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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview With Henry Kissinger About The Virtual Meeting Between President Biden And President Xi; Russia Stokes Fears With Military Buildup Near Ukraine Border; Dr. Celine Gounder Is Interviewed About The Pandemic. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 21, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the program, after many months of tensions ratcheting higher and higher, Presidents Xi and Biden finally meet.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a responsibility to the world as well as to our people.
ZAKARIA: Virtually. What got accomplished, what was left at the table, and are the world's two biggest powers destined for conflict? I will talk to the man who opened up relations between the two nations 50 years ago, Henry Kissinger.
Then the rest of the world. The troubling situations at the borders of both Poland and Ukraine, and at the climate summit, Mr. Blinken goes to Africa, and much more. I'll talk to David Miliband and Zanny Minton Beddoes.
Also, waiting for the end of the COVID pandemic. When will it happen? Will it ever? And what will it mean for us when it does?
ZAKARIA: But first, here's "My Take." Every two minutes a water main breaks in America. The total amount of treated water wasted every day is about six billion gallons or 9,000 swimming pools. Every day. And it highlights why the infrastructure bill that President Biden just signed into law is so important.
The need to fix America's crumbling infrastructure has become boringly obvious but that doesn't change the fact that it is indeed falling apart. And just as is the case with any kind of deferred maintenance, the longer we wait, the worse the problem becomes and the more expensive it will be to fix.
One way to make clear what a shift the Biden administration's infrastructure legislation represents is to look at the amount the federal government has spent on infrastructure over the decades. In the '50s and '60s, infrastructure spending as a percentage of GDP was over 1 percent. In 2019 decades later and with an exponentially bigger economy, spending was just at 0.7 percent of GDP. The new surge of spending from the bill will raise it to about 1.3 percent over the next five years. And the bill has many good ideas to encourage private investments that would actually increase these numbers.
Now economists disagree on exactly how much growth is produced by infrastructure spending but if we take a longer and broader view, the payoff seems obvious.
Felix Rohatyn, the banker who rescued New York City from bankruptcy, wrote "Bold Endeavors," a book that showed how over 150 years federal investments created the American economic system. From the Erie Canal to the first transcontinental railroad to rural electrification to the interstate highways.
We tend to think of America's competitive advantages largely in terms of the capitalist system or the hard-working and inventive people who come to this country over the centuries. While those things are certainly part of the equation, other countries can boast similar advantages. An almost unique feature of America is that it has the world's largest and most easily accessible consumer market in the world, a point made in Peter Zeihan's excellent book "The Accidental Superpower."
As he points out, the United States has 17,600 miles of navigable waterways, the world's largest network by far. China and Germany have 2,000 miles each, he says. Those waterways feed into a series of massive deep-water ports. Some of the world's largest natural harbors are the Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, the Chesapeake Bay. The latter has longer stretches of prime port property than the entire continental coast of Asia from Vladivostok to Lahore.
But this massive advantage has been eroding for decades as waterways, railroads and ports all face increased traffic and insufficient investment. Almost 80 percent of the inland locks and dams that made America's waterways work should have been replaced by now. Many of them being 60 or 70 years old. New lots would mean that barges would move much faster through the system.
Similarly investments in port infrastructure will ease up those crucial chalk points. Better roads and faster railways will all make a difference.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Democrats to show the county that public investment can work. That makes it crucial that this money should be spent well and fast. Common Good, an organization that advocates for good and cost-effective government, put out an excellent report in 2015 on infrastructure approvals that should be read by everyone involved in administering these funds at the federal, state and local level. A six-year delay in starting construction projects, it notes, could
cost America $3.7 trillion. That's more than double the amount of money needed to modernize key sectors of the country's infrastructure by the end of the decade. Common Good's Philip Howard writes in the report that as practiced today environmental review often harms the environment. America's antiquated power grid, for example, wastes the equivalent of 200 coal-burning power plants.
Infrastructure sounds like a bore but it's important not simply because of the obvious fact that it makes the economy run. Spending on infrastructure is a sign of a healthy society that is willing to invest in its future.
