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Quest Means Business

Extreme Heat Around The Globe; Thousands Evacuate Due To Dangerous Fires; Russia And North Korea Pledge New Partnership; U.K. Inflation Falls To Two Percent Target; Florida Faces Lawsuit Over Ban On Chinese Purchases. Aired 4-4:45p ET

Aired June 19, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: European stocks finishing mixed this Wednesday with Wall Street closed to commemorate the Juneteenth

holiday, what is recognized as the formal end to slavery in America.

And those are the markets and these are the main events: An extreme heatwave impacts lives across five continents.

UK inflation falling back to the two percent target. We will explain why the Bank of England is still unlikely to cut interest rates.

And a courtroom battle, the legal fight over Florida's decision the ban Chinese nationals from buying property.

Live from New York. It is Wednesday, June 19th. I'm Julia Chatterley, in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And a good evening once more.

Tonight, dangerous heatwaves are putting millions of people around the world at risk. Fast-growing wildfires are tearing through communities and

tribal reservations in the US state of New Mexico. Thousands of residents have evacuated the area and at least one person has died.

The Middle East has also been hit by scorching temperatures. Hundreds of people have reportedly died during their annual pilgrimage to Mecca amid

the searing heat, and we are also getting alarming data from India, too. The government says, there has been 40,000 suspected cases of heat stroke

so far this summer, more than 100 people have died there because of the brutal heat, too.

Bill Weir is in New York for us.

Bill, the scariest part of this perhaps is if we are not careful and if we don't do more, we are going to remember this time as relatively cool.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. It could be one of the coolest summers of the rest of our lives. As it ramps up right now, this

could be what is now a newsworthy event, it could be a more common month- long event scientists say as early as 10 years from now.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, so today, we cover it as something unusual in the news event to your point, but 10 years from now, it could be normal and we don't

even cover it anymore, but we need to cover more about the action.

Bill, what more action, even in the United States today, we've got lobby groups, advocates saying look, we actually need to designate these as sort

of major incidents effectively and take action and appropriate action.

WEIR: Yes. In the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA is kicked into gear usually when a governor or tribal leader asks for

the president to declare a disaster area. Normally, there is about 19 different designations. Normally, it has been used historically for

hurricanes and earthquakes, those sorts of things.

They added -- COVID-19 is added to that list to help out the states during a national pandemic disaster.

Right now, heat has never been used before. This group -- there is about 30 groups, both doctors, environmental justice organizations, and others who

want to put this into the conversation, that we should think about heat the way we think about impending hurricanes. We know how to count the damage

when debris of towns are laying everywhere. Heat is even sometimes a much more deadly event, but you don't see it as well.

And you can help head off the fatalities earlier with cooling centers, with ways to encourage people to keep their air conditioning on if they think

they can afford it, those sorts of mitigation effects right now.

They could change that designation, the Stafford Act, which designates these sorts of things is very nimble in this area. It just hasn't been done

yet, but there will be, Julia, at some point, a president will probably declare a national heat emergency of some sort if one of these domes stays

in a region long enough to overwhelm power grids, overwhelm hospitals.

But so far states have been able to handle that on their own without federal help.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, the changing times. Bill Weir, thank you as always.

Now, Ed Lavandera has more on those wildfires in the Southwestern United States.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Residents west of Highway 48 from White Mountain to Highway 37 immediately evacuate to Capitan.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Michael Scott escaped Ruidoso, New Mexico just in time through thick smoke and an orange

glow, as a massive wildfire consumed his mountain neighborhood.

MICHAEL SCOTT, RUIDOSO, NEW MEXICO RESIDENT: My truck was being hit with chunks of ash. I could feel them hitting hood, and the gray, it was almost

like big gray rain hitting my truck.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Scott and his wife and his mother were able to make it out with a few belongings and their three dogs.

We met them at a motel 50 miles away where all they can do is nurse the shock that everything they own might be lost.

The not-knowing is a numbing feeling he says.

