Return to Transcripts main page


China's Treatment Of Uyghurs Is Genocide, According To The U.K. Lawmakers; Lost Children Of Xinjiang; Navalny's Doctors Urge Him To Stop Hunger Strike; Urgent Search To Find Missing Submarine; Movie Industry's Fight For Survival; Super-Yacht Squeezes Through Narrow Canals; World Leaders Promise to Cut Carbon Emissions; Denmark Serious with Its Climate Goals; India's Healthcare System in Shambles; Japan to Declare State of Emergency to Four Areas; Germany and France Different Ways of Dealing COVID Cases. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 23, 2021 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. I appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, a big pledge by the U.S. to fight climate change but the ambitious goal fall short on specifics.

Hospitals running out of oxygen, patients fighting for every last breath as a second wave of COVID infections hits another record in India.

And still no contact. The search is on for that missing Indonesian submarine in the Pacific.

Today, an ambitious global summit to fight climate change it gets underway in the next few hours. Already numerous world meeting leaders have made verbal promises to curb their nation's output of greenhouse gases. Now that doesn't of course guarantee they will actually do it, but it's an encouraging first step.

President Joe Biden setting the bar high on day one, pledging to cut Americas greenhouse gas emissions by half by the end of the decade. Japan's prime minister announcing a goal of 46 percent reduction by 2030. And the Chinese president, Xi Jinping said his country which of course pumps more carbon dioxide than any other, aims to be carbon neutral but not until 2060.

Canada is the only G7 country where carbon emissions have increased since the Paris Accords, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising big cuts within 10 years.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Today, Canada is in a position to raise our climate ambition once again. Our new climate for 2030 is to reduce our 2005 emission levels by 40 to 45 percent.


HOLMES (on camera): Now even the leader of Brazil seems to be on board despite of course the unprecedented destruction of the Amazon rainforest during his time in office.


JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL: Accordingly, I have determined that our climate neutrality in Brazil will be achieved by 2050. Therefore, bringing forward by 10 years the previously announced commitment levels. Among the measures that are required to that end, may I highlight here our commitment to eliminate illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030.


HOLMES (on camera): Now ending a global addiction to fossil fuel will of course take time, it will take money as well. Sustained commitment and that is the challenge.

CNN's Bill Weir with that report.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. But the cost of inaction is keeps mounting.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You could call it a renewal of American vows. And despite their massive reliance on coal, even China showed up, joining the promise to break an addiction to fuels that burned to save both life and treasure.

XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): Green mountains are gold mountains. To protect the environment is to protect the productivity.

WEIR: Yes, promises are just promises, but considering that the last four Earth days came under a president who refused to acknowledge the emergency.


WEIR: Those who trusts the science have fresh hope.

JOHN OPPERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EARTH DAY INITIATIVE: The environment on movement and the consignment community is really hopeful but very anxious about where we go from here.

WEIR: Even as the pandemic forces virtual rallies with avatars on screens instead of protests in the streets. And the capital lockdown prevents the kinds of sunrise movements sit-ins that forced the promise of a green new deal. There are worries that members of Congress and corporate greed would get in the way of transforming every sector of the economy.

OPPERMAN: The people are concerned that we're just not taking it seriously, and whatever gets proposed, history tell that's likely what will be watered down.

WEIR: There are very smart people at Harvard considering what is called solar geoengineering --


WEIR: -- to mimic volcanoes to send authorities of airplanes or balloons or rockets to basically try to dim the sun with various distances.


WEIR: What do you think of that idea?

SCHMIDT: As a scientist, I think it's an interesting process and like it mimic what we see with the volcanoes and do you think, well, that could work. And then as a citizen, right, so it's my other hat, I'm thinking, no, this is a terrible, terrible idea.


WEIR: As part of his effort to inject climate science into every department in government, President Biden recently made Gavin Schmidt, the acting head of climate science at NASA. Where they not only measured planet cooking pollution in the sky, but are now using their tools on everything from wind farm planning, to carbon-free aviation.

SCHMIDT: For the first time since I've been working on this, people are talking about solutions and reactions that are commensurate with the size of the problem. You know, it's not, well, this is recycling of plastic straws. No. People are talking about, you know, seriously, about how we -- how we cut emissions.

WEIR: Yes.

SCHMIDT: And personally, that just mean room for optimism.

WEIR: So, on the 51st Earth Day, it seems like the age of the Nile is finally becoming the age of cost benefit analysis and action. And for young activist like Xiye Bastida who closed out the morning session, it's about time.

