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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Sources: U.S. Plans Diplomatic Boycott of Beijing Olympics; Chinese Tech Stocks Suffer Big Losses; Early Data on Omicron: Most Cases Appear to be Mild; UK Tightens Travel Restrictions as Omicron Concerns Rise; International Pressure Mounts over Peng Shuai Case; Myanmar State: Suu Kyi's Sentence Reduced to Two Years; Fintech Firm Mynt Becomes Philippines' First Unicorn; Better.com CEO Fires 900 Employees via Zoom Call. Aired 9- 10a ET
Aired December 06, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Live from New York, I'm Julia Chatterley. This is "FIRST MOVE." And here's your need to know.
Beijing boycott. U.S. government officials are expected to skip China's Winter Olympics.
Delisting drama. Fears that more Chinese tech stocks could be forced off U.S. exchanges.
And data dependent. Scientists cautiously optimistic on the impact of Omicron.
It's Monday. Let's make a move.
A warm welcome to "FIRST MOVE" once again.
Fantastic to be back with you for another highly consequential week both for global markets and also for global health.
Science and stimulus once again dominating the discourse and the maybe reason for hope. The U.S. chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said this
weekend, he's cautiously optimistic that vaccines are effective against the new variant and that Omicron while highly contagious, may not lead to
Now, let's be clear. That's not yet based on a scientific review, just anecdotal evidence so far. We'll discuss all the details and the
implications very shortly.
For now, though, caution is the watch word for stocks with the tech tensions extending.
The Nasdaq now off some 7 percent from recent highs as investors pare back on richly valued gross stocks.
Crypto currencies may provide the diversification but not safety.
Bitcoin fell more than 20 percent this weekend to near $43,000 per bitcoin. It then as you can see higher to 48,000. They're just above and again lower
today. So, I think volatility more the word than anything else.
In Asia, the Hang Seng hit a 14-month low. A shakedown in tech stocks exacerbated by news that ride hailing giant Didi would leave the New York
Stock Exchange. Alibaba is also listed there. And that fell some 5 percent.
Now, SoftBank whose Vision Fund is a key investor in both Didi, and Alibaba pulled back 8 percent, just over 8 percent. In fact, today, it's fallen for
the past seven sessions. So, turbulence is the watch word.
Reflection of the tech tensions between the U.S. and China but it's not the only source of angst. Diplomatic pressures in focus today too. And that's
where we begin the drivers.
Sources close to the Biden administration say the U.S. is planning a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The ban set to be
impelled this week would mean no U.S. officials will attend the games in February. It will not affect athletes wishing to compete. However, China
warning of, quote, resolute consequences if it goes ahead.
David Culver joins us now.
David, great to have you with us as always. So, a partial boycott. Athletes can compete, but no government officials expected to attend. Not being
taken well in China.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As expected, Julia. And you know I think this was also something that was anticipated here for several weeks.
Now, they don't like it and they've expressed that. And as you point out, they want these resolute counter measures to be put in place. Not clear
what exactly that would look like. But essentially, this is that middle ground from the U.S. perspective to say, look, we're not going to allow our
officials to be attending as though nothing that is happening within China is -- is offensive to the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to
I mean, there were widespread allegations of human rights abuses particularly involving the ethnic Uyghurs Muslims in Xinjiang, the far
western region, also with Tibet. Not to mention the many other issues that have circulated. Including tensions in the South China Sea, issues with
prodemocracy protests and the cracking down in Hong Kong, COVID origins questions that still remain and the early mishandling that took place here.
So, you've got a whole set of issues that are compiled together and coincide with what is supposed to be a sports focused event. One that China
was hoping to repeat from 2008 in welcoming the world, setting the stage and really showing that they have the ability to put on pageantry and
performance once again. But it's going to be overshadowed. We've known this. It's going to be overshadowed by the geopolitics and by the many,
many issues that surround this.
Now, as far as how it's being received here, we heard what the foreign ministry said. It's interesting to note, they've also censored any search
for U.S. boycott of the Olympics on Chinese social media. Why do that?
Well, it may bring up some of the questions as to why the U.S. would boycott from a diplomatic perspective, and hence you bring into the
conversation here of the many issues we just talked about, Julia.
