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First Move with Julia Chatterley
China Cracks Down on Anti-Government Protests in Beijing; NATO Foreign Ministers Meet in Romania; Source Says, Iran Threatens Players' Families Over Protests. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 29, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: A warm welcome to First Move. I am Rahel Solomon in today for Julia Chatterley. Great to have you with us this
Tuesday, and it is a terrific Tuesday, in fact, for World Cup football fans. Later today, England battles Wales. And the U.S. Takes on Iran in a
key winner-takes-all faceoff. The very latest on today's crucial day of play, just ahead.
And from the white knuckle World Cup to global markets trying to move up, U.S. stock futures pretty much flat at the moment after Monday's 1.5
percent pullback and European shares a bit firmer after a strong Asian handover. All of this on hopes that the unprecedented lockdown protest
across China will force some sort of communist party reevaluation of its zero-COVID policies.
Later on this hour, Leland Miller, the CEO of China Beige Book, gives us his take on the China protest and also the outlook for economic reopenings
But, first, let's go to China's capital, Beijing, eerily quiet on Tuesday night with a heavy security presence keeping protesters off the streets.
That's a stark difference from scenes on Sunday when crowds of protesters gather to challenge the government's zero-COVID policy.
CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong. So, Ivan, what happens now? Because I don't think anyone expects the protests would just go away and
the issues at the center of this protests, of course, these zero-COVID policies, still remains intact. So, what happens now?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is what we are trying to watch and see. And it is all the more difficult because there
is a very heavy blanket of censorship over China. So, it is hard to get information. And that is why the images that have emerged of these protests
that erupted over the weekend are so striking.
There are more images of kind of protests and crackdown. This is from the eastern city of Hangzhou on Monday night, where police were seen detaining
people and you had bystanders screaming and very emotional, and saying, you can't do this. And we have also heard and seen in Beijing and in Shanghai
of a substantial police deployment since demonstrations were allowed to take place on Saturday and Sunday and not seeing a repeat of those protests
on Monday now into Tuesday, also hearing about detentions in Shanghai, of barriers being put all up along roads to prevent people from being able
together, and, ominously, hearing anecdotal accounts of police stopping pedestrians, searching their phones for images of the protests that took
place in Shanghai on Saturday and Sunday.
And the Chinese government has an enormous system of surveillance and state security, many levers that they can use to intimidate and stop expressions
of dissent, which it has freely used in the past. There are signs, however, of kind of tacit acknowledgment that, hey, maybe things need to be loosened
up a little bit. Senior health officials who gave a briefing today, these do take place almost on a weekly basis.
And take listen to kind of the tone coming from a top health official when discussing the COVID restrictions that have triggered so much discontent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN YOUGQUAN, DIRECTOR, CHINA CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: The problems reflected by the masses are not mainly aimed at the prevention
and control of the pandemic itself but focused on the simplification, excessive implementation, one-size-fits-all approach of the prevention and
control measures and disregard people's demands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: These officials are talking about trying to lift lockdowns a little sooner. They have announced an action plan to vaccinate Chinese
citizens over 80 who have relatively low vaccination levels. The question is will this be enough as China continues to struggle with tens of
thousands of new COVID cases a day and continues to be committed to trying to eradicate the virus completely from its territory. Rahel?
SOLOMON: Ivan, that is the big question, will it be enough? We will soon see. Ivan Watson, good to have you in Hong Kong there.
And Asian financial markets bounced back Tuesday on hopes that the recent unrest in China will die down as restrictive anti-COVID measures are
relaxed slightly. Officials have announced plans to boost vaccination rates among the elderly. Well, that appeared to be enough to soothe some
CNN's Marc Stewart joins me now. Mark good to have you. So, look, what a difference 24 hours makes, because the last time you and I spoke, Marc, it
was solidly lower on the back of these protests.
And now it looks like at least in the U.S., things have flatlined and things look a bit more positive. Walk me through what is behind this.
MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rahel. Indeed, a dramatic bounce back, and in particular, let's look at Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng
Index. It add one point yesterday, saw a drop of more than 4 percent. Look at where we are today, big gains, up more than 900 points compared to
yesterday. Also gains on the notable Shanghai Composite Index.