The Yale economist Ray Fair wrote a paper in September in which he analyzed America's infrastructure spending from 1929 to 2019. He found that it was around the 1970s that spending as a percentage of GDP on infrastructure started to plunge, never to fully recover. It was also about that time that America began routine deficit spending. To him both are signs of a society that is more focused on spending on consuming in the present rather than investing for the future.
Another example, the federal government spends $4 for every senior citizen compared to $1 for every person 18 or younger. Fair sees the infrastructure bill as a very small shift in that long-term trend but let's celebrate that small change and hope that we can begin once again to embark on some very big bold endeavors for the country's future.
Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
On Monday night in Washington and Tuesday morning in Beijing, President Biden and President Xi held their first summit virtually. Biden opened the meeting by saying that the two nations had a responsibilities to the world not to veer into conflict with each other.
I can think of nobody I would rather talk to about the relations between these two nations than my next guest, Henry Kissinger. Fifty years ago in 1971, then-U.S. National Security adviser Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to Beijing that led to the opening of relations with Washington. He, of course, went on to become secretary of State. He is now the chairman of Kissinger Associates, which helps American companies do business around the world, including in China. His new book is "The Age of AI."
Henry, there are a lot of people who feel that the United States needs to be more tougher on China. This is a policy that Trump began. This is a policy that Biden has continued, talking about extreme competition with China. Is that the right way to think about U.S.- China relations?
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When I first went to China, it was a poor and weak and very conservative country. Now it is a fairly rich, quite strong and still fairly assertive country. But our challenge then and our challenge now is to find the relationship in which we can compete without driving the situation into a holocaust. And that is a big challenge for both leaders.
ZAKARIA: Explain what you mean when you say a holocaust. Because you think the stakes are very high, that if we get this wrong and it spirals into real military competition, what is the scenario you see there?
KISSINGER: China and the United States, the two most technologically advanced countries at the moment. They both have enormous capacities for destruction and some of these capacities are artificial intelligence so they do not fully know what the consequences are of using it.
The challenge in any conflict is not how you begin it but whether you know how to end it. And so there is a danger that we will slide if there is a purely military kind of competition into a conflict that is difficult to terminate.
ZAKARIA: What do you think of this virtual summit? How did Biden do?
KISSINGER: I think Biden had a tough problem in the way the domestic situation in America has developed. And --
ZAKARIA: Meaning everyone wants to be a China hawk.
KISSINGER: Everyone wants to be a China hawk. Everyone assumes that China is determined to dominate the world and that that its primary objective. And therefore the limits of -- there is an opposition needed, then fundamental value of interests of America are attacked. But there should not necessarily be an automatic rivalry and competition. And so I think Biden began to move in a direction of a different tone.
That does not mean it is yielding to China. It is to try to find a level in which we can talk about those things that are known to be common. We should have a principal goal of avoiding confrontation.
ZAKARIA: The biggest flashpoint that people talk about that could draw the United States and China into actual conflict is Taiwan. And the argument made is that Xi seems to have his eye on a unification between China and Taiwan, by force if necessary, as part of the great national rejuvenation of China.
Do you believe that China, the mainland China, intends some kind of aggressive action on Taiwan?
KISSINGER: I believe that the ultimate joining of Taiwan and China, the ultimate creation of one China, it's the objective of Chinese policy as it has been since the creation of the current regime and that it probably would be in any Chinese government since Taiwan has been considered an historic part of China that was taken away by Japan by force.
That was exactly the situation Nixon and I faced when we first began contact with China. A point was reached where at conversation with Nixon, Mao said we can wait maybe even 100 years, someday we will ask for it, but we do not need to discuss it at this moment. That last sentence was not quite that but that was the implication.
ZAKARIA: But the thing people worry about is that Xi is trying to change the game because he wants to unify Taiwan peacefully if possible but militarily if necessary. You don't see that?
KISSINGER: I don't expect an all-out attack on Taiwan in say a 10-year period, which is as far as I can see. I think it is perfectly possible that if the confrontation keeps growing, that the Chinese will take measures that will weaken the Taiwanese ability to appear substantially autonomous. I think this is foreseeable, and we will have to decide as it evolves to what degree we'd consider that a military means or to what it's in that's compatible within a political framework.