XIYE BASTIDA, CLIMATE ACTIVIST, FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE: You are the ones creating and finding loopholes in your own legislations, resolutions, policies, and agreements. You are the naive ones if you think we can survive this crisis in the current way of living.

WEIR: Biden's pledge success will come down to how many around the world understand the enormous cost of doing nothing.

Bill Weir, CNN, New York.


HOLMES (on camera): Now even as he insists, Brazil's goal is to end illegal deforestation, President Bolsonaro also says it is deeply unfair that he has been blamed for it. But activists point out that it's happening a lot on his watch.

Shasta Darlington explains from Sau Paulo.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Under pressure to act on climate change, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appearing to moderate his tone at Thursday's virtual summit. He reconfirmed Brazil's goal to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030 and said the country would produce greenhouse gas emission by almost 50 percent by the same year. Also announcing Brazil will reach emission neutrality by 2050. Ten years sooner than the previous target.

Environmental activists and indigenous groups reacted with skepticism however. Under Bolsonaro deforestation in the Amazon has hit record levels. Bolsonaro has openly encouraged development of the region and defunded the agencies responsible for cracking down on everything from illegal logging to ranching and mining in the Amazon.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro said he was going to double funding for enforcement and asked for international aid to help pay for it. Special U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said he was pleasantly surprised by Bolsonaro's comments, but also said the question is, will they do them?

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sau Paulo.

HOLMES: And Dan Jorgensen is the Danish climate minister, he joins me now from Copenhagen. Minister, thank you for doing so. You are representing your country at this summit. What is your assessment of what is going to be achieved in real terms, actions over words?

DAN JORGENSEN, DANISH CLIMATE MINISTER: Well, this is a summit that has, first and foremost, the aim to get countries to pledge what it is they want to do. How much will they reduce the emissions? When will they do it? But it's also clear that we need to move forward from that, we need real action.

So, we need first of all, the development of new technologies, we need countries to move away from fossils like coal and oil and use more renewables instead. If they do so, I think it will be a win-win situation for those countries because it will also strengthen the economy.

HOLMES: The fossil fuel industry still wields an enormous amount of political clout, notably in the U.S. Denmark gets 50 percent of its energy from renewables which is remarkable. What is your message to other countries on transitioning? And what's been your sales pitch, I guess, at the summit?

JORGENSEN: Well, we have decided to stop extraction of fossil fuels in the North Sea despite the fact that we are the biggest oil producer in the E.U. right now. So, we've said that we need to do this transformation. And my messages to other countries that it can be done in a way that you'll make sure that the people employed in this sector get new jobs. For instance, we're creating far more jobs in offshore winds right now than we are losing an offshore oil and gas.

HOLMES: Yes. That is important and often overlooked. The benefits of going from renewables. The U.S. President said he's planning to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030. That's a bold pledge. But is it enough? Especially as, you know, you got countries like India and China which haven't been very specific on what they'll be doing. What else should be a priority? Not just for the U.S., but globally?

JORGENSEN: Well let me start by applauding the new historical step by the U.S. That is, that is definitely important.


If we are to get the biggest emitters on the planet to follow suit, we need -- we need countries like the U.S. to show the way. In Denmark, my own country we have pledge to reduce our emissions by 70 percent, and we hope of course that this summit can also be a place where countries that are already taking the lead can maybe inspire others so that it's not looked upon as something you need to do, that will hurt your country's economy, that will hurt equality in your country, for instance. But that is actually something that will do the opposite. It will make your country a better place also for your citizens.

HOLMES: How important is it that after four years of Donald Trump including pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, how important is it that the U.S. is back in a leadership position on this?

JORGENSEN: It's absolutely essential. There's no doubt that if we are to reduce the risk of climate change, if we are to keep it under control, we need the biggest emitters on the planet to take leadership. So, we applaud not only the fact that the U.S. is now reentering the Paris agreement, but that they are also pledging an ambitious reduction.

HOLMES: I did want to go back to something you touched on, because I think it's important and often not discussed enough. The environmental costs of not acting are obvious. But as I said, it's probably under reported, the enormous economic and job benefits of renewables, solar, wind, and so on. What has been Denmark's experience when it comes to that aspect?

JORGENSEN: Well, we've gone through the green transformation for decades now, and it hasn't hurt our competitiveness. On the contrary, we have created thousands and thousands of new jobs. For instance, a thing like energy efficiency, it's not only going from fossils to renewables, it is also -- it's also about becoming more efficient.

When you become more efficient the companies, the households they actually save money. We get cleaner air, we get good, well-paying union jobs. So, all in all, for us, it's a very good case example. And hopefully for the rest of the world to feel inspired by it.