And as you mention, there are these plans in place to vaccinate more individuals in China with a big focus on the elderly population. And that
is something that investors have been wanting to hear, they have been craving to hear. They want some kind of roadmap for the future. If there is
a point that has come up at my conversations, in my emails, in the analysts' reports, it is the fact that traders are really trying to grapple
between two different narratives right now in China. One, we have very strict lockdowns, two, and in the past, over the past few weeks, there have
been some signs that perhaps things were going to ease up a bit. They don't know which narrative is the one that will prevail. And that is why we have
seen so much rockiness.
But this plan of attack, this plan forward, obviously, is striking a chord with investors, and it needs to, because the implications of this from an
economic standpoint are very broad. First of all, many of these lockdowns have led to unemployment in China. It has impacted iPhone production. It is
even impacting the price tag of oil. So, Rahel, everywhere that comes from China, from government leaders, any kind of plan of action, is taken very
seriously and impacting these financial decisions.
SOLOMON: Well, as you pointed out, Marc, global investors appear to like the news.
I imagine Disney investors, however, not thrilled with what they are seeing, a Disneyland Shanghai closing again because of COVID restrictions.
But, Marc, correct me if I'm wrong, they just reopened a few days ago.
STEWART: Yes, the park reopened just a few days ago. Let me double check the date. Yes, November 25th. That is after a lockdown that began on
October 31st. It is a big tourist destination, especially for Shanghai, because it is such a business center. So, you have tourists -- obviously
right now it is more of a local draw because of these restrictions in place but it is a symbolic, significant presence.
So, no indication yet exactly how long this will last. It says it will notify guests when they have a date to resume operations. Two hotels though
in the resort will remain open, but this is yet another indication that every aspect of life and China in impacted. And, of course, there are
concerns, as we have discussed over the past 24 hours, about access to food, water and essentials. So, in some regards, the concern at Shanghai
Disney pales in comparison but it just shows the symbolism and the reach of the restrictions in place.
SOLOMON: Absolutely, Marc. And I think the last closure at Disneyland Shanghai lasted about three weeks from late October to November 25th, as
you pointed out. So, we will have to wait to see what this closure looks like.
Marc Stewart, good to have.
NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg is warning that Ukraine could face further attacks on infrastructure because Russia isn't making progress on the
battlefield. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOLOMON: And the statement coming just ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest, Romania.
Joining me now is Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. Fred, what do we expect the Russian response to this to be?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we expected it to be angry. I mean, it was quite interesting because Jens
Stoltenberg there, on the one hand, saying that he believes that the Russians are failing on the battlefield, and, therefore, conducting those
strikes, he also accused them of trying to weaponize winter, obviously, against the civilian population in Ukraine.
And the Russians, for their part, over the past couple weeks, they have obviously been witnessing this. They, for their part, have been accusing
NATO of fueling the conflict. The Russians are saying that, look, NATO keeps pouring weapons into Ukraine, that is prolonging the conflict.
Obviously, the Ukrainians and the U.S. are saying, well, the Ukrainians are simply defending themselves and these weapons are very necessary.
Vladimir Putin, last Friday, he seemed to take up that topic to a certain extent. He said that he believed Russia was not even at war with Ukraine,
but as he put it, at war with those bankrolling and supplying weapons the Ukrainians, obviously speaking of NATO.
And that is something, Rahel, that we have been seeing on Russian state media, from Russian officials really increasingly over the past couple of
months, where they are trying to portray this as a wider conflict of Russia with the west, especially with an organization, of course, like NATO. And
that also coinciding, by the way, with some of the losses that Russian have had in the battlefield in the south, in Kherson, but, of course, in the
north, as well.
And as far as those strikes on critical infrastructure are concerned, Russian state T.V. really does showcase those. And Russian state T.V.
really does say those are going to continue. And the Russian government, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, has also said, those strikes are going to
continue until all of Russia's demands are met.
So, the Russians are quite open about the fact that they intend to continue to strike a critical infrastructure in Ukraine until the either make more
progress on the battlefield or until, essentially, the Ukrainians surrender to them or at least, as they say, get to some sort of peace agreement on
So, in every way, it seems as though the secretary general is correct to say that there will be, or there could be further strikes on critical
infrastructure. It is certainly something that the Russians are saying they plan to do and also something that the Ukrainians say they are fully
expecting will happen as well. Of course, we know that Ukraine's power system really being degraded throughout the winter, as those power outages
lasting longer and longer as Russia continues those very strong strikes against that critical infrastructure, Rahel.
