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China Announces Changes after Nationwide Zero COVID Protests; Iranian Kurdish Footballer Released on Bail; Iran and U.S. to Face Off at World Cup; NATO Chief Says Putin Using Winter as Weapon of War; Deadliest Year in West Bank since Early 2000s; Apple Threatens to Withhold Twitter from App Store. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 29, 2022 - 10:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Police are out in force in cities across China as the government there attempts to crack down on an

unprecedented number of protests.

Team USA and Team Iran prepare for a critical World Cup match as controversy swirls on and off the pitch.

And Elon Musk takes issue with Apple, claiming the maker of iPhone plans to withhold Twitter from its app store.


ANDERSON: Hello and welcome to what is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, here all week in Qatar. I am Becky Anderson live for you from the

World Cup. And more on what is going on and off the pitch here.

We begin this hour in China where the government has stamped out a rare public display of anger in response to strict COVID measures in its largest

cities. Flooding the streets of Beijing and Shanghai with police, reportedly arresting dozens of protesters.

In other parts of China, crowds continue to gather on Monday night and today there are signs that the protests may have worked to a degree, at

least. Chinese health officials apparently bending on their zero COVID policy.

Announcing today that local lockdowns should be lifted as quickly as possible to reduce inconvenience. And they have been launching a new action

plan to boost vaccination rates among the elderly. CNN's Ivan Watson monitoring all of this for us from Hong Kong this hour.

This is a clear shift in China's anti COVID policy.

How significant are these announcements from the Chinese government?

Let's just remind ourselves how and why this all started.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to highlight a statement we just got from China's central political and legal

affairs commission.

It is a meeting that took place on Monday but wasn't reported until state media until Tuesday.

Saying, quote, "Calling for the authorities to resolutely strike hard against infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces as well as

criminal activities that destabilized social order."

This seems to be the first official government response to the unprecedented wave of protests that we were able to verify, erupting in at

least 15 different locations across China over the course of the weekend.

China has been implementing a strict zero COVID policy, aimed at completely destroying any sign of the COVID virus in the country. It has put the

population under immense psychological, emotional and financial pressure.


WATSON (voice-over): Anger on the streets of Chinese cities. The biggest nationwide display of discontent this tightly controlled country has seen

in a generation. Protesters pushing back against police and the government's zero COVID policy.

The unrest triggered by a deadly fire in Urumqi, in China's Western Xinjiang region last Thursday. Videos emerge of fire hoses barely reaching

the blaze which killed at least 10 people.

Among them, Kumar Nisahan Abdul Rakman (ph) and four of her children.

What happened to your mother and your brothers and sisters?

SHARAPAT MOHAMMAD ALI, FAMILY KILLED IN APARTMENT FIRE (through translator): The fire started on the 15th floor. The smoke poisoned my

family. The government could not stop the fire in time.

WATSON: Two surviving adult children of Kumar Nisahan (ph) speak to me from Turkey.

Unable to see their family since 2017 due to the harsh crackdown, the government accused of putting up to 2 million of their fellow ethnic

Uyghurs and members of other minorities in internment camps.


WATSON (voice-over): They say their loved ones were trapped in the building by COVID measures.

MOHAMMAD MOHAMMAD ALI, FAMILY KILLED IN APARTMENT FIRE (through translator): They could not escape because the fire escape was blocked and

the fire escape to the roof of the building was also locked.

WATSON: Accusations CNN cannot independently confirm. But Chinese authorities have been seen literally locking residents into buildings.

Outrage over the Urumqi fire compounded by previous deadly incidents in recent months directly linked to COVID prevention.

Though CNN verified 16 protests in 11 Chinese cities this weekend, a Chinese government official told the journalist they just didn't happen.

ZHAO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): What you mentioned does not reflect what actually happened. China has been

following the dynamic zero COVID policy and has been making adjustments based on realities on the ground.