So, by not allowing it to be searched, you don't allow the conversation to flow, you can stop some of the comment sections and it keeps the dialogue
CHATTERLEY: It's astonishing in this day and age with the digitization, the technology that we have that you can literally wipe the discussion not only
of a potential diplomatic boycott.
CHATTERLEY: But to your point, all the other issues that might have precipitated it, including of course the treatment of tennis star Peng
Shuai which is the sort of latest issue I think that we're all discussing.
What might countermeasures look like, resolute countermeasures? What - what might that look like, David? Do you have any sense?
CULVER: You know it's something that could be fashioned in if there's an event, for example, involving the U.S. going forward. China would withhold
bringing any of their officials to show face. It could be something, for example, they were anticipating actually the day after the Olympics to host
an anniversary. The 50th anniversary of the Nixon visit from 1972. That actually taking place, that anniversary, the day after the Olympics ends.
So, you perhaps now are going to look at a situation where they're not going to be inviting any U.S. officials to attend that. it's really unclear
how they're going to move forward with these so-called countermeasures.
We've seen this though before, whether it's visa restrictions or any sort of sanctions. China does everything in reciprocity. They do it the exact
same so as to show really domestically that they don't want to lose face. They are standing up to the West. They like to portray that in this
increased nationalistic society. And to show that they're not going to back down.
And it's something that they'll likely continue through these Olympics as well and going into late next year, because that's really, to be quite
honest, the biggest event of the year. You're talking about the party Congress where President Xi will very likely continue on for a third term
in office, Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Overshadowed, I think, is the keyword here and the last thing they want at this important moment politically and geopolitically.
David, great to have you with us as always. David Culver there.
CULVER: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: Let's move on.
Tech turbulence in China. Online giants suffering big losses with Alibaba, Baidu and JD.com, all dropping sharply in Hong Kong today. This follows
news from Friday that newly listed ride hailing giant, Didi, said it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange.
Paul La Monica joins us now.
Paul, and there have been a whole of sphere of discussion about previously concerns about access to data - Chinese data over in the United States with
the company providing data as a result of their being listed. But what were the protections for international and U.S. investors in Didi to them be
told suddenly, sorry the stock's going to disappear, and your holding could potentially be worthless?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN REPORTER: Yeah. It is I think a shocking development, to put it mildly for any investors who bought the shares of the - of Didi
that traded here in the U.S. The company says that they're going to transfer any investment to a listing that should take place in Hong Kong.
So that in theory, you're not getting wiped out and losing your money. But it does beg the question, people that tend to buy Chinese listed stocks in
the United States are usually doing so because they like having the fact that it is on an exchange like NYSE or Nasdaq. You know have the SEC
protections in place.
So, it does beg the question whether or not a U.S. investor or another foreign investor that is buying a Chinese stock that listed America. Do
they want to have exposure to those shares that are now listed in Hong Kong? And I think that is an open question that remains to be seen, what
happens to Didi shares once they start trading abroad.
CHATTERLEY: So, if you're an investor, just to be clear, and you're looking at perhaps your holdings. As we discussed at the beginning of the show,
SoftBank is an investor in Didi. It's an investor in Alibaba. So, their shareholdings have been - well, the value of their holdings have been hurt.
But if you're an ordinary investor and you're currently holding Alibaba, for example, and you're perhaps worried about that.
Do we know what the rules are surrounding holding a stock that suddenly says, look, we're going to be delisted? Because there were a few people
saying maybe I should sell now in order to not take the risk. But are there any protections and who is responsible, whether it's the exchange or the
SEC perhaps to make sure investors are informed about these risks?
LA MONICA: Yeah. That is a great question. I think what it depends upon is whether or not you are having a seamless transition of a company that is
listed in the U.S. to another exchange like Hong Kong.
In the case of Alibaba, something if you were to have - and Alibaba already has Hong Kong listed shares. Presumably you would have a pretty seamless
And this would be a lot different than like what happened with, for example, Luckin Coffee, the company that wound up getting delisted because
of accounting issues and things of that nature. That's where you have a case where for the most part your investment gets wiped out.
