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Russian Court Declares Navalny Group Extremist; Nicaragua's Political Crackdown; First Face-To-Face G7 Talks Since Before Pandemic; U.S. President Arrives In England For Two-Day G7 Summit; Millions Captivated By Wandering Herd Of Elephants In China. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired June 10, 2021 - 02:00   ET

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


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[02:00:20]

ANNA COREN, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to viewers around the world. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: And I'm Bianca Nobilo live from Cornwall, England where global leaders are gathering for the G7 Summit. Coming up this hour. President Biden, arrives in the U.K. with a message of unity as he prepares to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Russia is sending a clear message to G7 leaders as its outlaws opposition leader Alexey Navalny's political groups.

COREN: Plus, a war against democracy in Nicaragua. More are arrested in the race for the presidency and the U.S. reacts.

And the elephants heard around the world. Where are these gentle giants going and why?

NOBILO: The U.S. President has arrived here in Cornwall, England for the G7 Summit with a massive agenda. He's seeking to repair key relationships strained by his predecessor, not to mention recommitting to NATO, coordinating transatlantic policy on the pandemic, facing down China and Russia and cooling the planet. But before Joe Biden attempts any of that, he'll be meeting with the British Prime Minister.

In the coming hours. They're expected to commit to a new Atlantic Charter and work on reopening travel between the U.S. and the U.K. President Biden is laser focused on fixing America's alliances and making sure democracies enjoy and excel, which he stressed during speech to U.S. troops in Suffolk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And every point along the way, we're going to make it clear that the United States is back. And Democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future, that we're committed to leading with strength, defending our values and delivering for our people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: This is just the beginning of President Biden's European tool. After the G7, he'll head to Brussels for the NATO Summit. And then comes his highly anticipated first face to face meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Let's bring in on Nic Robertson live from the village of Carbis Bay. Nic, we're expecting leaders of the G7 countries to be descending on this relatively small sort of sleepy, lovely, quaint fishing village in the coming hours. When are they going to get here and what can we expect from proceedings today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They're expected to arrive later this afternoon. And by then, President Biden will have had his bilateral with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and they're expected to review although you'll see the cloud behind me and I'm sure it's behind you where you are too. The weather is not as sunny as it could be. And it's a little gloomy but they're expected to review what is the biggest British dock-built battleship that the British Navy has.

The HMS Prince of Wales. And the reason for doing this is the symbolism behind that it holds for the charter that the Atlantic Charter that Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden are expected to inaugurate today. And of course, it will sort of commemorate and build on and call back to that Atlantic Charter between Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt back in 1941. So, a lot of symbolism there.

But a lot of substance in the meetings as well. There's contention between the two leaders over how to handle Britain's post-Brexit wrangling with the European Union over Northern Ireland protocols. President Biden is expected to be very firm, rock solid, crystal clear on his view, that the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland is an important and necessary foundation for peace in Ireland.

And that he's concerned that the trajectory that Boris Johnson is on with the European Union at the moment could run counter to that. Of course, Boris Johnson says that's not the case. But plenty for the pair to work towards in that relation, the Transatlantic Relationship, that Atlantic Charter, as you said, opening travel during the pandemic between the two countries sharing and working together between companies on technology.

The shared values in democracy is so important to President Biden's narrative and shared security, again, important to President Biden as he will with those other G7 leaders set out what's important for him and that's a common position on China.

[02:05:14]

NOBILO: And if we do keep hearing in the lead up to the summit, the three C's China, COVID and climate, where do you think it's most likely that we're going to see conservative tangible action taken over the next few days? ROBERTSON: I think the, you know, there will be plans for further conversations without doubt on the issue of China. There's been a lot done already in the lead up to the G7 -- by the G7 finance ministers in terms of agreeing a global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent. But I think the real pressure is to -- is to for these -- the world's richest democracies to help the rest of the world get out of the pandemic.

I think that's where we're going to try expect to see a firmer narrative. Boris Johnson said, let's get the world vaccinated by the end of 2022. Commitments from the United States to distribute more vaccines that across the world that they are purchasing. This, I think is where we will expect to see some solid announcements.

NOBILO: Thank you, Nic. Just huge stakes for summit since the pandemic. Nic Robertson in Carbis Bay. We'll be hearing a lot more from you this week. Great to see you. Thank you.

