibility that the country could indeed fall apart.

Now there have been a variety of donor conferences trying to finance Lebanon to try to help it getting out of this current crisis. But the fear

among the donor community is that corruption is so rampant here, that whatever money is poured in to Lebanon could very quickly go to

Switzerland, to the bank accounts of the politicians who nominally run this country.

So the help that might come from abroad isn't coming because of the fear of corruption. So it's really - Lebanon is in a dilemma. And unless there is a

complete change of the political leadership, it's hard to imagine how it's going to get out of this disaster. Becky?

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is reporting from Beirut. And look, folks, you - this is the end of the show. You might expect us to close "Connect the World"

with an uplifting story, a moment of Zen, if you like. And we do that on a regular basis.

I hate to leave you after two hours with a sort of sense of pessimism. But this story of Lebanon is so important, so I make no apologies for flagging

it at the back end of this show. And I make no apologies for Ben's excellent report which shows just how difficult things are.

And we will continue to provide platform for the people of Lebanon on this show because they deserve it. Good night.