I think if you have a company like an Alibaba, JDD - I'm sorry, JD, that are you know legitimate businesses here in the U.S. They're not going to
completely go away even if their exchange is moved from the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
CHATTERLEY: Fascinating to watch.
Paul La Monica, thank you so much for - for that.
OK. It's still early days but there's another glimmer of Omicron optimism.
In South Africa, initial data shows patients with the new coronavirus variant are not dependent on oxygen though it seems to be fast spreading.
So far, it's producing mostly mild cases.
Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is tracking the data and joins us now.
And Elizabeth, before you do, I know we're going to couch this heavily that this is not scientifically reviewed. It's only anecdotal information. What
more can you tell us?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Julia. So again, I'm going to give that caveat as well. This is a relatively very
actually small number of patients. It's 42 patients in South Africa. We're not sure of their vaccination status. And so, that will come in to play as
time goes on.
But in order for a variant to be a real threat, it has to one, be more transmissible. Two, evade the vaccine to some extent or another but also
cause serious illness. So, let's look at what happened with these 42 patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Now, first of all, most of them were hospitalized with something else and then upon testing, they found they had COVID. But what they found was the
70 percent of them were not dependent on oxygen. So, that's a pretty - that's a pretty good number.
And also, in the last two weeks, they found that the hospital length of stay decreased. It had been sort of pre-Omicron about 8.5 days and now
they're seeing about 2.8 days. So, that's a big difference. I mean, 2.8 days for someone with COVID is relatively short you know when you put it in
comparison with previously. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Fascinating. Great.
Elizabeth Cohen, we'll continue to watch the data and hopefully, we'll get more information particularly on the vaccines as well by the end of this
week if not next week. We hope, I believe.
Elizabeth Cohen -
COHEN: We certainly do hope that. I mean there are more tests that they can do. We hope to know more.
CHATTERLEY: Thank you.
Elizabeth Cohen there.
OK. And travel rules tightened. The UK says all passengers arriving in the country will now have to take a COVID test within 48 hours of their flight.
Anna Stewart has the latest.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The travel rule that keeps on changing. Nigeria has been added to the UK's red list. That brings it to a total of 10
Southern African nations which only UK citizens can travel from.
Now, you need to quarantine in a hotel facility. Now, if you're coming back from one of these countries for 10 days. And it costs around $3,000.
From tomorrow, there's additional testing requirement, anyone arriving into the UK will need to take a pre-departure test within two days before
arriving, 48 hours. It can be an antigen test or a PCR and it is regardless of vaccination status. That's also in addition to having to take a test
within two days of arriving into the UK.
Now that before could have been a rapid antigen test. Now that needs to be a PCR, which of course does bring up those costs. And that is why there are
concerns that it could deter some people from traveling.
And the travel and tourism industry is not happy. There are calls for the UK government to give them more financial support given these new
restrictions. Either in the form of the follow scheme returning for the sector or additional financial support, or even paying for the mandatory
Traveling during this pandemic and is possible. It's totally doable. It's just the cost of the tests need to be taken into account. You need to be
organized to get them all booked in advance. And of course, you have to be flexible. Given the rules can change where you are and where you're trying
to get to.
Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
CHATTERLEY: OK. Let me bring you up to speed now with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.
At least 21 people have now died in Indonesia after Saturday's volcanic eruption. Officials say 21 more are missing. Authorities have been
conducting search operations, but they've been hampered by poor weather and hot clouds of ash from the volcano.
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are getting ready for an important video call on Tuesday. The main topic of conversation is expected to be the buildup of
Russian forces near the border with Ukraine. U.S. Intelligence experts say Russia could have 175,000 troops at the border by early next year.
OK. Still to come here on "FIRST MOVE."
China conflicts amid mounting tensions. Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the U.S. has to find a way to work with Beijing or risk harming its
consumers. He joins us next.
And Minted, the only thing rarer than a unicorn is a unicorn born in the Philippines. I speak to the CEO of the country's first billion-dollar
That's all coming up. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
In U.S. stocks looking set for a bit of a rebound in early trade. This Monday, the Nasdaq set to regain some of last week's losses. That said, a
whole host of market challenges await investors this is week including fears of a quicker Fed tightening path.
