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Quest Means Business

Israel To Begin Offering Fourth Vaccine Dose To Some Groups; Delta CEO Asks For Shorter COVID Self-Isolation Periods; Biden Touts Progress On Alleviating Supply Chain Problems; U.S. Growth Revised Up To 2.3 Percent In Q3; Xi Jinping Poised To Extend Reign; Dash To The Bell. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 22, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: We've got triple digit gains on the Dow for a second day in a row. Let's take a look here and see how the Dow

is doing, up 179 points.

Those are the markets and these are the main events: Israel and Germany are looking at a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health

Organization says it could prolong the pandemic.

The U.K. reports record numbers of COVID cases and relaxes its isolation rules.

And supply chain success. Joe Biden says the Christmas crunch has been avoided.

Coming to you live from New York, it is Wednesday, December the 22nd. I'm Zain Asher and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Tonight, as some people scramble for third COVID shots and with millions worldwide still unable to secure their first, Israel and Germany and are

now saying it will soon be time for a fourth dose.

Israel has already started making a fourth shot available to certain vulnerable groups like for example healthcare workers and people over 60.

Other countries may indeed follow suit.

The German Health Minister says mandatory vaccinations are still on the table and a fourth shot may be required to contain the omicron variant.


KARL LAUTERBACH, GERMAN HEALTH MINISTER (through translator): Personally as a scientist, I would presume that a fourth vaccination will become



ASHER: This raises the question of whether all of us will one day be required to keep getting vaccinated beyond our second or third doses. The

head of the World Health Organization says in some cases, booster programs might actually extend the pandemic.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: About 20 percent of all vaccine doses administered everyday are currently being

given as boosters, or additional dose. Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it by diverting supply to

countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.


ASHER: Dr. Ofer Levy is the Director of Precision Vaccines at Boston's Children's Hospital. He joins me live now.

Dr. Levy, thank you so much for being with us. So in terms of Israel now offering people a fourth shot of this vaccine, I want to get your thoughts

on that. Is this going to become like the flu shot where we're intended to get it every year? Or could it be even more frequently than that?

DR. OFER LEVY, DIRECTOR OF PRECISION VACCINES, BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, thank you for that, Zain. You ask a really cogent question, and you

know, we're seeing governments around the globe scramble to try to respond to this rapidly spreading omicron variant.

In the State of Israel, I believe they've had several deaths this past week, unfortunately, due to COVID, and at least one of those deaths was due

to omicron. They have an expert panel advising the government there regarding COVID policies, and that panel recommended a fourth booster dose.

I have not seen the data, but I certainly understand the big picture as to why they are making this kind of decision, a fourth dose for those who are

at high risk.

ASHER: And what do you make of the head of the World Health Organization essentially saying that, if richer countries continue to offer more and

more booster shots, a fourth dose, a fifth dose and perhaps hoard -- continue to hoard vaccines, while poorer countries are left behind, you're

essentially going to see a situation whereby the virus continues to mutate and it ends up prolonging the pandemic.

LEVY: Yes, that is a concern, Zain, and, you know, our warp speed initiative here in the United States succeeded in generating safe and

effective vaccines in record time. But my one critique of it is it didn't seem to contain strong provisions to provide vaccines across the globe at

an affordable price, and this is now really the purview of the world leaders.

We need really good multilateral action here to ensure a robust supply of vaccines around the globe. Folks shouldn't be surprised that every country

is going to try to protect its population. That's what the governments of the world are supposed to do, and they start by thinking of their own


But this virus doesn't distinguish by borders, of course, it just spreads and infects and this one spreads very rapidly and this calls for rapid,

robust, multilateral action to have a vaccine plan for the entire globe.


ASHER: As countries like Israel offer a fourth dose of the vaccine to certain segments of the population, there is a bit of a silver lining here

in that it doesn't seem as though there are as many hospitalization cases with the omicron variant as there is with the delta variant.

LEVY: That may be the case, you know, we're hearing anecdotal reports and small reports that omicron might be less pathogenic, in other words, create

a milder disease than the delta and that will be welcome news if it's true.

But one thing is clear, omicron spreads very, very rapidly and more rapidly than delta. So even if it's -- let's make up numbers, Zain, let's pretend

just for argument's sake that omicron is two times less pathogenic. I'm not saying it is, but for argument's sake, let's say it causes twofold less

severe disease, but if it spreads 10 times faster, are we better off?

In other words, this virus, this omicron can fill up the hospital's intensive care units beyond the breaking point.

