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U.N. High Commissioner: Conflict in Myanmar Resembles Syria; China and U.S. Flex Military Muscle as Tensions Rise over Taiwan. Egypt Seizes Ever Given, Asks for $900 Million; U.S. Backs Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate; Games Begin in 100 Days Despite Ongoing Pandemic; Biden Aims to Withdraw U.S. Forces By September 11; J&J Vaccine Paused; Chauvin's Defense Highlights Floyd's History of Drug Use. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 14, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Live around the world, this is CNN NEWSROO. Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

Ahead this hour, the end is in sight to America's longest war, to the September 11 deadline for the U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving behind a country on a knife's edge.

Blood clot fears 2.0. This time, it's the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now on hold across the United States and Europe.

Officials in Beijing dismiss U.S. accusations of growing military threats from China, while the Chinese military conducts combat exercises in the Taiwan strait, and dozens of warplanes breached Taiwan's air defense zone.


VAUSE: Operation Enduring Freedom began almost 20 years ago, a robust U.S. and international military response not just to the horrors of the September 11 terror acts attacks in New York and Washington but the beginning of an all-out war on terrorism. In Afghanistan, the Taliban government fell in just over a month, but the years which followed saw more than 2,000 U.S. troops dead, more than 20,000 wounded, hundreds of thousands of Afghans maimed or killed and all of it at a cost of $2 trillion.

And now, President Joe Biden has decided the United States has seen enough of the war in Afghanistan.

Just hours from now, he will announce the last remaining U.S. forces still in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by the very symbolic deadline of September 11th this year.

But a U.S. exit does not mean an end to a conflict. The country remains on a nice edge, with a weak central government and what little progress has been made for women and other minority groups could be lost, by resurgent Taliban. Here is why the White House says now is the time to leave.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But I will say that the president has been consistent in his view that there is not a military solution to Afghanistan. That we have been there for far too long, that has been his view for sometime, well-documented, well-reported on. He believes that and he remains committed to support negotiations between the party which many of you may be following are resuming next week. And he also believes we need to focus our resources on fighting the threats we face today, 20 years, almost 20 years after the war began.


VAUSE: Some of the most brutal fighting between the U.S. and Taliban was in Helmand province.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on what life is like they're now and what the future will hold once U.S. forces leave.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: If America is leading Afghanistan, after nearly 2 decades of blood and treasure lost, what world does the U.S. leave behind for ordinary Afghans?

Taliban stronghold Musa Qala is where many American and British soldiers died. Now it's a snapshot of how the Taliban will run Afghanistan as they gain power.

We asked six men living there, 2 on camera anonymously in safety, what it's like. In short, bleak for women, a few smartphones, but for all, Taliban justice and Taliban taxes.

RESIDENT OF MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): There are consequences. If you don't pay, they beat you or imprison you.

WALSH: A broadly medieval society then considering all the billions spent. Except it's just recently with the odd a smartphone allowed, that's how we got pictures of the streets.

Taliban roam the market U.S. Marines once patrol 10 years ago. The Americans were based here, a location you can see on the satellite images not far from the empty shop where the Taliban have their temporary courts, which they call the room, dispensing swift, brutal justice.

RESIDENT OF MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): Punishment depend on what they want. If the plaintiff forgives a murder, the court might not give the sentence. But if the relatives demanded, they may. For example, around four years back, three thieves were hung to death from the electricity pole on the road out of town for people to see.


They had been arrested a few times for robbery, but they did not stop.

WALSH: This footage from a drive around town heads out to the refugee camps by the river, from where U.S. Marines used to get shot at and it's clear few women are allowed on the streets.

They still don't go to school. Nobody even dares asked about that, we're told. But most men we asked said women had a good. This is what they meant.

RESIDENT OF MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): They are not allowed to do business outside of their house, when they go out they need to dress according to Sharia law. So for them, it's more important to take care of their homes than working outside.

WALSH: Women can also get a rough justice in this backward world.

RESIDENT OF MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): One woman pleaded guilty for adultery and she has been in prison for the last five years now. No one knows what will happen to her in the end. The man caught with her was killed by his in-laws for bringing shame to his marriage.

WALSH: Fighting is rare here now, the Americans must just watch from jets, or drones above.

In fact, we are told the Taliban only allowed some smartphones in Musa Qala because peace talks meant that U.S. airstrikes there had slowed down. The Americans had been using smartphones to track Taliban fighters.

Taliban rule in the streets mean they set taxes from opium harvest or shops we were told, or ask for close for the fight is when in need. But some said feud between Taliban groups mean people can pay more than once.

RESIDENT OF MUSA QALA, AFGHANISTAN (through translator): Many people have been taken to the Taliban room, locked up for a night or two, or have been beaten up. There are different groups of Taliban. It would better to have a single official getting tax, but every group tries to take tax for their own pockets. That's one problem for people now.