The U.S. Central Bank says it will at least discuss a faster withdrawal of support as soon as next week. Hold into your hats. One of the questions of
course is whether the new variant Omicron will change that view.
Positive momentum however from Friday's U.S. jobs report which showed more than 600,000 people rejoining the workforce last month.
And a firm the U.S. Labor picture but huge uncertainties inside China's economy. The Chinese Central Bank announcing Monday it's pumping fresh
liquidity into the banking system.
As ailing property developer Evergrande warns again that it's on the brink of default with a major restructuring reportedly on the horizon. Its shares
falling some 20 percent in trade today.
Chinese tech stocks also under pressure after ride hailing app Didi said it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange. Didi falls some 22 percent
on Friday, is down another 4 percent premarket as you can see there, huge uncertainty.
The U.S. investors in Chinese tech stocks, some fears the tighter U.S. regulation could lead to more companies choosing to delist. The big
question, where are the protection - protections for U.S. investors.
Much to discuss. Joining us now, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Also served as White House chief of staff in the Obama White House, as well
as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in both the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Sir, fantastic to have you on the show.
I'd like to start first, if you wouldn't mind, by talking about the relationship between the United States and China. And just what we're
seeing with some companies like Didi choosing to delist from the United States. What do you make of what we're seeing?
JACK LEW, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: It's good to be with you, Julia.
And obviously, we are at a moment when relations between the United States and China are very stressed. And I think it's incumbent on the leaders in
both countries to manage our differences and look for areas where we can cooperate in order to provide that stability that we each need in our own
countries and candidly that the world needs in the two largest economies and largest superpowers in the world.
You know, the - the -- there's not one responsibility here. There's responsibility in both directions and the level of rhetoric has risen over
the last years to the point where miscalculations could lead to strategic as well as economic fallout.
I think it's a really positive thing that the two leaders had a very long video conference. It's opened the door for much deeper conversations
amongst diplomats and policymakers on both sides. I can't stress how important it is for those kinds of talks to go on.
You can't possibly know what your competitor or even your adversary is truly thinking unless you engage. And the lack of direct conversation at a
senior level has been very problematic.
So, I'm encouraged that coming out of that meeting there are discussions on a range of topics from climate to nuclear arms control, to the Iran
negotiations, and many more. I think there's a long way to go.
And it's a difficult situation where the decoupling of our economies is not an option that either of us can tolerate and slipping into direct conflict
that could bubble over is something that I think everyone has to treat as something to be avoided. Engagement is the way to manage it.
CHATTERLEY: You know, as you point out, much of the challenges that this administration faces have intrinsic ties to China, whether it's the supply
chain, climate change. As you point out, the geopolitics, North Korea, Taiwan even. And the danger is that the American consumer and American
investors get caught in the crossfire.
Just on a diplomatic basis what we're expected to hear this week actually is that U.S. government officials decide to boycott the Winter Olympics.
And we were just discussing on the show how important internationally for the face of China that is.
Is that right the decision? Will that be the right decision do you believe by this government?
LEW: I'm a big believer in people to people contact from academic to cultural to athletic. But I also think that governments have to take stands
on matters of core principle. And the challenge is how to find the pathway here and how to talk it through. So that this doesn't become an area of --
to further increase the likelihood of direct conflict.
You know I am not sure that the range of options is as simple as boycott or no boycott. I think that they're looking, if I read the public statements
correctly, at ways to register serious objections at the way that you know China has handled the issues related to some human rights and - and
personal freedom issues without having it be an all-out boycott.
I hope that it can be managed in a way where it doesn't lead to just ratcheting up what is already a stressed situation. It's incumbent I think
in China to hear the message that some of the things going on, some of the actions that it needs to take are a big part of the problem. And I don't
think it's just a concern in the United States. So, you know, it would be better if the situation could be resolved by taking care of the underlying
issues. That would be the best outcome.
CHATTERLEY: Parts of the way that the Trump administration handled this and tried to put pressure on China was by tariffs and those have remained
because the Biden administration has chosen not to remove them.
Do you think it's politically impossible now to see any removal of those, even it would perhaps help? And you've said this yourself that it would
help with the pricing pressures that - that the United States currently faces.