ASHER: And just quickly, what do you make of the U.S. now authorizing a pill from Pfizer to treat COVID-19?

LEVY: Well, this is a very, of course, welcome development. This gives us another tool in the armamentarium. You are of course, alluding to Pfizer's

Paxlovid, which is an oral antiviral medication authorized by the U.S. F.D.A. today for high risk patients 12 years of age and up and this is a

welcome addition to the armamentarium against this virus, and is hopefully also effective against omicron.

There will be issues here again around production and supply given the intense global demand, but of course, it is good news.

ASHER: And the thing is, you know, I want to make it clear to the audience. It's not supposed to replace vaccinations at all, however, is

there a fear that some people especially those who are vaccine hesitant, might see this pill and say, well, listen, I don't have to take the vaccine

anymore. I can, if I get sick, I can rely on this pill to help me.

LEVY: That could be a concern, but let's remember that that prevention is you know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, best is to

prevent it altogether and that is with the public health measures and the vaccines.

So let's emphasize that, but it is welcome news that there will be an oral medication for those who are already infected to help reduce the severity

of their illness.

ASHER: Right, Dr. Ofer Levy, thank you so much for being with us.

LEVY: Thank you, Zain. Always a pleasure.

ASHER: On Tuesday, Microsoft cofounder and billionaire, Bill Gates, made some ominous predictions about COVID-19 tweeting, "Just when it seemed like

life would return to normal, we could be entering the worst part of the pandemic. Omicron will hit home for all of us. Close friends of mine now

have it and I've canceled most of my Holiday plans."

Still, Gates says that if we take the right steps, he believes the pandemic can be over sometime next year.

The W.H.O. says there is no reason to panic in Europe over omicron and that vaccine mandates should be a last resort. The group's European chief, Dr.

Hans Kluge told CNN's Alison Kosik that overcoming vaccine hesitancy should be the focus. He says masking and testing is key to slowing the Holiday



DR. HANS KLUGE, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: So we should be very concerned, but there is no reason for panic, what we

see is that it transmits three times faster than the delta, and this is globally and that the doubling time is two to three days in countries like

United Kingdom, Denmark, so it means we have only limited strategies to come through the winter, keeping mortality down, number one, wearing the

masks, and with the potential to wear respirators for vulnerable people to protect them from hospitalization and death, number one.

Number two, to shorten the interval between the second dose and the third dose meaning to boost because the booster works very well against omicron,

but of course in a staged manner. First, the healthcare workers, the vulnerable people, then expand to the general population ultimately, with

the Christmas coming, everyone for itself to think through what are my essential contacts if I go out to a party or a gathering?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: So you're encouraging to move the timeline closer, but you've also said in the past that vaccine mandates

should be an absolute last resort. Talk with me about what your thinking is behind that statement.

KLUGE: Right. So vaccine mandates should be absolutely a last resort. We should do everything possible to come convince the people because we know

that vaccine mandates can increase public distrust, it can increase social exclusion; at the same time, it works different in different contexts.

So it is a decision by the country, and the most important is to go into a debate with the communities.

KOSIK: But we feel like we're losing that debate. There are huge chunks of populations that are just resistant to getting vaccines.

KLUGE: I would say that the majority of the people are of goodwill and that we can responsibilize them. The percentage of anti-vaxxers is a

smaller proportion in the population. And for example, we should encourage the people not only to wear their masks, but also if you go to a gathering

with limited people, take a self-test.

The people are not the problem. The people are the solution.

KOSIK: Doctor, what is it going to take to get to the end of the pandemic? If a big chunk of people don't get vaccinated, is it even possible to get

out of the pandemic?

KLUGE: Well, we identified before as a group five pandemic stabilizers. Number one, increase the vaccination coverage and particularly, address the

vaccine-hesitant people. Two, boost; third, double the number of people wearing the mask indoors. Four, ventilation particularly in classrooms, and

fifth, to have new treatment protocols with new drugs coming onto the market.

But the umbrella is international solidarity because we have seen with the omicron that no country is safe until everyone is safe.


ASHER: The head of Delta Air Lines is asking the U.S. to allow people who have breakthrough cases of COVID-19 to self-isolate for a shorter amount of


CEO Ed Bastian says the current recommendation of 10 days could leave his airline short staffed. He is asking whether five days might be long enough

for vaccinated people who then test negative.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the U.S. was already reviewing the duration, at least for healthcare workers.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: That's certainly an important consideration, which is being

discussed right now, particularly, John, in the context of healthcare workers.