Now, Matthew Karnitschnig is the chief Europe correspondent for Politico and he joins us now live from Berlin. Thank you so much for being with us this morning, Matthew. I'd like to start with talking about the first face to face meeting between President Biden and the G7 -- the other G7 leaders. How much damage repair needs to be done after the Mercurial presidency of Donald Trump?

And the fact that he said he dismissed the G7 and said that he thought it was outdated. Does a lot of work needs to be done by President Biden to sort of rebuild that faith in multilateralism and what coalitions can achieve?

MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG, POLITICO CHIEF EUROPE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There's an enormous amount of work to be done. And I think that Biden recognize that even before he was inaugurated because he started laying the groundwork then and the fact that he is making his first trip to Europe and that is such an expansive trip shows his commitment to rebuilding the alliance and to convincing the Europeans that the United States is in Europe to stay that Europe can count on the United States going forward.

And also, I think, to calm fears that there's going to be a return of Donald Trump because that is what a lot of the European leaders are worried about that, you know, they might like Joe Biden, and Joe Biden's a nice guy but who knows what's going to happen in four years?

So I think that he's really going to set out on this trip to show that this isn't just a flash in the pan, that there's not going to be a return to the NATO was obsolete days of the Trump administration but that the U.S. is in Europe to stay.

NOBILO: Thank you, Matthew, because that gives us a good insight into how the USA might be approaching its objectives in this summit. But let's talk about European leaders. Emmanuel Macron, for one, is somebody who even though none of the leaders, you know, embraced or found easy what Donald Trump did with his foreign policy. Emmanuel Macron enjoys the idea of strategic autonomy for France and for Europe. So, is it going to be as easy as it sounds for President Biden just to restore normalcy to these relationships? Because might things look a little bit different now when it's recalibrated.

KARNITSCHNIG: Absolutely. And to be honest, it has never been easy for American presidents to coordinate policy with Europeans. Some people compare it to herding cats. You've got different views of the United States and various countries. You mentioned, Emmanuel Macron, and France which obviously has a somewhat fraught history of relations with the United States over the decades.

That said, I think that there are other countries, most countries in Europe do want the United States to play a leading role in the security framework for Europe going forward. And obviously, as Europe's main trading partner, which it remains, excuse me.

So I think that despite what we'll hear from Macron crawl and have heard in the past about strategic autonomy and so forth, the majority of European leaders really want the U.S. to remain a bulwark of the continental security going forward.

NOBILO: So, it does sound from what you say like there's lots of potential areas of overlap and potential for constructive policy.

[02:10:05]

NOBILO: Given the President agenda going into the summit, and given what you said that Europe is open to the restoration of a full relationship that's what they seem to want. What are particular policies that you see as potential to unite Europe and the USA?

KARNITSCHNIG: Well, you've mentioned a couple in your previous report. I would say that beyond the vaccine push that we're going to see here, that seems to me to be really the easy part because the problem there has been more the unwillingness of the United States in the U.K. to date to share vaccine with the rest of the world. And that appears to be evaporating now. There is a bit of controversy about lifting the patents on some of the vaccines out there.

And I think that'll probably be hashed out during this meeting. But I think what is more important for the Europeans even is the climate question. This is really a core political issue in Germany, where you have this resurgent Green Party, some say the Greens could even win the next election. So, I think that that is something that Angela Merkel who has also prioritized climate issues throughout her tenure as Chancellor is really going to push.

And they want the United States to make a big commitment here because it is about more I think, for Europe than just rejoining the Paris Climate Accord which Biden did when he came into office. It's really about the United States taking the initiative and leading because it makes a huge difference when the United States as the world's largest economy was largest, you know, military power takes the lead on these types of issues.

NOBILO: Yes. It certainly will be interesting to watch that vacuum fill up. Matthew Karnitschnig in Berlin. Thank you so much.

Ahead of the summit some experts believe Russia is sending a message to Western leaders with a power play against its opposition. On Wednesday, a court in Moscow declared two organizations led by Alexei Navalny extremist groups. The decision means not only that the groups will have to shut down but also that their members cannot run in legislative elections in September.

Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS says the decision consolidates Putin's absolute grip on power.

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: I would like to believe that these opposition movements have real force. I mean, they are deeply admirable and, you know, I, I wish them all the best. But Vladimir Putin has now had 20 years in power. He has systematically destroyed civil society in Russia. He has systematically destroyed the opposition press and opposition parties. I think he's in a pretty -- he's in a pretty robust position.

