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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Trump Targets The World Health Organization; Tensions Flare Between U.S. And China; United States To Withdraw From Open Skies Treaty; International Cooperation In The Age Of COVID-19; U.S. Reopens As COVID-19 Deaths Approach 100,000; Will Congress Provide More Stimulus? Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 24, 2020 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

Today on the show, Trump targets the World Health Organization. He's threatening to make his funding freeze permanent if the organization doesn't shape up in just 30 days.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have to be much more fair to other countries including the United States or we're not going to be involved with them.


ZAKARIA: I'll talk to a top official at the WHO. And China moves to tighten its grip on Hong Kong and threatens America over its relations with Taiwan.

What is behind Beijing's bold new moves? I will talk to Tom Friedman and Zanny Minton Beddoes.

Then 2.4 million more Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total to almost 40 million unemployed in just nine weeks. But markets continue to climb. Former Trump economic adviser, Gary Cohn, joins me to explain the Trump COVID economy.

Also my latest special is about Beijing's troubling response to COVID- 19. "CHINA'S DEADLY SECRET." It premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. I will bring you a preview.


ZAKARIA: A battle that began in China becomes a world war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). This is going pandemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. As polls continue to show a steady lead for Joe Biden, President Trump seems to be getting increasingly desperate. He has now committed himself to an election strategy that is centered on blaming China and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Throughout January and February, you'll remember, Trump showered praise on Xi, describing him as strong and sharp and powerfully focused, repeatedly emphasizing the close Sino-American cooperation on COVID-19. And he praised Beijing for its transparency. As late as March 27th Trump tweeted, "We are working closely together. Much respect."

That was before it became clear that he had mishandled the outbreak in America and before his approval ratings began to drop. No wonder then that he has returned to a familiar pattern, blaming foreigners. If the 2016 campaign centered around blaming Mexico, the 2020 campaign will clearly focus on scapegoating China.

Trump's targets are already insisting that China must pay for the damage China it has done, which will presumably happen right after Mexico pays for the wall.

Let me be clear. China engaged in the cover-up of the initial outbreak in Wuhan. Local officials silenced whistleblowers. The entire Chinese communist party system was terrified that this bad news would slow growth or spook markets or revealed that it had mishandled the public health emergency. They did the same and more during the SARS outbreak of 2003.

But the Chinese authorities also did do some things right. They sequenced the entire genome of the coronavirus and released it to the world on January 12th, much faster than what happened with SARS. They also realized belatedly that in this particular case their censorship and control was exacerbating the public health crisis, so on January 21st the Chinese Community Party's Central, Political and Legal Affairs Commission posted a statement.

Quote, "Whoever deliberately delays or conceals reporting for the sake of their own interests will be forever nailed to history's pillar of shame," unquote. The post was later removed probably because it revealed that people had been delaying and concealing reports.

In any event, by the end of January, the World Health Organization had announced a global health emergency and several places moved quickly to combat it. The United States was not one of them. Had Trump done so, America would be in a very different situation today.

Taiwan, which gets millions of travelers from mainland China each year did not close its borders to China until after the U.S. Yet it took smart, targeted steps early to limit the spread and as of Saturday it has had seven deaths from COVID-19. Adjusted for population, that would be under 100 deaths in America.


Hong Kong has had four deaths. Compare that to over 16,000 confirmed deaths in New York City. Now the real puzzle here is not that Trump is engaging in China bashing, but that the Democrats are joining in. They're falling into a familiar trap.

Republicans take a legitimate challenge to the United States, and pump it up into a mortal danger massively exaggerating the threat, and accusing the Democrats of appeasement or even of taking part in a conspiracy with the enemy, Beijing-Biden.

And the Democrats, instead of standing their ground, get scared and join in the scaremongering. In response to that ad bashing Biden and China, Biden released his own China bashing ad which even competed with Trump's in its racially charged tone. Rather than explaining that policy toward China will require both confrontation and cooperation, the Biden campaign has basically conceded the argument to Trump.

These are not just election year antics. These tactics have lasting consequences. Democrats supported coups and covert operations around the world in the 1950s and '60s for fear that they would be labeled soft on the Soviet Union. They stumbled into Vietnam in large measure because Lyndon Johnson did not want to face Republican accusations that he lost a country to communism.