LAVANDERA (on camera): I can imagine, it's like an incredibly helpless feeling where there is literally nothing you can do.

SCOTT: It really is and for the past 24 hours, we've been in this little motel and I think, well, we don't have anything left.


Now, where do we go? Because I am pretty confident we are not going to go back to Ruidoso. You know, that's not going to be an option.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Two massive fires around Ruidoso are burning across 20,000 acres. Emergency officials say the wildfires have destroyed 1,400

homes and structures.

We reached some of those neighborhoods and saw the charred remains of dozens of homes, even found deer making their way through the scarred


KURT DELGADO, EVACUEE: Yes, I can see the fire right outside this window.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Kurt Delgado evacuated his home to the edge of town where he set up his Papi Chulo food truck and started feeding firefighters

and emergency crews.

LAVANDERA (on camera): From the window of your food truck --


LAVANDERA: -- you can see the smoke in the canyon where your house is.

DELGADO: Yes, our house is literally right there where that smoke is.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Delgado says he will stay here as long as he can, making meals and keeping one eye on the fires and ready to hook up the

truck and race out.

DELGADO: So my parents are in that Airstream might there, and with my brother, Matthew and their dogs. We are ready to go. We are going to do

what we can to just stay vigilant.

LAVANDERA: About 8,000 people have evacuated the Ruidoso areas since Monday. The mountain village is an eerie, smoke-filled ghost town. There

are a few people left though, like Jordan Rue, who we found spraying water on his home and trees.

LAVANDERA (on camera): I imagine a moment like this is pretty nerve- wracking.

JORDAN RUE, RUIDOSO, NEW MEXICO RESIDENT: Yes. Yes, I thought -- I didn't think he was going to come this close to us, but it happened so fast.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Our conversation was interrupted by police, urging residents to evacuate.

POLICE OFFICER: You've got to evacuate Ruidoso town immediately.

LAVANDERA: We managed to find our way into Michael Scott's neighborhood in Ruidoso, many of the homes were burnt to the ground, but somehow, Michael's

home is still standing, a slice of good news surrounded by devastation and sadness.


CHATTERLEY: And sadly, the situation isn't much better in Europe. Wildfires in the Athens are being fanned by strong winds. Official say they are

seeing a new fire breakout every 10 minutes.

Temperatures meanwhile in Rome approached 35 degrees Celsius today and won't ease until the end of the week.

Environmental groups are now sounding the alarm about the Olympics in France. They say the high temperatures will put athletes at risk.

Barbie Latza Nadeau has more on Europe's brutal heatwave and why it has officials so concerned.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's only June and Southern Europe is already baking under a deadly heatwave.

In Greece, several tourists died after hiking in extreme temperatures. One deputy mayor had a dire warning.

SPYROS ARGYROS, MATHRAKI DEPUTY MAYOR (through translator): We have a lot of footpaths here and we often see people come here to go walking. Often

couples, will come, groups, but we also see people alone on the footpaths.

Unfortunately, during some days in the summer, we have heatwaves and we see them walking on the footpaths without supplies, without water, without a


NADEAU: In Italy, and in the Balkans, temperatures are expected to be between five and ten degrees higher than average.

In Rome, authorities have put up trees at bus stops in order to provide much needed shade for those waiting in the hot sun.

Authorities across the region warn the elderly and the frail to try to stay indoors during the hottest time of the day. They are also urging people to

exercise caution in areas that are prone to wildfires.

If last summer was the hottest summer on record. So far, this summer doesn't look like it is going to be any better.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


CHATTERLEY: Now the heat isn't the only problem for some parts of the globe. This map shows the torrential rainfall that has killed more than a

dozen people across Central America.

Parts of El Salvador have been devastated by floods, rivers pouring over their banks and landslides. Official say 11 people there have been killed.

The intense rainfall has also killed eight people in Guatemala, sink holes and landslides have ravaged several areas, and thousands have now been


Stefano Pozzebon is in Bogota for us this evening.

