Return to Transcripts main page


Top Japanese Newspaper Calls for Olympic Games to Be Canceled; U.S. Pledges to Reopen Jerusalem Consulate and Aid to Rebuild Gaza; Biden and Putin to Meet in Switzerland in June; Indian Farmers to Hold Mass Protests Despite COVID-19; Tropical Cyclone Yaas Approaches Landfall in India; Residents Face Bleak Future, Little Chance to Leave; John Cena Apologizes to China for Calling Taiwan a Country. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 00:00   ET




LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From CNN World Headquarters here in Atlanta, I'm Lynda Kinkade. Good to have you with.

Ahead this hour, a major Japanese newspaper and Olympic cosponsor calls for the Tokyo games to be canceled.

A big check and improved relations. America's top diplomat works to shore up the Israeli Hamas cease-fire and America's standing among Palestinians.

And changing course. A fast and furious start as some major backtracking after a controversial remark on Taiwan.


KINKADE: A top Japanese newspaper, one of the official partners of the Tokyo games, are now calling for the Summer Olympics to be canceled due to the pandemic. In an editorial published a short time ago, they called for the prime minister to, quote, "calmly and objectively assess the situation. And decide whether to cancel the event."

The paper also accused the prime minister of putting on the games against the will of the public. It's another major blow for Olympic organizers, who've been under intense pressure for weeks to cancel the games. CNN's Selina Wang joins us from Tokyo where the games are now less than 2 months away.

Selina, this isn't just a leading Japanese newspaper. This is an official partner of the Tokyo Olympics.

Just how big of a deal is it?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Lynda. This is extremely significant. Not only is this the first major newspaper to call for the cancellation of the games in Japan but it's also an official partner of these Olympic Games.

The question here really is if this leads to a domino effect of other sponsors, of major newspapers in Japan also calling for a cancellation. There's already major public opposition to the Olympics in Japan with poll after poll showing that the majority of the population here does not want to games held this year.

I spoke to a political scientist, who studies the Olympic Games and he called the editorial significant and extremely remarkable. He says it's hard to break the corporate silence and to speak out. But that essentially this newspaper has structured permission for others to do so.

In this editorial, the paper wrote that quote. We don't think it makes sense to hold the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo this summer. The distrust and opposition towards a ruling government, the Tokyo government and Olympic officials are widespread as they have not tried to address people's doubt and concerns.

We ask the prime minister Yoshihide Suga to calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide whether to cancel the event this summer.

For some context here, this is one of the prestigious newspapers and Japan. It's considered to be a left-leaning publication that has often been critical of the ruling Conservative Party.

But this is clearly part of this undeniable cascade of opposition to the games not just from the public but also from doctors, high-profile leaders and now from a major sponsor.

KINKADE: Yes, Selina, as you say, quite rightly, this newspaper supports the overwhelming number of people in Japan that are against the games going forward. Just give us a sense of the situation there right now, with vaccination so low and cases surging.

WANG: Exactly, you only have 2 percent of the Japanese population that's been fully vaccinated. On top of, that Tokyo and large parts of Japan are under a state of emergency.

Despite the enhanced restrictions we're still seeing COVID 19 cases surge across the country and the medical system here is also under strain. In areas like Osaka, the doctors there are warning of a system collapse with hospitals running out of bed space and ventilators.

And the concerns that the newspaper lays out in its editorial is reflected in the broader medical community. Here you have a group representing 6,000 doctors of Tokyo calling for the games to be canceled because they say it's just impossible to hold a safe bubble for something at the scale of the Olympics.

KINKADE: Selina, a very important story that we're following right now. Thank you so much for your time in Tokyo.

The U.S.' top diplomat is in the Middle East, meeting Israel's president next hour. Antony Blinken is there to shore up a fragile cease-fire after 11 days of fighting left scenes of devastation like this in Gaza.

He met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, promising more than $100 million in direct aid from the U.S.


KINKADE: He also pledged that the U.S. would reopen the consulate in Jerusalem.

Blinken's first meeting was with the Israeli prime minister. Mr. Netanyahu used to opportunity, urged the U.S. not to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Blinken on his part warned Israelis and Palestinians not to take actions that would incite violence.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Across the meetings that I have had so far, I've heard a shared recognition from all sides that steps need to be taken, work needs to be done to address the underlying conditions that helped fuel this latest conflict.

