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Hospitals in India Buckle under Coronavirus Cases; Derek Chauvin Moved to Maximum Security Prison; Nearly 1,500 Arrested in Pro-Navalny Protests; Indonesian Navy Knows Location of Missing Submarine; Super League Appears to Be Dead; Hong Kong's Press Freedom under Attack; China's Xi to Address Virtual Climate Summit. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired April 22, 2021 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, India's second wave of COVID-19 cases hits the country like a tsunami. Just hit a world record for the daily number of cases ever reported.

Putin makes threats, warning of tough action if West crosses red line but stays quiet on Navalny's protesters' call for release.

Europe's short-lived super league crumbles after protesters and fans pile on the pressure.

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CHURCH: We begin with a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in a number of countries around the world. Some shattering records for new daily infections and deaths. Last, week more cases were reported globally than in any other 7-day stretch since the start of the pandemic, with India driving this latest surge.

India is now facing a COVID crisis like no other as a second wave hits it like a tsunami. The country has reported almost 315,000 new cases, the highest daily increase anywhere in the world since the pandemic began.

It posted more than 2,100 new deaths, also, its highest daily increase so far. Hospitals are overwhelmed, turning away patients and scrambling to get enough medical oxygen. New Delhi received less than half the amount of oxygen it requires to treat COVID patients and could run out within hours.

Officials say crematoriums are not able to keep up with the number of bodies and graveyards are running out of space. Health experts warn the situation is dire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHANDRIKA BAHADUR, "THE LANCET": We are going through pretty much the worst possible phase of the pandemic here. It has been bad for a couple of weeks but now it's reached a peak. Essentially what's happened right now is that the health system is just not able to keep pace with the sheer number of cases that are coming in.

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CHURCH: Joining me now from New Delhi, "Washington Post" columnist and author Barkha Dutt.

Thank you so much for being with us. As we've explained, India is reporting its highest rise in cases and deaths are now putting hospitals on the verge of collapse. And this comes after massive Hindu festivals were held across the country as well as election rallies.

What is the government doing now to turn this tragedy around?

BARKHA DUTT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank, you Rosemary, it's a time of national crisis, a national emergency and a time of national mourning. The health system has absolutely collapsed. I use those words with full responsibility and as a reporter who spent a fortnight on the ground traveling across India, chronicling ICUs, cremation grounds, graveyards and funeral sites,

I don't believe even now our clinical establishment has woken up to the enormity of what we are dealing. Nothing else would explain the fact that election rallies in one of the eastern states of India are still ongoing, which means mass congregation.

This mixed messaging seems absolutely callous, given the fact I have now met more people than I can count, who have been turned away at the doors of hospitals. I've seen them wait at cremation grounds for their chance to even light a funeral pyre.

We've seen furnaces made from iron, crude and melt and become unoperational (sic) because there are at least 100 bodies being brought in on a single day at one single site. We are seeing an underreporting of deaths. There's a huge discrepancy between the official data and the cremations that are actually taking place on the ground, which means the fatalities could be much higher than we are aware of.

Finally, amongst the most chilling things I've heard was the doctor who shared with me that, because there's no medical oxygen available for all hospitals across cases in India, patients are being made to sign a consent form that effectively says, we are signing a death warrant if we die because of lack of oxygen. We will not complain against the hospital.

I understand what doctors are going, through they are stretched to the bone. But those are the forms patients are being made to sign as they are wheeled into hospitals with the system literally teetering on the brink. This is break point and worse. CHURCH: Yes, it's a horrifying situation. Of course, at the same,

time prime minister Modi says lockdowns should only be used as a last resort.

Isn't that exactly where the country is right now, with its own health care?

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CHURCH: As you say, buckling under the pressure of too many patients?

Not enough oxygen, all medicine right now?

Why doesn't the prime minister realize the magnitude of the situation across this country?

DUTT: I think what happened, that, in 2020, a national lockdown was imposed, one of the severest lockdowns in the world. Public transport was curtailed, airports were shut, buses weren't flying except (INAUDIBLE) service.

What happened at the time was millions of daily wage workers walk to their villages, creating a humanitarian crisis that overshadowed the medical pandemic. The economy was ravaged as well. We are a deeply unequal country. Lockdowns imposed tend to hurt the poor and marginal disproportionately.