WALSH: Life then goes on, much as it did before the Taliban removed from power after 9/11, it's just a lot of Americans and Afghans loss in the battle in between.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kabul.


VAUSE: Iran has announced it would begin enriching uranium to its high less level so far, 60 percent, inching closer to what's needed to make a nuclear weapon. The move is seen as an attempt to gain leverage ahead of the nuclear talks but France says it's a serious development and will coordinate an international response. It also comes after a mysterious explosion at Natanz nuclear facility.

Iran says Israel was behind what it calls sabotage. Iran has had no official comment.

In the U.S., the distribution and use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine is mostly on hold, while regulators investigate the possible link to a rare and severe blood clots. Six cases of blood clots were reported in the U.S., all women between 18 and 48. Nearly 7 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States.

Here's more now from Dr. Anthony Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Just, first of all, don't get an anxiety reaction because remember, it's less than one in a million.

However, having said that, pay attention. Do you have symptoms? Headache? Do you have shortness of breath? Chest discomfort?

Do you have anything that resembles a neurological syndrome? And obviously, if you have something a serious as a seizure, I mean, you know, that's pretty clear.


VAUSE: The E.U. health commissioner says these developments have been closely monitored. And meantime, the E.U. rollout has been paused by Johnson & Johnson out of an abundance of caution.

Dr. Celine Gounder is a CNN medical analyst and epidemiologists and infectious disease specialist, and in her spare time, host of "The Epidemic" podcast.

Dr. Gounder, nice to see you again.

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's great to be here, John.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the CDC and the FDA made this announcement on a conference call Tuesday. Here's part of it. Listen to this.


PETER MARKS, M.D., PH.D., DIRECTOR, FDA CENTER FOR BIOLOGICS: We're recommending a pause out of an abundance of caution, but on an individual basis, a provider and patient can make the determination whether not to receive the vaccine.


VAUSE: Just on that last point, I thought it was interesting. So, if someone for whatever reason was just determined to get the J&J vaccine and they went to their doctor, they could in theory at least, they still get it, right? GOUNDER: That's right. I think it's important to note that all six of

the people who had these really rare blood clots, six out of 1 million women between the ages of 18 and 48, no men had the complication and no older people have the complication. So, I can certainly see a scenario where an older person, a man, says, you know what, I really want that J&J vaccine.


And they have a discussion with their provider about the risks and benefits and get it.

VAUSE: Which then gets to the question about risk perception and the damage which may have been done to vaccines.

Political guru Nate Silver, he tweeted this, 6 cases out of 7 million people, what a disaster, irony. This is going to get people killed, he tweeted. It's going to create more vaccine hesitancy.

These people don't understand cost-benefit analysis. They keep making mistakes by orders of magnitude.

He does say that, you know, confidence in AstraZeneca's vaccine has plummeted in Europe after its distribution was paused after a few weeks, so a few weeks ago rather. So, if the risk isn't so great that people can still get the vaccine, I guess the question is, is it worth potentially undermining the public's faith in the safety of vaccines?

GOUNDER: Well, with all due respect to Nate silver, he is not an expert on the psychology of vaccines and vaccine confidence. And you have two major drivers of lack of confidence in vaccines, one of which is worry about safety and efficacy. The other is a lack of trust in the health system and government.

And so, it is really crucial that the CDC and the FDA take this seriously, even if the risk is miniscule, to demonstrate to the public that they are doing everything possible to keep our vaccine supplies safe and effective, and that they as institutions of the government can be trusted to look out for the public interest. While this may create perceptions of risk in the short term, in the long term, it's well worth taking a pause here.

VAUSE: I guess the question now for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, what's next? Here's the White House medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci.


FAUCI: Someone who had it a month or two ago would say, what does this mean for me? It really doesn't mean anything. You are okay. If you look at the frame, the time frame of when this occurs, it's pretty tight from a few days, six to 13 days from the time of the vaccination.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: OK. So, we have narrowed it down to women, to younger people, and now to anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine up to 13 days ago.

So, given all that, what should those people actually -- those people who are vulnerable (INAUDIBLE) to al this, what should they be watching for in terms of symptoms?

GOUNDER: So, the symptoms to look out for are headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, that occur 7 to 14 days, 1 to 2 weeks really after vaccination. A lot of people are getting headaches, fever, a number of other mild side effects with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well as with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the first, you know, one, two, three days after vaccination. Those are not symptoms to be worried about. It's really at the one or two-week mark after vaccination that we're seeing all of these complications occur.

VAUSE: I saw statement on Tuesday from Johnson & Johnson, announcing they decided to proactively delay the rollout of the vaccine in Europe.