The most recent generation of Democrats went along with the Iraq War largely because they did not want to be seen as weak in the war on terror. In 2002 as Republicans began beating the drums for war with Iraq, Joe Biden joined them saying, "We have no choice but to eliminate the threat. This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world."

For trump, the attacks make sense. He and his followers want to cripple international institutions. They want an end to global cooperation on issues like climate change. They understand that a cold war with China would destroy globalization and the open rules-based international order. But Democrats believe in this world. They see it as the fulfillment of a vision conceived by Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt that has provided unprecedented peace and prosperity for the world over the last 70 years.

So why are they joining in its destruction?

For more go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

On Monday, President Trump tweeted out a letter he had sent to the head of the WHO. It concluded with, "It is my duty to inform you that if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the WHO permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization."

Strong words from the organization's biggest funder. I want to bring in a top official at the WHO Stewart Simonson. He is the assistant director-general. He runs the organization's office at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

Mr. Simonson, first tell us where are we in this pandemic. STEWART SIMONSON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH

ORGANIZATION: Well, thank you so much for inviting me. I appreciate the opportunity. We're on the beginning end of this pandemic. And we have got some way to go. And I fear the worst is yet to come. Today five million cases, 331,000 deaths, and cases on all of the continents on the globe. In 216 countries and territories. So it is truly a global pandemic.

ZAKARIA: Why do you say we're at the front end? What are you expecting?

SIMONSON: Well, I think as the virus moves around the globe and gets into places like City Sylhet, in (INAUDIBLE) or Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh where traditional health measures are not readily applicable, social distancing and so forth. I think there is a very real chance of a catastrophe.

ZAKARIA: So let me ask you about some of the facts on the ground and some of the charges against the WHO that basically you had information coming out of China by really December 31st. There were doctors who were talking about it in China at the Hubei Central Hospital.

There was information that came to you from Taiwan, and that you did not act fast enough or you sat on it. In one case I think the implication is you were inattentive, and the second case was because it came from Taiwan you discounted it because you didn't want to annoy China.


SIMONSON: Well, first off, both assertions are wrong on their face. Taiwan on December 31 sent us an inquiry through the Event Information System, which is part of the international health regulation infrastructure for reporting disease outbreaks. Taiwan has access to this secure system.

They sent us a query. They said that news reports were stating there was an atypic pneumonia in Wuhan and they requested more information. That was it from Taiwan and these were based on news reports.

In terms of sitting on information, there is no conceivable reason WHO would sit on information. No interest of ours is served by doing so. Our interest is in sounding the alarm when the evidence is -- indicates the alarm should be sounded. And that is exactly what Dr. Tedros did.

ZAKARIA: On January 14th, you reaffirmed something China said, which was that the coronavirus was not spread from human to human. Why did you do that? We now know that that is completely false.

SIMONSON: Yes. That was in a tweet, I believe.


SIMONSON: And then later on that day, on the 14th, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove who was the COVID subject matter expert indicated in the press briefing that based on our experience with MERS and SARS that there was every possibility that it could spread human to human. We were basing in the morning that tweet on the information we have received from China because we had not received any information to the contrary at that point. Maria was basing her statement on her experience with coronavirus.

ZAKARIA: Do you think knowing what you know now that China was transparent, gave you the right information or was there a cover-up?

SIMONSON: I wouldn't prejudge the independent review that Dr. Tedros and the assembly has indicated will occur. I wouldn't prejudge that.

ZAKARIA: As you know, I've just asked you a number of the questions that President Trump asked Dr. Tedros in his letter. But let me ask you, Mr. Simonson, the argument is that the -- your incentive is that you don't want to annoy China. You don't want to anger China. You don't want to push back because they're a big funder, because they've been very nice to the WHO under Tedros, that Tedros was their candidate. That's the argument.

SIMONSON: Yes. Well, it is not -- in my experience as the secretary, I have never seen any favoritism shown toward really any particular member state. It is a one vote, one state institution. And it is true that -- that China contributes to the organization. The mostly assessed contributions, but there are others that do as well.

ZAKARIA: What will the WHO look like if the United States freezes funding or even leaves the organization? For you as an American who works at the WHO, what is that -- how does that make you feel?

SIMONSON: I could never bring myself to think about the United States leaving WHO. WHO and the United States have been connected since the very beginning. WHO was founded by the United States and other member states. WHO has benefited from enormous generosity from the people of the United States. And almost incalculable technical support from the people of the United States.