HOLMES: It's a win-win in that regard. Danish Climate Minister, Dan Jorgensen, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

JORGENSEN: Thank you.

HOLMES: And do join CNN for a special town hall on climate change. Senior Biden administration officials will answer questions on how President Joe Biden plans to remake U.S. climate policy and combat global warming. That's Friday night, 10 p.m. New York time, 10 a.m. Saturday Hong Kong time.

India coping with a wave of new COVID cases as the country sets yet another global record for daily infections. We'll have a live report coming up next.

Also, children ripped from their families in western China. Their parents reached out to CNN. We contacted Chinese officials, now weeks later, weeks later, they've responded. We'll be right back.



HOLMES (on camera): Coronavirus case numbers still rising around the world, and we'll show you a map and you can see for yourself, many countries still in the red. Some reporting a more than 50 percent rise in cases compared to the previous month. Even with vaccinations picking up in parts of Europe, Germany has advanced a new bill that will allow the government to impose more centralized restrictions, more federal control.

And in Asia, India shattering the global record for the daily new COVID-19 infections for the second day in a row. The healthcare system severely strained. Hospital beds filling up, oxygen running low.

Meanwhile, Japan expected to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, and two other prefectures.

Now we now have reporters standing by following all of the latest developments. And we will have live reports across Europe and Asia. Let's begin in India or with India. Kristie Lu Stout following that story from Hong Kong.

The situation just dire, records every day. And even reports that the numbers could be worse than the official numbers.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes. I mean, India is battling mass deaths at a record level. And the situation is getting increasingly dire there. We know that the Indian prime minister of the state, Narendra Modi, has been sharing high-level meetings to discuss the crisis as he should because earlier today India declared 330,000 new cases of COVID-19. This is the world's highest daily rise in a number of new cases since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, deaths due to the coronavirus across India continue to spike. And experts say the number is most likely to be under counted due to the fact that the cremations across the country have been nonstop. The health system is in crisis. We know that there is just not enough hospital beds.

In fact, according to the Delhi health minister they say that 5,000 ICU beds are needed. There is not enough oxygen. There are at least six hospitals in New Delhi that have run out of oxygen. Doctors are telling patients to stay at home, the vaccination drive has been woefully slow, and we know that desperate people have been resorting to social media and turning to Twitter to literally beg for much- needed medical supplies for their sick friends and family members.

Begging for items like drugs, for ICU beds, even for oxygen. We're going to run through just a couple of tweets examples, and these are from verified accounts. These are media professionals who are not only covering the crisis in their home country, they are also trying to find a way for themselves and their loved ones to survive it.

This tweet from Stutee Ghosh, a media commentator, writing, looking for an oxygen concentrator, very urgent, location, Delhi. Any leads? Please help. And this from another media professional saying name, Sandeep Verma, COVID positive. Lung infection found as pneumonia, admitted at Metro hospital. Need plasma of any group.

Now earlier, CNN spoke to CNN Indian author and journalist Barkha Dutt, and she said right now is the time of national crisis and it's a time of national mourning. Take a listen.


BARKHA DUTT, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: The health system has absolutely collapsed, and I use those words with full responsibility and as a reporter who spent the last fortnight on the ground traveling across India chronicling ICUs, cremation grounds, graveyards, and funeral sites.

I do not believe that even now our establishment has woken up to the enormity of what we're dealing with. Because nothing else would explain the fact that election rallies in one of the eastern states of India are still ongoing, which means mass congregation.


LU STOUT (on camera): Many are blaming the government for this crisis for allowing mass political rallies to take place, mass religious ceremonies to take place without adequate social distancing. We know early in the pandemic the government of Narendra Modi ordered that harsh, extensive, nationwide lockdown but has been apparently wary of doing so, again, in fear of the economic costs that it would cause.

As a result, India is in the midst of this extremely deadly second wave, today over 332,000 new cases of the coronavirus. It seems that the nation has let down its guard and the people are paying the price. Michael?

HOLMES: yes, political rallies going on now. So, yes, it's the lessons aren't being learned. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, I appreciate it. Thanks so much.


Let's turn now to Japan. Selina Wang is in Osaka and worrying trends there, too, and states of emergency being considered. All as the Olympics approach.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael, that's exactly right. It is so hard to believe that we are just three months away from the Olympics now, and the situation here in Japan just keeps on getting worse and worse.

The prime minister is expected to imminently declare a state of emergency that would cover Tokyo, Osaka where I am right now, as well as two other prefectures. It's expected to last for a few weeks covering the golden week holiday period which is normally one of the busiest times for travel.