So, how similar are the blood clots here in the case of Johnson & Johnson with the ones caused by AstraZeneca?

GOUNDER: It's a great question. They are similar. There is very rare, what we call cerebral sinus venous thrombosis clots, so clots in the head. They are extremely rare.

And so, the fact that we are seeing them with both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is interesting. One of the hypotheses is they are based on the same vaccine technology, what we call vectors. Basically it's a cold virus that's gutted and used to deliver the code, the instructions, to make spike protein.

But the fact that we are seeing these very rare blood clots with those two vaccines certainly has us asking, you know, is that particular type of technology involved here.

VAUSE: And very quickly, what you would normally treat blood clot with, which is heparin, you should not use in this circumstance, right?

GOUNDER: That's absolutely right. That's why it's so important for people to be on the lookout for this and for doctors to be aware. Heparin can make the syndrome worse and can be fatal. We have many other blood thinners at our disposal, but we just need to know to use those in this context.

VAUSE: OK. Dr. Gounder, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Mexico has started developing a vaccine called "Patria". The vaccine is still in early stages, passing preclinical studies in animals. Human trials are expected to begin in the next few weeks. Mexico right, now depends on six different vaccines made in the U.S., Europe, China and Russia, administering 12 million doses so far. More than 210,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Mexico, the third highest number worldwide.

India's wealthiest and most industrial state is also India's pandemic epicenter.


And just hours from now, Maharashtra state will be placed under lockdown for 15 days, and that includes the financial capital Mumbai.

CNN's Vedika Sud live now from New Delhi.

Just explain what is this sort of objection that officials that have actually called this a lockdown? It seemed like it's a lockdown in every sense of the word.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Before I get to that, John, you know, two weeks ago, the health ministry during a press conference did mention and I'm quoting them here, the situation is getting from bad to worse. Indeed it is, because today India has reported almost 185,000 new daily cases of COVID-19, over 1000 fatalities. That graph is just going up, when it comes to this country.

Now talking about the richest state in India, Maharashtra. Yes, you're right, it's not being called a lockdown, but it's a near lockdown, because what they're trying to do at this point in time is curtail the numbers, 16,000-plus cases being reported from one state in the state of Maharashtra, the highest number state the state is ever seen.

There chief minister of the state has come out and said we know you need to earn your bread and butter, we are aware of that situation, with the same time we have to save lives. The chief minister with the results going on to say that there is a huge strain on the system. Let's just listen into what he said.


UDDHAV THACKERAY, MAHARASHTRA CHIEF MINISTER (through translator): This disease is spreading at a horrifying pace. I say horrifying because today's a number of positive cases in the state, is the highest so far. Nearly 60,212 COVID-19 positive cases have been reported, in the state today. Hence the situation is very grim.


SUD: Malls are going to be closed across the state of Maharashtra, not more than 4 people can meet at a spot, Section 144 says that. It's a law in India, that's exactly what is being imposed in the state of Maharashtra as well.

Not more than 4 people can gather at a spot. So the situation remains tense, in the state of Maharashtra. Beds are really not enough in the state, there are a lot of beds that are being added to the different cities in the state.

But at the same time, let's just let our viewers know that the Indian health ministry is also come out to say that we are ready to approve emergency use of other vaccines that have been approved by the WHO, by the western countries and Japan, clearly stating in a way that we need more supply of vaccines, India is known to be the powerhouse of vaccines, the COVID shield vaccine and go vaccine has been exported to so many countries, across the world. But at this point time, there seems to be a shortage at least that's what a lot of people are seeing this point in time. India currently has the second highest confirmed total cases of COVID-19 after United States -- John.

VAUSE: Vedika Sud, thank you. Vedika Sud there live for us in New Delhi.

Well, new COVID restrictions in Turkey just in time for the first two weeks of Ramadan. More than 59,000 new infections reported Tuesday, daily record.

The Turkish president says cafes and gyms will close. Restaurants limited to delivery services. Weddings and other indoor activities will be pivoted to the end of the holy month. A curfew will be assigned by two hours.

New outbreaks in the virus in France in Germany causing a spike in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, in both countries imposing restrictions to try and slow the spread.

Here's CNN's Jim Bittermann reporting in from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With hospitalizations spiking and ICU beds filled up, France and Germany are taking steps to grapple with similar situations in different ways. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the 16 federal states will be mandated, with a new infection protection act now before the German parliament. To follow central government orders, instead of taking COVID-19 measures on their own.

Among other things, the Berlin government can order new restrictions and curfews, announced that starting Monday, employers must offer COVID tests once a week there, employees into just a week for employees who deal directly with customers.