The cease-fire creates space to begin to take those steps. Attending to the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza and helping rebuild is a key starting point.


KINKADE: The cease-fire is now on its 6th day and remains fragile. Nic Robertson reports on the challenges ahead.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's 5.5 years since an American secretary of state met Palestinian Authority officials on their home turf. Antony Blinken came, promising reengagement, reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, closed during the Trump administration, and rebuilding in Gaza, hoping to shore up the cease-fire.

BLINKEN: In total we're in the process of providing more than $360 million in urgent support for the Palestinian people. And across these efforts, we will work with partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Despite the cease-fire, Palestinian tensions with Israel remain high. Anger at a nearby funeral for a Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces the previous night during what Israeli security forces described as an attempted arrest of terror activists.

More than money, Palestinian leaders here want a U.S. commitment to help them.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): We also hope that the future will be filled with diplomatic and political activities led by the U.S. and with the assistance of the international quartet to achieve a just solution based on the international law.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The first point is a vote of thanks to President Biden and you.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In Jerusalem, praise from Israel's prime minister for U.S. support during the conflict and concern Blinken could ensure money for rebuilding Gaza doesn't rearm Hamas.

NETANYAHU: If Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful. And we've discussed ways of how to work together to prevent Hamas rearmament with weapons and means of the aggression.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It won't be easy. Hamas controls Gaza, not the Palestinian Authority and Blinken wants to boost by channeling the aid through them.

BLINKEN: There's a lot of hard work ahead to restore hope, respect and some trust across some communities but we've seen the alternative and I think that should cause all of us to redouble our efforts to preserve the peace and improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

ROBERTSON: Blinken's visit little more than a Band-aid, keeping the cease-fire together, absent significant diplomatic engagement from the United States, that's perhaps about the best he could hope to achieve.

The real aim though, to keep alive America's hope that one day a 2 state peace solution could be achieved --Nic Robertson, CNN, Ramallah, the West Bank.


KINKADE: CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart joins us from New York, he's also the author of "The Beinart Notebook on"

Great to have you with us.


KINKADE: When we look at this particular issue, this foreign policy issue was not a top problem for the U.S. President.

But given the trip that's underway, how do you think that it has gone so far with the U.S. secretary of state?

BEINART: Secretary of state Blinken met with a very important Palestinian human rights activist named Isa Onro (ph) in Hebron and I think it was very important because doing that gives Isa, who happens to be a friend of mine, some protection from being jailed or even killed by Israel.

But the larger problem is that American policy doesn't really make a lot of sense. The U.S. wants to rebuild Gaza but it doesn't want to deal with Hamas. But Hamas runs Gaza. And the U.S. is not willing to use any of its leverage. [00:10:00]

BEINART: The $3.8 billion it gives Israel every year to try and restrain Israel from doing things like evicting Palestinians from their homes, even though it's those evictions that set off this violence. So I don't think the American policy right now really makes a lot of sense.

KINKADE: In meeting with the Palestinian leaders the U.S. secretary of state spoke about the need for hope for the Palestinians and he offered $360 million to help rebuild Gaza.

How does the U.S. ensure that those funds don't go to Hamas?

BEINART: The problem is that Palestinians have not been allowed to elect their leaders. There was about to be a Palestinian election, in which Hamas was going to run and they have a right to run even though they oppose the 2 state solution, just like lots of Israeli parties run for and win seats, even though they oppose the 2 state solution.

The Palestinians don't get a veto over who Israelis select so why should Israelis or Americans get a veto over who the Palestinians elect?

But the U.S. and Israel and Abbas decided to cancel the election because they were afraid that the winners wouldn't be the winners that we want. That's the wrong way to think about it.

Palestinians have the right to choose their leaders even if we don't always like the choices that they make. Ultimately, what's best for the people of Gaza is a legitimate unified Palestinian leadership that can start to act on behalf of the Palestinian people.