The United States since at least 1902 has been the leader in global public health. And I cannot imagine an environment where the United States would not be in WHO and contributing to WHO as it does today.

Let me put it this way, individually we are no match for nature. Together we are. And that was shown really proof positive in 1980 when smallpox was declared eradicated. It could not have been done without the support of the United States and all member states. And if we stick together we will take care of COVID. We will put COVID back to where it belongs.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Mr. Simonson.

SIMONSON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

ZAKARIA: One programming note. Tonight on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, please tune in to my latest special.

[10:15:03] It's called "CHINA'S DEADLY SECRET." It takes you inside the chaos and perhaps the cover-up in China as it became ground zero for COVID-19 in December.

Next on GPS, now China is lashing out at the American secretary of State, and it's tightening its grip on Hong Kong. Why such assertive moves by Beijing? Why now?

We will be back in a moment.


ZAKARIA: On Tuesday, Secretary of State Pompeo sent out a tweet that might have seemed innocuous.


It said, "Congratulations, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen on the commencement of your second term as Taiwan's president." But of course the United States does not recognize Taiwan as a country out of deference to Beijing. In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed strong indignation and condemnation and threatened countermeasures.

How much worse can the relationship between the world's two top powers get?

Joining me now are Tom Friedman and Zanny Minton Beddoes. Tom of course is an op-ed columnist for the "New York Times" and the author of "Thank You for Being Late," and Zanny is the editor-in-chief of "The Economist."

Tom, let me start with you and ask you, you know, with China and Hong Kong, for example, for many months China watchers were telling me they were struck by how patient the Chinese government had been, Beijing. They were not intervening, they were not overruling the Hong Kong authorities. Now they are cracking down. It feels like Trump had been praising Xi when he wanted the trade deal, now the gloves have come off as he's campaigning.

What do you make of this sort of downward spiral and how dangerous is it for the world?

TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's very dangerous for the world, you know, Fareed. I actually don't like to use the term China. I much prefer the term one-sixth of humanity. How we relate to one-sixth of humanity is going to have a huge impact in everything from the costs on the shoes of our feet to the mortgage of your home.

My view of Trump originally in China was that Donald Trump was not the American president that Americans deserved but he was the American president that China deserved. We need an American president who was ready to kind of draw some red lines with China, but I believe Trump did it in a very ineffective way.

You alluded to the kind of Democratic disease of kind of, you know, always feeling they have to mimic, you know, China hard line positions of Republicans. You know, the Democratic position on Trump and China should be Trump is a chump. Why is that?

Basically on trade and now on WHO, what was the Trump position? It was always to go it alone. What we should have been doing on trade was signing the TPP agreement, getting the Europeans on our side, and making the trade issue between us and China, the world against China on the right rules of trade which would leverage all the Chinese reformers inside on our side.

Instead we made it a fight between Trump and Xi over who's got the biggest tariff. And that leverage all the nationalist in China on Xi's side instead of our side. We're doing the exact same thing with WHO, Fareed. It's not smart when you're taking on one-sixth of humanity. You need the other five-sixth of the world on your side.

ZAKARIA: Zanny, this is all happening when the Chinese have announced something really startling, that they have no growth target for this year. Now that might sound hard to people but China has always had for decades a growth target, it has met it, and they are not meeting it this year, they're not announcing a target because it is probably the weakest growth in 45 years in China.

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: That's right. And they're not announcing a growth target, that is a huge -- a huge change as you say. Their economy shrank by 6.8 percent in the first quarter. It's doing pretty weakly in the second. And so they would either have to announce a very, very embarrassingly low target or not hit it. But I think -- I'm not sure this is a sense of weakness from China relative to the rest of the world.

They're not doing that because they don't want to be embarrassed by it, but I think they think with some reason that the Chinese economy is not doing nearly as badly as many other economies around the world. And a lot of this behavior that is coming from Beijing -- the crackdown on Hong Kong -- is using in part the timing of COVID where the rest of the world is distracted to do something that President Xi is determined to do, which is crack down on what he sees as a kind of hotbed of subversion and dangerous liberal ideas.

So I'm not sure this is so much distractive for things at home as it is going in a direction that an increasingly authoritarian dictatorship in China is determined to go and it's very dangerous. I totally share Tom's view that this is an extraordinarily dangerous moment. I can't think of a more dangerous moment between the relationship between the U.S. and China.