Stefano, just talk us through what we've seen because this is what we are seeing at this current moment, but it is actually weeks of added rainfall

that is creating a great deal of the issues now that people are facing.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly, Julia, and I think, it is remarkable to note how from raging fires in New Mexico and record

temperatures in Europe to catastrophic rains in Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, and in Ecuador but all across the Andes region, you can tell,

here it was pouring rain just a half an hour ago.

There is a shared sense of powerlessness, a shared sense of impotence in front of extreme weather events and I think there are two things to learn

here, Julia, that is one, that these extreme weather events are becoming more and more than normal.


We, over the last 12 months, I have reported on dozens of extreme weather events across Latin America, from Brazil to Argentina, Central America, and

Colombia where I am, but also the fact that this region is particularly exposed to these type of events.

When we talk about catastrophic rainfall, especially in North America, it means that blocks of cities get flooded, lots of people get evacuated and

it creates an enormous economic damage.

But in Latin America, it often means loss of life. So we have 11 dead, at least 11; you know, Salvador, eight, at least killed in Guatemala, and at

least 17 in Ecuador, which is south of where I am.

And this feeling of impotency, of powerlessness is why civil protection officials all across the region are urging people to evacuate and to look

after themselves. Take a listen.


LUIS AMAYA, CIVIL PROTECTION CHIEF (through translator): I want to repeat, this, if you are asked to evacuate, do it. If you live near a slope, moved

to a safe area.

I know we are attached to material items, but life is priceless under any circumstance. In that sense, today, priority number one is to be safe and

stay in a shelter.

We have worked to give you the necessary conditions.


POZZEBON: Julia, I think that is core. There are hundreds of lives, if not thousands of lives that are at risk because of the effects of climate


Latin America is particularly exposed and what we are seeing these days, unfortunately, it is not an exception, it is becoming more and more like

the norm -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, as you said, we have to get used to the fact this is going to continue to happen, and arguably, it could be continuing to get worse.

Stefano, I know there are many different countries that we are talking about, but what provisions are the government making to try and support

people? It is okay saying, look, get to somewhere safer and leave your homes and leave your possessions, but where do these people go?

POZZEBON: Yes, exactly. Especially when governments, like the ones we are talking about here -- Salvador, Guatemala -- they don't have the resources

to look after the evacuees or to actually to even rebuild.

One story that we would like to bring to you, but frankly, there are so many climate emergencies happening across the world is what is happening in

Rio Grande do Sul, which is Southern Brazil, which was completely ravaged and destroyed by typhoons and cyclones a few weeks ago and where now, the

government is of course, struggling with the reconstruction and rebuilding of those infrastructure and facilities.

It really clearly shows that it is not as solution that any national government can provide, that we need to have a long conversation, a serious

thought about the type of development that as a specie, pretty much, as a specie all across the world want to take.

One more thing before you let me go is the effect, the economic effects of climate change in Latin America are dramatic.

For example, in Ecuador, yesterday, the local government announced electricity rationing from the largest hydroelectric plant in the country,

the Coca Codo Sinclair Dam because these catastrophic rains are impacting reservoirs and dams all across the regions, and so on top of the stress

caused by the rain, the rainfalls and slides and mudslides, you also have electricity rationing because of that.

Here in Bogota, we've been rationing water for the last two months. It certainly means that every 10 days, you don't get water coming out of the

faucet if you live in the city and that of course creates enormous economical damage.

And so most governments are struggling to work with both how to mitigate the effects of climate change and how to adapt long-term to these new

reality of extreme climates in the Americas.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, Stefano, couldn't have put it more eloquently -- economic risks, health risks, and it has to be a global conversation to your earlier

point. Thank you for pointing that out to us.

Stefano Pozzebon, good to have you.

All right, still to come, Russian President Vladimir Putin touches down in Vietnam after strengthening ties with North Korea.