KINKADE: The cease-fire, which began on Friday, came after 11 days of intense violence. Listening to the U.S. secretary of state and the Israeli prime minister, it certainly sounds like this cease-fire is very fragile. I want to play a little bit of what the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had to say.


NETANYAHU: We do will give meaning to our commitment to our self- defense, if Hamas breaks the calm and attacks Israel, our response will be very powerful.


KINKADE: I mean, fragile is the keyword here really. It certainly sounds like things could flare up at any point in time. The question is how much will the U.S. get involved.

BEINART: The problem is that the United States is deeply involved. Every Palestinian knows how deeply the U.S. is involved because, again, we help to fund the Israeli military and we guarantee Israel's international impunity at international institutions like the U.N. and International Criminal Court. So when the United States as it doesn't want to be involved, it's disingenuous. We are involved. We are deeply implicated in the fact that Israel controls millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights.

The way in which we don't want to be involved is actually trying to hold Israel to account for those behaviors and trying to get Israel to change its policies in a meaningful way.

So Benjamin Netanyahu could say when Hamas disturbs the calm. But for millions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and West Bank and Gaza who are under Israeli control and don't have the most basic rights of citizenship in the country where they live, to vote for the government that dominates their lives, there is no calm.

There is oppression. We know that across the world, when there is oppression, sooner or later, there is likely to be tragic violence.

KINKADE: And just quickly, how much headway did the U.S. secretary of state make?

BEINART: I don't think he made very much headway because I don't think the United States is really dealing with the underlying issues here.

The underlying issue is, if you have a population that's denied the most basic rights, you are not going to have peace and you're not going to have stability. You may have periods of cease-fire but it's only going to be a cease-fire.

We know from our own country in the United States, South Africa, Northern Ireland, all around the world, that unless you deal with the deep underlying issues of oppression, which the Biden administration's not really dealing with, you're not going to be able to create a lasting peace.

KINKADE: CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart, thank you very much.

BEINART: Thank you.

KINKADE: Blinken isn't the only one trying to send a message in the Middle East this week. Russia says it can now operate long range bombers out of Syria. Russian state media reports 3 of the world planes arrived an airbase north of Damascus for training.

The move comes as the U.S. confirms a summit with Russia is set for next month in Switzerland. Discussing cyberattacks may be on the agenda for President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Here's what else the White House wants to push forward.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability to the U.S.-Russia relationship. More specific to your question we expect they will spend a fair amount of time on strategic civility. [00:15:00]

PSAKI: Where the arms control agenda goes following the extension of New START, we are obviously both members of the P5+1 as well as those negotiations are ongoing, the president will also raise Ukraine, underscoring American support for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity and will also place to raise Belarus and convey our grave concerns as he has now done publicly.


KINKADE: President Biden announced sanctions against Belarus are in play. But he does not want to get ahead of any announcements. His comments come just days after Belarus forced the diversion of a Ryan air flight and then arrested a dissident journalist on board.

NATO's secretary general issued his own response, calling for the journalist to be released immediately.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The forced landing over passenger flight was dangerous and unacceptable. This is a state hijacking and demonstrates how the regime in Minsk attacks basic democratic rights and cracks down on freedom of expression and independent media.


KINKADE: Leaders across Europe are issuing a strong response on what they call unprecedented action against Belarus. Now new video of the journalist has also been released. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the details.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The aftermath of the Belarusian authorities forcing Ryanair jets to land in the capital of Minsk, also arresting an opposition journalist who was on board. We can see that the situation is continuing to escalate.

One of the things that's happened since then is that on a pro Belarusian government Telegram channel, the companion, who was a traveling with Roman Protasevich, her name is Sofia Sapega (ph), she was also paraded on a video there, where she allegedly makes a confession, saying that she was working for a Telegram channel that released the identities of workers of the interior ministry of Belarus.

Of course, there is a very real possibility that she was forced to make the video or speak in the video under duress and it only comes about 24 hours after Roman Protasevich himself was in a similar video, also in custody of the Belarusian authorities in Minsk, in the area, where he also said that he was working together with the authorities, confessing to the authorities. And there as well, the Belarusian opposition, figures of the Belarusian opposition have said that they strongly believe that that video was also made under duress. Now all of that is causing massive condemnation in Western countries.