Here in France, curfew and travel restrictions continue, as the number of ICU beds taken up by COVID patients, hit numbers not seen here since April 17th, 2020, almost exactly, when you're ago.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: A lot of warning with Myanmar's crackdown could spiral into all out civil war, as protests continues, the U.N. high commissioner is calling for more than just words and condemnation.

Also, ahead of the defense for the former police officers accused of killing George Floyd, is now pretending his case. We'll watch some of that dramatic testimony when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


VAUSE: Police and protesters in Minnesota have clashed for the third night over the fatal police shooting of 20 year old Daunte Wright.


VAUSE: Outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, peaceful daytime demonstrations turned violent as I fell. Water bottles and fireworks and water bottles were thrown by protesters, while police use flash bangs to try to suppress the crowd. Police have declared the protests unlawful assembly, and many have been arrested for defying curfew.

The protests come the same day the police chief and the officer who shot and killed right submitted their resignations. Officials say they hope you have a charging decision on Wednesday. The right family is demanding justice.

Well, tensions mount in Brooklyn Center defense lawyers are now presenting their case for the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd.

On Tuesday, a use-of-force expert for Derek Chauvin's actions against Floyd were, quote, justified.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more now from Minneapolis


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Your honor, the state of Minnesota rests.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The prosecution rested its case after 11 days of testimony and 38 witnesses. Tuesday was the first real, look at Derek Chauvin's defense as his attorney called a use of force expert to testify. Former officer said Chauvin's actions against Floyd were by the book.

BARRY BRODD, USE-OF-FORCE EXPERT: I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified with acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement as interaction with Mr. Floyd.

SIDNER: Under cross examination, the prosecution pointed out that Floyd has stopped resisting and question whether continuing the use- of-force was acceptable.

SCHLEICHER: If someone is not resisting, and they are compliant, the use of something control, as you put it, that could produce pain, it is just not justified, is it?


ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your honor, the defense calls Scott Creighton.

SIDNER: The defense started its case by questioning an officer who arrested Floyd in 2019.

SCOTT CREIGHTON, POLICE OFFICER: I'm not going to shoot you. Put your hands on the dash!

NELSON: Did you subsequently identify the passenger?

CREIGHTON: Yes, I did.

NELSON: And who was that?


SIDNER: On cross examination, the prosecutions point was clear.

ERIN ELDRIDGE, PROSECUTOR: Mr. Floyd didn't dropped it while you are interacting with him, correct?


SIDNER: Then, former Hennepin County EMS worker Michelle Monseng who took Floyd's vitals during the 2019 arrest took the stand to testify about Floyd's drug used during that incident.

NELSON: He informed you he had taken some sort of an opioid every 20 minutes or something like that, correct?

MICHELLE MONSENG, FORMER EMS WORKER: And another one of the officers came up.

SIDNER: The defense also called Shawanda Hill, who is in the car with Floyd when he was arrested in 2020, all of it to highlight Floyd's drug use.

SHAWANDA HILL, IN CAR WITH GEORGE FLOYD: When I tried to wake him up, he woke up the second time.


I said, Floyd, the police is here. The 20-dollar bill wasn't real. I kept saying, baby, get up, the police. So he looked, and we look to the right, and he had the police, he tapped on the window with a flashlight.

SIDNER: Then the jury saw new body cam video from the fifth officer who arrived at the scene after Floyd was detained. Officer Peter Chang testified he was told to simply watch Floyd's vehicle but began pacing when he noticed the crowd.

PETER CHANG, MINNEAPOLIS PARK POLICE: I was concern for the officers' safety because of the crowd, so I just wanted to make sure that officers were okay.

SIDNER: The defense also brought back the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department who had previously testified for the prosecution.

NELSON: Can you define what an officer should do if they encounter a suspect they suspect is suffering from excited delirium?

NICOLE MACKENZIE, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE MEDICAL SUPPORT COORDINATOR: Definitely get more resources started because you might need more resources than you would think.

NELSON: And obviously attempts to control the subject?


NELSON: Through physical restraint?


SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.


VAUSE: When we come back on CNN NEWSROOM, China and the United States flexing their military might amid rising tensions over Taiwan. We'll have the latest from the U.S. side in a moment.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Well, with no let-up in the military crackdown in Myanmar, the U.N. is warning of a full blown conflict similar to the war in Syria.

Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet says the international words of condemnation are just not enough.


RAVINA SHAMDASANI, SPOKESWOMAN, U.N. HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011. There are two, we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessary and clearly disproportionate force. The state's brutal persistent repression of its own people, lead to some individuals taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding a spiral of violence all across the country.


VAUSE: Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson tracking the latest developments for us live from Hong Kong.

There is more than 100 ethnic groups, 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar. It's a country which has long seen friction to say the least, and conflict between those groups and now, that is where I guess this concern about the country's piling into some kind of civil wars coming from?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, arguably, Myanmar has been an estate of civil war in the border provinces for much of the last 75 years since independence. There are areas that have internally displaced people and people who have grown up around conflict for a long time.