Vladimir Putin has touched down in Vietnam for the second leg of his Asia tour. Officials say the Russian leader is expected to meet Vietnam's new

president during his two-day visit to Hanoi. It comes after Putin met North Korea's Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang to strengthen ties with the reclusive

state. Both leaders pledging to help each other if either nation is attacked.

Mike Valerio has more.


MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By the end of the celebrations in Pyongyang, after an indelible image of two authoritarian

leaders riding in an open limo, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, brought ties between their two countries even

closer, announcing a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement that includes assisting one another in the event of aggression.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The comprehensive partnership agreement signed today provides, among other things, for the

provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement.

VALERIO (voice over): Kim hailed what he called a new alliance.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): The great Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia Alliance, which will become a watershed

moment in the development of this bilateral relations finally raised its anchor in the history and announced this solemn departure here today.

VALERIO (voice over); It is unclear if Wednesday's agreement is as strong as the 1961 Treaty between the USSR and North Korea, which called for

automatic mutual defense if one of the countries were attacked.

But notable during the pageantry in Pyongyang, no tanks and no weapons parading past Kim Il-sung Square. Analysts say it is a fine balancing act

for North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un not to draw too much attention to a linchpin of his strengthening bond with Russia, an illegal exchange

according to the US and South Korea of weaponry and weapons technology between Moscow and Pyongyang.

PETER WARD, RESEARCH FELLOW, SEJONG INSTITUTE: The fact that they are not showing off missiles is probably because although we have very credible

intelligence now indicating that North Korean missiles are being used on the battlefield in Ukraine, they don't want to necessarily draw too much

attention to missiles in the relationship with Russia.

VALERIO (voice over): In front of the cameras, Kim pledged his full support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

US official say, North Korea has sent Russia more than 10,000 shipping containers since September, deliveries of munitions or munitions-related


Russian forces have also launched at least 10 North Korea-made missiles on Ukraine since September, a US official said in March.

Both countries deny such weapons trades are happening.

Mike Valerio, CNN, Seoul.


CHATTERLEY: Let's get to Will Ripley now who is in Hanoi for us.

Will, talk about what the plan is in Vietnam, but I just want to get back to your observations from the wrap-up of the meeting between Vladimir Putin

and North Korea's leader as well. I think the definition of this mutual assistance in the event of aggression is going to be very closely poured

over, certainly by NATO nations, which perhaps is the intended purpose.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I mean the details of the document itself still need to be poured through and frankly,

Julia, perhaps the most important aspects of the partnership would not be written down in a document like that, they would be discussed and agreed

upon behind closed doors.

North Korea and Russia continue to deny that North Korean weapons and ammunition are being exported to Ukraine, even though pieces of North

Korean ballistic missiles have been analyzed by European think tanks, those missiles, by the way, produced in many occasions with European and American

made parts, parts that were produced within the last couple of years.

I mean, North Korea has clearly demonstrated that they are able to evade sanctions, that they're producing missile technology despite sanctions. And

now Russia is essentially flouting the fact that it is throwing its full support behind Pyongyang despite western sanctions because of course,

Russia itself as you know, is also heavily sanctioned. So the two of them, by helping each other and trying to kind of solidify this anti-United

States, anti-West bloc, which would also include China and Iran along with North Korea and Russia, it is basically a very strong message that the

rules have changed that they're playing by their rules now -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, certainly. And this talk continues now to Vietnam where there is arguably a far greater balancing act by Vietnam, it would

certainly like closer relations with the United States in trade and with Europe, too.

So what is the opportunity and perhaps the risk in closer relations with Russia at this moment?

RIPLEY: Well, as you probably know, Russia and Vietnam, they share very close ties and a deep friendship going back decades. These are countries,

first of all, Russia continues to supply most of Vietnam's weapons. Vietnam says it has never had a conflict with Russia.

They have oil, gas, and nuclear energy cooperation, but now here in Hanoi, it is a very tricky spot for the government because they want to -- they

certainly don't want to alienate their longtime friend, Russia, but they still want to grow their relationship and their connection with western

democracies, particularly the United States.