Effectively, we are seeing localized lockdowns. It has been left to different states to impose those lockdowns as needed. Many states are taking that extreme measure of imposing curfews of different kinds.

But as we spent time in hospital gates and ICUs, another really grim thing that is emerging is that the virus and its second wave is hitting the younger people and even children in a way it had not in its first wave. We've met 18 day old babies that are fighting for their lives inside ICUs.

Anecdotally, I can't tell you the kind of fatalities coming in are in their early 40s, defying the assumption that it is the elderly that are necessarily the most vulnerable. Of course, while we are announcing vaccines for all, above 18 for the 1st of May, is a great deal of anger as to why this vaccine rollout didn't happen quicker.

There's a sense we lost a couple of months in approving vaccines. We were too nationalistic about our manufactured vaccines. We were complacent in how we dealt with the first wave too early. Now we have been in the midst of an emergency.

Even, now we have not recognized how bad this is. As I speak to, you my own father is in the ICU of a hospital battling COVID. This has come home. It's no longer a new story. Every home I, know there is somebody who has been COVID positive.

CHURCH: I am so sorry to hear you are dealing with that personal situation with your father. That's awful. You mentioned the rollout of vaccinations across the country. They have bumbled along, haven't they?

Many countries have, in fact. But India really moved quickly in the initial stages, hadn't, it with contracts, with various vaccines?

Why did it all go wrong here?

DUTT: The irony is we were exporting and gifting (sic) vaccines. We were using vaccines as an instrument of soft power. That's how, sort, of good we thought we were in terms of having dealt with the first bout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, questions are going to mount as to why those vaccines were gifted (sic) away, why they were exported. The history of video tells you India produces 60 percent, rather manufactures 60 percent of the world's vaccine. We've had successful masculine as Asian programs.

We totally misread the situation. We did not put oxygen supply in place, we did not rollout the vaccines fast enough. We over centralized the system. Manufacturers have been allowed to set their own prices.

But for the first 2 months, we saw a highly government controlled, state controlled regime, where the capital was deciding which date would get how many vaccines, which age group would get vaccines.

And I can tell you I've personally reported vaccine centers had to close down because there weren't enough vaccines. Now we are looking at a liberalized regime, the testing is going to be what happens in the 1st of May. It's very well to say things have changed and anyone above 18 can get a jab.

But are there going to be enough vaccines or are we too late for that?

I think these are testing times for this nation.

CHURCH: They are. Barkha Dutt, thank you so much for talking with. Us we appreciate it.

DUTT: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Japan is reportedly considering a state of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka due to rising COVID cases. You can see, cases steadily rising since January. It would mark the third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic. The prime minister says the declaration would not affect the Olympics now, just 3 months away. Japan has recorded nearly 550,000 cases overall.

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CHURCH: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is being held in Minnesota's only level 5 maximum security prison following his murder conviction for the killing of George Floyd. He's being housed separately from the general population for his safety in the wake of the verdict.

The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the cities policing practices. Sara Sidner has the details.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Find the defendant guilty.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A day after jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, the Department of Justice announces it has set its sights on the Minneapolis Police Department.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.

SIDNER (voice-over): No detail is too small. Officials familiar with the investigation tell CNN one of the items it may look into is a discrepancy between the initial MPD press release, saying Floyd had a medical emergency, and what really happened.

The head of the Minnesota Justice Coalition, Johnathon McClellan, says they've been asking federal officials for a federal patterns and practices investigation for years. While he and several other rights groups welcome it, he says it is terribly unfortunate that it took the slow motion murder of Floyd to propel it forward.

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JOHNATHON MCCLELLAN, MINNESOTA JUSTICE COALITION: This case is significant in the sense that it brought the reality of what Black and Brown people face into the living rooms of America.

This is the same thing that happened when the march happened over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, when that -- the reality of what black people were facing was brought into the living rooms of America. And that spawned a litany of legislation. And the same thing needs to happen with this as well.

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SIDNER (voice-over): In a CNN analysis of Minneapolis Police Department data after Floyd's death, the department reported using force on far fewer people but then the use of force spiked late last year and Black people are still subject to the use of force by Minneapolis officers at a highly disproportionate rate.