The country right now is struggling to contain this fourth wave of COVID cases. That's being driven by more contagious COVID variants. In fact, right now, several prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka have already been under quasi-state of emergency restrictions like asking bars and restaurants to close early. But it hasn't worked.

COVID cases in Japan continued to climb, topping more than 5,000 a day. And where I am in Osaka right now, which is one of the largest prefectures in Japan. This is the epicenter of this fourth wave. They have been hit hardest. The governor here has said that the medical system is on the brink of collapse.

According to a government panel of experts, they said that 80 percent of the COVID cases here are driven by these more contagious variants. So extremely concerning here. Now this state of emergency is not going to be a hard lockdown, but the government is expected to take further measures like asking large commercial venues like department stores to temporarily close.

So, Michael, a big question that we have to ask is how effective is the state of emergency actually going to be? Behind me there is a steady stream of people. I just walk through a major shopping area to get here, still massive crowds in Tokyo, it's a pretty similar picture as well. COVID fatigue is definitely setting it.

Now the prime minister has said that this emergency declaration is not going to impact plans for the Tokyo Olympics, but the reality is that here in Japan you have less than one percent of the population fully vaccinated and public skepticism and opposition still remains high.

HOLMES (on camera): All right. Selina, thanks. Selina Wang there in Osaka.

Turning to South America, Argentina struggling to contain a fresh wave of infections. Its health minister says it is going through the worst moment of the pandemic. Now officials say there are major concerns that the healthcare system is becoming overwhelmed especially around the capital, Buenos Aires.

The death toll nationwide has surpassed 60,000. Argentina has set a series of records for new daily cases in recent weeks. Last hour, I asked an Argentine doctor about the crisis. Have a listen.


EDUARDO CAZAP, DOCTOR, LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN SOCIETY OF MEDICAL ONCOLOGY: The situation now is very serious with around 500 deaths a day and close to 27,000 new cases yesterday. And we are now in curfew since 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks. And actually, the situation is quite serious. The public transportation is only for priority workers. And there is really critical situation with the healthcare system.

HOLMES: How -- well, I was going to ask you about that. Just how stretched does the healthcare system and, you know, how is it being able to respond?

CAZAP: Well, one thing that you should know is that Argentina is a federal country. So, each province, 24 provinces are independent. So, the decisions are up to of course from the federal government but each province and the city of Buenos Aires is autonomous. So, each province and city must decide their own measures.

For example, it is a general decision that privatization of beds for COVID cases, and that was extremely successful during the first wave of the virus. But now the response is insufficient and the beds, the intensive care units are close to saturation between 70 percent or to 90 percent of more patients exclusively for COVID, but there is also a type or portion of patients with other diseases as you can imagine.


HOLMES (on camera): Meanwhile, in Europe, the number of new cases is going down in most countries, some good news. But some are still heading in the wrong direction, both France and Germany reporting 30,000 new COVID cases a day but handling it very different ways.


CNN's Scott McLean joins us now live from London. Good to see you, Scott. I mean, more than a year into the pandemic and only now is the German federal government giving itself more emergency powers. Why is this a big deal?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael. So, this law has attracted plenty of protesters outside of the German parliament and plenty of opposition from lawmakers within it for good reason.

Up until now, the German federal government and Chancellor Angela Merkel have been able to set the coronavirus restrictions for the country, but it is largely been up to each of Germany's 16 states to decide how or even if those restrictions are actually implemented.

So, throughout the pandemic, you've had this odd situation where you can have one German state which perhaps is battling down the hatches, imposing harsh new restrictions. While next door that state might be going in the opposite direction. Opening up and loosening restrictions. So now with these new powers, which the German parliament has

approved, the federal government can impose restrictions and impose lockdowns on certain areas once they reach a certain threshold of cases. And it can even impose school closures once case counts reach a higher threshold.

Now Germany has resisted this kind of legislation for a low time but now it's really struggling to get a handle on this third wave of the virus. It is recording its highest daily case count that it's had since January, which is about 10 times the number that the U.K. is reporting right now.

The numbers in France are even higher. But with the vaccination campaigns across Europe really starting to ramp up, the death tolls thankfully are beginning to fall. They're falling Germany and dropping in France as well. But they are coming down at a much sharper clip in the U.K. which is had a much quicker vaccine rollout.

Right now, about one in five people in Germany and France have had at least their first shot of the vaccine. But in the U.K., it's about half of the entire population which has had at least one shot.