It was just a matter of months ago that President Biden was here and the US and Vietnam and decided to boost their own level of partnership. So, it is

a real balancing act.

The term they use here in Vietnam where bamboo grows up plenty is bamboo diplomacy. Bamboo is known for its ability to bend without breaking and

that is what Vietnam is trying to do. They are trying to maintain this policy of strategic autonomy, allowing Russia to project that it does still

have an ally here in Southeast Asia, but at the same time, not projecting so much closeness or violating sanctions that could potentially really hurt

these very important alliances and economic relationships with countries that are aligned right now in opposition of Russia.

So it is certainly not ideal timing for them here in Vietnam that right after that visit to North Korea, President Putin flies here. He is

certainly not finding the kind of supersized socialist welcome in Hanoi that he had in Pyongyang.

There are some Russian flags lining the streets, Julia, and certainly it will be an official state visit, but nothing to the level like what you

just saw in that piece from Pyongyang.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, the balloons and the photos of Putin and the dancing ladies, yes, Will Ripley, thank you so much for that. We will see what

comes of the next day or so.

Now to the Middle East, threats and heated rhetoric from Israel and Hezbollah are raising fears of a further escalation. The leader of

Hezbollah says the group has only used a portion of its arsenal and that it will continue firing on Israel from Lebanon.

It also boasted of a drone video that showed potential targets in and around the northern city of Haifa. Israel's foreign minister is now raising

the process "all-out war" against the militant group.

And the leader of Hezbollah is threatening to strike Cyprus if it lets Israel use its territory to attack Lebanon.

Ben Wedeman is in Beirut for as.

Ben, a stringent message both to the Israelis and to Cyprus. Now, Cyprus has responded. What more do we know from their side.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've heard from the president of Cyprus, who has said that he saw these statement by

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, describe them as unpleasant, but he insisted that Cyprus has no place in this conflict.

He pointed out that Cyprus has played an important role in bringing food to Gaza, as a shipment point and that it has no sort of dog in the game so to



But it is important to ask why Nasrallah made these threats and Cyprus has an increasingly close relationship with Israel since 2014. It has held a

series of joint military exercises with the Israelis, the latest one was in May 2023. So that might explain why Nasrallah surprised many people with

coming out with this statement since in the media here in Lebanon, particularly on the news channels of Hezbollah, there certainly hasn't been

any mention of Cyprus at all -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: And ben, of course, if we look in sort of broader context of the message that came from the Hezbollah leader, I mean, there were

threatening words. No rules, no ceilings, and nowhere in Israel is safe. It is just a day after we learned that the IDF now has at least an approved

plan of how they would proceed if all options for diplomacy fail.

Ben, you and I were talking what -- two days ago about the desire perhaps on both sides to escalate this. Yet, the war of words and the rhetoric

continues to rise.

WEDEMAN: It continues to rise and let's look at the broader context. Amos Hochstein, the White House envoy for Lebanon and Israel has finished his

tour. He was in Monday in Israel, Tuesday in Lebanon, passing messages back and forth and it appears that his mission was a failure and that I think

the decision, the announcement by the Israelis, and the Israeli military command that they have approved plans for an assault on Hezbollah.

They still need to get approval from the political echelon and in the speech from Hezbollah from the secretary general of Hezbollah and that

video that came out of drone footage over Haifa, all seems to indicate that the attempts to de-escalate the situation have failed. Perhaps the

Americans are just going to wait and see what happens next, but now we are hearing this rising rhetoric from both sides.

Hezbollah saying that they are not going to attack. War will be imposed on them. On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under growing

intense pressure from within his government and from the opposition to do something to stop Hezbollah's fire into Israel, and to stop and to allow

their people so who fled their homes along the northern border to return.

So we are at a stage where any little miscalculation could indeed lead to war -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for that.

All right, coming up here for us, British inflation slowing to two percent. The Bank of England might not be ready to celebrate though, when it sets

interest rates on Thursday, we'll discuss.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back.