SOLOMON: And it is just the beginning of winter. I mean, you are hearing some reports that Ukrainians should be prepared for this type of conditions
through March, which is really something to wrap your head around.
Fred Pleitgen, good to have. Thank you.
And the families of Iran's World Cup team have been threatened with prison and even torture if players don't, quote, behave ahead of their match today
with the U.S. That is according to a source involved with the security of the games.
Let's the latest on these allegations now with Nada Bashir. Nada, wonderful to have you. Look, I mean, we have seen the Iranian players be able to
express themselves before, right? You think about that game or that match with Wales, I believe it was, when they didn't sing the national anthem.
But as we have seen with this threat, it clearly comes at a cost. It is clearly very dangerous to express themselves.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Rahel. And we have seen a shift over the last week or so. That opening match against England, the players
of Iran's national football team chose not to sing the national anthem in an apparent show of solidarity with the protest movement in Iran. But that
second match is when we saw players singing the national anthem and, in fact, facing boos and jeers from members of the crowd and supporters in the
stands, of course, in relation to their decision to sing the national anthem.
But, of course, now we are learning from a source working closely on the security of the games that the Iranian national football team is facing
pressure from the regime, and not just for the players themselves but for their loved ones and family members back home in Iran.
According to the source, family members in Iran have been threatened by the regime with imprisonment, with violence, even with torture, if any of the
players are seen to be participating in any form of protest against the regime and any sign of solidarity with the protest movement at home, and,
of course, importantly, not singing the national anthem ahead of today's match against the United States, of course, a crucial match for Iran,
But this has raised concerned over situation not only at home but for the players themselves. According to this source, the players were held with a
meeting with the members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as their head coach who had a meeting with representatives, essentially
warning them to behave, not to act inappropriately ahead of this match. And there have been reports of an increase presence of security officials
monitoring the actions and activities of the players as they take part in the World Cup, and, clearly, a lot of concern there around their safety.
And this isn't the first time we have seen Iranian athletes and sports, people coming under the pressure of the regime. But now it is clear that
the national football team is no exception to that pressure. Rahel?
SOLOMON: That's a great way to put it, Nada Bashir. And that match kicks off at 2:00 P.M. Eastern. A lot of people will be watching. Thanks for
And straight ahead, great bracing for hurricane-strength recessions are just a cold wind? The CEO Bank of America looks at what's to come.
And Elon Musk cooking up a new battle, this time taking aim at the Apple boss, and as we'll explain, it is all about advertising. Stay with us.
SOLOMON: It is a busy day in Doha as the World Cup begins the high-stakes final matches of the group stages. There is that Iran-U.S. match that we
mentioned but there are many others as well.
Amanda Davies joins us with all of the details from Doha. So, Amanda, you also have the England and Wales matchup. And the odds, I understand, are
set against Wales. But if there is one thing we have seen in this World Cup, it is upsets. What are you expecting?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes. Well, as an England fan, I have to tell you very much hoping not for an upset in that one. But, I mean, you
have to say the majority of the focus today on and off the page (ph) has been about that big clash between Iran and the USA. The Iranian coach,
Carlos Quieroz, calling, pleading really for the 90 minutes that the match is taking place, the focus being on the football rather than the politics
that has very much taken front and center stage since that draw was made here in April.
Iran and Quieroz know that this side on the brink of history. They have never before qualified out of the group to the knockout stages of a World
Cup. And they know that a draw will be good enough for them. They very much dominated in their last game against Wales but they are up against the U.S.
side who are young, who are enthusiastic and they have got the mindset, as we know, a real mindset shift with them recently, that they can beat
anybody on their day.
The question mark about this U.S. side is how they will deal with this moment with the eyes of the world watching, because 25 out of 26 of them,
this is their first World Cup up experience. They have only ever played two World Cup matches in the career and there's also a little bit of
uncertainty as to where they are going to get their goals from because we have not seen too many of those from them so far this tournament. But they
know a win will make them go through.