ZAKARIA: All right. We have talked all about China and I just want to tell viewers that they must pick up this book, which is Henry Kissinger's book about -- Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher, about artificial intelligence. It's -- I've read it. It is absolutely masterful. It's an amazing survey of the subject of artificial intelligence, of the promise of the dangers.
Henry Kissinger, pleasure to have you on.
To understand more about China and President Xi, don't miss my latest special which airs at 9:00 p.m. tonight. I'll give you a preview of it later in the show.
But next on GPS, what is Putin up to on Russia's border with Ukraine? That is the question increasingly echoing through the corridors of Western capitals. I will talk to David Miliband and Zanny Minton Beddoes about it when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Secretary of State Blinken said yesterday he had real concerns about Russia's military activity near its border with Ukraine. Kiev said earlier this month that nearly 100,000 Russian troops have massed in the area.
How should the U.S. and its allies in Europe respond? Zanny Minton Beddoes is the editor-in-chief of "The Economist." David Miliband is the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, formerly, of course, British foreign secretary.
David, you've written about the age of impunity. And it does seem to me that Vladimir Putin's actions here almost define and illustrate exactly what you're saying because there is no kind of norm that has been more sacrosanct in the post-1945 world than the idea that you don't annex territory by force. And yet Putin has done it with Crimea and it seems bent on making Ukraine at the very least a kind of failed state perpetually insecure about its future.
What should the West do?
DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: Yes, I mean, the idea of age of impunity is that the laws and norms that were established after post -- after 1945 are somehow for suckers and that "real leaders," quote-unquote, are those who do what they like without consequence and without accountability.
It seems clear that there is the usual mixture of hubris and paranoia in the Kremlin at the moment. Hubris because the gas price is high so Russian coffers are fuller than usual. Paranoia because of, as you've seen with the treatment of Mr. Navalny and any opposition leaders, as Zanny Minton Beddoes' publication "The Economist" has been writing a lot about this.
I think that there are real tests now being posed to Europe and to the wider Western world. And some of the aspects of the response are obvious. A divided response will be a weak response. A response that fails to mobilize all tools, economic and political, will be a weak response. A response that has no sense of deterrent will also be a weak response.
Now I think it's important also to remember that Europe and the West are being tested, but that doesn't mean that we're going -- we're about to have a Russian investigation of Ukraine. The similar mobilization of troops I believe in April of this year. But I think that alongside what's happened in Belarus with the attempt to funnel migrants into Europe, we're seeing a real testing of European unity at a time when obviously there's significant leadership transition in Germany and the question about the French presidential election coming up next May.
ZAKARIA: Zanny, as David says, a key part of this does seem to be gas prices, oil prices soaring, Russia is basically a petrol oil and gas state. Greater confidence, greater arrogance. Shouldn't -- you know, one of the keys here is Europe is so dependent on Russian natural gas. Shouldn't there be a kind of concerted effort to wean itself off that dependence?
The United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. It could easily find ways to liquefy and transport that. Shouldn't energy policy here be a key component?
ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: Yes, I mean, a simple answer to your question is absolutely. And one of the biggest problems in this has been Germany's unwillingness to go that way and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was the pipeline of gas directly bypassing Ukraine and other places is an extremely -- I mean, it was a crazy decision by the Germans to push it because exactly it plays into Putin's hands.
And you're absolutely right that a concerted European approach to wean itself off that, which would, of course, fit broadly with longtime climate goals in Europe, too. It's very sensible. But Europe is divided. It's divided on Russia policy and as David says, the only way I think the West can stand up to the menacing role that Putin is taking is by being united. And I think it's really important to understand why Putin is doing this.
This sort of spoiler menacing role is very much I think part of his domestic focus. His domestic repression, which as David said, we've been writing quite a lot about, is gaining and it's becoming a much more repressive, much more nasty sort of quasi fascistic state.
And the way that he uses antagonism with the West as a justification for this, and it's a sort of Cold War mentality, it's a justification for the domestic repressive behavior. And having, you know, a Ukraine that is a destabilized, you know, ideally quasi failed state is exactly what he wants. A stable Ukraine supported by the West is absolutely and, you know, something that Putin cannot count on.