WATSON: On Monday, the white papers that have become a symbol of the protests in mainland China spread here to Hong Kong, where the small groups

of demonstrators are holding a vigil for what they say are the victims of China's zero COVID policy.

JAMES, PROTESTER FROM SHANGHAI (through translator): I am a victim, I cannot go home for many years, like two to three years, right?

My parents were locked down for three months. And even relatives of my good friends they suicide because of the lockdowns.

WATSON: With China reporting record breaking new daily cases of COVID, there appears to be no end to the lockdowns in sight.

Meanwhile, siblings Mohammad and Sharapat cannot even pray for closure after suffering the unimaginable loss of five immediate members of their


Will you go home for the funeral of your family?

M. ALI (through translator): We want to attend the funeral of our family members. But if we went back now, China will put us in jail or even torture



WATSON: Becky, those siblings, they come from an ethnic Uyghur family. On top of the tragedy their family just suffered, they say that years ago

their father and a surviving sibling were sent to internment camps along with hundreds of thousands of other people.

They do not know how to get the message to them that five of their immediate family members died in this fire.

Moving on, on Monday, we did see signs of efforts and protests and detentions in the eastern city of Hangzhou. In some of these videos you can

see people being dragged away by police and emotional people saying please stop it, don't arrest people.

Amid the detentions that we have heard about in Shanghai, where there were two nights of protest over the weekend, the police erected barriers.

We are hearing, anecdotally, from protesters, that police were in subway stations, stopping pedestrians --- here is a video illustrating this --

going through people's phones, looking at what apps they have on their phones, whether or not they have VPNs that can allow them to circumvent the

great firewall and whether or not they have photos or images from the protests.

These are just some of the measures that China's police state can employ to stifle dissent -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan Watson is on the story for you.

Ivan, thank you.

They say that sport can be the world's great equalizer. But in the face of protests, politics and pressing concerns over human rights, the pitch is

likely to be highly charged as Iran take on the U.S. at the World Cup later. As things stand, the U.S. cannot afford to lose against Iran. They

will be eliminated if they do.



ANDERSON: In a disturbing new development, we are hearing that the families of Iran's World Cup team have been threatened with prison or even

torture if the players don't, quote, "behave" ahead of the match with the U.S. That is according to a source involved in the security of the games.

Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem before their opening match against England last week. They did before facing Wales on Friday.

This as we hear an Iranian Kurdish footballer has now been released from prison. That is according to the Iranian judiciary.

Voria Ghafouri plays in the Persian Gulf pro league, had been arrested on charges of, quote, "incitement against the regime." A human rights

organization had recently raised questions about whether he had since been released from jail.

Iran's judiciary now reporting he is out after posting the appropriate bail.

Looking ahead at this game, we want to get you to Jomana Karadsheh, who has been following developments from Istanbul.


ANDERSON: Since the death of Mahsa Amini and the rise of this latest protest movement, which obviously continues, there is a wider geopolitical

context to this game.

Why there is tension, potentially, in the stands tonight, I do think it is important to point out for those Iranians who I've spoken to here. I am

sure, you have spoken to many in Iran. There is a real feeling that people are split.

They want to support the team and yet, for some, in supporting the team, they feel they would be supporting the regime and that is tough. It should

be just a game of football and that is tough. It should be a game of football tonight but it's so much more than that.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky. That is exactly what I've been hearing. From Iranians around the world who have been

watching their team, the national team, that it's been a source of pride for Iranians for a very long time.

No matter how they feel about the regime, it has been one thing that has united all Iranians, that sense of pride in the team. But right now they

find themselves in this very difficult position.

They don't want to be supporting the team, because they see that the regime would use this as a propaganda tool to claim victory if the team wins.

As we saw happen last week after that win in their match against Wales, where you saw members of the security forces, members of the Basij taking

to the streets, celebrating in these very surreal scenes, handing out candy. And we're talking about forces that are being accused of some

horrific human rights abuses during this ongoing crackdown.