England, for their part, trying to avoid a 4-0 defeat by their close rivals, Wales, they would hope. Given the history between the two sides,
they will be able to do that. But as you very well mentioned, Rahel, who knows what is going to happen at this tournament.
Before those games though, we have Ecuador taking on Senegal. This is an Ecuador side -- their coach calling for this to be the best Ecuadorian
World Cup performance in history. But a lot of that will depend on the fitness of their star man, Enner Valencia. He has been the player who has
scored all their goals in the tournament so far. But he limped off in their last fixture, so a few question marks against him.
The other match in that group, the one that the homes fans, well, we are not sure whether we are hoping for, looking forward to it, or not, because,
of course, Qatar, the first team out of this tournament, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of being the first ever World Cup host not to even win a
point in the group stage, they take on a Dutch side who, I think it's fair to say, are handing out some fighting talks. They're three-time runners-up
at this tournament. And their coach, Louis van Gaal, says, we're not just talking about qualifying out of the group stage. For us, we are talking
about winning it.
SOLOMON: So much to watch, Amanda, and so much on the line, as you pointed out there. Amanda Davies joining us there from Doha.
And here in the U.S., Congress is preparing to act to prevent a national rail shutdown. President Biden warns that a strike could devastate in
economy. It comes as the Bank of America's CEO says that the U.S. is heading towards a mild recession. Brian Moynihan spoke to Poppy Harlow on
CNN's This Morning a short while ago. Take a listen.
BRIAN MOYNIHAN, CEO, BANK OF AMERICA: Things like the rail strike or the war in Ukraine and, you know, what happens in China with shutdowns, those
are all sort of things that can really derail the economy, and everybody knows that, and we've been dealing with them for quite a period of time.
But if you look at the core economy, our team has a mild recession predicted in the middle of 2023 and then coming back out of it later in
Now, that was predicted to happen this year earlier this year. There was going to be a real slowdown, the Fed was going to raise rates and it's all
pushed out largely because of one thing, which is U.S. consumer, who is spending money. And we just got our spending from Thanksgiving to last
Saturday and it was up 3 percent over last year, which is up 23 percent over the year before, 20 percent over where it was in '19. You see booking
travel and things like that, you see the consumers employed. You see them spending money. You see them having money in their accounts. Now, that
means inflation has to be tackled by the Fed, but the consumer actually is both a buffer against that and also makes it difficult.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What I think is so interesting about you, Brian, is you've been like the optimist in all of this. So, you just said, yes, a
mild recession next year, but we'll get through it by the following year. Jamie Dimon warned this summer, head of JPMorgan, that an economic
hurricane, his words, are coming. We just don't know how strong a hurricane. Do you see an economic hurricane?
MOYNIHAN: Well, hurricane season is now closed. So, if having a house in Carolinas, I'm used to dealing with that.
But in the end of the day, the belief was if any of those horribles came together, you can have really a different outcome than the Fed tightening.
And the Fed is tightening in an unprecedented way because we have an unprecedented inflation, 40, 50-year long inflation.
So, where does that affect first? Housing. Obviously, that's changed dramatically. But rent increases are only coming through now. So, in the
end of the day, the consumers held in well, and in the end of the day, the consumer stays reasonably strong because they're employed.
HARLOW: So, I'm hearing no economic hurricane from Brian Moynihan? Am I right?
MOYNIHAN: A mild recession.
SOLOMON: And recession fears also on the mind of industry leaders in the global tourism sector. They are meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the
summit of the WTTC. Organizers say that this year's event will break records with more international business leaders and foreign delegations
present than ever before.
And also present is Richard Quest and he joins me now. So, Richard, look, I mean, Saudi Arabia spending so much on tourism right now, I think $1
trillion dollars, to try to build up the tourism. What on gods are they spending $1 trillion dollars on? Walk me through it.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: So, there are two issues that are really here. The first is the Saudi, as you rightly point out, the
sheer amount of money that Saudi, that hundreds of billions that their spending on tourism over the next 20 or so years. But then you actually
have the industry itself and the rest of the world, if you will, the WTTC. And this is the private grouping of tourism companies, they all come here
particularly the hotels, the destinations, and the CEOs. And what they are telling me is that things are good.
Sometimes they are not back to where they were pre-pandemic but the people are traveling. We know that anecdotally, people are traveling, they are
prepared to spend the money, rates are high, and that will continue, perhaps buffered by, if you will, the forthcoming recession that Brian
Moynihan was talking about, that low recession.