LEW: I have for a long time believed that these tariffs were a big mistake. They're a tax on the American consumer. And at a time when concern about
inflation is high, it is actually something that you can do to reduce prices to rollback tariffs, which I think were misguided in many cases in
the first place.
It's not just with China. It's tariffs with other countries as well. Some of our closest allies that we've had from the Trump administration a legacy
of tariffs to unwind.
I think the politics around tariffs are very hard. You know there is a broad bipartisan view that the kind of aggressive use of tariffs protects
I don't believe that that is actually the correct way to view it. I think when you're hurting the U.S. economy, you're hurting American families. But
I think that leaders need to be able to distinguish between what are effective and ineffective policies. And navigating these political waters
is hard. I hope that they're looking for a pathway to get out of (AUDIO GAP)
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
CHATTERLEY: We can still hear you.
Jack, can you still hear me?
LEW: I can hear you. Can you hear me?
CHATTERLEY: Perfect. We're good.
Yeah, don't worry. Thank you for - thank you for the impromptu tech check. I like that you're on top of this. We have had a few technical issues.
CHATTERLEY: I know. You're doing our work for us.
I want to circle back actually to where I began the conversation and because you understand the diplomatic side, but you also understand the
economics and the investor side of this as well. Should investors be very careful today if they're investing in Chinese companies listed in the
United States? Because Didi is one, but I know a lot of investors are looking at this now. And should that perhaps be more protections from the
SEC or exchanges warning international and U.S. investors? Whether you like it or not, Chinese investments today are a risk from either direction?
LEW: I actually think -- I actually think investors understand that there's a high level of tension between the United States and China and there are
some issues about delisting of Chinese stocks. Some of them are technical - important but technical in terms of what accounting standards you comply
with. Some have to do with how policies were imposed in terms of criticizing and sanctioning behavior.
I don't think there's any - any ambiguity that it's a time of some uncertainty there. So, I guess, I'm not sure I subscribe to the idea that
there's unaware investors.
At the same time, I don't think that either China or the United States can look at separating out our economies in a way that will make investment in
either direction kind of binary on or off.
So, I think there's - there's - you know it's a volatile time, both in terms of the health and broad macro conditions and it's a volatile time in
terms of U.S./China relations. Which is why I go back to my core principle that it's incumbent on the leaders of both countries.
And I think the leaders, kind of expressed this as we saw them meet just a couple of weeks ago to try and get discussions in a place where it's
clearer what can be expected on each side. That doesn't mean you stop criticizing things that you find objectionable. The question is how and to
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. The future is inextricably linked. I think that's the message. And the diplomacy has to continue in whatever form.
Sir, great to have you on. I have got 20 more questions for you, so please come back soon and we'll talk more about inflation and Build Back Better as
well. But I'll save them for next time.
Jack Lew, the former U.S. Treasury secretary under President Obama.
Sir, I look forward to talking to you. And thank you again for handling your own our tech issues on your side and doing so with the prompt. We'll
see you soon.
LEW: Have a good day.
CHATTERLEY: Our market open is next. Thank you. We're back after this.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
U.S. stocks up and running as we begin a brand-new trading week here on Wall Street. And as expected, we've got a higher open across the board with
tech trying to pull back some of last week's 2.6 percent lost.
That said, volatility is sure to remain high as we await more data on the Omicron variant and the future direction of Federal Reserve support.
The S&P 500 rising or falling more than 1 percent in four of the past five trading sessions. That tells you something about the level of uncertainty.
And the VIX volatility index. The fear gauges we call it. Hit levels not seen since last winter too.
In the meantime, shares of Lucid Motors, a big loser in early trades. The electric car maker receiving a subpoena from the regulator, the SEC, the
Securities and Exchange Commission. U.S. officials want more information about the special purpose acquisition deal that took Lucid public earlier
Now, several sources are telling CNN, the Biden administration plans a diplomatic boycott on the Beijing Winter Olympics to protect China's human
The dispute surrounding tennis star Peng Shuai has focused attention on the issue once again. she temporarily disappeared from public view a month ago
after accusing a former party official of sexual assault.
The International Olympic Committee has been criticized for saying Peng is safe and well after two video calls in which it was unclear if the star was
Joining us now Teng Biao. He is Chinese lawyer and civil rights activist. He was detained for criticizing China and the lead up to the 2008 Olympics.