The analysis found between 2008 and May 25th, 2020, when Chauvin murdered Floyd, 64.6 percent of people who police used force on were Black. Since Floyd's death, 62.6 percent were Black, in a city that's 19 percent Black, according to U.S. Census records.

That comes as no surprise to Toshira Garraway Allen. Allen is the founder of Families Supporting Families against Police Violence.

TOSHIRA GARRAWAY ALLEN, FAMILIES SUPPORTING FAMILIES AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE: And for every high profile case that you hear about, there's hundreds, there is 100 bodies behind that high profile case.

SIDNER (voice-over): Allen and McClellan their issue with this kind of federal investigation is they wanted to cover more police departments across Minnesota, not just Minneapolis.

ALLEN: The highest, the biggest profile cases in history have come from the state of Minnesota. Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, George Floyd, Daunte Wright, the biggest ones in history have come from this state. So it is clear that it is a problem here in the state of Minnesota.

SIDNER (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Minneapolis.

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CHURCH: Russian security forces have arrested nearly 1,500 people across the country for protesting in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Huge crowds filled the streets from St. Petersburg to Moscow to Vladivostok in the far east. But turnout fell short of the half million mark Navalny's team had hoped for.

The demonstrations started just as Russian president Vladimir Putin was wrapping up his annual address to the nation. He didn't mention Navalny but did warn other countries not to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs. We get more from CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Scores of people took to the streets here in the Russian capital, Moscow, but also in cities across this vast country, to protest what they say is the unfair and inhumane treatment of jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

Many of them told us that they're generally also dissatisfied with the way this country is being run by Vladimir Putin.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I feel like Putin is just abusing his power to unacceptable degree. He extended his term longer and longer and he's just (INAUDIBLE) Russia more and more. He tries to escalate a relationship with foreign countries.

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PLEITGEN: Riot police out in full force as authorities had warned people before, not to take part in what they called, unsanctioned protests. Indeed, hundreds of people were detained, although not as many as we've seen at protests in the past.

Nevertheless, opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza.

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PLEITGEN (voice-over): He told me in an interview, he believes that all this shows is that the Kremlin is nervous.

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, OPPOSITION LEADER: The biggest thing the Kremlin is terrified of is the sight of people on the streets. The biggest fear for any dictator are citizens of their own countries. The biggest fear for any dictator are their own people.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The opposition certainly didn't pick this day at random, in fact, this is also the day that Russian president Vladimir Putin held his annual state of the nation address. There, he showed himself to be defiant. He warned other countries not to cross the red line as Russia defines them.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Whoever organizes any provocations that threaten our core security, will regret this like they've never regretted anything before.

PLEITGEN: The Russian leader there certainly very defiant but the opposition also defiant and they vowed to carry on with their protests until Alexei Navalny gets the treatment by the doctors he wants to see him -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

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CHURCH: Escalating concerns in the U.S. and France over the political turmoil in Chad as the country's longtime president dies while on the front lines of a fight against rebels. We will explain why the remote country is so important.

And Indonesia says it knows where a missing submarine went down but the sub and its crew are feared to be at a deeper depth than it was designed to be at. The latest on the rescue just ahead.

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CHURCH: Indonesia's navy says it knows where to find a missing submarine that had been conducting torpedo practice off the coast of Bali. Officials say the sub and its 53 member crew, are about 600 to 700 meters below the surface, 100 meters deeper than the sub is capable of diving.

An oil slick on the ocean surface is thought to have come from that sub. Still, the navy remains optimistic that the crew is alive and safe. CNN's Blake Essig is covering the story. He joins us from Tokyo.

Good to see you, Blake.

What more you learning about the search for this missing sub?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, right now we know those 53 on board have been missing for about 36 hours. Right now, it's a race against time to bring them back safely. A search and rescue operation is underway for the missing submarine.

It went missing Wednesday morning during a training exercise about 100 meters off the coast of Bali. After contact was lost with the sub, the Indonesian ministry of defense said an oil slick was spotted from the air in the same area where the contact with the sub was lost.

The oil is believed to have come from the missing vessel. And Indonesian navy officials say it has a dive capability of about 500 meters but is believed to currently be at the depth of 700 meters.

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ESSIG: If that's the case, it could be fatal for the submarine and all those on board. One military official has said, quote, "Let's pray for them, so they can survive."