U.K. inflation falling back to the Bank of England's 2 percent target for the first time in nearly three years. It's now ahead of most other G7

nations in its battle against inflation. Still, the country's economy is facing headwinds. Services inflation came in last month at 5.7 percent and

the Bank of England is not expected to cut rates when it meets tomorrow.

Hanna Ziady is in London for us and covering this story.

Good to have you with us. It's coming down, but it's still going up. It's so confusing. Let's start by discussing how much of the drop that we've

seen back down to target is due to falling energy prices and specifically the energy price caps in the U.K. because I know they're rolling off in the

second half of this year.

HANNA ZIADY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: That's right. So that's certainly a factor here, Julia, that energy price cap introduced by Ofgem, who's the

energy regulator, essentially a cap on how much energy providers can charge households for their gas and electricity bills. And that taking about half

a percentage point off the April, May, June figures for headline inflation. That's according to Berenberg.

Now that cap has been further reduced in the third quarter, but it's unclear what happens after that. And also important to bear in mind that

the sharp fall in energy prices we saw last year off the prior year. So off of 2022's level. That's also not going to be repeated this year. So that

will also be a factor. And some economists thinking we could see inflation pop back up above that 2 percent target as soon as next month, and

certainly later this year, Julia.


ZIADY: So some good news, but the battle is not yet won.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, you have to be really careful because those base effects that you're describing can be really painful and surprise you, but they

don't surprise the Bank of England because they understand the impact of data.

I mentioned services. It's such a huge part of the British economy as well. And that remains services inflation remains incredibly high when you tie

all these things together, I think I'd be nervous if I were the Bank of England in hoping to cut rates tomorrow.

ZIADY: Absolutely. I think they will be nervous and I think they probably won't cut rates tomorrow. Certainly financial markets overwhelmingly expect

them not to cut rates tomorrow, but they may not even cut rate in August. And that's exactly because of what you've pointed out, services, the cost

of eating in restaurants, hotels, getting a haircut, all of that, that as you rightly say, makes up the bulk of the U.K. economy.

That is -- the cost of those services are proving sticky and stubborn. They're not falling by as much as, as many anticipated it would. So the

Bank of England likely to exercise caution. We may not see rate cuts until September because of that. I mean, they're not totally ruled out in August,

but certainly some expectation that we'll see interest rates stay at that level of 5.25 percent, which is where the Bank of England took them in

August following a very long running rate-hiking campaign that have started in December 2021, has hyped interest rates very aggressively.

They're not at that level of 5.25 percent. We could see them stay there for a while longer and that does pile pressure on households -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And that's the key, isn't it? The cost of living crisis. I think you can tell people, look, inflation is back to the 2 percent target,

but, what, back in 2022, it was above 11 percent. So what is the actual -- can you give us a sense of how much prices for goods that people use every

day have actually risen over this period?


And how are people feeling about this as we, what, one more month, just less than one month, heading into a general election?

ZIADY: Such a crucial factor and, you know, let's just take a step back because as you point out, we are way off the highs that we saw in October

2022. So U.K. inflation exceeding 11 percent, the highest level in more than 40 years. So this is certainly a milestone to mark that we're back at

that 2 percent inflation target. But as you say, the question is, are people feeling it?

And I think many people would argue that they're not feeling it, that they are still struggling to pay their bills, that they still feel like they are

enduring a cost of living crisis because, you know, the prices of food energy, everyday services have gone up, consumer prices, now 20 percent

above where they were in 2021. So that's a significant increase in living costs. And I think that is what will be top of mind when voters go to the

ballots -- go to the ballot box on 4th of July.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And that's the crucial point, isn't it? 2 percent target, shrug. It means nothing to me when I'm facing price rises like that over

the past few years.

Hanna, great context. Thank you so much for that. Hanna Ziady there.

ZIADY: Thank you.

CHATTERLEY: All right. Moving on, Florida facing a lawsuit over its ban on Chinese citizens from buying property in the state. Under the law, Chinese

residents without a green card can face criminal charges for buying a home and sellers and real estate agents can also be liable. Florida Governor Ron

DeSantis said in a statement when the law was passed that the state is taking action against the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States.