Interestingly what is missing in all of this? The Chinese, of course. Can you have a recovery without them? I spoke to the CEO of AccorHotels, one of
the largest in the world, Sebastien Bazin is quite clear that things are better but.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIEN BAZIN, CEO ACCORHOTELS: Yes, it is. We are missing 130 million Chinese travelers. But you know what? We can actually adjust to it.
They spend money in China. So, actually the hotel on AccorHotel in China did pretty well. But we are missing a lot of them in Southeast Asia,
Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia. We need them back, sooner the better unlike before summer next year.
QUEST: You see, that's the key part. You are not banking on it anytime soon.
BAZIN: No, certainly not for the Chinese New Year, probably six months but it could be much longer. But, again, we've been missing them for three
years so -- and I've been in China for 45 years, so waiting another year, that is fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, the reality is this surreal experience of being in Saudi, where they just keep spending, and they are spending these large sums of
money, Rahel, because it is part of vision 2030. And that, of course, is a post-oil economy. What is the country going to do?
So, you have the giga-project, which we see all around us, you have vast investment and you have an industry. And let's be blunt here, Rahel, the
industry is salivating over the amount of business and investment coming from Saudi. So, whilst they sort out everywhere else, they know that there
are very large contracts to be earned right here.
SOLOMON: Very large, indeed. Richard, before I let you go, I mean, do you think that it is wishful thinking for these executives to continue to
expect travel to be strong? I mean, Moynihan may have said that the recession will be mild in the U.S., but as you well know, you and I talk
about it a lot on Quest Mean Business, it will likely not be mild in many parts of the world, the U.K. already in a recession. I mean, is it wishful
thinking to think that everything will be just fine and dandy for international travel?
QUEST: No, I don't think it is wishful thinking. I think there is a lot of validity in that because people want to travel. They were locked up for X
number of years. We are starting to see that abate in terms of people getting back on the road. They've got their bucket lists of where they want
Where I think you will see the difference is staycations. They will trend down. They will fly a low cost carrier, not a full service carrier. They
will stay in an apartment or an Airbnb, not a hotel. They will stay in a 3 or 4 star, not a 5 star.
But I have seen no real evidence that suggests people won't travel. You might have a dent, you might have a blip, you might have all things, but
there is nothing that suggests the likes of people who will not actually still say travel as a priority. And even business travel is coming back,
Rahel. And what's more, if you see your competitor on the road, you go on the road, as well.
SOLOMON: Well, that is a very interesting point, Richard. We will have to see. People will still take the trips but they will travel differently.
Richard Quest, wonderful to have you.
And still to come on First Move, protests and unrest in China causing concern on a global scale. The CEO of China Beige Book joins me to discuss
after the break. Stay with us.
SOLOMON: Welcome back to First Move. The opening bell has sounded on Wall Street, the bulls hoping for a Tuesday turnaround after a rough start to
the week, but still some nervousness out there as we head into a really busy period for economic data and Fed speak, as you can see the market are
a bit mixed. The Dow and the S&P both fractionally lower. The Nasdaq is up about one one-tenths of a percent.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to deliver remarks tomorrow at the Brookings Institution in Washihngton. Investors hope that he will hint at a less
aggressive central bank. The U.S. also releases its latest jobs report of Friday.
U.S. markets tumbled 1.5 percent on Monday. That was the biggest one-day drop for the major averages in weeks. But lots of talks now about the
resiliency of the Dow, despite all of the recent volatility, and there has been a lot, the blue chip average is actually only down less than 7 percent
so far this year and just less than 10 percent away from record highs. That is a stunning turnaround. The Dow getting a boost from recent strength in
companies like Boeing, Caterpillar and Honeywell.
Health officials in China meantime promising to modify how some COVID-19 restrictions are applied. That is after those unprecedented protests
following the zero-COVID policy shut the country and rattled investors. There was an overwhelming police presence in major cities Monday and
Tuesday as authorities scramble to try to stamp out the protest.
Now, as COVID numbers spike, the government says it is launching a plan to boost vaccinations among elderly people. Protests, of course, started after
some reports blamed COVID restrictions from hampering firefighters as they tried to respond to a deadly fire in the Xinjiang province last week.