The fear here is that this could spread to the central cities now. And that is what we are hearing. This first warning coming from the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner saying look, we are serious about what we are seeing. Myanmar is headed towards a full blown conflict.

And we saw this movie play out in the Middle East a decade ago in Syria. We sent to the same warnings and nobody did anything about it. And the Syrian crisis ended up not only with the devastation of much of Syria, but with millions of refugees spilling across borders to Lebanon, to Jordan, to Turkey.

The rise of ISIS destabilizing Syria and neighboring Iraq and trying to say this is our warning to you about what could happen. Granted, Myanmar is vastly different -- culturally, geography, historically, but this could also be a major regional problem in Southeast Asia.

And I just want to bring home kind of how scary this could potentially be. Take a look at a broadcast on military television last night, John, where the military announced a wanted list for 20 doctors. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plans to arrest the doctors that are charged are underway. Anybody found harboring these doctors will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. And any clinics or hospitals that are allowing these doctors to practice will have their licenses revoked. The owners of the hospitals and clinics will also be prosecuted in accordance with the law.


WATSON: Among the many areas of Myanmar society that have been paralyzed since the coup of February 1st are the public health care system because many doctors went on strike after the coup. And now, they are being pursued, as you can see.

And doctors that I've interviewed say they are afraid to go back to work, even though they are being asked to. All of this is happening in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic. So vaccination efforts, treatment, testing of COVID, that has all stopped on top of many other sides of basic necessities in life.

We don't know what's happening, for example, with the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar right now as the violence escalates, as at least 700 people have been killed, At least 82 people on Friday and Saturday in the town of Bago, according to the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner.

All of this is setting Myanmar up for becoming a failed state. And these are the first warnings, can the world please step in to try to do something about this, John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And just on a micro level, it must be terrifying to have, you know, you're essentially being known that you are wanted right out of the state media for the nation to hear just because you took part in a protest.

Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson in Hong Kong.

The U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is headed to China and South Korea to discuss the Biden administration's global climate ambitions. Kerry's trip makes him the first Biden administration official to visit China. It comes amid high diplomatic tensions between both countries. Sources say Kerry will discuss a potential joint U.S. China effort on climate change. China is the number one carbon emitter globally, but not per capita.

China has described military exercises around Taiwan as combat drills just hours before a U.S. delegation sent by President Biden arrives in Taipei.

CNN's David Culver has details.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): China is flexing its military might, releasing through state media a flood of dramatic video clips like these. They show Chinese naval exercises that U.S. officials say are aimed to intimidate the people of Taiwan.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And what is of real concern to us is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan.

CULVER: Under the one China policy the people's Republic of China and its ruling Communist Party, consider Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to never allow the self-governed democracy to become formally independent and he will not rule out the use of force, if necessary, to take the island back.

CAPT. CARL SCHUSTER, U.S. NAVY (RET): He's also signaling to the United States we can prevent you from helping Taiwan.

In recent months, the Peoples Liberation's Army-Navy showcasing its capabilities just off Taiwan's eastern coast. Military experts say that is a pointed effort to demonstrate that China can cut the island off from U.S. military support.

above, near daily occurrences of multiple PLA aircraft entering Taiwan's air defense zone from the west, a coordinated move that is alarming to some experts. It has sparked strong words from Taiwan's foreign minister.

JOSEPH WU, FOREIGN MINISTER OF TAIWAN: We are willing to defend ourselves and it's without any question. And we will fight the war if we need to fight the war.


CULVER: Taiwan's military is no comparison to China's. where the PLA boast more than a million soldiers, Taiwan only has 140,000 troops. China has got roughly 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles and more than 200 nuclear warheads. Taiwan has neither. That is why the island is so heavily reliant on allies, most especially the U.S.

BLINKEN: And, we have a commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act to make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself.

CULVER: But Biden ministration officials stopped short of guaranteeing U.S. military intervention should Beijing make a move on Taiwan. Instead, the U.S. has been using it specific fleet to showcase its own strength.

This photo from last week showing a navy-guided missile destroyer's commanding officers sitting feet propped up, as one of China's two aircraft carriers sail by. And while the PLA has focused its exercises to Taiwan's east, the USS John McCain cruised to the west of the island last week. The guided missile destroyer passing through the Taiwan Strait, right between the mainland and Taiwan. In response, Chinese officials said the U.S. was stirring up trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. military leaders believe a Chinese attack on Taiwan could be just years away.

ADM. PHILIP DAVIDSON, COMMANDER, U.S. INDO-PACIFIC COMMAND: And I think the threat is manifest during this decade. Fact in the next six years.