What's a little odd about the situation in Europe that you alluded to, Michael, is that while Germany is imposing these new restrictions and really starting to crack down, France, which has higher daily case counts than Germany at least relative to their population is actually going the opposite direction.

The prime minister yesterday said that he believes that the worst of the third wave has come and gone. And so, on Monday, schools at least for the younger students will begin to reopen with an eye toward also loosening travel restriction in just over a week from now, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. That's a great wrap up there. Thank you, Scott. Scott McLean there in London for us.

OK. Last month, CNN reported on children from China's Xinjiang region who were forcibly separated from their families. Well now weeks later, the Chinese government is finally responding. We'll bring you that.

Also, Alexei Navalny's doctors have blunt message. Eat now or die. We'll have details coming up.




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): And welcome back to our viewers, all around the world, I am Michael Holmes, you are watching CNN Newsroom.

Now, British lawmakers have unanimously passed a motion, accusing the Chinese government of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims. The motion is symbolic and does not compel the U.K. government to act in any way. The Chinese government, accused of detaining up to two million people in camps in Xinjiang with survivors, alleging widespread abuse.

The Chinese embassy in Britain, released this response a short time ago. Quote, the unwarranted accusation by a handful of British M.P.'s that there is genocide in Xinjiang is the most preposterous lie of the century. An outrageous insult. And then goes on to say, whitewashing domestic human rights issues, while at the same time, staging human rights farces concerning other countries smacks of sheer hypocrisy and double standards.

Meanwhile, China's government now responding to a CNN investigation that shed light on a great humanitarian crisis. Last month, we told you about children from Xinjiang region, who were ripped from their families. Amnesty International, estimates Beijing's policy towards ethnic Uyghur Muslims has split up thousands of families.

The U.S. and other countries have labeled China's treatment of Uyghurs as genocide. As you just heard, Chinese authorities, vehemently deny allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Claiming their actions are justified to combat religious extremism and prevent terrorism. CNN's David Culver, bring us up to date to his team's investigation.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We begin looking into this, after the parents of these children reached out to us. Desperate for answers and hopeful that they might be reunited with their kids. We took their concerns to Chinese officials throughout our news gathering effort, sending dozens of detailed questions about the families. We didn't hear, back despite giving ample time to reply. Since the broadcast of our story, however, the Chinese government and state media, have launched a concerted campaign to discredit our reporting. And claimed the parents are terrorists.


CULVER (voice over): It is a familiar sight by now. Families of Uyghur exiles, profiled by international media, suddenly, showing up on air and online in Chinese state media, stories, and posts.

Here, 10-year-old Muhita Mamujan (ph), telling state broadcaster CGTN, she is living a happy life in her grandparents house along with her younger brother. But just days earlier, when we unexpectedly found her in (inaudible) maze like old town, telling her our colleagues have interviewed her father. Her reactions were quite different. But amidst her innocence and awareness not to say too much. She told us she had not spoken to her father since 2017.

UNKNOWN: The transport is confiscated.

CULVER: And when we asked her --

What would you like to say to him if you could talk to him?

I miss him, she later told me.

Can you tell me what you are feeling? I don't have my mom with me right now. I don't have my dad either. I

just want to be reunite with them, she told me.

We later showed Mujita's father, Mamujan Abdurahim (ph), the video of our encounter with his daughter and parents Kashgar. He watched from his home, in Adelaide Australia, overcome by grief for the years lost.

UNKNOWN: What kind of country does this to people? To innocent people?

CULVER: More than a week after our story aired, in a written statement sent to CNN, the Chinese government accused Mamujan of influencing his wife with extremist, religious, and violent terrorist views. China claims, she returned to the country with an assignment of encouraging others to join overseas terrorist groups.

It is locked from the outside, so unless they are gone from the day, or they're gone permanently.

The authorities added that Mamujan's wife, whom we tried to track down in Kashgar, was sentenced to nine years in prison last June. The charge? Inciting ethnic hatred. CNN's request to see additional details in the court verdict was rejected.

UNKNOWN: My name is Mamujan Abdurahim.

CULVER: Mamujan released a video statement in response to China statement, calling it laughable. And again, pushing for his wife to be freed.


UNKNOWN: My demand? For the Chinese government to release my wife, (inaudible) and so many other innocent Uyghurs.

CULVER: CNN's report last month also highlighted the plight of another Uyghur family living near Rome. Nirhaban and Ablikim (ph) are still desperately trying to reunite with their four children. Last year, Chinese officials stop the kids from flying to Italy after they escaped to Shanghai. They were sent back to Xinjiang to live in a state orphanage. After making a pass by the orphanage, we have to warn the kid's schools, we asked to see the kids. Eventually, local officials showed up and asked for about 30 minutes to get back to us.