And Florida isn't the only state limiting Chinese real estate purchases. Dozens of states have passed legislation restricting Chinese people from

owning some certain land.

Echo Meisheng King is an immigration attorney and the president of the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance, and she joins us now.

Echo, good to have you on the show. This law was passed just under a year ago now. Just describe what the impact has been on ethnic Chinese, on

Chinese Americans, even the Asian American communities as a result.

ECHO MEISHENG KING, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA ASIAN AMERICAN JUSTICE ALLIANCE: Thank you for having me on. This law passed last year, April 2023, and

since the law took effect, it has a significant impact in our community, devastating impact as matter of fact. And also the whole real estate market

in Florida as well. As, you know, Chinese Americans, the law basically restrict -- there are two sets of restrictions, but more severely for the

Chinese Americans, if they don't have green card or they don't -- they are not U.S. citizens, then even if they live in Florida, state of Florida,

have been studied, worked, and lived there for years, if they don't have green cards or U.S. citizen, then they are prohibited from buying any


There's very narrow exceptions. So if they have any violation, the buyers are subject to up to five years in prison and the sellers, the seller,

whoever sell to do this restricted category of people will be subject to one year in prison. And also subject to severe civil penalty as well,

including, you know, $1,000 each day, you know, penalty, and it can accumulate for hundreds of thousand dollars in penalty.


CHATTERLEY: I mean, this was passed --

KING: So the --

CHATTERLEY: Carry on. OK. I was just going to say it was passed under the guise of limiting national security threats as I mentioned, so there's this

perception that you can't separate Chinese citizens living in the United States from the Chinese state, which obviously is two very separate things,

or even those of Chinese descent, too, Echo.

Has it meant different treatment even for people such as yourself that, yes, you were born in China, but, you know, you've been in America now for

a long time and you belong here?

KING: Definitely. That's the critical issue here, that this law has passed with, you know, saying that this is a national security concern, but

there's no direct evidence of linking our home ownership in the state of Florida that can cause any national security concerns, national security

issues. So by, you know, this (INAUDIBLE) to completely individuals and the country where they were born are complete two different issues.

By equating those two can cause dangerous problems because that in community, it can cause, you know, created a climate of fear in our

community because we are fearful that -- you know, we were treated differently just because where we were born.


And this is, you know, clear, you know, discrimination based on our country of origin.

CHATTERLEY: What do you see as the strongest argument for having this overturned? Because I mentioned that the lawsuit in the introduction and I

know the suggestion is, look, this is a form of discrimination based on race, based on national origin of course, too, and on visa status in

certain respects. Do you think those are the strongest arguments and how likely do you think that this is overturned? And if it isn't, do you think

people end up leaving Florida as a result?

KING: Yes. I think this should be overturned because it's clear, you know, violation of, you know, the 14th Amendment. It's unconstitutional. It's

discrimination against, you know, the country over based -- solely based on country of origin. And also it's a fair housing act violations. So there

are two separate lawsuits have been filed. The one is by ACLU and the other is, you know, by Asian American real estate association based on the fair

housing act violation.

So we are -- you know, we are positive that, I mean, we're hopeful that this lawsuit -- this type of law will be, you know, overturned because

otherwise it can really cause devastating impact to the whole community. And Asian American community as well. People originally considering to move

to Florida after their retirement. We have seen the drop in the purchasing, the 55 plus community homes from the Asian Americans.

We are not talking about Chinese. You know, the people live in China, but we're talking about the Chinese Americans living in U.S. and also other the

Asians as well because this type of law --

CHATTERLEY: As you said, this has a devastating effect. I have to finish the show otherwise I would continue talking to you, but you certainly made

your point, Echo. And as you described it, a devastating effect on ethnic Chinese there.

Great to chat to you and we'll keep in touch. The president of the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance. We thank you.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.