ADM. JOHN AQUILINO, COMMANDER. U.S.-PACIFIC FLETT: My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think.

CULVER: The Biden administration facing mounting pressure on the matter as tensions at sea rise. But some analysts believe much of what we're seeing is unnecessary hype.

BONNIE GLASER, SENIOR ADVISER FOR ASIA, CSIS: The near term goal is to deter independence. And China has largely achieved that goal. And I don't believe that the Chinese are likely to use force within the next few years. I think they do not want to pay the price.

CULVER: Whatever the intention, former Navy captain and U.S. intelligence officer Carl Schuster (ph) says China's messaging is clearly directed to a specific audience.

SCHUSTER: They want the American people, and the American government to see the cost of helping Taiwan as exceeding the benefits.

CULVER (on camera): You well know, captain, you're going to have Americans who will look at this and they'll say why should Americans be involved in anything over there? Why should they care what's happening with Taiwan? To that you would say? SCHUSTER: If we won't defend a 70-year partner from a violent

aggression then other countries will look at it and believe we either are not capable or not willing to sacrifice anything for them.

CULVER: David Culver, CNN -- Shanghai.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Just ahead, Egypt has a message for the owners of that container ship which blocked the Suez Canal. Pay up and then we'll give you the ship back. Problem is that's almost a billion dollars being demanded.



VAUSE: An unexpected twist in the saga of the Ever Given, the giant container ship which was stuck in the Suez Canal for six days last month.

An Egyptian court has ordered the ship's owners to pay almost a billion dollars in compensation, including the cost of the rescue operation. And officials have now impounded the ship.

CNN's John Defterios live in Abu Dhabi with details. You know, this is all about the Suez Canal Authority. What are they, playing hardball her with the ship owners and the insurers?. And what because there is something like $3.5 billion worth of cargo on board the ship to say, you know, as well as the value of the ship itself.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, indeed. The 18,300 containers, I think, to be precise, John. And it's interesting. It took six days to dislodge the Ever Given but it's 16 days and counting to try to get it freed here by the owners themselves.

And if you break down the claims here, they are saying $300 million for the salvage operations, another $300 million of damage because of the reputation hit that Suez Canal Authority is taking right now. The twist here is that they arrested the ship, if you will, and those crew members that are on. Some 25 in place.

Now, there's an insurance consortium, the U.K. Club that represents the ship owners. They're saying that the magnitude of that claim does not match with what they see is due to the Suez Canal Authority.

I looked back at what the revenues are running here for the SCA over the last couple of years. It's anywhere from $5 billion to $5.5 billion even during the pandemic.

But what we are saying here is about one-sixth of that total, they are trying to reclaim in one week of work. And this is why the insurance consortium and Shoei Kisen which is the owner of the ship out of Tokyo is suggesting it seems excessive.

Right now, the investigation continues and the boat won't be released until that's done and a claim is settled.

VAUSE: So right now, we have a situation where, you know, the Ever Given is being held or being impounded, if you like, by the authorities there. And there's also, at the same time this massive claim for compensation which doesn't seem to be justified, at least on the surface.

So is this some, you know, overly aggressive move here by, you know, the Suez Canal Authorities and the Egyptian authorities?

DEFTERIOS: Well, there is some nationalism at play here, John, if I can be frank because the Egyptian authorities and the SCA thought that because they were able to dislodge the vessel within less than a week, that they kind of saved the world trade in one fell swoop in a six day period.

They brought in the heavy tugs from outside. That's why they say the salvage operation is costing more.

But I think there is a reputational risk for the Egyptians here. Yes. they did do their job here, but the fact that they decided to arrest the crew and the shipowner's vessel and not free it. They could have a legal agreement and say if this is not settled we can go to international arbitration for it.

But to keep the vessel there, as you're suggesting, a pay load of $3.5 billion and not free it, I don't think plays well to the international players and commerce at this stage.

So, I think there is a delicate balancing act. They say the investigation is not complete. What's also an interesting twist to this John, they're saying the onus is on the shipowner, the captain and the crew. We don't know if they are taking any blame at all. It doesn't seem like it at least for that narrow passage.

The pilots who made recommendations on the vessel, who cleared the vessel to come in to the southern area of that artery, if the winds were indeed so strong. I'm not sure if we're ever going to get the answer to that at the same time, John.

VAUSE: Yes. That's a good question.

John, thank you. John Defterios, live for us in Abu Dhabi.

Well, world leaders have welcomed a new push by the Biden administration for a global minimum corporate tax rate. The hope is that a deal between dozens of countries could force multinational companies to pay a bigger slice of taxation.

The strongest act (ph) from Washington comes as President Joe Biden tries to rally support for raising corporate taxes in the U.S. to pay for his massive infrastructure plan.