That was more than two hours ago. But they have yet to let us talk to the children.

We later made contact with (Inaudible), through video chat.

Do you want to be with them? Do you miss them?

I do, he says. He answered quickly and kept looking off camera. Someone was directing him to answer.

Tell them you see her sister every day, the voice said.

He's being coached.

Despite the pressure that the children face every day, they even risk sending out a photo message to their parents. The four of them lined up holding a sign in Chinese saying, dad, mom, we miss you. A rare glimpse of an uncensored truth.

Following our report, the children with a state media team went to film them at the orphanage. A video was later circulated online showing an edited interview with the eldest sibling, Zumarium (ph), who said, my life is colorful and happy every day. The Chinese government told CNN, in a statement that the four children are living a normal life, and attending local schools.

The authorities allege that the kid's parents had abandoned them to become key members of a violent terrorist group. But they declined to provide CNN with evidence. The Uyghur parents in Italy told us the Chinese accusations are baseless.

Their eldest boy, Yacha (ph) has since been in touch with his mother. He told her that he and his siblings have faced repeated interrogations since our attempt to visit them. The children even tried to send a handwritten note to the Chinese authorities, formally requesting to join their parents in Italy, who have secured Italian visas for them. Their case have captured international attention since our story aired, and was brought up in Italy's parliament.

With a foreign affairs undersecretary said the government is working to help the family. Italian officials had been debating a resolution on condemning human rights violations in Xinjiang. And following the U.S., and other countries in labeling China's actions as, genocide.

Even with Beijing becoming increasingly forceful and pushing back criticisms of its Xinjiang policy, the parents hope that added international pressure will help them reunite with their children.

David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


HOLMES (on camera): Now, five of Alexei Navalny's doctors are urging him to stop his hunger strike immediately, or they will soon have no one to heal. The jailed Russian opposition leader has been fasting for weeks now and a plea for better medical care. His doctors say, he was taken to a civilian hospital on Tuesday, but they are still fighting to see him themselves.

Meanwhile, a watchdog group says nearly 1,900 protesters were detained on Wednesday, as demonstrators held opposition rallies in support of Navalny, across the country. Sam Kiley, with the latest from Moscow joins us now. Let's start with the doctors calling on Navalny. Do -- aimed this hunger strike obviously a great deal of concern about his condition?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yeah, a very important turning point in the very dramatic last year, or so in the life of Alexei Navalny. The leading member of the Russian opposition movement with his doctors saying, on the basis of an independent study of his condition by physicians, not employed directly by the prison service, but independent.

And the lawyers and the doctor surrounding Navalny have accepted their analyses. Looking at the analysis, conducted by these doctors, at a civilian hospital which is where Navalny has now been moved to. Three weeks into his hunger strike, Michael, they are saying that he does face potentially imminent death. There is threats to his neurological system, to his renal system, to his kidneys and they are concerned that perhaps he could suffer heart failure.

This is a man, of course, who was poisoned with Novichok in August last year, barely recovered when he returned to Moscow to face trial on long-standing embezzlement allegations which, of course, he has rejected and now serving time in a Russian penal colony, where he's been on hunger strike, demanding independent medical attention. Not least for his continued treatment as a result of that poisoning with a nerve agent.


Now his people held on Wednesday widespread demonstrations. They are really sort of pretty surprisingly high turnout given the levels of impression here in Russia against protesters. And in fact they were banned not least under COVID regulations. As you say about 1,900 people had been arrested in connection with those demonstrations.

The opposition saying that they are planning to hold more, but I think the really key issue now is, in the question we've asked this people, and they certainly don't know the answer yet until the man himself speak. Whether or not he will continue with his hunger strike or take the advice of his doctors and avoid what they fear, it could be the ultimate conclusion, and that would be his death. Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Exactly. Sam, thanks so much. Good to see you, Sam Kiley there.

Now, a race against the clock to find Indonesia missing submarine. More countries joining the search effort, as the vessels oxygen supply dwindles. We'll have that and more when we come back.


HOLMES: The search for a missing Indonesian submarine has reached a critical stage. The 53 crew members on board, all believed to have less than half a day of oxygen left. And Indonesian warship, equipped with high tech sonar is being deployed to the search site, near Bali. And the U.S. sending aircraft to further aid in the search effort.