For example, if you get a healthcare worker who is infected and without any symptoms at all, you don't want to keep that person out of work too very

long, because particularly if we get a run on hospital beds and the need for healthcare personnel, that's something that at least will be considered

at -- least considered, no decisions yet -- about the possibility if you do have someone who is infected rather than keeping them out for seven to 10

days if they are without symptoms, put in their N95 mask on to make sure they have the proper PPE and they might be able to get back to work sooner

than the full length of the quarantine period.


ASHER: The U.K. has just reduced its self-isolation requirement to a week rather than 10 days. The British Health Secretary says the new rules should

help lessen COVID disruptions to daily life.

Salma Abdelaziz is in London for us, so explain to us why the British government is making this decision when the pandemic is basically moving in

the wrong direction. There's just been a record broken with 100,000 new COVID-19 daily cases.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Yet another record broken, Zain, over the last several days, we've seen the skyrocketing cases. If you just look at a

chart of the last week, the number of positive cases just go straight up, absolutely skyrocketing.

Today, yet again, more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID 19, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insistent that no further restrictions will go

into place before Christmas, so taking the opposite approach of a lot of Western European countries.

So instead officials -- health officials in particular -- preparing the country, fortifying its healthcare system in other ways. And yes, one of

those key ways is reducing the isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19. So now that 10-day isolation period can be a seven-

day period, if an individual tests negative on their lateral flow test on day six, and day seven of that test.

And why do that? Well, quite simply, so many people are testing positive, Zain, that it's impacting critical services. It is impacting transport, and

most importantly, it is impacting hospitals.

It means medical staff are calling out sick, and the government simply can't afford for that to happen at a time when potentially this huge surge

in positive cases could turn into a huge surge in hospitalization.

So it's one way to keep medical workers working by reducing that isolation period, keep the country basically running and functioning. I mean,

omicron, I feel like anecdotally has essentially touched every household I know, so it's a way to keep the country moving forward.

Other measures also being announced, the U.K. government buying more drugs, more antivirals, two huge contracts announced today to buy over millions of

antiviral doses for next year to prepare potentially, for vulnerable people winding up sick in the hospital.


ABDELAZIZ: You're also seeing vaccinations now approved for the very young, for five to 11-year-olds. So, a push there for the authorities to

expand the country's vaccination program. And of course, the booster program is the key, key driver here.

Everyone is supposed to get an invitation to get their third shot before the end of the year. So the clock is ticking on that. But the question is,

of course, Zain, is all of this going to be enough? Are these measures enough to help the U.K. get through whatever comes next? And that's the

part we don't know.

We don't know, these more than 100,000 positive cases that we heard of that were recorded today. How many of them what proportion of them, what ratio

of them will end up in hospital and up seriously ill and need the support of the healthcare system? We don't know.

For now, this is all just preparatory work in the hopes that it will stave off a crisis -- Zain.

ASHER: Salma Abdelaziz, live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right, there were dire warnings that supply chain bottlenecks could ruin Christmas. So far, according to the U.S. President, it hasn't

happened. We'll go live to Washington next.

And later, China has grown stronger and richer under President Xi Jinping while he has gained a tighter grip on the country, a deeper look at his

power play, ahead.


ASHER: U.S. President Joe Biden says his administration is making progress against supply chain problems, bottlenecks have driven a shortage of

consumer goods and raised prices.

Biden met Wednesday with supply chain executives including the CEO of FedEx for an update. It came as the omicron variant threatens new pressure on the

global flow of goods.

Despite fears of a major shipping crisis, deliveries in the United States have actually held up pretty well before Christmas. According to the

analytics firm, Ship Matrix, for the week beginning December 5th, deliveries were on time for the vast majority of deliveries from FedEx,

UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Most delays were only by one day, Ship Matrix says that carriers were able to add capacity and many shoppers placed their orders early or in-person.

And it's not only the United States, at the Port of Dover in England, the Chief Executive said that Christmas presents would not get stuck.



DOUG BANNISTER, CEO, PORT OF DOVER: What I can tell you, I can guarantee you that they will not be stuck in this port. Through this port, it

continues to flow and it continues to deliver.


ASHER: Back in the U.S., businesses are still dealing with a truck driver shortage and key components like computer chips are still scarce. But Mr.