CNN's Ivan Watson spoke exclusively to the families of some of the victims.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (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 west Xinjiang region last Thursday. Videos emerge of fire hoses barely reaching the
blaze, which killed at least ten people. Among them, Qemernisa Abdurahman and four children
What happened to your mother and your brothers and your sisters?
SHARAPAT MOHAMMAD ALI, FAMILY KILLED IN APARTMENT FIRE: 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 Qemernisa 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. They say their
loved ones were trapped in the building by COVID measures.
MOHAMMAD MOHAMMAD ALI, FAMILY KILLED IN APARTMENT FIRE: 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 confirmed 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 SPOKESMAN: 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 these small
groups of demonstrators are holding a vigil for what they say are the victims are China's zero-COVID policy.
JAMES, PROTESTER FROM SHANGHAI: 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 pray for closure after suffering the unimaginable loss of five immediate members of their family.
Will you go home for the funeral of your family?
M. MOHAMMAD ALI: 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 us.
WATSON: Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
SOLOMON: Joining me now is Leland Miller. He is the CEO of China Beige Book. Leland, wonderful to have you today.
I want to start with a research note that you wrote yesterday saying, any semblance of positive news should be on the way, hence the rally in
sensitive Chinese stocks. Last I checked, markets had bounced in China. Is the semblance of positive news? Is this just the appearance of positive
news, this elderly vax campaign, or is this actually positive news?
LELAND MILLER, CEO, CHINA BEIGE BOOK: Well, look, you can have positive news without it meaning the end of COVID zero. I think the flawed part of
many people's assumptions right now is they say, oh, we are peeling back a quarantine period by a couple of hours. We are moving this measure by a
day. We are moving this other measure by some small amount. This must meet a COVID zero is approaching an end.
And it is very difficult to imagine a China that opens up and ends COVID zero, which is essentially the lockdowns of communities and of businesses
during the winter spread season. So, is it positive news? Sure. Is it going to lead to some many rallies in certain stocks? Absolutely. Is this the
beginning of the end for COVID zero? I do not think that it is.
SOLOMON: So, would you say we are no closer to a reopening in China than we were even before these protests?
MILLER: What I think the protests is I think they moved the timeline for acceptable action in terms of ending COVID zero up a few months. I don't
think that the party was in any particular hurry to end COVID zero. They're worried about the virus, they're worried about the deaths, they're worried
about the legacy of the party from mishandling COVID zero. So, maybe you have a timeline of March to June next year where they would do some things.
That timeline has likely moved out. Maybe it's to start things in February or March.
The point is they can't wait probably as long as they thought they could, but this does not mean that they're going to rip back COVID zero in
December. They're not going to rip back COVID zero in January. They have got to keep things under relative control in order to make sure the virus
don't lead to spiraling death counts.
SOLOMON: So, what measures do you think, if not a total lifting of zero- COVID, what measures do you think we might start to see scale back? We talked about how days have been shaved off of the quarantine. I mean, we
know that where people quarantine has changed. What else do you think where we might start to see concessions in the policy?
MILLER: Well, if I were Xi, the first thing I would deal with his family separation. I would try to put an end to that, you know? The number one
thing markets are looking for is a date certain in the future where they can see a horizon where COVID zero no longer exists. That is the signal
that businesses are waiting for.
If you look in China Beige Book data, they have been telling us for months and months and months that they won't borrow, they won't invest and they
won't hire until COVID zero is over. Not an announcement COVID zero is over but until it is over. So, to the extent you could ever provide even a rough
date for when there's an exit ramp, that would be very helpful. But for obvious reasons, including being backed into a corner in the spring, in
late winter the authorities have, so far, been very hesitant to move in that direction.
SOLOMON: What do you think -- I know you said in an interview yesterday that these protests are not enough to see Xi actually step down. What would
it take to see that type of massive movement?
MILLER: Nothing comes to mind. I think when people see protests, even ones as significant as the recent ones, which were protests over the same issue
bubbling up in multiple cities, that is very unusual in China. But that doesn't mean that the regime is at risk.
So, I think that we are very far away from any type of scenario where the party is in danger or Xi Jinping is in danger. What I do think this does is
put enormous political pressure on the party, on Xi Jinping specifically, to figure out a COVID zero plan. They haven't had a plan for years.