Where hundreds of people have so far been killed so those scenes really angered so many people, that they've gotten to a point where it is such a

tough decision. But they don't want to see their team, because they feel that the regime will use that for propaganda. And they feel that the regime

has now basically stolen football from them.

ANDERSON: And I do want to bring up what many will see as surreal pictures. We saw these after the world's game. Iran police celebrating on

the streets of Tehran. And as you have been pointing out, if Iran win this tonight, there will be those who see this as a victory for the regime, as

opposed to the people who are protesting.

The wider story, of course, is the backdrop for this and the protests on the street. You are judiciously keeping an eye on what is going on there. I

know it is very difficult to get detail on the ground.

But what do we know at this point?

KARADSHEH: You know, Becky, over the past few, days it has been very difficult to get video out of the country, to get information. As we

mentioned the regime has been imposing these really severe internet communication blackouts, making it very difficult for us to get information

in real time.

But we are hearing from human rights organizations that the regime's crackdown is ongoing. Protests are still taking place, whether it's in

areas like the Kurdish region or in the Balochistan (ph) province. These are areas where you have minorities that had been protesting since the

beginning of the uprising.

And also in other cities including (INAUDIBLE) and we are continuing to see the death toll rise, Becky. And we cannot independently confirm these

figures. No one outside of the Iranian government can give you an exact death toll. But the numbers that we are getting are absolutely devastating.

You have Iran Human Rights, an NGO based in Norway, that's been keeping track of the death toll in the country. They place the death toll now at

more than 440 people who have been killed. More than 60 children, they say. And a lot of them are in the minority inhabited areas of Iran.

And a lot of concern about ongoing arrests. You mentioned the release of Voria Ghafouri there. Still we are hearing about arrests taking place on a

daily basis, ongoing trials that are being described as sham trials.

ANDERSON: Jomana, thank you.



ANDERSON: Still ahead, residents of Kherson scavenge for basic necessities, as Ukrainians face a harsh winter without power and heat for

many. Stay with us for what is a powerful report on the situation there.





ANDERSON: The NATO secretary general says that Russian president Vladimir Putin is trying to use, and I'm quoting here, "winter as a weapon of war"

in Ukraine. Jens Stoltenberg spoke ahead of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Romania designed to mobilize support for Kyiv amid a wave of

Russian strikes on critical infrastructure.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: President Putin is failing in his brutal war of aggression. He is responding with more brutality. We see

wave after wave of deliberate missile attacks on cities and civilian infrastructure, striking homes, hospitals and power grids. This is terrible

for Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Millions of Ukrainians are without power and water. The electricity operator there says that it is running at about 30 percent

deficit after a series of emergency shutdowns of power plants across the country.

Power use is on the rise and, of course, as weather gets colder. And meanwhile, Ukraine's first lady is in London. She is urging the British

public, do not forget Ukraine as Christmas approaches.

Olena Zelenska told the BBC that the battle is not just for Ukraine's freedom but also a war on opposing world views.

It's been more than two weeks now since Russia's retreat from Kherson. And the initial scenes of celebration now being replaced by signs of

desperation. Residents are struggling without power and water. And it can only get worse with winter on its way. My colleague, CNN's Matthew Chance,

reports from that southern Ukrainian city.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The devastation Russia's retreating forces left behind. A village in southern

Ukraine torn to shreds and until now, abandoned to this war.

Valery (ph) told me he's lived here 51 years. And after evacuating for eight months, he's home to stay. Even amid this wreckage.

It's like a stone weighing on my soul, he said. We built everything here with our own hands. It's hard to look at what those Russian scum did to us,

he adds.

A short distance away in newly liberated Kherson, a pool of blood where Russia is attacking the city it just left behind.

Four were killed when this grocery store was hit. Now one desperate resident picks through the debris looting scraps of food and toilet paper.

Is everything so bad, we asked. It's not good, he responds.