Families of those on board the submarine, of course, are anxiously awaiting for word, any word on their loved ones. Some had been gathering on East (inaudible), close to where the submarine is believed to have gone down. Blake Essig, following developments for us from Tokyo. Obviously, a very worrying thing. bring us up to date on the -- the clock is running down, I mean, what are they going to be able to do here? BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Michael, I mean, it's a

race against time, as you said. About 12 hours left of oxygen, but right now it is an international search and rescue mission is underway. Indonesia is deploying 21 warships, three submarines and five airplanes. Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and India have also sent ships. Although United States is sending airborne assets to help search for the missing submarine and at some point today.

Indonesian officials says that a ship with high tech sonar capabilities will arrive on scene to try and find this sub which still at this point has not been located. That's, Michael, the facts as we know them right now, don't paint a positive picture for the 53 people on board the missing Indonesian sub.

And as you mention, loved ones are left holding out hope as they wait for updates of the search and rescue operations is focused on an area about 100 kilometers off the coast of Bali, of this is the area where contact with the submarine was lost on Wednesday morning. An oil spill was spotted, shortly after in the area where that last contact was lost.


Now, if the crew is still alive, at this point Navy officials say the submarine only has enough oxygen for the crew to survive until Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. local time. The Navy officials say this particular sub, the Nanggala-402, has a dive capability of 500 meters but it is currently believe to be at a depth of about 700 meters.

Now, if that is the case, experts say, the submarine could implode under the pressure. It is also worth noting that this particular submarine was originally built in the late 1970s, and doesn't have a rescue seat. With submarine rescue experts telling CNN, that it's salvation is entirely in it own hands. All that being said, this is still a search and rescue mission, but the clock is ticking to bring the 53 person crew back home safely. Michael?

HOLMES: Alright. Thanks for that, Blake Essig there for us.

Retired U.S. Navy nuclear submarine commander, David Marquet joins me now to talk about this. And you know submarines, I mean, what is your level of optimism, or otherwise at this point? I mean, what realities are in play?

DAVID MARQUET, RETIRED U.S. NAVY NUCLEAR SUBMARINE COMMANDER (on camera): Yes, well the reality is, it all depends on how deep the water was where the submarine sank. If it sank relatively shallow water, down to a couple hundred feet, the crew could just egress from the submarine directly. Where a hood, and flow up to the surface.

I don't think that is the case, because they would had already done that. Down the deeper depths, the submarine is till intact, so you can get a rescue vehicle down there, now that connecting with those submarines is going to be problematic, because it is not designed for that, but you could theoretically rig up something. HOLMES: Sorry, because you touched on something that is interesting.

I mean, this was an older sub without that ability, right, to meet up with a rescue sub, right?

MARQUET: Yes. So, this is a 40-year-old German submarine. It is a good submarine, but it's old. And when they built those back then, they didn't build them with a rescue -- with the ability to meet the rescue vehicle. The rescue vehicle can get there and can sit next to the submarine, but you can't get out the submarine without creating that seal with the rescue vehicle. So, it is just like you see in space where you see the modules connecting.

HOLMES: Right. You know, I guess, basically, you sort of lived this. I mean, when you board sub, I guess there is an acceptance that if something goes wrong in can go very wrong?

MARQUET: Well, the ocean is unforgiving and you are down in the deep depths and loss of physical takeover, but it's not a matter of chance. We take care of our equipment. We have safety features. United States Navy lost two submarines early in the cold war, and took a whole number of steps to make sure they are very, very safe, and not what we -- we haven't loss any since, but it is human nature. And one of the things that a submariner say is submarining is safe as long you remember it's dangerous.

HOLMES: Yes. That is a wise saying. I think, when your mind goes thru, you know, what the crew might be going through, I mean, it's pretty impossible to imagine, I'm sure, as a sub mariner you've contemplated the what if. But what would be going through their head down there if they are alive?

MARQUET: Yes, they are making every effort to let the Indonesian navy know, A, they are alive, B, where are they, and as much as they can. On a submarine, you have different ways of communicating. We have little canisters that we can eject and send up to the surface and pop- up a little antenna. But again, they don't have the capability to do that.

HOLMES: The Navy thinks, I mean, it could be as deep as 600 to 700 meters, I mean, when you think of that sort of depth, what risk does that poses in terms of the sub, I mean, just physical capability.

MARQUET: If it sank in your water that deep, then they haven't survived.

HOLMES: Right. It was interesting because there was an oil slick. I mean, what does that tell you, could that mean that there was a breach of the sub. Where could that have come from?

MARQUET: Well, submarine like 209 is a diesel powered submarine. And the oil tanks built in, and around, the submarine. So, if the submarine hit the bottom, a tank broke open, it could -- that oil would have risen to the surface. It is also possible that the submarine hit the bottom in a controlled way and the crew is still alive. They could have release, they could have put oil in the torpedo tube, for example, and deliberately release it to signal where they are.