He might end up being the longest serving Russian czar since Peter the Great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: International condemnations were quick to follow. Britain called the ruling a Kafkaesque move designed to outlaw political opposition in Russia. The U.S. State Department said that Russia has effectively criminalized one of the few remaining independent political movements. The statement added, this was not the first time Russian authorities have labeled groups extremists in order to stigmatize supporters and justify abuses against them.

For more now on breaking news out of Myanmar, I'll hand back to Anna Coren in Hong Kong. Anna?

COREN: Bianca, thank you so much. Well, new developments out of Myanmar. The country's military government has charged Aung San Suu Kyi under Myanmar's anti-corruption law. Her lawyer tells CNN the charges of bribery and corruption are absurd and groundless. Suu Kyi's government was overthrown by a military coup back in February. Well, our CNN Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul with more.

Paula, I guess the reaction from Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers really sums it up.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anna. And this is really what we've been hearing from her supporters all along, considering this is just the latest in a string of charges that have been brought against the former leader of Myanmar saying, as you said that they are absurd, that they are groundless. The lawyer also saying that he has known -- of all the state's people he has known in his long career as a lawyer and a human rights activist.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the least corruptible of all that he has seen. And she may have some character flaws as he pointed out but certainly greed and personal corrupt -- personal greed and corruption are not among those character flaws. So, what the -- what we're hearing from the junta-led media, that global new knights of Myanmar is that she has in fact had a police fire opened against her.

[02:15:01]

HANCOCKS: A case file in a police station just on Wednesday that was opened saying that they believe she misused her authority in renting land and a building to the group Daw Khin Kyi Foundation headquarters. This is a group that she was a Chairperson of three others, also charged with corruption as well. And they say that she illegally accepted $600,000 and gold from a Yangon Chief Minister, a former chief minister.

So, this really plays into what we have seen consistently from this military junta that there are a litany of charges against Aung San Suu Kyi. There is also a charge that she violated the Official Secrets Act, also one that she had illegal possession of walkie talkies.

And every time there is a new charge, the lawyer and her supporters say that they are trumped up, say that they are completely politically motivated to keep Aung San Suu Kyi behind bars.

Now, Aung San Suu Kyi party did overwhelmingly win last November's election. They are part of a democratically elected government which the military junta overthrew on February 1st with that coup and this is just the latest in a long string of charges. Anna?

COREN: Yes. The junta pulling out all stops to make sure she is behind bars for many years to come. Remembering too that she is 75 years old. Paula Hancocks, great to see you as always, thanks so much for the update.

Well, still to come. TikTok may have avoided being banned in the United States. But the social media app remains under scrutiny. President Biden is focusing on security risks, foreign- controlled apps may pose.

Plus, the challenges facing Europe ahead of the G7 summit. How leaders can regain some of the public trust lost during the pandemic.

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COREN: Welcome back. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking a new approach to TikTok and other Chinese apps. He has revoked a series of Trump era executive orders aimed at banning the social media apps.

He hasn't said signed an order calling for security reviews of apps linked to foreign adversaries, including China. CNN's Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing with more. And Steven, the Biden administration is saying that the Trump order wasn't carried out in "the soundest fashion."

And that this executive order is considered a broader review of foreign-controlled applications that could pose a security risk. How is this being received in China?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Anna, so far, the Chinese government has not officially responded to this latest executive order. But if and when they do, which is likely to happen very soon at a daily foreign ministry briefing. I don't think we're going to hit here anything new.

There are likely to again accused the U.S. of holding on to the so called Cold War mentality, abusing the concept of national security to crack down on China companies and probably also promising some sort of unspecified counter measures.

[02:20:04]

JIANG: But this executive order does reinforce the notion among many Chinese officials of this continuation of Washington's China policy from Trump to Biden. You know, the two men obviously don't see almost anything eye to eye. But China being the rare exception here because both presidents actually agree on the threats or potential threats from Beijing, and they want to address them head on.

But what they differ is the approach as I mentioned, now, Mr. Biden decided not to target individual Chinese companies because frankly, Mr. Trump's order had not been able to take effect in the U.S. Thanks to a series of lawsuits.

Now Mr. Biden wants to take this broader approach actually takes a step further. A U.S. Commerce Department memo obtained by CNN actually shows U.S. officials are framing this latest order as a sign of Mr. Biden's strong commitment to not only an openness, secure internet.