The United States, in the form of U.S. President, Joe Biden came out and he put out a statement where he said that all of this was, as he put it, an outrageous incident, that jet having to land the opposition journalist, then being arrested.

The Biden administration also saying that right now it is looking at options to possibly punish the Lukashenko regime. Now, of course, that is something that the European Union has already done.

The E.U., at its council meeting, decided they were going to put new sanctions in place but also deciding that they were going to blacklist the Belarusian flagship carrier and not allow it to fly in European Union airspace or to European destinations.

And one of the things that we're already seeing is that more and more E.U. carriers are avoiding the airspace. There have been a number of them that have said they're not going to fly to Minsk anymore -- Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


KINKADE: India is bracing for its second hurricane-strength cyclone in just over a week. Coming, up the latest on when the tropical storm Yaas is expected to make landfall.

Plus how George Floyd is being remembered one year after his murder. What the U.S. president had to say about his family.





KINKADE: Welcome back.

Tens of thousands of farmers are expected to protest in India, despite warnings it could become a COVID superspreader event. And the farmers have been protesting over a series of agriculture laws which they say could devastate their livelihoods.

CNN's Vedika Sud joins me from New Delhi with more.

We know that the death rate there, the death toll from COVID has now surpassed 300,000 and farmers are being told to call off the protests.

Are they going to listen?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has been a long-standing request by the Indian government, protesting farmers, remember today marks 6 months since they began to protest against some of the agricultural laws that they've been protesting against. They say it's anti farmer laws.

What's happened on the ground now is that they finished the harvest season. They were busy with that for the last 1.5 months so now they are regrouping. They're once again pushing for these laws to be repealed because of, which at least 15,000 (ph) farmers as what we're being told by the unions will begin congregating at the Punjab border.

Now Punjab is a state in northern India where you see most of these farmers protesting, like I said, since November 26, it's been 6 months ever since but the worry remains of this congregation turning into a superspreader, a little bit on the ground to one of the border areas.

I spoke one of the farmers a couple of months ago before they left for the harvest season and they've been pretty adamant that they want to stay there and they're going to work this out. They're going to keep demanding for the repeal of the laws from the government.

On the other, hand the Indian government and the prime minister Narendra Modi specifically in February asked them to retreat and said that we are going to keep negotiating over the loss.

But the farmers are adamant at this point in, time they're going nowhere, they're here to stay but the worry remains that this is turning into a superspreader, there would be barricading (ph) as usual, as it has been for the last six months in the border areas.

We're hoping that they don't enter Delhi. I don't see it happening today because if you remember the last time that happened, it led to violent clashes between the farmer union representatives and the Delhi police, Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, we'll see how this plays out. Thanks very much.

SUD: Thank you.

KINKADE: In addition to the dissent and its terrible battle with COVID, India is facing a powerful tropical storm, it's hours from going into the northeastern, coast. Hundreds of thousands have been evacuating from India's eastern states.

The region has been getting battered with strong winds and heavy rain as landfall approaches. It will be the second tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds to hit the country in a little more than a week.



KINKADE: Memorials across the U.S. marked one year since George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, setting off a global movement for racial justice. Now crowds have been gathering at George Floyd Memorial Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd took his last breath. At the White House members of his family met with U.S. president and

vice president. CNN's Phil Mattingly has details. There are images in the story that you may find disturbing.




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, in tragedy, a bond between a president and a grieving family. Family of George Floyd meeting face to face in the Oval Office with President Biden.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: He's a genuine guy. They always speak from the heart. And it's a pleasure just to be able to have the chance to meet with them when we have that opportunity to. We're just thankful for what's going on.

MATTINGLY: One year to the day after this video shocked the world and set off a reckoning on race inside the U.S. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck here since convicted on all three counts including murder.

In its wake, a presidential connection to the family White House officials say has developed into a genuine bond from a first meeting days after Floyd's death, the moment when Floyd's daughter, Gianna, at the White House today delivered words Biden has come back to in his highest profile moments as president ...

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was kneeling down and talk to her so I could look her in the eye. She looked at me she said, "My daddy changed the world."

MATTINGLY: -- to a phone call just moments after the guilty verdict.

BIDEN: I wish I was there just to put my arms around you.