And now lives in exile in New Jersey. He's also a Hauser human rights scholar at Hunter College in New York. And a Pozen visiting professor at
the University of Chicago.
Sir, fantastic to have you with us.
Let's talk first about a potential diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics if indeed it is announced by the U.S. administration. How will
this be felt in China? How important is this?
TENG BIAO, PRESIDENT, CHINA AGAINST DEATH PENALTY: Yeah. So, we have been campaigning the boycotts of Beijing Winter Olympics for years. And we
negotiated with the International Olympic Committee. And we pressed them to pay more attention to the human rights war relations and the Uyghur
genocide and Hong Kong and Tibet and China.
And also, in 2008, the Beijing Summer Olympics didn't improve tennis (INAUDIBLE) and human rights. And has become as excuse for tennis comment
to violate human rights and suppressed freedom. So, it's really important for not only human rights community but also for all of the world to raise
the awareness of human rights violations in China. The world should prioritize moral principle and freedom over money and benefit.
CHATTERLEY: Does China feel the pressure? Do the Chinese leadership feel the pressure? Because we were discussing on the show that the Internet is
cleaned of any of this information. The Chinese people don't see the reports that the international community and the news media do when this
kind of thing happens, the discussion of Peng Shuai is not seen in China.
So, does it really make a difference to the Chinese administration, and if so, what difference does it make, Teng?
Beijing did face the pressure - did feel the pressure from -- over the world from human rights organizations and western comment. And so, recently
Peng Shuai issue became trouble for Beijing and the authorities faked an e- mail in the beginning and then that IOC president talked with Peng Shuai in that video. And then, it didn't silence the international attention.
So - and the United States, UK, Tijuana and maybe more countries have decided or are discussing potential boycott, a diplomatic boycott. And we
are campaigning for a complete boycott.
So, the pressure is there. And Beijing -- you know Beijing doesn't care about - what they care is it's a political monopoly. So, the number one
priority for Beijing is to maintain its one-party rule. And if there is a real boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics, that's a big threat to the Chinese
Communist Party and they don't want to see this happen.
CHATTERLEY: Would it be better if the athletes didn't go too? Would that message be far more powerful?
BIAO: Yeah. We - we always said that the athletes, we don't want to harm the athletes. We don't hate Olympics or sport, but here what's happening is
in China the human rights violations and in Xinjiang, the genocide. And we call to postpone the Olympics or to relocate the Winter Olympics.
And if the athletes decide to go to Beijing, and we hope they can send a message to the outside world and they can talk about human rights or Peng
Shuai or the genocide. And they can - they can do their protests, or even after they finish their game and then they say something on social media
that's - that's welcome.
So -- and I know American champion already said she doesn't want to be put in that dilemma to balance morality and her career.
CHATTERLEY: Teng, I was going to ask you that. I mean we've seen NBA players here in the United States making statements with things like
trainers or sneakers with free China written on them for example. Are international sports stars safe making those kinds of statements while in
China? And tied to that, do you think Peng Shuai is safe today?
BIAO: Of course, Peng Shuai is not safe. What we know where -- are those videos, is she's still alive and she's still in China, but she is certainly
not safe, not well. And she's totally controlled by the Chinese authorities. And nobody knows where she is being detained.
And so, the athletes, if they go to China, I think nobody can guarantee their safety, especially you know last year, and this year's (INAUDIBLE)
case and two Canadian Michaels were detained arbitral and they were used by Beijing as hostages.
So, it's possible that the athletes are not safe if they protest against Beijing or if they say something critical of the Chinese government. But --
but it's still the right thing to do to make a protest. If they say something on Twitter or Facebook while they are in Beijing or if they say
they don't want to attend the opening ceremony, or if they see something Peng Shuai in Hong Kong or Shenzhen, I think that would be OK, not so
dangerous. And that is something worth the effort trying.
CHATTERLEY: Teng, we know you know personally what the cost is and we thank you for your bravery. Come back and talk to us soon, please.
Teng Biao, Hauser human rights scholar at Hunter College in New York and the Pozen visiting professor at the University of Chicago.