Biden said the dreaded Holiday supply chain crisis so far hasn't happened.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier this fall, we heard a lot of dire warnings about supply chain problems leading to a crisis

around the Holidays. So we acted.

A lot of recommendations from the people that you see on the screen here, I wish we were all able to do this in person. We brought together business

and labor leaders to solve problems. And much -- you know, the much predicted crisis didn't occur. Packages are moving. Gifts are being

delivered. Shelves are not empty.


ASHER: CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live for us in Washington. So yes, the supply chain issues that many had dreaded has been averted, but how does the

President make sure it does not continue to be an issue over the long term?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a central question and that is a question that they don't necessarily have

a concrete answer for.

There is hope, there is optimism that some of the things that they have put in place, the longer hours at ports, working with labor leaders, business

executives, as well has led to what really is one of the things that's actually working. It is one of the bright points here just a couple of days

before the Christmas Holidays.

With the winter surge and COVID cases, this supply chain issue actually is a bright spot.

Now inflation, of course, the items on those shelves, the prices are high, a 40-year a record high. So in terms of how much credit this administration

will get for this accomplishment, that is very much an open question because of the high prices.

But the fact of the matter is, President Biden is right when he says that crisis was averted at Christmas time, the packages will get there. And that

is a bit of good news in an otherwise somewhat grim Holiday season here, certainly when it comes to COVID -- Zain.

ASHER: And it has been a difficult sort of couple of weeks for President Biden. Obviously, he has suffered from low approval ratings, and then on

top of that, his build back better plan hit a major snag with Joe Manchin not being willing to jump on board with that.

How does this affect Biden politically if the supply chain issues aren't resolved in the long term, do you think?

ZELENY: Look, I think it's one of the things -- and this is something that touches the lives of every American, but certainly everyone around the

globe, regardless of where they live in terms of having goods shipped to them. It's sort of like the price of gas, when you see that every day, if

you're driving to work, or if you see supply chain issues, you can feel that, so that leads to, you know, just a sense that the economy is not

right, that you don't have a good feeling about how the administration is handling things.

If the supply chain issue resolves itself and if inflation cools down into the next year, that will help this administration significantly, no

question about it.

Now, will they be able to get more of their agenda enacted? That's an open question. President Biden was asked directly about that today, again, about

Joe Biden -- about Joe Manchin, excuse me -- he said, look, there is still a path to getting something accomplished, and they're pointing to the

economic indicators.

Wall Street believes that this Build Back Better Act as it is known, some form of that should be enacted to help the economy next year, and it does

not contribute to inflation. So that is what the challenges going into the Holiday season and into the New Year.

But certainly, on the supply side, you know, it's probably one of the only rosiest outlooks here at the White House -- what are we now -- three days

before Christmas -- Zain.

ASHER: Yes, we are. This year has gone by so quickly. My goodness.

Jeff Zeleny live for us. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you so much.

ZELENY: Merry Christmas to you.

ASHER: All right, the pandemic has devastated Colombia's economy. Many people have lost their jobs and inflation is a big concern as prices for

basic supplies have surged. Stefano Pozzebon is in Bogota with more.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST (voice over): With about a week until Christmas in one of Bogota's poorest neighborhoods, a group of missionaries

is handing out meals to the homeless and everyone who needs it.

The numbers they serve have grown steadily since the pandemic hit. Before COVID, most of the people they would attend were drug addicts, but things

have changed.

CAMILO DEVIA, FUNDACION AMIGOS MISSION, COLOMBIA: Right now, there are more. There is an equal percentage between the people that are addict to

drugs here, and the people who lost everything. There are too many, too many old people.

POZZEBON (voice over): Millions in Colombia lost their job as a result of COVID-19. While the country is recovering, more than 40 percent of the

population live in poverty.

Among them are people like Edwin who used to work as a mechanic and now lives on the street. More than a health emergency, COVID has taken jobs

away, he says.


POZZEBON (on camera): The pandemic had a devastating impact for informal workers in particular, who didn't have any social safety net to rely on

when the lockdowns were imposed.

POZZEBON (voice over): Distressingly, just as more people found themselves in need, prices have shot up across the board, from gasoline to food


POZZEBON (on camera): The price of meat increased almost 30 percent in 2021 in Colombia, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Poultry is up more than 20 percent. Fresh fruits and vegetables, everything that you want for a good Christmas meal is more expensive.

POZZEBON (voice over): As a result, while these will likely not be a lockdown Christmas, the economic outlook is bleak.

