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CNN NEWSROOM

Ethiopian Troops Pull out Of Tigray Capital; Potential New Clues In Florida Condo Collapse; W.H.O. Warns Even Vaccinated People Remain At Risk; Three Ministers Share Vision of Post-Pandemic Life in Editorial; Taliban Grabbing Territory as U.S., NATO Withdraw; China Celebrates Ruling Party's 100th Anniversary. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired June 29, 2021 - 02:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:27]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary church. Just ahead. More COVID lockdown measures are announced in Australia as global health officials raise the alarm about the fast spreading Delta variant. After months of fighting Ethiopian troops pull out of Tigray's biggest city and the government announces a ceasefire.

And as the search intensifies in the South Florida condo collapse, we have new details about the state of the building, including cracks in the concrete and water in the basement. Good to have you with us. Well, the World Health Organization is warning people not to let their guard down against the coronavirus, saying the highly contagious Delta variant and others pose a significant risk even to those who are vaccinated.

The WHO's top scientists says vaccines only provide up to 90 percent protection against COVID variants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Everyone should recognize this pandemic is not over. The virus hasn't gone. In fact, it's looking for opportunities to spread and to change itself, mutate and develop new variants. So, I think this is the time for caution. It's not that we nobody can travel or do anything. But this is really not the time for us to encourage a lot of social mixing to encourage mass events, especially without precautions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Meantime, millions of people in Australia are being forced to stay home as authorities struggled to contain flare ups of the Delta variant. More on that in just a moment.

South Africa has now entered what may be its toughest lockdown yet to fend off a third wave of the virus. It's expected to last at least two weeks and once again, is being driven by the Delta variant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everybody should be afraid of this variant. Because it's killing people by the thousands. So my opinion is everybody should be scared. That's very risk taking (INAUDIBLE) taking over lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm very much scared of COVID. He's alive. A lot of people say he's not alive. But I've lost a lot of relative, friends of mine, which I've lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell you this thing is very dangerous. I mean, even in the location we're not safe, we're not safe anywhere we go (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: In Bangladesh, people have been rushing to a ferry terminal near Dhaka to take care of their affairs before a new lockdown kicks in on Thursday. It's not clear when it will end but movements will be restricted nationwide.

And in the U.K., cases are creeping up again due to the dominance of that Delta variant. But British authorities are still planning to lift final COVID restrictions in three weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

We see no reason to go beyond the 19th of July. Because in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for COVID. We know we cannot simply eliminate it. We have to learn to live with it. We also know that people and businesses need certainty. So we want every step to be irreversible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And for more on the situation in Australia, CNN producer Angus Watson joins me now live from outside of vaccination hub in Sydney. Good to see you, Angus. So, of course, Australia has been very slow to get shots in arms. How are those efforts progressing where you are right now? And what is the latest on Delta variant infections across the country and all these new lockdowns?

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Well, those Delta variants across the country those infections are prompting authorities to lock cities down across the country today. We had an announcement from the Queensland premier locking areas of that state down Queensland. Those Queensland areas join the Northern territory, the City of Darwin, in Perth and of course here in Sydney in the midst of a two-week lockdown.

People told not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. People here know that to protect themselves from this Delta variant, they need to get vaccinated. That's what we've seen here at this vaccination hub here in Sydney today. It's a very wet afternoon.

[02:05:09]

WATSON: That hasn't stopped people from streaming in all day to try to get their vaccination or to get their vaccination and limit their exposure to COVID-19 because Australia has done so well against the virus, but this Delta variant is creeping in through its protective measures that are put in place. Here's what one family said to me at this vaccination hub here today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's aware of how privileged she is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Definitely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In relationship to the population.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially with my age. I know a lot of people are going to wait a while but I'll be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: So Australia's population, Rosemary, is dangerously under vaccinated. Only under five percent of people here have had two doses of the vaccine. And that makes them vulnerable. The government here has been criticized for being perceivably slow to roll things out. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said it's not a race. Well, things changed last night when the Prime Minister announced that the vaccination rollout would be broadened.