Previously navy officials say they detected movement underwater at the speed of about 2.5 knots. But that signal has disappeared. They can't say conclusively that this signal came from the missing sub.

Indonesia has deployed four warships to search for the submarine, including one equipped with sonar so it can detect this sub's position. Indonesia is receiving help from several countries, including Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Singapore, who has closed military ties with Indonesia, has also deployed a rescue vessel to assist in the search for the missing submarine and the 53 people on board, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Blake Essig, many thanks. Bringing us the latest on that. We will keep a close eye on it, appreciate it.

Pakistani Taliban are claiming responsibility for a deadly hotel bombing in the city of Quetta. Police say it killed 4 people and injured 12 others. In an email to CNN, the militants say it was a suicide car bombing and that, quote, "further details will be shared soon."

The bomb went off in a parking area of the luxury Serena Hotel. According to police, China's ambassador to Pakistan was staying at that hotel but was not there when the bomb exploded.

The son of Chad's slain president says the army wants to return power to a civilian government and will hold elections in 18 months. Soldiers patrolled the capital streets a day after Idriss Deby died while visiting troops that are battling a rebel militia in the north. His son took over as president and armed forces commander on Wednesday. Now rebels are threatening to attack the capital. CNN's David McKenzie explains.

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DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Right after he was announced the winner of a disputed election, for a 6th term, the former general and military tactician traveled north of the frontline to visit troops battling a rebel push on the capital. On state TV, an army spokesman said he died of his injuries. His son

is now in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The transitional military council reassured the Chadian people that all provisions have been taken to assure the peace, the security and the republican order.

Long live the republic, long with Chad. The president and his transitional military council will be General Mohamed Idriss Deby.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): For years, Deby has been a steady but controversial ally to Paris and Washington. The U.S. military has trained Chadian special forces and depended on its highly regarded but ruthless military to take the lead in the fight against terror groups in the Sahel and Lake Chad region.

But Deby's closest ally was always France. That's where he got his own military training, before seizing power in 1990.

France uses Chad as a base for Operation Bakaneh (ph), thousands of troops strong, it is key to fighting Al Qaeda and insurgencies in the region. France is military has twice stepped in, to stop attempted rebel takeovers of the capital during Deby's rule.

Even as the president's reputation faltered domestically, accused of corruption and political oppression. On Tuesday, the French president said France had lost a brave friend.

MCKENZIE: A journalist said the situation in the capital is largely calm but the power vacuum created by the death of Deby could provide new impetus to rebel groups that are trying to take over -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

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CHURCH: Not all the powerful architects of European football's so- called super league have admitted defeat but most have. And investors have all but declared it dead. Stock market gains by Manchester United and Juventus were erased once most of the breakaway league's founding clubs pulled out of the doomed venture.

They were accused of orchestrating a massive cash grab that would hurt smaller competitors and gut the elite and popular Champions League. Fans, players and managers they were all enraged. And in the coming days, the plotters could face penalties from UEFA.

Some have issued apologies. "WORLD SPORT's" Patrick Snell has been following all this, what some are calling a super screw-up.

Patrick, good to have you with us. After coming under immense pressure, the super league has fallen apart. Most founding clubs pulling.

But is that the end?

Or will they try this again? PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an intriguing scenario, no question. The story line that rocked the world the football and beyond, didn't it?

[02:25:00]

SNELL: I think a case of watch this space. I do think this is going to materialize months down the line, very possible. This is very much the European super league that was, then very quickly wasn't. It has gone away for now, Rosemary. That's probably the best way to put it.

Twelve of football's biggest clubs were on board Sunday night and then the new Premier League giants were jumping ship. There was a tumultuous frenzy in the last few hours for the sport as a whole.

I want to take you to Wednesday night as Real Madrid, one of those original 12, traveling to play La Liga, look at the depth of feeling and emotion still on full display there. Fans protesting outside the grounds against the very league that Real Madrid had been intending to join.

Clubs from Italy, England, Spain, backing out amid a growing storm of fan political protest. Real Madrid and supreme authority Perez, revealing his disappointment at the league's huge loss of momentum. Take a listen.

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FLORENTINO PEREZ, SUPER LEAGUE CHAIRMAN (through translator): The project is on standby. The body exists but if half the grip goes because they are tired after what they've heard over the last 24 hours, I don't want it to stick around.