SOLOMON: I see. So, to figure out a sustainable COVID plan. Do you also think we start to see Beijing separate themselves from some of the local
municipalities that have actually been tasked with performing and executing zero-COVID?
MILLER: That would be a very problematic task because, obviously, the old platitude was that the center announces what the policies are and then the
local county do what they want. And to some degree, that has been the case. But the problem has been that Xi Jinping has been so personally associated
with the COVID zero policy that nobody in the provinces, in the towns, nobody wants to have any daylight between them and a very aggressive form
of COVID zero policy.
So, I think what they are doing in terms of just slowly changing the narrative in the official, central publications that COVID zero can be
lived with, that it is not as scary as you think, I think that is moving in the direction where Xi is saying, look, it's okay to have a little bit of
daylight between this draconian COVID zero and what we want to implement on the ground. But it is going to take time.
SOLOMON: One thing I thought was really interesting got my intention, you say a sharp change in course under pressure would be a signal of weakness
to everyone, protesters, the masses, party elites, and the world.
MILLER: I think that is exactly right. Every couple of nights, I get some sort of text saying that something on Chinese social media suggests that
COVID zero is going to and ten minutes from now. It is very unlikely that Xi does this kind of course correction. Forget politics, domestic politics,
forget health, if you are just talking about Xi Jinping, for him to have doubled down at the Congress and then to immediately reversed himself after
a few protests, that would be a signal of weakness.
So, you have to factor that in your inner analysis too. Just a lot more things going on than just Xi slowly bending to the desired open up.
SOLOMON: It's very interesting to watch. Global investors, however, seem to like it. They will take the good news where they can get. Leland Miller.
Good to have, he's the CEO of China Beige Book.
And stay with First Move. We will have more right after this.
SOLOMON: Welcome back. It has been more than two weeks since Russian troops withdrew of Kherson in Southern Ukraine. But the city is still
coming under daily attacks from Russian forces across the river making survival even harder for the residents who remain.
Matthew Chance has more.
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 has lived here 51 years, and after evacuating for eight months, his home to stay, even amid this wreckage.
It is like a stone weighing on my soul, he says. We built everything here with our own hands. It is hard to look at what those Russian scum did to
A short distance away in newly-liberated Kherson, a pool of blood where Russia is attacking the city they just up 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 ask? It's not good, he responds.
All right, well, getting basic supplies though in Kherson has become a massive risk. You come to the seaport -- well, it's the river port, really,
right on the Dnipro River, with this woman here, Tatiana (ph), from Kherson to collect water so that she can do her washing up and wash their clothes
and do the toilet and things like that.
The water supplies have been completely cut off by the Russians. This is the only way -- and you can hear the artillery shells going 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 frontline. Russian forces have
retreated to the other bank.
Yes. So, the Russian forces are just across the river.
But the risk is one that has to be taken.
What can we do, Tatiana (ph) asks. We can't live without water.
There is little electricity either and people are cramming into makeshift charging stations, like this one just to stay connected. They found
defiance here too in the face of Russia.
There is no water or power, Anna (ph) it 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 has only just turned nine. We will show them what you get for occupying Ukraine, she
For many, the hardships are already too much, roads out of kherson are crammed with residents trying to leave. But for those who stayed, it is a
desperate struggle to survive.
Matthew chance, CNN, Kherson.
SOLOMON: And stay with First Move, more to come.
SOLOMON: Welcome back. Crypto's winter of discontent continues, Bitfront becoming the latest exchange to close down after failing to overcome
turmoil in the industry. But despite a host of negative headlines, crypto apparently isn't going anywhere just yet, as our Anna Stewart reports when
she visited a crypto mine in Sweden.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, this is what a cryptocurrency mine looks like, just rows and rows of computers. In fact, there are 116,000 here. As
you can hear it sounds pretty noisy and I can tell you that it feels really hot up next to these machines. There is about a 13 degrees centigrade
difference though between here and here and then one of the big vents where you're getting the cold air from outside. So, you can feel the energy that
is coming out of these enough to power a small city, one of the reasons crypto mining can be just so controversial. So, that is why Hive Blockchain
Technologies have set up shop (ph) here in the north of Sweden. Come take a look why.