Now all people are eligible to get a shot, if they -- it seems safe to do so from their GP. And it's going to now be compulsory for people working in aged care settings and the country's quarantine settings to be vaccinated, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Angus Watson brings the very latest on the situation across Australia. Appreciate it.

And Dr. Sanjaya senanayake is an infectious diseases specialist and associate professor at the Australian National University's medical school. He joins me now from Mollymook in New South Wales, Australia. Thank you so much for talking with us.

DR. SANJAYA SENANAYAKE, INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST: Thank you, Rosemary. Happy to speak with you.

CHURCH: So not only is Australia struggling with the highly transmissible Delta variant, it's also stumbling with its vaccine rollout after doing so well in the initial stages with testing, contact tracing and lockdowns. Why can't Australia get shots in arms faster given the total population isn't even 26 million?

SENANAYAKE: Yes, Rosemary. That's quite true. Look, COVID has been a game if you want to call it that of two hearts where countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan did extremely well at controlling COVID within their communities. But when it came to the vaccine rollout in the second half countries, which had not done so well with COVID control have been leading the way like Israel, the U.K., and the U.S.

Now part of the problem with Australia has been supply at various times. And even now, with the Pfizer vaccine and changes in the advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine. We're worried about that. But of course, there's also been the issue of the AstraZeneca clotting, which is a rare side effect. But the messaging and the changing medical advice has also led to some hesitancy. And on top of that all those other countries I mentioned, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, I think there's a sense of complacency because people have said, well, we don't have much virus here so we can take our time. And I think that has been an important factor too, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Right. And obviously, this is a wake-up call for the country. And we know that new research from Australia indicates the possibility that this Delta variant can be transmitted in just fleeting encounters of five to 10 seconds between people walking past each other in an indoor setting. What is your response to that new research? And how should all nations be responding to this worrying development if this is reliable?

SENANAYAKE: Look, more than -- more than researchers as such, it's more during these outbreaks, particularly in Sydney where they were able to capture an encounter a fleeting encounter on closed circuit T.V. which appeared to be the only encounter this person had with an infected person. It was just looked like a combination of bad luck, and the more infectious virus. And we know with the Delta strain compared to the original strain of COVID, it's twice as infectious.

So, if the -- if a person with the original strain could infect 2-1/2 people, people with the Delta strain, one person can infect five people.

CHURCH: And of course, the World Health Organization has made it clear that the Delta variant poses a significant risk to everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, urging people to wear masks, even if they've had the shots. And of course, we're talking about Pfizer and Moderna, giving people more than 90 percent protection against this variant, but will that need to be the new normal for a while at least back to masks and social distancing and until this Delta variant and perhaps other variants that follow are contained?

[02:10:09]

SENANAYAKE: Look, it may well be. And in terms of vaccine efficacy, we've certainly got data from the U.K. where they use AstraZeneca and Pfizer, showing that to one dose of either vaccine is only 33 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease. With two doses of AstraZeneca that goes to about 60 percent. With two doses of Pfizer, it's about 88 percent. But one reassuring thing is they're both 90 percent effective if you've had two doses of preventing hospitalization.

But you are right, Rosemary, in a very short period of time this Coronavirus has mutated into these very infectious variants of concern. And if we just focus on our own patch of the world, and forget about the rest of the world where there's uncontrolled infection, such as in Africa, such as in parts of Asia, more infectious variants of concern will develop.

CHURCH: Thank you, Doctor for talking with us. A very sobering indeed. And let's hope that something can be done in the near future in terms of getting more vaccines out to more people across the globe. We appreciate you. Thank you.

SENANAYAKE: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, there has been a dramatic turn in the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The Ethiopian military has withdrawn from Tigray's capital Mekelle and the government declared a unilateral ceasefire until September. The spokesman for Tigray regional government says its forces have broken the backbone of the Ethiopian army. But he cautioned the conflict is far from over.