HOLMES: Yes, I guess we can only hope for the best, but as you point out, there are some realities at play. David Marquet, thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Thanks.

MARQUET: Cheers. Hoping for the best.

HOLMES: A quick break here on CNN Newsroom, when we come back, the Oscars will be awarded on Sunday. But movie theaters are struggling to survive. We will hear from one theater owner. Will be right back.


HOLMES (on camera): And look at that. In a couple of hours, SpaceX is going to launch four astronauts into space, on the Crew Dragon capsule. This is the cool stuff, isn't it? Live pictures coming to us now from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And you see the astronauts there. This is going to be the third ever crewed flight for Elon Musk Company and the first to reused a flown rocket booster and space craft.

Now on your picture there, there's two Americans, there's a French astronaut, also a Japanese astronaut. They are going to be spending six months on the international space station. The space agency says it hopes research on this trip will lead to development of drugs and vaccines.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter meanwhile has successfully completed a second flight on Mars. And it's even more impressive than the first one on Thursday. Ingenuity flew for almost a minute, hovered in place, made a few turns while its color camera captured images from different locations. It's very cool.

Now, the academy awards are this Sunday, and it comes at a critical time for the movie industry, of course. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down some movie productions, for more than one year now. And with streaming services now showing new movies online, theaters are struggling to survive. Clare Sebastian, with our story.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At cinema village in New York's west village, they been (inaudible) on the projectors every few months just to check their (inaudible). Over the past year, owner Nick Nicolaou says he's exhausted his savings, turn through government aid and risk a divorce to keep his three independent theaters from going under.

NICK NICOLAOU, OWNER CINEMA VILLAGE: This past year has been a bad horror movie because one thing, right after the other, it was going wrong. At one point, we haven't paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the department of finance for property tax. So that cleaned us out.

SEBASTIAN: He can now open at limited capacity according to New York rules. But first, he has to repair the damage from frozen pipes that burst. The result of the buildings sitting empty for so long.

The posters are still up from the last movie they showed here in March of last year. Business came to a sudden stop, and it has now been more than a year with zero customers. And this is a story that's been repeated in movie theaters around the world.

In 2020, the global box office fell by almost three quarters according to box office pro. Some theaters, including the iconic cinerama dome in L.A. have now closed for good. And big chains like AMC entertainment, came close to bankruptcy.


Not the kind of climate up and coming director say Sasie Sealy would have chosen to release her debut feature film, Lucky Grandma.

SASIE SEALY, DIRECTOR, LUCKY GRANDMA: We made the decision to do a virtual release in May, versus a physical release in August. Just because we had no idea like what was going to be happening in August. Our red carpet was over Zoom, like Q and A with audiences were over Zoom. So, this is a very surreal thing, (inaudible) like to that really happen.

SEBASTIAN: Virtual releases via through independent theaters or on streaming services like Disney Plus, and HBO Max, became common place in 2020. The pandemic accelerating an ongoing power shift in the industry.

SEALY: Netflix makes more movies per year now than, you know, Warner Brothers. I mean, the number of movies that they are financing is crazy. So, I mean, if you had a film that you want to get made, it certain like where you're going for financing and I think its changing.

SEBASTIAN: For new filmmakers, Hollywood's future talent pipeline, the survival of both movie festivals and independent theaters, where they traditional got exposure will be critical.

NICOLAOU: You will not be allowed to sit anywhere. Another patron within six feet.

SEBASTIAN: And despite strict new safety, Nick Nicolauo isn't giving up.

NICOLAOU: I've succeeded through many difficult times. And I will succeed again that energy that's in the movie house when you are watching and crying, and laughing together. These are the memories that should mean something to people.

SEBASTIAN: Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: And finally, a very tight squeeze for a very big boat. Here's the video. That is a 94 meters super yacht, making its way through the narrow canals of the Netherlands. Tugboats guiding it through the water past the houses and the churches, as crowds turned out to stare in amazement. It wasn't a pleasure cruise, the vessel was heading from the shipyard to the sea at Rotterdam. And for now, there's only one route. The painstaking journey takes between tow to four days, depending on the wind and bridge schedules.

I'm Michael Holmes, thanks for spending part of your day with me, follow me on Instagram and Twitter @holmesCNN. CNN Newsroom continues in a moment with my friend and colleague Kim Brunhuber. We will leave you though with another look at the SpaceX, Crew Dragon, preparing for a launch in just a couple of hours from now. Very cool.