MATTINGLY: It's a bond both the president and the Floyd family have sought to utilize to bring genuine change.

BIDEN: I'm anxious to see you guys, I really am. And we're going to get a lot more done, we're going to get -- we're going to do a lot and we're going to stay at it till we get it done.

MATTINGLY: Biden aides say remains convinced Floyd's murder changed the dynamics of race in the U.S.

BIDEN: It stirred the conscious and 10s of millions of Americans. And in my view, it marked a turning point in this country's attitude toward racial justice.

MATTINGLY: But negotiators have now missed his deadline for police reform set for today. Still, for Biden the day marked by a private personal meeting. And by design, not a moment for a new big public push on the legislation.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He remains closely engaged and closely in touch with the negotiators about what is most constructive on what role he can play and we can play to leave the space for them to negotiate and to move toward a place where you can sign the bill into law.

MATTINGLY: As key negotiators are signaling progress even as key sticking points remain in the Floyd family holding a series of meetings with key Democratic and Republican lawmakers Tuesday and remaining optimistic that a deal and change may be coming soon.

FLOYD: I think things have changed. I think that it's moving slowly, but it's making progress. I just want everything to be better in life because I don't want to see people dying the same way my brother has passed.

MATTINGLY: As for the prospects for police reform, the president made clear to the Floyd family, they said after the meeting that, while the president was disappointed his deadline on the anniversary of George Floyd's murder was missed, he was clear he wanted the right bill, not a rushed bill.

And that bill is still very much in progress on Capitol Hill. The Floyd family obviously meeting with key negotiators, who said they have made progress and believe they're moving toward a framework.

The president has made clear there are no hard deadlines he's putting on the table. He just wants something on his desk to sign quickly -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


LYNDA KINCADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, "Washington Post" report's Manhattan's top prosecutor has convened a grand jury to decide whether to indict former U.S. President Donald Trump. It might happen if the D.A. presents criminal charges in its investigation into the Trump Organization.

The panel also may decide whether to indict Trump Organization executives or the business himself. The ex-president on Tuesday again repeated claims that he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Prosecutors are looking into whether the Trump Organization misled lenders and insurance companies about the value of properties and paid appropriate taxes.

Well, just ahead, the U.S. is pledging millions of dollars to help rebuild Gaza. But with a blockade in effect and a militant group in control, few people there have hope for the future.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I ask the young people in the crowd the same question.

(on camera): Have you ever in your whole life traveled outside Gaza?

(voice-over): Everyone gave the same answer: No. Never.


KINCADE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Lynda Kincade. Good to have you with us.

The top U.S. diplomat wraps up his visit to Israel next hour, meeting with President Rivlin before heading to Egypt and Jordan. Antony Blinken spent Tuesday with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders in separate meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The secretary of state reassured Israel the U.S. remains committed to its defense and security, but he says a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is not enough, as long-standing grievances must be addressed to prevent another war.

Blinken also promised the U.S. will reengage with the Palestinians and help rebuild Gaza while keeping money out of the hands of Hamas.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In total, we are in the process of providing more than $360 million in urgent support for the Palestinian people. And across these efforts, we will work with partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts.


KINCADE: Well, helping to rebuild homes, businesses and infrastructure in Gaza is one thing, but for most people living there, the future remains bleak, with little help of escape.

CNN senior correspondent Ben Wedeman reports.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): In Gaza City's main square, Mohammed Abu Gumbas (ph) and his friends show off their breakdancing skills. Mohammed's dream is to compete outside Gaza, but there's a problem.


Travel from Gaza is almost impossible.

This narrow strip of land on the Mediterranean, home to two million people, has been under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.

Among other things, the blockade was intended to isolate Hamas and prevent the militants from smuggling in arms.

But since then, Hamas and other groups have been able to manufacture and launch tens of thousands of rockets into Israel, and Hamas, 14 years later, is still firmly in control.

In Ha Nunez, residents queue for food donated by Egypt, Qatar and Malaysia. About half the population is dependent on food aid. Unemployment is almost 50 percent.

I ask the young people in the crowd the same question.

(on camera): Have you ever in your whole life traveled outside Gaza?