The Ethiopian army with help from Eritrea has been fighting the Tigray People's Liberation Front for nearly eight months. Last week, at least 30 people died when a government airstrike hit a marketplace. It was one of the deadliest attacks in a war that has forced millions of people to flee and push many in the region to the brink of famine. A CNN investigation in April in collaboration with amnesty International exposed the massacre perpetrated by Ethiopian soldiers in the mountains of the Tigray region where government troops have been battling regional forces.

Now CNN has obtained and verified new images confirming not only the identity of the victims, but the Army units of the perpetrators. And we have to warn you the images you're about to see are disturbing but important. Painting a picture of extraordinary impunity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One by one they enter the church. Carrying in sacks all that's left of loved ones executed by Ethiopian soldiers. Villagers risking their lives to retrieve these remains. But this is not just about closure. This is fresh evidence of a January massacre. Throughout the month long conflict in its Tigray region, Ethiopia has promised to hold all who break the law accountable, but they haven't.

We must warn you what you're about to see and hear is horrifying. This is how many saw their loved ones for the first time. Some beheaded, others burned beyond recognition. For six months, families had been denied access to the execution side by Ethiopian soldiers. The remains tell a grim story. Corroborating CNN's original investigation in collaboration with Amnesty International.

This is the old footage of the massacre first broadcast in April. We can't show you the moment of execution but in the aftermath. This soldier tosses a jacket. Notice the black and gray color scheme and the bloodstain same jacket, same blood stain. The man who took this picture confirmed this jacket belonged to his brother, which he found at the massacre site. This video of bullet casings was also filmed at the site last week by family members and sent to CNN.

We asked forensic experts to analyze the casings, they confirmed they were in line with bullets Ethiopian open soldiers would use. The video also reveals the location the same location as the execution site. Notice the distinctive rage in this new footage and now in the footage shot by soldiers during the execution. We also verified the digital footprint. It's a match. Crucially local say they have collected 36 I.D. cards from the scene, but that 37 more people remain missing.

Indicating the massacre could have been much larger than previously suspected. They believe the desecration of the bodies was a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence in the aftermath of our investigation. And more video has emerged to shed light on the perpetrators.

[02:15:03]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given to CNN by a pro Tigray organization based in the U.S. It reveals the nickname of the whistleblower. But more importantly, the rank and division of the unit committing these crimes.

That's the voice of the Ethiopian soldier turned whistleblower.

He names his self in the video twice and names his unit and division. Enough evidence for the Ethiopian government to pursue an investigation, but none has been confirmed. The whistleblower gives his phone to another soldier, so he can also be filmed carrying out an execution. With this level of detail now revealed we asked the Ethiopian government whether they have investigated and punished the perpetrators, we received no response.

After the ceremony at the church, the families gathered to bury the dead in a mass grave. Their grief, they say inflamed by their government's inaction. The identities of the victims are known. The division of the perpetrators is known. Hard to imagine how that inaction can be justified. Nema Elbagir, CNN London.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: U.S. forces came under rocket fire in Eastern Syria on Monday. A U.S. defense official says the rockets were likely launched by Iranian-backed militias operating in eastern Syria near Deir Ezzor. There were no injuries among U.S. troops. The attack came just hours after U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia groups in the region. This video from a pro malicious social media channel allegedly shows the aftermath. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the action on Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message. This action in self-defense to do what's necessary to prevent further attacks. I think sends a very important and strong message. And I hope very much that it is received by those who are intended to receive it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirmed America's ties to Israel. Mr. Biden hosted Israel's President at the White House. It was his first meeting as president with a top Israeli official. He said he looks forward to meeting the new prime minister soon. And he said his relationship with Israel is ironclad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're committed to unwavering commitment to your self-defense. And today we're going to be discussing a broad range of challenges including Iran, what I can say to you, Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch, as they say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: At meeting at the White House came less than two weeks after the election of a hardline candidate to be Iran's next president.

Well, new details are coming to light about the South Florida condo collapse. What a contractor says he saw in a basement garage less than two days before the building fell.