But also protection of human rights, both online and offline because Mr. Biden simply finds it unacceptable that countries like China that do not share the U.S. democratic values, they're able to leverage not only technologies, but also Americans sensitive data to harm the U.S. national interests but also what to advance their own authoritarian agendas around the world. That's why Mr. Biden decides to take a different approach but this is obviously not going to be received well here in Beijing. Anna?

COREN: Steven Jiang joining us from Beijing. We appreciate the update. Thank you. Well, the U.S. is imposing sanctions on senior members of the Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega's regime including his daughter. Well, that's after police detained seven high-profile opposition leaders accusing them of acting against the sovereignty of the country. The arrest leave Mr. Ortega almost unopposed in his bid for a fourth term in the November election. Matt Rivers reports on his path to power.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): months before a crucial election in Nicaragua, a crackdown on dissent seems to be reaching new levels of aggression. In less than a week seven of President Daniel Ortega's most high-profile opponents have been detained. Key challengers now quieted, as Ortega seeks another term in office. After 14 consecutive years and four terms total as president of Nicaragua, the aging leader wants his reign to go on. Now decades after first taking power and a revolution he helped orchestrate. Once it rebel, Ortega began his political career as head of the Sandinistas, a resistance party that began as a guerrilla group in the 1960s. In 1979, the Sandinistas overthrew the government of a dictator, whose family had led Nicaragua for decades. Five years later, Ortega became president of Nicaragua in the first Democratic elections after the revolution.

In his first term, he contended with the U.S. campaign against him from then President Ronald Reagan who considered him a communist threat. U.S. support finance anti-Sandinista rebels known as Contras. The two groups fought for years in a conflict that killed tens of thousands. Weary Nicaraguans voted Ortega out the final election then two more after that. But in 2006, he was elected to power once again.

This time pledging peace and prosperity in what was then a poverty- stricken Nicaragua. Over the next 10 years, the country's GDP rose as Ortega oversaw economic improvements aided by allies in Venezuela and Cuba. But some of his critics note he was simultaneously tightening his grip on power. In 2014, Nicaragua's Congress voted to end the term limits, allowing Ortega to run yet again.

Then in 2016, with opposition lawmakers kicked out in the process and international monitors told to stay home, Ortega won reelection in a landslide victory. This time with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president. In the spring of 2018, mass opposition protests ended in a brutal crackdown unleashed by Ortega. Human rights groups say hundreds were killed. Ortega stayed in power despite international calls for his resignation as a political crisis ensued and the economy deteriorated.

Still, those who challenges power can be seen as enemies of the state. Warning Ortega may now be the kind of dictator he'd once fought to overthrow. Matt Rivers CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Uganda is in the middle of a second coronavirus wave as the country's vaccine supply dwindles. As cases rise and hospitals run out of space the country is now being forced to build mobile hospitals. Uganda is reinforcing restrictions to try and slow the rise of new cases, closing schools and communal gatherings in places of worship until late July. Well, CNN's Larry Madowo reports.

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LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kampala's main stadium now a temporary hospital COVID patients.

[02:25:02]

MADOWO: The Ugandan government says this makeshift treatment center is only for mild to moderate cases. But CNN witnessed a body being carted away. Last week, the World Health Organization says cases here were up 137 percent. The second straight week of triple digit spike in infections. Across town. 40-year-old Stephen Ntambi was finally well enough to be taken off a ventilator, just hours before we arrived.

STEPHEN NTAMBI, COVID-19 PATIENT: Now that I have a second chance, people (INAUDIBLE) their lives, recklessly when it comes to COVID. The way I feel now, I feel like God has given me a thousand more years.

MADOWO: It's all hands on deck at this hospital. The ICU has been overcapacity for the last two weeks, even after adding 50 percent more beds. They keep turning away new patients who need critical care.

But the calls keep coming.

How many similar calls have you heard today?

DR. ERASMUS EREBU OKELLO, INTENSIVIST, TMR INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL: I don't know. I would say about 15 calls just this morning.

MADOWO: Every patient in this wing of the small private hospital is on life support. It's also putting a strain on the staff, some of whom have had to do 24 hour shifts because the need is far greater than the medical professionals available.

The average age of the patients is 40, doctors tell us. The youngest was only 18.

OKELLO: Why exactly are we seeing young people? One is that, for sure, it's a more aggressive strain. But the other thing also could be that, you know, after the first wave, we might have gotten quite excited enough to slacken on, you know, on our preventive measures.