(voice-over): Everyone gave the same answer: No, never.

Like the others, Raida (ph) says she's never stepped foot outside Gaza, never been on a plane or a train.

Gaza is hemmed in by Israel to the north and east, Egypt to the south. Israel and Egypt allow a limited amount of goods, strictly controlled into Gaza, but exporting is difficult.

Israel bombed Mohammed Duvent's (ph) plasticware factory the day before the cease-fire went into effect. His 12 employees are now without work. And even before the hostilities, try as he might, Mohammed never received permission to export his products via Israel.

"We met all their conditions," he says, "but we never received an answer from them if we can export or not."

People here, whether they support Hamas or not -- and many don't -- they're all serving the same sentence, says analyst Mkhaimar Abusada.

MKHAIMAR ABUSADA, AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY, GAZA: Gaza has become the biggest open-air prison on the face of Earth.

WEDEMAN: If the blockade isn't lifted, this may be the closest to flying some of these children will ever be.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.


KINCADE: John Cena is making a fast and furious apology. Why he's, quote, "very, very sorry," and why he says it's very, very very important to respect China.


KINCADE: Welcome back. Well, one of the stars of the brand-new "Fast and Furious" movie is profusely apologizing to China, and he's doing so in Mandarin.




[00:40:05] KINCADE: That is actor and former WWE wrestler John Cena, professing his love and respect for the Chinese people on Weibo. He angered many on the mainland when he called Taiwan a country during a promotional interview for "F9."

China is the world's largest movie market, and the "Fast and Furious" franchise is extremely popular there.

Will Ripley is covering the controversy live from Taipei and joins us now live. Good to see you, Will.

It's funny reading about this. Some have described his apology as groveling. He really tried to walk it back.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said "very" four times, Lynda: "It's very, very, very important that people know how sorry I am, how much I love China."

And he did say it in Mandarin, which you've got to give John Cena credit for. I have to admit, Lynda, I was not expecting when I woke up this morning, to necessarily be doing a live report about John Cena, but I shouldn't be surprised, because this kind of thing happens all the time when it comes to Taiwan and Hong Kong and Tibet and other topics that China considers these red-line issues.

And there are a lot of people on social media, on Weibo in particular, in the mainland who are very nationalist, who are proud of their country and who get very angry and can turn very quickly on a popular celebrity if they feel that China has been disrespected.

It's kind of like social media in the U.S., the cancel culture, but the cancel culture in China revolves around people disrespecting the mainland. And so I don't know if we have another clip of John Cena speaking Mandarin. It's kind of interesting to watch. If we have it, let's play it.



GRAPHIC: I have to say right now it's very, very, very important to respect China and Chinese people.


RIPLEY: That is impressive. And you would think that people in China would give him credit that A, you know, he has been studying Mandarin for years. It's clearly not his first language, and yet he's making the effort.

He gave an interview with a Taiwanese broadcaster, Lynda, and all he said was you can watch Taiwan -- you can watch "F9," and Taiwan is the first country -- is the word he used. And that was the big offense, that he referred to Taiwan as a country.

And this is a -- an island that's claimed by the mainland. This is an island that China says is part of his territory, even though they both have been separately ruled for more than 70 years.

And by the way, it's not the first time that this has happened with Hollywood movies, with airlines, with fashion brands. This has been going on for years, and especially because money talks and the Chinese market is huge -- I mean, "F9" brought in $136 over the weekend just in China. It helped make it the biggest Taiwan pandemic opening so far.

That is why you see what some are calling groveling happening with that, and you'll see it again.

KINCADE: Exactly. It's -- he's doing -- he's doing well. And China, of course, is calling for a boycott, even though that movie is already playing there. We have to leave it there for now.

Will Ripley in Taipei. Thanks for being with us.

Well, Spanish police say that they have found the body of a missing man inside a dinosaur statue just outside of Barcelona. Authorities say the 39-year-old appears to have gotten trapped inside the statue while trying to retrieve his cell phone.

A man and his grandson called police after noticing something inside the statue Saturday. Police say there are no apparent signs of violence, but an autopsy is being done.

That does it for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Lynda Kincade. WORLD SPORT starts after a short break. Stay with us.