ZAKARIA: And you make a very good point, Zanny, that this is Xi leveraging it, but he is leveraging the nationalism in China that is also popular. We sometimes forget there is populism and nationalism in China as well.

Tom, I want to ask you about Secretary Pompeo because this week -- I don't want this to slip unnoticed or uncommented. The inspector general of the State Department was fired because apparently he was investigating the secretary of State.

Isn't that what inspector generals are meant to do? FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, Fareed, you know, the contest is over. We

thought Rex Tillerson was the worst secretary of State in post-war history but Pompeo has clearly superseded him in that title.


You know, this is a guy who's got no single diplomatic accomplishment to his record. I think his most important actions is that he has, metaphorically speaking, now shot two U.S. diplomats in the back. One the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was fired for doing her job at the behest of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, and now the inspector general who was investigating several things involving Pompeo.

And this is really, really sad. And really, really dangerous. Because I think this is also a distraction machine. You know, Fareed, people forgot that last week the attorney general confirmed that America got hit with the first Arabian Peninsula externally directed terrorist attack since 9/11. The most lethal in Pensacola, Florida.

We confirmed that that came out of the Arabian Peninsula. Gosh, who was -- remind me, Fareed, who was head of the CIA and the State Department, you know, during the time when this 9/11 scale attack happened? It was Mike Pompeo. So there's a lot of distraction going on here.

ZAKARIA: Hold those thoughts. We're going to take a break. When we come back we're going to talk about the Open Skies Agreement, the United States pulled out of one more international agreement. We will explain why.



ZAKARIA: In August 2017, a Russian air force jet flew over the Pentagon, the Capitol, the CIA and Donald Trump's property in Bedminster, New Jersey, but did this send American F-16 scrambling, no why? Because the flights were pre-approved thanks to a treaty called Open Skies which allows countries to inspect each other from the air.

The United States of course has taken plenty of advantage of it as well. Now America is pulling out. Let us talk about this with Tom Friedman and Zanny Minton Beddoes. Zanny, I want to talk about this in the context of a larger point which is that I get the sense in Europe that there's great concern that the Trump Administration is pulling out of a number of these kinds of structures that have, you know, kind of built the post-World War II order.

The Former Swedish Prime Minister conservative wrote we are now in the first crisis of a post-American world. Europe does not look to the United States for global leadership anymore. Do you think that's true?

MINTON BEDDOES: I think that's right. I think it's very important to see this in the context of the dismantling of the whole arms control system under this administration. First of all, the U.S. pulled out of the Iran deal, as you know. Secondly, the North Korea talks collapsed. Thirdly, there was the collapse of the INF treaty, and I think there's a real sense that all of the machinery that held the Arms Control System together is now falling apart. That from a European perspective--

ZAKARIA: No, keep going, sorry. I think we lost Zanny. We'll get back to her. Tom, I want to ask you in the sense the same question. You've covered international diplomacy for as long as I can remember. I was reading you in high school. Does this seem like a moment, you know, the post-American world was describing it?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, what is so worrisome Fareed is this administration is really good at. What Zanny said dismantling things, breaking things? If you want something broken, these are your guys.

Paris Climate Agreement, Arms Control, Iran Nuclear Deal but they have not replaced it by any other new structure other than America alone. This is happening Fareed at a time when there are whole set of issues that now require global governance but there is no government. All there is, is the ability to collaborate together.

These are issues from pandemics to arms control to climate. You know, I was reading over the weekend on SARS. And, you know, SARS began the respiratory Coronavirus that started in China began to spread around the world.

But you know why SARS didn't become Covid-19 was because there was early a W.H.O.-enabled global coordination to stop the spread. And, you know when you have all these global issues that require global governance and there is no global government, the only way to replace it has been American-led multinational, multilateral coalitions and we're dissembling those.

ZAKARIA: What do you think of this place we're at? You mentioned SARS. There's been Ebola. There's been MERS. But in a sense I also feel as though there have been other shocks to the system the financial crisis, 9/11. It feels like there's something about this world we're in, hyper globalized, hyper connected that is prone to some of this kind of thing. We're not buying enough insurance.

FRIEDMAN: Well, I'm writing about this now. As I look back on my own writing over the last 20 years, pandemics are us. I basically started covering a geopolitical pandemic called 9/11. Then I covered a financial pandemic called 2008. Now I'm covering a biological pandemic called COVID-19. I'll soon be covering an atmospheric pandemic called climate change.