MADOWO: It's a crisis that could have been avoided says Uganda's top health official.

DR. DIANA ATWINE, PERMANENT SECRETARY, UGANDA HEALTH MINISTR: If we've got this vaccine at the end of last wave, our community would be much better than what we are experiencing now.

MADOWO: Considering you have only vaccinated two percent of the Ugandan population, when will you have enough people vaccinated that life can return to normal here?

ATWINE: I cannot answer that because I'm not in charge of -- I cannot access the vaccines. If I could access the vaccines even tomorrow, would conduct, you know, national wide campaign and vaccinate.

MADOWO: With almost all Uganda's unvaccinated, the government warns that each positive person could infect between 80 to 100 people.

Uganda has strict social distancing guidelines but it's business as usual here in downtown Kampala. People have to be here to make a living. It's impossible to work from home.

But they may have little choice for the next six weeks as Uganda is now in partial lockdown

Again. Larry Madowo, CNN, Kampala.

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COREN: Well, billions of plastic pellets have been released into the sea following the devastating fire on a ship in Sri Lanka. The vessel is still submerged off the coast of Colombo. An environmental group tells CNN the plastic pellets have been the biggest pollution so far, causing 150 kilometers of contamination along a scenic beach.

The arduous cleanup is underway. You can see the huge number of bags piled on the beach. Thankfully, there are still no signs of an oil spill from the submerged ship.

Well, Joe Biden is a man on a mission as he travels abroad for the first time as U.S. president. His goal of the upcoming G7 summit, to repair America's alliances with Europe. A member of the European Council on Foreign Relations will join us to discuss it when we return.

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NOBILO: Back to our top story, U.S. President Joe Biden has embarked on his first trip overseas arriving at England for the G7 Summit. In the coming hours, he is expected to meet with G7 host Boris Johnson. The president and British prime minister have a lot to discuss, including Russia, China and COVID-19, of course.

They'll also reaffirm the historic ties between the U.S. and the U.K. with a renewed Atlantic charter. When the G7 Summit gets underway on Friday, Mr. Biden will seek to reassure European allies that the Trump era of American isolationism is over.

But what are European leaders hoping to accomplish here? A new survey shows that they have a lot of work to do to regain public trust.

Jana Puglierin is with the European Council on Foreign Relations. She's a senior policy fellow who heads up the Berlin office. Jana, thank so much for being with us this morning.

JANA PUGLIERIN, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Good morning Bianca.

NOBILO: Good morning. So, first of all, I'd like to speak to you about confidence in the E.U. as an institution and whether or not the USA sees the E.U. in the same way that it used to. What kind of damage control needs to be done on their side after the pandemic?

PUGLIERIN: So, during the pandemic the confidence in E.U. institutions has dropped significantly all over Europe. Most Europeans are increasingly skeptical that the E.U. institution can manage the crisis. We have seen the most significant drop of confidence in Germany, but also in other European countries. And while Europeans are still committed to further corporation level and see the need, they are deeply frustrated with the current leadership.

NOBILO: And, Jana, when we think about areas of potential convergence and areas of potential departure between the USA and Europe, if we think about threat specifically, is there and alignment between Europe and the USA on what the primary threat is to them? For the USA, of course, it seems like it is China or Russia, but for Europe, there are countries like Turkey, which present a threat.

PUGLIERIN: Yes. That was a surprise for us when we looked at the results of our survey that Turkey was so much seen as a threat by Europeans, but also the numbers for Russia and China show that there is kind of an awareness in Europe that those pose a severe threat.

What is I think most striking is how many Europeans want to see the E.U. as a beacon of democracy, and as an advocate for human rights also globally. And I think that sits very nicely with President Biden's agenda to align the democracies of this world and kind of the fight between democracies and authoritarian regimes.

NOBILO: And given what is on the agenda and how high the stakes are, trying to achieve what you just outlined, the fact that it is the first time that the leaders are meeting since the pandemic began, how much of a specter is Brexit over all of this? Is it really going to put a spanner in the works of making progress on key areas between the European leaders and the USA?

PUGLIERIN: I don't think so. I think everybody is really willing to overcome this and to work together on a global stage. Although, of course, between the E.U. and the U.K., yes, some problems remain, but, still, I think there is a huge commitment to work together and not to let Brexit come into the way.