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SNELL: Money, money, money. The fans are here in protest that the rich clubs are getting even richer. In an original statement from the 12 founding clubs, they said they received over $4 billion to support their infrastructure and investment plans.

The clubs would also reportedly have received around some $360 million each, there is no question a big setback for the owners. Take a listen to the Liverpool owner, John Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HENRY, LIVERPOOL FC OWNER: I want to apologize to all the fans and supporters Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours. The project put forward was never going to stand without the support of fans. No one thought differently in England. Over these 48, hours you were very clear it would not stand. We heard you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNELL: A humble mea culpa, no question, they misread the situation, Rosemary. The misinterpreted, some might say, underestimated the power of the fans' voice. The fans of course, Rosemary, the very lifeblood of the sport we all love. Back to you.

CHURCH: Yes, it shows you the power when you speak up and resist, right?

Patrick Snell, many thanks.

Of course, be sure to stick around for "WORLD SPORT" in just in a few minutes from now. Many thanks.

Hong Kong versus freedom of the press. How a verdict expected any moment may signal crackdown on the public's access to accurate information. Back in just a moment.

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CHURCH: Happening right now, a verdict is expected any moment in the trial of an investigative journalist in Hong Kong. Bao Choy was arrested after investigating an attack on pro-democracy activists. That's just more than one reporter doing her job to discover government wrongdoing in the crackdown of the 2019 protests.

It may give us a glimpse into how much freedom of the press is left in Hong Kong. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from outside the courthouse.

Good to see you, Kristie.

What is the verdict expected to be here and what all does this signal for press freedom in Hong Kong?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Rosemary we are still awaiting the verdict for a prize winning journalist, who was prosecuted for accessing a public database. Her name is Bao Choy. She is a freelance producer for the public broadcaster RTHK.

In the last half hour, we watched her enter the court here, surrounded by supporters who were holding signs as well as chanting, "Journalism is not a crime" in Cantonese.

It was in November of last year when she was arrested, charged with making a false statement for obtaining vehicle registration information while investigating a report looking into the Hong Kong police is handling of a mob attack on pro-democracy protests in July 2019.

She has pleaded not guilty but, if convicted, she could face up to six months in prison. And this case is just the latest instance that is stoking fears about press freedom here in Hong Kong. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT (voice-over): The press literally under attack. A Hong Kong newspaper linked to a spiritual group banned in China shared this security cam footage of masked men smashing its printing presses.

The attack coming at a time of tightening Chinese control was condemned by the city's foreign correspondents' club and the Hong Kong journalists association.

CHRIS YEUNG, HONG KONG JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION: Journalists are under direct physical threat and that will cause damaging impact on them (INAUDIBLE) for years and feelings of terror among journalists and in doing their. Work

STOUT: Hong Kong is a major media hub with a vibrant local press and a number of multinational outlets based here. But press freedom has been in steady decline, according to the latest Reporters without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, Hong Kong has fallen from 18th place in 2002 to 80.

STOUT (voice-over): Pressure on the media intensifying in the wake of the 2019 pro democracy protests, thanks to a new security law that is curbing dissent and pave the way for patriots to run the city.

But Hong Kong's top leader, Carrie Lam, unveiled on July 1st, she promised that the city would continue to enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of press and publication, protest assembly and so on but what followed were a number of moves against the press.

The police raid of pro-democracy, "Apple Daily," the repeated arrests of the paper's owner, Jimmy Lai. The replacement of the head of public broadcaster RTHK. The cancellation of politically sensitive shows. And the prosecution of the journalist who accessed a public database to investigate police brutality.

The security law also driven many to self censorship.

GRACE LEUNG, SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION, CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: We don't know whether people at the next table, will overhear what we are talking about. And then they may ring a phone to the police department because they got a hot line.

STOUT (voice-over): Despite the pressure, reporters continue to report. The "Apple Daily," the city's largest opposition newspaper, is still in print. And independent online reporters and media organizations like Citizen News serve a growing audience.

YEUNG: The more difficult circumstances is, the more rewarding and meaningful journalists' work is.

STOUT (voice-over): When journalism is hit hard, there is hard- hitting journalism to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STOUT: Even if she's acquitted, they fear that authorities here in Hong Kong can limit journalistic views of public databases, which would be a hit on press freedom here. We also know the Hong Kong government has responded to the Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

Again, according to the index, Hong Kong's ranking fell from 18th in 2002 to 80th this year.