Sir, thank you for joining us today.
More on "FIRST MOVE" to come. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Breaking news. Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi has had her four-year prison sentence dramatically reduced after a pardon by
the chief of the military appointed government.
Ivan Watson joins us now.
Ivan, what do we know?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, there was the sentencing of the two individuals that were the head of the
government in Myanmar up until the military coup of February 1st of this year, which overthrew an elected government and placed these two
individuals in detention. And into a secret trial that resulted today in the de facto leader of the government, Aung San Suu Kyi, this iconic
opposition leader in Myanmar, being initially sentenced to four years of prison, on two counts of incitement and essentially breaking COVID-19
And the deposed president, her ally, who was also sentenced to four years under the two charges. We've just learned from state run television that
the general who declared himself leader of the country after the military coup has knocked two years off of both of those sentences.
But in the case of Aung San Suu Kyi, she still faces 10 criminal charges, including the allegation that she illegally imported and used walkie-
talkies, if you can believe it, but much more serious charges as well. The sentencing today has been denounced by the UK's foreign secretary, by human
rights groups, by amnesty international. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMERLYNNE GIL, DEPUTY REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR RESEARCH, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ASIA PACIFIC: This is also an example of the harshness and the viciousness
of the military once it -- once impose itself on the people of Myanmar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Now, the United Nations human rights commissioner is on record calling this a sham trial held in secretive proceedings and also trying to
draw attention to more than 10,000 opponents of the military regime who have been detained, she says, since February 1st. As well as a number of
deaths in custody, more than 100, she says, likely due to torture and ill treatment.
Beyond the fact that you have former elected leaders who are undergoing detention and this secret trail - secretive trial. You also have the
country as a whole deteriorating further into economic malaise and - and arguably civil war.
The World Bank projecting that Myanmar, its economy is contracting by 18 percent. And take a look at this very disturbing video from Sunday, from
Yangon, the largest city, the commercial capital where you had peaceful protesters in the street that were rammed by a military truck.
Security forces then reportedly opened fire on the demonstrators. This has been condemned by the U.S. embassy in Yangon. It's been condemned as well
by other organizations and a sign of how tenuous the situation really is in Myanmar today. Back to you.
CHATTERLEY: Ivan, thank you so much for that. Great to have you with us.
Ivan Watson there.
Now the pandemic accelerated the development and use of digital financial services, a boom for the under banked around the world.
Evidence of that -- got my teeth in -- look to the Philippine's first unicorn. A fintech provider called Mynt. One might say they're minted.
Backed by China's Ant Group. It's the parent company of micropayment service GCash for 48 million registered users.
It's also behind Fuse, which offers microbusiness loans. Mynt's recent funding rounded its value at $2 billion, turning it into a double unicorn.
And  is the president and CEO and she joins us from Manila.
Martha Sazon, fantastic to have you on the show.
70 percent, I believe, of the Philippines either unbanked or under banked. And yet you've managed to get 70 percent I believe of the adult population
with a GCash account. That's pretty astonishing in my mind.
MARTHA SAZON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MYNT: Good evening, Julia. Yes. And that's true.
Currently, we have 51 million registered users in GCash which represents 70 percent of the adult population right now.
CHATTERLEY: How many people are actively using it as opposed to being registered? 51 million registered. How many are actually active? And what
does having a GCash account actually mean and allow people to do?
SAZON: OK. Well, what I can say is that we have around 15 million daily active transactions and peaking at around 23 million daily active logins.
The GCash app is actually a super app that turns your mobile device into a virtual wallet plus more. Beyond digitalizing payments and transfers, we
also offer financial services like savings, investment, loans and insurance and digital lifestyle services such as food delivery, shopping and even
gaming, all without the need for documents.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And that was going to be my next question because with all of these kinds of digital products, knowing your customer is crucial,
knowing their credit history. And in a country where very few people have that, how do you manage to allow people to access these facilities like
GLoans for example, which is a part of the business, and not end up losing money?
SAZON: Well, actually, you know, it's really quite a challenge here in the Philippines, especially that we don't have national ID right now. But we
have technology that allows us to do KYC or know your customer by the use of ID, a simple ID or a selfie. And after that we began to analyze the
transactions that allows people to earn their GScore or their credit score so that people can get access to lending through their GScore if their
GScore really passed the threshold.