Here's Treasury Secretary explaining the importance of a global agreement.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: We are working with G-20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom. Together, we can use the global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations.


VAUSE: Ryan Patel is a senior fellow at the Claremont Drucker (ph) University School of Management. He is with us from Los Angeles. Ryan, good to see you.



VAUSE: Let's start with the "in theory" part because in theory, like communism, a minimum global corporate tax rate is awesome. It just doesn't work in practice, especially when a study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy finds 55 corporations paid nada in U.S. federal taxes on 2020 profits. Or when you look at the gravy train for corporations over the past 35 years, the average corporate tax rate worldwide has been more than half, falling from 49 percent in 1985 to 23 percent in 2019. And right now the IMF says governments will need to find $16 trillion just to pay for commitments which had been announced to fight the coronavirus.

So to paraphrase Willie Sutton who once never said he robbed banks because that's where the money is, if you need the trillions of dollars, go to Google, that's where the money is. And has (INAUDIBLE) a moral clarity, in theory.

PATEL; Yes. And we are talking about this -- where the global economy is at it s crossroads with recovering. So to answer your first part, in theory, a global minimum coupled with a U.S. tax increase could help reduce the tax competition for the U.S. That is why the U.S. is pushing for the global minimum. In theory, you would then have other countries to hold on to that global minimum rate.

In practice, it is nonbinding. So it is the Biden administration and Janet Yellen to actually ensure that other countries buy into this. And the IMF is actually supporting of this. but as you said, in practice, you have to ensure that some of the countries come in.

And let's be honest, John, you know, the tax rate for the U.S. and, you know, Trump cut it in 2017 from 35 to 21 percent, I know you are looking for a jeopardy question, you know, that is one of the largest in the 21st century. The one before that is Kuwait, that did it from 51 to almost less than 15 percent. So the Biden administration is looking to increase that.

VAUSE: You know me so well.

Biden wants to pay for the infrastructure bill by raising the corporate tax rate as you mentioned. It's gone from the current rate of 21 percent, Biden wants 28 percent. As you say, still way short of the 35 percent before the Trump tax cut.

So this is important though because Biden has to demonstrate some way of paying for this infrastructure bill, which doesn't just involve purely debt. Because that's what the markets need right now because of a fear of inflation, right?

PATEL: 100 percent. You and I have talked about this multiple times over the last couple of years about a trade deficit. The deficit that the U.S. has. Biden doesn't have the ability to go to the well or the lack of a well to continue to do a deficit. Why this is a conversation right out, John, even without the timing not being perfect, is he needs to get some revenue streams and cash.

And obviously the point is to go here. He is not going to the 35 percent, he's going to the 28 percent. The global average of the corporate tax rate right now is around 25 percent. So he is going above that if you're comparing apples to apples to a certain degree. This is not something -- he is doing this because he needs to do this. He cannot rely on his own -- or the U.S. banks because there isn't one and we're burning -- the U.S. is burning a lot of cash in the deficit and he needs to stop the bleeding and can't keep going that way to jumpstart the economy.

VAUSE: Ok. So the theory is that if they raise the tax rates and all these companies will move overseas. And so that's why you need these other countries on board.

So the reality is even though it sounds good to take a multinational approach when taxing multinational corporations, getting the majority of countries to actually do the right thing because it will be non- biding and not be shifty little deals behind closed doors, could be the Achilles' heel to all of this. So where does that leave the Biden plan?

PATEL: Well, it leads to a lot of jockeying between not just with other countries. Because if we think about other countries like, you know, Ireland, for example, that been very popular over the last couple of years because of their 12.5 tax rate. Apple and Facebook have gone there.

So to answer your question, you're going to love this, he's got to get the companies involved. He's got to get Bezos. He's got to get Amazon and Google to kind of come play and lead this. He's got to find someone who's going to lead with the tax rate increase to say we're going to play so it could possibly -- possibly get the other companies aligned on this so they can play.

But like you said, somebody has to flinch because right now, you know, nobody wants to take the risk, many companies, in the midst of trying to have a recovery plan, even though Biden has stated that this is not going to affect that. It is murky waters. And communication between the countries and companies is really, really important right now.

VAUSE: What was interesting though, a former senior treasury official Danielle Rolfes told a forum back in 2019 quote, "When I represented the Obama administration at the OECB, the United States advocated for a minimum tax. We were laughed out of the room."

And that was back in like, you know, between whenever Obama was president 2008 to 2016. So the political window has shifted significantly even for this idea which may have a slim chance of actually success at this point. But there is a chance, right?

PATEL: There is a chance. Because you've got Germany's finance minister has come out and thrown support behind it. And what you're saying is why has it changed?