So I think I don't -- like David I don't think we're going to see tanks rolling across the border any time soon but these presences at the border, this menacing of Ukraine, the use of gases and leaver to do that, too, to make sure that Ukraine is perpetually, you know, destabilize, in trouble, unable to function, that's an important part of Putin's overall geopolitical approach which is also serving his domestic interest which is ultimately his own power base and ensuring that he can keep that.
ZAKARIA: I have to say, I look at these energy shortages, you know, and energy problems and it does feel like you're watching a world in which you could have an energy crisis, you could have even some kind of recessions in some countries as a result of it, and most importantly when energy prices rise as much as they do, you often see countries like Russia, like Iran, like Venezuela, the benefit.
Anyway, we have to get to the next subject, which we will after the break. COVID cases are spiking in Europe, anger is erupting over restrictions. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the continent.
David and Zanny will tell us what to make of all this in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Austria announced this week it would institute a nationwide partial lockdown and mandate COVID vaccinations essentially for all its citizens. It is the first European nation to make such a mandate. This weekend Vienna saw 40,000 people come out to protest. Similar protests against other nations' COVID restrictions was seen across the continent.
We're back here with David Miliband and Zanny Minton Beddoes.
Zanny, explain to us how you read this -- these new protests and such?
You're watching a spike of cases in many of these countries, including a dramatic spike in -- in Austria, but not so much one of deaths, more of cases?
BEDDOES: Absolutely. You are seeing what's being called the fourth wave. You're seeing a spike of cases in these countries across Europe, particularly German-speaking countries, actually, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. And you are as a result seeing increasing moves towards locking down again.
And Austria, as you say, has gone the furthest, with a nationwide lockdown of at least 10 days starting on Monday, and then a mandatory requirement for everybody to be vaccinated from February.
And this is what has caused these protests. There are protests against the new lockdowns and certainly against the mandatory vaccinations.
And, actually, interestingly, these German-speaking countries have relatively high shares of unvaccinated people, and those unvaccinated people tend to be disproportionately people who support far-right parties.
So there is a -- a sort of nationalist, anti-government interference set of protests. They've turned violent in some -- in some cities.
And it's going to be really tough, I think, as this comes forward, how Europe handles this, you know, how much countries are pushed towards lockdowns again, there's a real fatigue of those lockdowns. Yet ICU beds in Germany and in Austria are filling up very fast. And so it's -- it's going to be a -- a tough few months.
Interestingly, the U.K. is taking a very different approach. If you come to London, Fareed, you will know that the U.K. has a very, very relaxed approach, no mask mandates, nothing locked down, no sense of that. And although cases have been, sort of, moderate for the last few months, what seems to be setting the U.K. apart is a much higher rate of booster shots, a much higher rate of third jabs, which means the hope is here that this fourth wave, you know, won't hit the U.K.
But I think, if you couple this with the energy price spike we talked about in the earlier segment, it's going to be a pretty grim winter in lots of parts of Europe.
ZAKARIA: David, how should countries handle this?
It does strike me, if you have vaccinations and if you can get a -- a booster shot, you know, doing another lockdown, with the enormous economic costs that it involves -- I mean, countries are having to pay so much in terms of subsidies. There has to be some way to balance the risk and the reward?
MILIBAND: Well, first of all, let's recognize it must stick in the gullet for millions of people around the world, in countries where they have less than 5 percent vaccination rates, the sort of places the International Rescue Committee works, it's very hard for people to get a vaccine.
It must stick in the gullet when they see, in countries where a third of people or so not vaccinated; they're refusing to have a vaccine and they're protesting against it.
Secondly. I think it's really important that there's no false sense of security coming from the idea that the Delta vaccine is the end of the story. The great danger is of a further mutation, a further variation that then breaks through some of the immunity that's been established by those of us who've got the vaccine.
In terms of dealing with this, the case per -- the number of cases per million in Germany is still lower than the number of cases per million in the U.K. But there are a higher number of unvaccinated, therefore a greater proportion ending up in hospital.
My own view is that what President Macron has done in France, which is to make it clear that entry, for example, to cafes and to restaurants, and to other public buildings is -- depends on vaccination. And that has led to a significant boost. And then, obviously, there needs to be the drive for the booster shots as well.
I have to add, that must be combined with a redistribution of vaccines that are excess, because all of the Western countries are sitting on tens of millions of excess vaccines, and also new production drive around the world because, unless we vaccinate the world, then the world won't be safe from this, because of the mutation problem.