And this is very empowering, because a lot of the base of the pyramid or the unbanked actually cannot have access to lending, only because they
don't have documents. But by the power of the transactions that they make in our platform, we're able to score their credit and lend them the proper
CHATTERLEY: And talk to me about the financials too. Because I've seen you quoted as saying, look, you're proof that it's possible to be profitable
and to grow in this space. And we've seen some recent IPOs from India. Grab actually the most recent, which also is a super app of sorts and they've
really struggled. So, how are you managing to make this profitable at the same time?
SAZON: Yes. So, we recently registered positive income and for the past four months, we've had that. Although that's not really our focus moving
forward, because the focus really is to grow the use cases even more in the top more markets. But the way we've done it is through scale, coupled with
proper cost management as well.
CHATTERLEY: And what about growth plans, Martha, beyond the Philippines?
SAZON: Well, the growth plans really is to increase our penetration through the base of the pyramid which is largely the unbanked population. And this
is increasing the penetration within the Philippine regions, also tapping the new segments like the youth to start them early in terms of financial
management and financial education.
And also, the OFWs or the Overseas Filipino Workers that are situated in different countries around the world so -- to help them reconnect back to
the Philippines. Also, in terms of business, our plan is to double down on lending, which is really what's needed by most of the base of the pyramid
and as well as investment in platforms that allows us to increase our participation and expand our participation in the invest tech space,
whether that's crypto, local trading or global trading.
CHATTERLEY: Martha, it sounds absolutely fantastic. And I think the key there is in your answer about not going beyond Philippines but to make the
product perfect and get access to as many people as possible in the Philippines before you expand elsewhere. And there's perhaps a secret to
the strategy in that quite frankly.
Thank you for talking to us. Come back and talk to us soon because one of the other things I love about what you're doing is GForest which allows
people to collect points and then buy trees, which the sustainability push of your company is brilliant too.
Martha, great to have you on the show. Thank you.
The president and CEO of Mynt there. Come back soon please.
More on "FIRST MOVE" after the break. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
And a gut bunch for Better.com employees before the Christmas holidays. The CEO of the mortgage company told everyone on a staff Zoom call that they
were being laid off. There were some 900 people on the call, about 9 percent of the entire workforce.
Christine Romans joins us to discuss.
Christine, and I watched this video and it's worse than anything I ever saw on the office. This guy is hideous quite frankly.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And it was terse and emotionless. Three minutes. All of these folks on this Zoom webinar
dialing in to hear their boss. And suddenly he tells them this.
"If you're on this call, you are part of an unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately."
His name is Vishal Garg. And he is the CEO of this Better.com.
You know we talked to the CFO of the company and tried to get an explanation for this very terse, emotionless firing.
And he said, look, it's gut-wrenching to have to lay people off during the holidays. But he said they have to have a fortress balance sheet and a
streamlined and focused workforce for the radically evolving home ownership market.
Translation, they're getting ready to go public, right? They're getting ready to go public. They had a $750 million cash infusion last week. And
now they're you know divesting just about a tenth of their staff.
So, the tone of this, you know the CEO, he said I had to do this once before and I almost cried. I hope I'm stronger this time. And you could
hear in some of these, if you go on YouTube, you could hear from the employers' view, some of them who are taping this gasping because they were
so shocked about just so how to callous it was.
Forbes uncovered an e-mail he had sent in the past, sort of giving you an idea of what kind of management style he has. He sent this e-mail to staff,
according to Forbes, previously.
"You are too damn slow. You are a bunch of dumb dolphins. So stop it. Stop it. Stop it right now. You are embarrassing me."
So, if you're looking for sort of like you know workforce management 101.
ROMANS: This is getting a lot of attention this morning. Because this is not really how CEOs tend to behave.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. I think he embarrassed himself more than anyone ever could do embarrass him. He's lucky boycott Better.com isn't trending on
Christine Romans, thank you for that.
ROMANS: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: And I'm still sorry for those people.
That's it for the show. Stay safe.
"Connect the World with Becky Anderson" is next. And we'll see you tomorrow.