FRIEDMAN: This is what happens when you have a world that is so intertwined where people are going to extremes in a lot of directions and it's so globalized that you can transmit, you know, abhorrent behavior in one corner of the world now very quickly over the world at the same time. ZAKARIA: And is it your sense that if we were to get to a place where, for example, the United States and China could cooperate, the United States and the European Union cooperate, it feels like you know pandemic is the kind of thing that should remind us of our common humanity. I mean, we're all being hit by this but instead it's actually pulling us inward. That dynamic of sort of nationalism seems heightened right now.

FRIEDMAN: Fareed, in this kind of inter-linked world where we're stressing big systems all over, what is it you want? You want resilience. You really take a blow; the stuff is going to be happening. It will be coming at you from multiple directions. What is the best way to get resilience?

It would be for the world's two premiere powers, economic powers and geopolitical powers, China and the U.S., to be collaborating on arms control, pandemics, climate change and cyber. The fact we're pulling apart is really very disturbing.

I want to emphasize though this is not just because of America and it's not just because of Trump. President Xi has overplayed his hand. We - I would say, underplayed ours and underperformed. This is been something fed by both Beijing and Washington.

Each has been looking for a distraction to distract its people from mistakes made at home. But it is very, very dangerous. The world we could wake up to will be a much less resilient world, that's not a world that either people will thrive in.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, tom. I want to thank Zanny, unfortunate we just got her back at a point where we're out of time. We'll get her back on soon again. Thank you both. Next on "GPS," all American states have started their reopening process but Americans don't seem ready to go back to work or shop. I'll talk to the Former Head of President Trump's National Economic Council, Gary Cohn.



ZAKARIA: The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jay Powell warned this week that we're in a downturn without modern precedent. JC Penney has followed a slew of other major retailers including J. Crew and Neiman Marcus and declared Corona-induced bankruptcy and experts are saying that graduating seniors face the worst job market since the great depression.

Here to talk about the economy with me is Gary Cohn, Former Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump as well as the Former President of Goldman Sachs. Welcome, Gary.


ZAKARIA: So, explain to us where we are because it feels to me like we're beginning to open up the economy, but it's pretty clear people are still not willing to go back to work and shop at the same level. And then Washington, the Republicans are saying the money's run out. We can't do much more. And yet you're not going to have the economy bounce back if you just listen to Jay Powell. What's happening and what should be done?

COHN: So, Fareed, I think we're at a very interesting transition point in this whole COVID crisis. Initially the government came with a very big response, a response that was needed. I think a response that was properly sized.

The Federal Government threw about $3 trillion at the U.S. economy, enhanced unemployment benefits, PPP, Paycheck Protection for small businesses, and other forms of stimulus that allowed businesses to stay open, to hopefully allow our economy to be in a position to recover.

That was the initial response, which was the right initial response. We have now moved from the initial response to the recovery phase of where we are. We're in that transition mode. Transitions are always difficult. So we still have some of the response issues to deal with.

So when you look at where the cities and states are, they still need more money from the Federal Government because we asked the cities and states to spend enormous amounts of money on unemployment benefits, on medical benefits.

Remember, cities and states cannot print money like the Federal Government. They actually have to run a balanced budget. So cities and states need to get the money back from the Federal Government that they spent on their citizens, and their citizens deserve it.

Remember, many of the people that they were paying were first responders. They were working overtime to help us as citizens and also the hospital system. Our hospital systems in America, we asked them to shut down and only treat essentially death - people in death situations or people with COVID.

And that really meant that the vast majority of the hospitals and the medical infrastructure in the United States were taken offline. And remind people, that's 20 percent of our economy. So we need to give our hospitals money to allow them to continue in a way that we want them to be and reinstate them to the position they were in beforehand. That's part of the response.

But there's also a big recovery. The recovery means getting workers back employed and getting workers back into the system. Our economy is really based on people going to work, taking their earnings and consuming. And we have to reinvigorate that cycle of work and consumption.


ZAKARIA: So, let me ask you that Gary. You know this well because you were at Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis. How do you reanimate the animal spirits of the economy? How do you get people to want to spend in an environment where they're understandably scared? COHN: So look, for the last ten weeks we have heard that the most important thing you can do is stay home and stay out of the economy, and only leave your house for essentials. We need to start explaining to our citizens what it is safe to do and what it's not safe to do.