Outside, some 500 meters along the River Lula is a hydrogen power plant, a source of abundant, cheap and renewable energy.
JOHANNA THORNBLAD, COUNTRY PRESIDENT SWEDEN, HIVE BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGIES: This is the energy that is powering the community and our data center that
is located just nearby. So, this is also one of the main reasons that Hive has decided to bet on the Boden community.
STEWART: Given that Europe is in an energy crisis, there will be people that think this is renewable energy. Should it be used for crypto mining?
Shouldn't be used for power in people's homes and industry, keep the lights on in hospitals? What do you say to that?
THORNBLAD: There are enough inhabitants, companies, to use all the energy that is available. So, the community of Boden was inviting data centers to
come to use this renewable stranded energy, really.
STEWART (voice over): One crypto mining company, not just turning a profit in the midst of a crypto winter, but also trying to forge a greener future.
There are nearer term plans to turn the excess heat from crypto mining into something more fruitful.
THORNBLAD: In the spring we are going to support a Swedish company called Agtira. So, they are building a huge, big greenhouse just at the back of
our data center. And we will have tomatoes and cucumbers grown all year round in the very north of Sweden.
STEWART: Wow, that's incredible.
THORNBLAD: It is really incredible.
STEWART: Bitcoin grown food.
THORNBLAD: It's crypto cucumbers.
STEWART: Crypto cucumbers. Capture and use it, no wasted energy.
THORNBLAD: No wasted energy.
STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, Boden, Northern Sweden.
SOLOMON: And Elon Musk is picking a high-profile fight with one of the most popular tech firms on the planet, Apple. The Tesla's CEO and head of
Twitter tweeting yesterday, quote, Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do the hate free speech in America? Musk going on to say, quote,
Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from the App Store but won't tell us why. And the tweet storm does not and there.
Let's bring in Donie O'Sullivan. He is at the Knight Foundation Conference in Florida, where a former twitter Employee is expected to speak later
today. Donie, good to have you.
Has Apple weighed in on this at all? They are not usually one to weigh in on Twitter about their business dealings, but has Apple said anything?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rahel, yes. No, Apple haven't said anything formally yet to all of this. But I mean, it is easy to see
what is happening here. Apple has a kind of quality control in place for apps that go into its App Store to basically protect its customers. They
make sure the apps don't have viruses in them or spyware. But also we saw over COVID, they brought in rules about not having apps that spread a lot
of COVID misinformation.
Also last year, Parler, which is a right-wing social media app here in the U.S., was briefly removed from the App Store for a few months until the
company got its hate speech policies in place.
Obviously, we know Musk is tearing up the rulebook at Twitter and I think that is where may be some of the concerns at the App Store and Apple are
Speaking of tearing up the rule book, there was a COVID misinformation policy at Twitter the past few years. That, overnight, we learned, has been
removed. They are no longer -- there is no longer a ban on misinformation about COVID or the vaccine.
As you mentioned, Rahel, we will be hearing a little later this evening from Yoel Roth, who will be speaking on the stage behind me. He was
responsible for implementing a lot of these rules at the platform. He just quit the company about two weeks ago, seemingly no longer able of working
under Elon Musk.
SOLOMON: I'm sure that will be a very interesting speech to listen to.
Donie, I want to circle back to that COVID misinformation report that you just mentioned. As I understand it, it wasn't advertised. It wasn't even
broadcasted or display that they were changing the policy. As I understand it, folks just noticed it on the Twitter page. I mean, walk me through how
this was even explained or how we even came to learn about this.
O'SULLIVAN: Yes. It was some eagle-eyed Twitter tweeters, people on twitter last night pointed out there was a page on Twitter's website that
outlines this policy. And I think we have a picture we can show you there. There was basically a little addendum added to it saying, we are no longer
implementing this policy.
Under that policy, by the way, 11,000 accounts were suspended or banned from the platform. It is very, very possible that a lot of the accounts
will be coming back. We've heard Musk pledged that as soon as this week, a lot of those banned accounts will be back on Twitter.
SOLOMON: Much more to watch. Donie O'Sullivan, good to have.
And that is it for the show. I am Rahel Solomon. Thanks for watching.
Connect the World with Becky Anderson is coming up next.