Colombia's situation is far from unique, inflation hitting the entire region hard. In South America, 2021 has been a year of rising prices and

waning meals.

According to UNICEF, 50 percent of Argentinian children under the age of six eat less than before COVID hit. While in Brazil, 19 million people are

going hungry according to an independent survey.

SANDRA CHAVES, PROFESSOR, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF BAHIA (through translator): We have never been in a situation as serious as it is now.

POZZEBON (voice over): Tapping into international capital markets is not an option for most South American governments, making it harder to finance

the sort of large public support projects common in the U.S. and Europe. As a result, the immediate future looks just as dreary.

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development expects it will take at least two years to return to pre-COVID levels of wealth in Latin


The food charity in Bogota has finished their deliveries for today, but the job is far from over. Tomorrow, somebody else will be hungry and wanting


Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.


ASHER: All right, still to come here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, omicron may be slowing the pace of China's economic growth, but President Xi Jinping is

stronger than ever. How he is consolidating power and shaping Chinese society, ahead.




ASHER (voice-over): U.S. markets continue to bounce back from the big losses we saw on Monday. The Dow is up more than 200 points as we enter the

last half hour of trade.

Consumer confidence numbers in the United States have helped the mood. They went up in December by more than economists were predicting. U.S. growth in

the third quarter is also a rise up as well, it's now at the annualized rate of 2.3 percent, although, I should caution that's before the Omicron

variant took hold in the United States.

Paul La Monica joins us live now.

So Paul, how encouraging is this data in terms of the growth being revised upwards, because Omicron wasn't a factor yet, so could things deteriorate

even more?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNNMONEY DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: It's possible, Zain, but I think it's important to know these are annualized numbers. You have to look

back to where we were a year ago.

And even with Omicron, you look at what's happening in the markets today, people are still shopping for the holidays. They're still traveling; travel

stocks are doing extremely well, somewhat counter intuitively right now.

And when you look at what the fourth quarter GDP forecasts are right now, it's much better than that 2.3 percent, somewhat gloomy, sluggish growth we

had in the third quarter.

They're estimating 6.5 percent annualized growth for the fourth quarter. Then look at Atlanta Fed, they have estimates now of 7.2 percent. So GDP

for the fourth quarter probably will be a lot better than the third quarter.

The question I think now is, are the expectations too high, especially with stocks surging the way they have as of late?

You know, the market is definitely pricing in solid growth for the end of this year and, hopefully, the end of 2022.

ASHER: But does the upward revision, I mean just looking at it, big picture, does the upward revision sort of indicate that the U.S. economy is

perhaps far more resilient than we give it credit for?

LA MONICA: Yes, I think that there is, to a certain degree, a fatigue right now on the part of consumers, with all the negativity. And that's why

people are still out shopping and sort of resuming their daily lives because, at this point right now, Zain, we seem to have kind of two

different camps of people in America.

If you're not vaccinated, then you don't care about the rise of Omicron probably all that much. And if you are vaccinated and boosted, you see

these encouraging stories about how the best protection is being vaccinated, having that booster and that, if you do wind up getting this

latest variant, may not be so awful that it really, you know, makes you have this huge setback in your health.

It's kind of more like a cold, a bad cold or flu, based on what a lot of people are reporting, those who get it who are vaccinated and boosted. So I

think that's why the consumer has remained as resilient as they have been in the U.S.

ASHER: And now there's some good news as well for this holiday season in that the supply chain issues that everybody was worried about just ended up

not being as bad as anticipated in advance of Christmas.

Do you think that the Omicron variant will slow down consumer spending or economic activity?

Will it have a material impact on the economy this time of year?

LA MONICA: It doesn't appear that that's going to be the case, Zain. As you point out, it seems companies like FedEx and UPS are getting a lot of

those supply chain issues under control.

I think if you are doing any holiday shopping, if Santa Claus happens to be Jeff Bezos or Walmart or Target, a lot of those gifts that are being

ordered are coming in on time because the large companies have really done a good job of managing logistics issues or supply chain issues in advance.

I think all the hype about how bad it could be woke a lot of companies up and they found alternatives to make sure they can get the goods that

consumers are definitely demanding and wanting, getting them to doorsteps on time.

ASHER: All right, Paul La Monica, thank you so much.


ASHER: The World Bank expects China's economic growth to slow next year to 5.1 percent. That would be the country's second slowest pace of growth

since 1990. Still, under President Xi Jinping's leadership, China seems stronger than ever. Our David Culver has more from Shanghai.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Walking the streets of China's capital, it's not hard to see who is in charge. There are pictures

of President Xi Jinping all over. The poster addressing the firefighter community.