All right, well, getting basic supplies, though, in Kherson, has become a massive risk. We've come to the seaport, the river port right on the Dnipro

River with this woman here Tatiana (ph) from Kherson to collect water so she can do her washing up and wash her clothes and go to the toilet and

things like that.

The water supplies have been completely cut off by the Russians. This is the only way. You can hear the artillery shells go off in the background.

This is the only way she can get water for her house.

And it's dangerous because this is basically the front line. The Russian forces have retreated to the other bank, right?

So the Russian forces are just across the river.

But the risk is one that has to be taken.

What can we do, Tatiana asks. We can't live without water.

There's no electricity either. And people are cramming into makeshift charging stations like this one just to stay connected. We found defiance

here, too, in the face of hardship.

There's no water or power, Hannah (ph) tells me but also no Russians. So we will get through this.

What do you think?

I think our enemies will all die soon, says Nastia (ph), who only just turned 9. We'll show them what you get for occupying Ukraine, she says.

For many, the hardships are already too much. Roads out of Kherson crammed with residents trying to leave.

But for those who stay, it is a desperate struggle to survive -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Kherson.


ANDERSON: Well, the Biden administration is stopping short of criticizing China as police crack down on protests there.


ANDERSON: Hear what the U.S. did have to say about these very rare demonstrations.

Plus a year of violence, how 2022 sadly became the deadliest year in decades in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.




ANDERSON: Welcome back, I'm Becky Anderson in Doha in Qatar for you at the World Cup. You are watching what is a special week's worth of coverage, two

weeks' worth of coverage, here on CONNECT THE WORLD. More on what is going on, on and off the pitch.

First up, though Chinese officials are reacting to the extraordinary protests that gripped the country in recent days, announcing an apparent

shift in strategy against COVID-19.

China's national health commission now advising that lockdowns should be lifted, quote, "as quickly as possible," after outbreaks. And it's also

launching a new vaccination program, for the elderly.

Well, the commission made no direct reference to the nationwide outcry against the government and its strict anti COVID policies. Some of those

protests were shut down on Monday but not all of them.

A top U.S. diplomat has responded to the developments in China while seemingly walking a diplomatic tightrope. Secretary of state Antony Blinken

says that the U.S. support the rights of people everywhere to peacefully protest. His comments came during a news conference in Romania.

Earlier he stopped short of actually voicing support for protesters in China. Blinken responded to Chinese zero COVID policy to say that it's

something that the U.S. would pursue.

Four Palestinians, including two brothers, were killed in the past 24 hours by Israeli fire in the West Bank. In two incidents, the Israeli military

said soldiers responded to rioters throwing rocks and explosives at them.

In one of those incidents, Israel says soldiers came under fire. In a third incident, Israeli authorities said that a driver was fatally shot after

ramming a soldier with a car. Palestinian officials say that the Israeli military is appropriating blood for political reasons.

With still one month to, 2022 is already the deadliest year in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict since the early 2000s. CNN analysis finds that more than 180 people have died in Israel on the West Bank since January. Hadas

Gold takes a look at the numbers behind what is a tragic year.


ANDERSON: She filed this report before these most recent Palestinian deaths today.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These have become frequent images this year across Israel and the Palestinian territories. Funerals last week in Nablus

for 16-year-old Ahmad Amjd Shehadeh and to Jerusalem for 15-year-old Canadian Israeli Aryeh Schupak, both killed on Wednesday on their way to


In another world, they might have been classmates. But here, they are the latest victims of a decades old conflict that is rearing its head to new


With a month left to go, 2022 is already the deadliest year for Palestinians and Israelis across Israel in the West Bank since the early

2000s according to a CNN analysis of official numbers from both Israel and the Palestinian authority, setting off alarm across the world.

POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: I hope that Israeli and Palestinian authorities take this search for dialogue to heart in a greater

way, building reciprocal trust, without which there will never be a solution for peace in the Holy Land.