[02:35:00]

STOUT: They also cite the national security law is a grave threat to journalistic freedom in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government calls the report, quote, "appalling," and that everyone is treated equally under the new national security law -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Kristie Lu Stout, bringing us the latest from Hong Kong. Appreciate it.

The U.S. imposed new sanctions on two state owned businesses in Myanmar on Wednesday and said it would take further action. It's the latest punitive action in response to the coup in February and violent crackdown on protesters. The sanctions are on the Myanmar timber enterprise and the Myanmar pearl enterprise.

The Treasury Department noted both businesses are economic resources for the Myanmar military.

The U.S. president could be on the verge of doing what his immediate predecessors would not, label the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire a genocide. Two sources say the declaration could come this week but also warn Joe Biden could change his mind.

Turkey often complains when foreign governments call the mass killings back in 1915 a genocide. Turkey argues it was a war with Armenia; both sides suffered losses and the death toll is overestimated. And the U.S. doing so would fulfill a Biden campaign pledge.

Presidents Trump and Obama did not use the term to avoid angering Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but President Biden has not spoken with him since taking office.

President Biden will host a virtual summit on climate change in the coming. Hours the president of China will address the conference, where much of the focus will be on fossil fuels. My preview from Beijing is just ahead.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to bring America back, back into the Paris agreement and put us back in the biggest of leading the world on climate change again.

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CHURCH: Joe Biden promised the climate crisis would be a priority and that commitment will be tested at Thursday's virtual climate summit with about 40 other world leaders.

Biden is expected to announce an aggressive goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions in half by the end of the decade. The leaders of China and Russia will also attend, raising interest in how the U.S. president engages with these 2 adversaries.

China has been repeatedly single now for its heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. There is great interest in what President Xi Jinping will say when he addresses the summit. Steven Jiang joins us from Beijing.

Good to see you, Steven.

[02:40:00]

CHURCH: How far will President Xi likely go on this climate issue?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Rosemary, he's likely to reiterate what he just said a few days ago here in China in a major speech, that tackling an issue like climate change, like any other major global issue, requires a multilateral approach instead of letting a single country dictated the global agenda based on its own national interest.

That was a not so subtle swipe at the United States. The fact that he is attending this virtual climate summit really is seen as a goodwill gesture from Beijing to Washington, to show the Chinese are willing to carve out a special lane or a niche area for cooperation between the 2 governments at a time of growing tensions and a whole range of other areas from trade to security to human rights.

This will mark the first time Chinese and U.S. leaders will meet, albeit virtually, since Mr. Biden's election. It's quite symbolically important, given the current political climate.

It's also seen as a challenge from China to a U.S.-led climate agenda. From Beijing's perspective the U.S. has lost much of its moral high ground during the Trump years. Before the U.S. climate envoy John Kerry's arrival in Shanghai, made clear they were only willing to participate in those kind of top and negotiations based on the principles of both sides being equal sensitive making any unilateral concessions to satisfy U.S. demands.

There have been calls from Washington for China to accelerate pace of carbon emission reduction on top of its already very ambitious goal of peaking its emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060. There are a lot of skeptical voices around the world in terms of

whether not Beijing can achieve these goals given it is the world's biggest emitter right now. It's been expanding the use of coal in recent years. China has so far brushed all these concerns aside, saying they are sticking to their targets and road maps and actively working with partners, including U.S. allies, France and Germany, whose leaders had their own virtual climate summit with Mr. Xi just last week to ensure the success of the Paris climate accord.

The way Mr. Xi put it on Tuesday, Rosemary, is that tackling this kind of issue calls for a new global order based on multilateralism and of coercion and hegemony. These are terms almost exclusively reserved to describe the U.S. by the Chinese leadership -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: We will keep a close eye and see what happens. Steven Jiang joining us live from Beijing. Many thanks.

Be sure to join CNN for a climate town hall on climate policy, as senior Biden administration officials answer questions on how President Joe Biden plans to remake U.S. climate policy. That's on Friday, night at 10 Eastern time, Saturday morning at 10 in Hong Kong.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at Rosemary CNN. "WORLD SPORT" is next, I'll be back at the top of the hour.