PATEL: Well, the U.S. Is at a lower tax rate. They've become a lot more competitive to creating other companies to come in. And so other countries are seeing that as well. They don't want their companies fleeing to go to other places as well as the U.S. doesn't want -- they want the money to come back into the U.S. economy.

And so that's where the tight -- and we are in the middle of a pandemic where there needs to be a kickstart of jobs that being created and losing those opportunities now, even if it's a couple of percentage points, John. It's a big deal in a long term plan versus how fast you can kind of catch up with the rest of the world.

VAUSE: Yes. Corporations, they are the ones with the have deep pockets right now. Ryan, thank you. Good to see you.

PATEL: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. You're watching CNN.

We'll be back in a moment.


VAUSE: Just 100 days now until the already pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics. But officials are worried about a very low vaccination rate nationally and they're trying to avoid a fourth wave of infections.

Some areas are again tightening their COVID restrictions as the daily infections continue to increase.

CNN's Blake Essig live in Tokyo for us. Of course, you know, their vaccination rate is what, 1 percent? Clearly they need to get that up somewhat higher, obviously.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, John, it's actually four-tenths of 1 percent currently. And today is symbolic. You know, today marks 100 days to the summer games, but fears of a fourth wave of infection are growing and so too is the question, can these games be held safely?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ESSIB (voice over): With each passing moment, the Olympic games inch closer. Already delayed a year because of the pandemic, for volunteer Barbara Holthus, this is not the Olympic experience she signed up for.

BARBARA HOLTHUS, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: It was supposed to be this fun experience in your life, once in a lifetime experience. But now, it's just a really dangerous experience.

ESSIC: With 100 days to go, Tokyo and several other prefectures are again enforcing anti virus measures as Japan faces a potential fourth wave of infection.

HOLTHUS: We can't even yet imagine how bad it could be.

ESSIG: Holthus, deputy director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies at Sophia University and co-edited a book on these games. She has serious concerns for her health and safety.

HOLTHUS: They give us masks and they give us the hand sanitizer. But we are told keep washing your hands. Do social distancing. Do measure your temperature. Do Distance yourself from your family during the time you volunteer. But it is all on us.

ESSIG: That's ok with volunteer, Philbert Ono. He is eager to help athletes inside the Olympic Village. He says he has not been told much beyond that.

PHILBERT ONO, OLYMPICS VOLUNTEER: It's probably because the organizer doesn't know, you know, what the conditions will be three months from now. They can't predict the future.

ESSIG (on camera): This is the Olympic Village where tens of thousands of athletes, trainers and officials will be staying during the games. And while their movement will be tracked, volunteers working here will be able to go in and out daily. Medical experts say it's a recipe for disaster.

(voice over): Dr. Hideaki Oka, an infectious disease expert, says as safety measures stand now, there is a high chance Tokyo 2020 turns into an Olympic size super spreader event.


DR. HIDEAKI OKA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT (through translator): There is enough of a possibility due to the mutated virus those variants all have similar points but are also making (INAUDIBLE) mutations in South Africa, the United States, Brazil, Japan and various other places.

All of them will get together in Japan. Then there is a concern that the new virus then (ph) may spread all over the world.

ESSIG: With participants coming from roughly 200 countries, Oka says changes need to be made now. Movements must be restricted, testing improved, and vaccines mandatory. To date, Olympic organizers have delayed the game one year, barred spectators from overseas and created COVID-19 safety playbooks. But for now, vaccines are not required for participants. And with less than 1 percent of Japan's population fully vaccinated, it would appear unlikely participants and volunteers will be vaccinated by the start of the games.

OKA: As an infectious disease specialist, I cannot approve holding the games in a situation where not enough vaccinations have been made and enough counter measures put in place.

ESSIG (on camera): Olympic organizers say they are updating their COVID-19 playbooks later this month. While they say they hope the vaccines will soon be available at home and abroad, they are preparing to hold a safe and secure games with or without vaccines.


ESSIG: To mark the 100 days to the summer games, a handful of low-key events are taking place, including the unveiling of statues of the Olympic mascots and the lighting of the Olympic symbol on the Mount Takao (ph).

In Osaka, the torch relay is taking place, but because of COVID-19 and increasing cases, that medical emergency currently in effect, that relay has been held behind closed doors, John.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig live for us in Tokyo.

We'll finish here with actor Hank Azaria who says he still feels a need to apologize for his controversial portrayal of the character Apuh in "The Simpsons". Azaria left the role more than a year ago and says he is still trying to make amends for voicing the animated Indian-American character as a negative stereotype. He still voices other characters on the show but now pushes for actors of color to police characters of color.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. But there is more to come.

I will be back right after a very short break. You are watching CNN. See you soon.



VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us for a third hour. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming up, getting out of Afghanistan after almost two decades. The U.S. president set to announce an unconditional withdrawal by September.