[02:35:00]

NOBILO: And based on the research that you've been looking at, what do you think the Europeans would most like to see come out of this summit? What's tangible things would they like to see agreed in that communicate at the end?

PUGLIERIN: I think some further steps to fight climate change together. This is a huge importance to the Europeans. All polls show this. But also some tangible measures in the fight against the pandemic, kind of to enhance the level of global vaccination.

And also from a European perspective, I think Europeans would like to see maybe some progress when it comes to global trade, the decision to have a taxation on companies, a minimum taxation, has been received positively here in Europe.

NOBILO: And this will be the German chancellor, Angela Merkel's, final G7 Summit. What do you think her legacy will have been with this group of countries?

PUGLIERIN: I think a strong and faces on the renewed Transatlantic alliance, she's always been a firm believer in the Transatlantic relationship, it will be something she really very much wants to see. And she has also been a staunch supporter of multilateralism and to see the G7 functioning and working again after the Trump years, I think, is something that she really very much wants to achieve during the summit.

NOBILO: Well, let's lead things on an optimistic note. Jana Puglierin in Berlin, thank you very much for joining us.

PUGLIERIN: Thank you.

NOBILO: I will be back with more on the G7 at the top of the hour. I'll hand it over now to Anna Coren in Hong Kong. Anna?

COREN: Bianca, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Still ahead what's the migration of more than a dozen elephants across Southern China could mean for the survival of the species in the region.

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COREN: It's an animal adventure that has transfixed a nation. A herd of wandering elephants are on an epic journey in Southern China, and the internet is glued to their every move. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COREN (voice over): It's been a long journey for these giants of the forest, even longer for some. For more for more than a year now, herd of Asian elephants has been wandering across Yunnan Province in Southern China after leaving their nature reserve in March of last year.

Since then, they have covered over 500 kilometers from Xishuangbanna to Kunming. Authorities tracking them day and night with drones at a 24-hour live feed, their helping them become a national phenomenon and a social media sensation.

BECKY SHU CHEN, CHINA PROJECTS COORDINATOR, ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON: So the elephants are smart animal. They are intelligent. Once they get out of the forest and once have the food on the paddy rice, they taste it and they love it, just like if you bring your children to an ice cream shop, once they eat ice cream, wow, they will never return.

[02:40:04]

COREN: The stars of what has become a reality show in China are the two calves, one that was born only a few months ago. Thanks to their attentive parents, they've been rescued from a raging or a river, a ditch and another ditch. Luckily no one was hurt in the process.

This video alone of one of the calves being stuck under the weight of a sleeping relative while the herd was resting has gone viral. The hashtag has been viewed more than 140 million times.

But for all of the hype and fanfare, their migration points to far more serious and desperate issues for these species and its survival in China. While experts are uncertain as to why the herd embarked on this journey, conservationists say that their habitat is being destroyed and was replaced by rubber plantations in other lucrative crops now encroaching on their home.

There are only 300 Asian elephant in China which are listed as an endangered species. Another local have so far been tolerant despite the herd causing more than $1 million damages in crop so far, some fear they might be on borrowed time.

CHEN: So, right now, the general perception about elephants is that they are friendly, beautiful, intelligent animals and that we welcome them. But actually if there's any injuries or killings, happen, you can totally the public's perceptions.

COREN: How they stop them remains an ongoing challenge. Officials try daily to entice the elephants with tons of food while setting up barriers in an attempt to redirect them away from urban areas and reaching the northern city of Kunming, home to 8 million people.

Whilst humans appreciate these magnificent creatures, the challenge is trying to coexist with them as we continue to impact their natural habitats.

CHEN: If conflict happens, people's tolerance could be very low.

COREN: As authorities try to prevent any misfortune from happening, the 15 elephants and their mischievous antics will continue to draw fans around the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Let's hope this herd can find a new home. Well, an environmentally friendly Barbie may be coming to a store near you. Mattel is launching a new line of Barbie dolls made from ocean-bound plastic called Barbie Loves the Ocean. The toymaker has partnered with the envisioned plastics recycling company to source materials from Mexico's Baja Peninsula, an area without any form of waste collection system.

Mattel says, using plastic that would otherwise ended up in the ocean will help them focus on sustainability. They say that dolls are also meant to teach children about waste, plastic waste and climate change, a great idea.

Well, thank you so much for your company. I am Anna Coren. Special coverage of the G7 Summit continues at the top of the hour. World Sport is up next. Please stay with us.

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