ZAKARIA: David, before you go, very quickly, I want to ask you, Tony Blinken was in Africa. He gave a speech about democratic reform in Africa, struck me as -- as very sensible. He also did not turn it into one that was all about the U.S. versus China kind of Cold War replay.
Just your thoughts for 30, 40 seconds on that speech and that trip?
MILIBAND: It was a good speech, and the critical thing is that it's not the last speech. One secretary of state's visit doesn't a strategy make. And 21 countries in Africa are now suffering from civil conflict, 120 million people in humanitarian need, 6 million refugees across the continent.
It's critical that Secretary Blinken build on the very important principles that he set out -- set out and muster his action with Europeans as well, and where possible with the Chinese, for example, on COVID, to make sure that the continent is able to overcome some very deep-seated and acute problems that are now emerging in the conflict-ridden states.
ZAKARIA: David Miliband, Zanny Minton Beddoes, huge pleasure as always. Thank you.
BEDDOES: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," in contrast to the new restrictions in Europe you heard about, here in the United States, some of the shackles of the pandemic seem to be shaking off. Washington, D.C. lists much of its mask mandate tomorrow, and others are doing similarly.
After the break, the big question: Is the pandemic over? If not, when will it be over? How will we know? When we come back.
ZAKARIA: On March 11,2020, the World Health Organization's director general declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. More recently, as more and more people get vaccinated, especially for now in the U.S., I have begun to wonder, what does the end of the pandemic look like?
Joining me now is Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at NYU.
Celine, how should we think about this?
We're at a situation where lots of people have got vaccinated, not enough, but lots. Lots of people have had the disease, so they have some natural immunity. Are we at the point where we can say the pandemic is over?
DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Fareed, I think we're getting close to that point. We're talking about a transition to endemic, which really means that the virus continues to circulate at some level in the community, but you're not going to have these huge surges that we've had over the last year and a half or so.
ZAKARIA: So is it like the flu then, something that just exists and we have to live with?
GOUNDER: So by vaccinating for COVID, we are turning COVID into something more like the flu. So it is not nearly as deadly, as mortal. Not nearly as many people will end up in the hospital with COVID. If we vaccinate enough people, we can turn it into something much more like the flu.
ZAKARIA: And how should we think about it as people who are vaccinated?
I'm double vaccinated. I tend to think that the science is the science. The vaccine works. I don't really need to wear a mask when -- even when I'm indoors, because I'm vaccinated. Is that fair?
GOUNDER: Look, the -- the vaccines are safe and highly effective, especially at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. They will not prevent all infections, no matter how many boosters we give. There will still be some number of infections that people will still experience.
And then the question is really up to you as the individual to manage that risk. Are you willing to have a mild case of COVID that does not land you in the hospital? Maybe you're not. Maybe you would prefer to wear a mask when you're out in public, out on the subway.
For the elderly, I do think we'll need to continue to be more cautious because they will remain at real risk. ZAKARIA: So that's a very interesting way to put it. And I think
that's how I -- I've been thinking about it, which is we now have, as individuals, to manage our own risk, just the way we do, you know, when we drive a car on an American highway, and you're probably engaging in something much more risky than going unmasked into a -- into a shopping mall or something like that.
So is that part of -- you know, do you think that there should be further authorities telling us what to do?
Should there be mask mandates? Should there be separate mandates for separate categories of people?
GOUNDER: I think we need two different kind of plans. I think one is what I would call a public health strategy, so how do we minimize hospitalizations and deaths? How do we minimize disability from long COVID at a population level?
And then, beyond that, you have more of an individualized, tailored, personal, clinical approach, which you can decide with your doctor, what are the things you want to do to protect yourself?
ZAKARIA: When we had Dr. Fauci on, he said the fundamental reason the virus is mutating into more dangerous forms like Delta is that it's replicating, meaning it's spreading. And the reason it's spreading is because not enough people have gotten the vaccine.
So should there still be a goal of really getting -- just ramping up vaccinations as much as you can, so you narrow the ability of the -- of the virus to replicate, means to reproduce, and to mutate, to change form into something more deadly?