GOLD: 150 Palestinian combatants and civilians have been killed so far this year in the occupied West Bank in Israel, according to the Palestinian

Ministry of Health, as Israel conducts regular military raids in response to a wave of Palestinian attacks.

Well, Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were militants or engaging violently with their soldiers. Human rights groups say dozens of

unarmed civilians have been caught up as well.

The Israeli government says 31 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in Palestinian attacks, a number that includes soldiers and civilians during

shooting, stabbings and ramblings.

And then last Wednesday, twin bombings killed two in Jerusalem, a type of attack not seen in years.

Immediately bringing to mind the Second Intifada or Palestinian uprising when Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military raids became the


One has to go back to those final years of that conflict 2004 and 2005 four death count higher than this years.

The U.N.'s Middle East envoy warning that the situation is running out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mounting hopelessness, anger and tension have once again erupted into a deadly cycle of violence that is increasingly

difficult to contain.

GOLD: That hopelessness partly a result of a politics on both sides that seem as far apart as ever, an increasingly unpopular Palestinian Authority.

Its aging leader Mahmoud Abbas recently pilloried for attending the World Cup, while new militant groups rise up at home, claiming to be the true

representatives of the Palestinian Street.

And in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu soon to take power once again. But this time with a sharp turn to the right alongside coalition partners like

Itamar Ben-Gvir and other far right settlers who have called for an even stronger response to Palestinian attacks and are vehemently opposed to the

two state solution.

As the violence on the ground continues with no end in sight -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: Just ahead, the world's richest man is facing off against the world's most valuable company. Why Twitter under Elon Musk is trying to mix

it up with iPhone giant Apple.





ANDERSON: Welcome, back you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from Doha in Qatar.

No word from Apple after Elon Musk tweeted that the iPhone giant is threatening to withhold Twitter from its app store. That move could be

devastating for Musk's company, Twitter, which he recently bought for some $44 billion.

Musk also claims that Apple is mostly stopping advertising on the social networking site. Plus the head of Apple's app store deleted his Twitter

account. CNN's Clare Duffy joining us live from New York, she is covering the story.

And Elon Musk claiming that Apple is threatened to pull Twitter from its iOS app store.

Just how damaging would that be?

What kind of impact would it make?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Right, Becky, it's really hard to overstate just how detrimental it would be to Twitter if everyone with an

iPhone was no longer able to access the app store. You can't just list any app there. Apps that are listed on the app store have to be able to

moderate hate speech and violent content. Apple previously removed Parler another social network last year because of these exact concerns. And until

Parler agreed to better moderate hate speech.

So Apple may be taking a similar look at Twitter, now that Musk says that he plans to roll back many of its moderation policies. He's fired many of

the people who were responsible for keeping the platform safe.

But he's also said that he plans to return many of the accounts that were previously banned from the platform for violating its rules. And so this

really makes sense that Elon Musk was worried about this. And this could be so damaging to Twitter's business. But it's not clear that this tweet war

is really getting anywhere.

ANDERSON: And it's fascinating isn't it. And briefly, Musk's accusation that Apple put a secret 30 percent tax on everything you buy on the app

store, what do we make of that?

Is there any sort of substance to this accusation?

DUFFY: This 30 percent is really a transaction fee for anything that people buy on Apple app store apps. And it's not a secret. Lots of other

app developers have criticized this 30 percent fee. But it makes sense again why Musk is paying attention to this.

His plan is to shift Twitter's business model to more be reliant on subscriptions. And all of those subscription fees would be subject to the

30 percent fee by Apple. But again, not a secret here and not something that Apple is going to pay any attention to.

ANDERSON: Thank you. Clare Duffy is on the story for you. The war of the tweets, isn't it. His access like the rest of us have to tweeting and so

we'll have to wait and see what he says next.

"WORLD SPORT" with Alex Thomas is next. I will be back with another hour of CONNECT THE WORLD in 15 minutes. Stay with us.