At the center of life here is the Chinese Communist Party. But at the center of the party, this man, Xi Jinping.


CULVER (voice-over): 2021 saw major steps to further consolidate power. In an early November meeting of China's ruling elites, the 400 or so top party

officials passed an almost unprecedented resolution, highlighting the role of its current leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the nation's

triumphant rise on the global stage.

VICTOR SHIH, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA/SAN DIEGO: He wants to really highlight his own contribution to the development of the party. That also

will seal his legitimate rule over China in the foreseeable future.

Of course, no one would challenge his power within the party.

CULVER: Inside national museums like this one, President Xi Jinping has elevated himself to be on par with past leaders like Deng Xiaoping and,

even the most famous, Mao Zedong.


CULVER (voice-over): China has already become the second largest economy in the world, on track to surpass the U.S. It has successfully lifting

millions of its people out of poverty.

CULVER: Walking in the morning rush hour here in the Chinese capital, you feel the rush of energy, a lot of activity. At times it feels like everyone

in this country is on this constant drive for more ambition, more success. It's only amplified by a population of more than 1.4 billion people.

CULVER (voice-over): An incredible buying power, bolstered by new technologies, making it quicker and easier to spend money, not to mention

track people.

CULVER: Just to get into some of these stores and restaurants, you have to first take your temperature. It says that you are OK. Then you get a scan,

your health code. It then says, we're good to go.

One thing that is incredibly convenient about China is you don't really even need to carry your wallet places. Everything is on your phone,

including payment and ID.

CULVER (voice-over): 2021 marked 100 years since the party's founding in Shanghai. It's a triumphant rise that the leadership proudly displays at

so-called Communist Party pilgrimage sites, historically revered spots that downplay or ignore failures and controversies, from the tumultuous Cultural

Revolution to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Instead, they focus on a century of successes. And China is now making other countries, including the U.S., increasingly uneasy with its rapid

military expansions.

CULVER: With all the power that President Xi has amassed, coupled with an increased military might, many believe one of his ultimate goals is to

reunify with Taiwan. He has not even ruled out taking the island by force, if necessary.

CULVER (voice-over): China has been putting military pressure on the self- ruling democracy. Xi stressing in a recent virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden that, on Taiwan, the U.S. is playing with fire. Biden

trying to calm the rapidly rising tensions.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition

between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended. It's simple, straightforward competition.

CULVER (voice-over): That's easier said than done, A deep rooted geopolitical battle is lingering into the new year, citing widespread

allegations of human rights abuses against China's Uighur population.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of country does this to people, to innocent people?

CULVER (voice-over): The U.S. announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter


CULVER (voice-over): With allies following, calls for boycotting the games, fueled in part by the case of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. The

three-time Olympian briefly disappeared in November after she accused a top Communist Party official of forcing her into sex.

The Women's Tennis Association suspended tournaments in China, calling for Peng to be able to speak freely and openly.


CULVER (voice-over): But for now, it won't halt the Winter Games, these the first Olympics to be held under President Xi. 2022 setting the stage

for Xi to rule for an unprecedented third term and likely beyond -- David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


ASHER: And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, I'll be back at the top of the hour, as we make a dash for the closing bell. Up next, "MARKETPLACE

AFRICA." You're watching CNN.





ASHER: Hello, everyone, I'm Zain Asher, with a dash to the closing bell.

Some positive data in the United States has helped push U.S. markets up for the second day in the row. The Dow is close to its high of the day, over

200 points. Consumer confidence numbers and GDP growth for the third quarter came in better than expected. All three major indices up around 0.5


If we look at Dow components specifically, industrial stocks are among the top gainers as U.S. home sales rose in November. Caterpillar is top of that

pile and Home Depot is not far behind, up around 1 percent.

Germany's health minister is saying a fourth dose of vaccine may be necessary to fight the new wave hitting the country. That comes after

Israel began to issue a fourth dose to health workers and people over 60. However, the head of the WHO says booster programs could, in some cases,

make the pandemic go on even longer.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: About 20 percent of all vaccine doses administered every day are currently being

given as boosters or additional dose.

Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the pandemic rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels

of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.


ASHER: And that's your dash to the bell. I'm Zain Asher in New York. The closing bell is ringing in Wall Street.