GOUNDER: Look, the fastest way to get from the pandemic phase, the emergency phase, with COVID, to the endemic, the long-term, lower- level phase, is through vaccination.
ZAKARIA: So give us a sense, with your knowledge, with your judgment, with your wisdom, what do you do?
You're -- you're vaccinated. Do you wear a mask indoors? Do you -- how -- give us a sense of how you manage your individual risk.
GOUNDER: So I am double vaccinated. When I am in public spaces indoors, in New York City where I live, when I'm on the subway, I do wear a mask. And I will be, at least for next couple months.
We are at the beginning of a new winter surge. And even if you are double vaccinated, even if you are boosted, so long as there is a high level of transmission of the virus around you in the community, you are still at risk.
So I'm going to give it at least a few more months, a couple more months, and hopefully in that time, more people in my community will be vaccinated and that will reduce my risk in the long run. ZAKARIA: That's terrific. Really good advice. We're delighted to talk
to you. Thank you so much.
GOUNDER: My pleasure.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," President Biden may have grown to understand his counterpart Xi Jinping a little better this week, but the Chinese president remains an enigma to most. I will tell you what you need to know, next.
ZAKARIA (voice over): Shortly after President Xi Jinping's virtual talks with President Biden this week, the Communist Party published a resolution placing Xi in the same pantheon as China's most revered leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
To many outside China, though, Xi Jinping remains a mystery. I will try to help you understand this all-powerful leader in my new special, which premiers tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
It's called "China's Iron Fist: Xi Jinping and the Stakes For America."
In this clip, you will learn a central irony of Xi's life. He suffered deeply under Communism as a child, only to become its most powerful proponent.
It begins in the 1960s, the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Chairman Mao wanted to reassert his control over the Communist Party. He accused it of being too liberal. He called for the young people to rebel against the elite of their own party.
(UNKNOWN): It basically turned Chinese life upside down. All of the most powerful people found themselves suddenly attacked and criticized, often by some of the least powerful people. And Xi Jinping was right at the center of the storm.
ZAKARIA: At the center of the storm because he was a son of privilege.
(UNKNOWN): His father, Xi Zhongxun, was one of the leading revolutionaries of his generation, one of the people that created the People's Republic of China.
ZAKARIA: So his son had the best of everything.
(UNKNOWN): He literally grew up in the (inaudible) leadership compound in the center of Beijing, where all the leaders work and the most senior ones lived. So he had a very privileged existence in a very Socialist society.
(UNKNOWN): They used to call themselves "born red," (inaudible), which meant that they had been brought into this world with the expectation that they would eventually lead and would eventually take over the country. And then it all came apart.
ZAKARIA: First Xi's father was arrested, supposedly for supporting a play and a book that criticized Mao Zedong. His mother was forced to denounce his father. One of his sisters reportedly committed suicide.
(UNKNOWN): Because she was being hounded so much for the family's political problems, and that's a fact that you won't see in the official party histories.
ZAKARIA: Xi, still just a child, was forced to fight for his life in the streets of Beijing.
(UNKNOWN): There was nobody at home. There were no parents at home for a very young teenager.
ZAKARIA: And that teenager was trying to survive in the chaos of a revolution.
(UNKNOWN): The Cultural Revolution was this implosion of Chinese society right down to the family level, just this kind of inferno of all of the bonds of trust and hierarchy that organized society.
ZAKARIA: In his late teens, the party sent Xi out to work as a peasant in the countryside.
(UNKNOWN): He spent many, many years in a very poor county in northern China, basically doing manual labor, being a farmer, feeding pigs.
ZAKARIA: After years spent working as a farmhand, Xi made a decision about his future.
(UNKNOWN): Xi Jinping did a very surprising thing, which is that he applied to become a member of the party -- and not just once. He was rejected over and over and over again. He was rejected because his family name was now poisoned in Chinese politics for this period of time.
ZAKARIA: Finally, he gained admission to the party and began an almost 40-year climb up the ladder. But why?
Why would Xi Jinping, a victim of some of the worst cruelties of Communism, devote his life to strengthening the party?
ZAKARIA (on camera): Find out tonight. Don't miss "China's Iron Fist: Xi Jinping and the Stakes For America" at 9 p.m. Eastern.
And thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.