Where you can go and how you can feel comfortable do it? We also need to give our businesses safe harbor to reopen. If I'm a small business owner and I feel like I could potentially run into a legal liability by opening my store if someone feels like they get COVID by coming into my store, I would be very reticent to open my store.

So we need to create a safe harbor that if a storekeeper does some basic things, maybe takes your temperature at the door, maybe only allows two or three people in the store at a time, makes you wear a mask, they can avoid the legal liability to do that.

So as we get more and more stores open, people have more and more of a choice of where they can shop, and we bring more and more people back in the economy. You know, one of the things that's going on that we really have to be careful of is the big box retailers do sell essential goods.

So we did allow them to stay open during the crisis, but they also sell many nonessential goods. So those same nonessential goods could be bought by stores on Main Street all over America. So those Main Street stores closed and people are buying those nonessential goods from the big box retailers.

We need to get those Main Street stores open. "A," it will be for employment and "B" we'll start re-stimulating the economy by them bringing their employees back to work. This is a circle that we have to start moving. We have to start getting people back into the work force and comfortable coming back into the work force.

ZAKARIA: I just have a minute, Gary. I'm sorry to ask you this in short forms? But should we worry about the debt that we're spending as you said 3 trillion. If we do as you suggest, probably another couple trillion dollars. How should we think about that? There are people who are worried now, as you know on Capitol Hill, about the debt.

COHN: Well, look, initially right now we should not be worried about the debt. We need to spend whatever we can to recover our economy. A year from now, hopefully when we get through this and this is behind us, we absolutely have to worry about the debt.

We now have the knowledge that at any given moment in time our Congress is going to need to spend - you tell me, 3 trillion to $5 trillion to stimulate the economy because of a crisis. We don't know what that next crisis is.

So our next Congress, the Congress that sits down in 2021, they almost have to sit down and look at our spending and our revenue side. They really need to look at our budget. How we spend money? There are a lot of places where we could cut back. The in addition to that, I think they have to look at our tax system and think of ways that we raise revenue. If you think back to 1935 and the depression, some major reform came out of that. We actually built a social security system, which is a 6.2 percent tax from initial dollar from every American because we needed to build that safety net.

I think the next Congress has to think differently than they've thought in the past and they have to think with the knowledge that we are going to have another crisis.

ZAKARIA: Gary Cohn, pleasure to have you on.

COHN: Fareed, thanks for having me.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.



ZAKARIA: Now, I want to tell you about my latest special "China's Deadly Secret" it's premiering tonight, Sunday at 9:00 pm eastern and pacific. The show takes you inside China as it came to grips with the COVID crisis that was developing in Wuhan.

The big question is what did Beijing know and when did it know it? We will pull back the curtain on the moment authorities realized they were facing a new deadly disease and the mistakes and perhaps the cover-up that ensued. We'll take you inside Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Take a look at this clip.


ZAKARIA: All of this is happening during the season of celebration around Chinese New Year. It is a time when hundreds of millions of people travel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get an idea of just how big Chinese New Year is in this country, think of it as Thanksgiving and Christmas combined.

ZAKARIA: It's also a time when the Communist Party holds important meetings and events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Wuhan they held a banquet for thousands of people, altogether, eating dinner in one place. It was a political pageant. And the local political leaders were determined not to disrupt the political calendar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A potluck dinner for 40,000 people to get that dinner into the Guinness Book of world records.

ZAKARIA: That's right, with a virus racing through the city; local officials are trying to break a record for the largest ever potluck dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which turned into a giant super spreader event and increased the epidemic enormously, disaster. ZAKARIA: During this time, early to mid-January, Wuhan hospitals are filling with COVID patients. Yet city health authorities report no new cases for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sort of shut it down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut it down. There is strong incentive to, you know, keep the information away from the public.

ZAKARIA: Yen Jong Won is a global health expert who was in contact with the Chinese CDC during the crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence suggesting human to human transmission indeed occurring makes the situation even worse.


ZAKARIA: Please don't miss "China's Deadly Secret" tonight at 9:00 pm and midnight eastern directly afterwards, my other recent special "The Post-Covid-19 World" will air at 10:00 pm eastern. I hope you enjoy both of them. Thanks for being a part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.