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[02:20:40]

CHURCH: The death toll in that South Florida building collapse is now at 11. With 150 people still unaccounted for. More than 400 rescuers are working around the clock and 12 hour shifts to find anyone who might still be alive, but they acknowledge the hope of finding survivors is fading. The Miami Herald has published pictures taken by a contractor servicing the pool at Champlain towers 36 hours before that collapse.

He says he saw cracks in the concrete and standing water in the basement garage under the pool deck. The Herald reports the area shown in these pictures is not in the part of the building that fell. But experts say if other parts of the structure looked similar that could have contributed to the collapse. And CNN's Drew Griffin has more now on the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As new evidence emerges of past inspections, cracks and potential danger. This short surveillance camera video itself remains the best clue so far as to how and why the Champlain tower itself fell in what forensic engineer Joel Figueroa- Vallines calls a clean collapse.

JOEL FIGUEROA-VALLINES, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, SEP ENGINEERS: There was a pancake effect, so it was almost symmetric and vertical. And what that causes is the structure to come straight down instead of collapsing sideways or collapsing in any other trajectory which would mean that whatever caused it which is unknown at this point would have caused the structure to have a clean vertical collapse of those towers. GRIFFIN: But while engineers continue to speculate from afar, in reality, the answer lies like the victims trapped under rubble. The 40-year-old structure was due for massive repairs. An alarming 2018 inspection report warned of abundant cracking and concrete columns and several instances of deteriorating rebar especially on the condos pool deck and in the parking structure garage underneath the building.

According to the report failed waterproofing was causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slabs below the pool deck and entrance drive. As dire as that may sound several engineers CNN spoke with say the 2018 report did not foresee a catastrophic collapse and minutes from the Condominium Association Board meeting the following month shows that a town official told residents it appears the building is in very good shape.

Champlain Towers South was in the process of recertification on Miami- Dade County government structural and electrical assessment of any building 40 years old. According to the Condominium Association attorney, the building had multiple inspections and was in the process of extensive work, which would have cost $15 million. Structural engineer Jason Borden examined Champlain Tower just last year.

JASON BORDEN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: I saw things that I typically see when we're looking at buildings when we're preparing to do this type of investigation or study. I saw cracks in the stucco facade, I saw deterioration of the concrete balconies, I saw the cracks and deterioration of the garage and Plaza level. But those are all things that we're accustomed to seeing, and that's why our job exists.

GRIFFIN: Any cause for alarm in what you saw.

BORDEN: What I saw no.

GRIFFIN: The lack of alarm is now sending chills through residents and other aging buildings along this beach and beyond. Inspections underway. Voluntary evacuations for the Champlain Towers sister building and a rush to find the answer to why this building just fell. Forensic engineers caution, that answer could yet be months away. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The mayor of Surfside, Florida says he's directed his staff to start gathering every piece of documentation the city has about the Champlain Towers. But his top priority remains pulling people from the rubble of the collapse building.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE FLORIDA MAYOR: We're going to start to piece together exactly what happened and that will be, you know, there's plenty of time for the investigation, but there's not plenty time to save lives and that's where I'm mostly focused today, tomorrow, next indefinite time.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Part of your job isn't just for the people who are trapped in that building, it was for the other people who live in these other buildings, that ring here who want to know that we're safe today.

BURKETT: My main priority right now is the people in that rubble.

BERMAN: OK.

[02:25:09]

BURKETT: OK. The second thing -- the second thing we do we do is we support the people. The third thing is we've got building that's identical to the one that fell down. It has -- it has the same contract, the same name, presumably the same plans, presumably the same materials. And the clock is ticking on that building too. What we did for that was we sent our building inspector in there with an inspector we hired, an eminent Inspector.

The inspector who actually did the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks, and who also did the FIU Bridge when it fell down. So, he's one of the best in the business. And he went into that building where people were fearful because they were calling me. They were saying, listen, is my building safe? I couldn't tell them it was safe. OK? They went in, they did a cursory inspection.

They walked through it, they came back, they called me and they said, listen, Mr. Mayor, we didn't see anything that jumped out at us that gave us the impression that this building was going to fall down tomorrow. But having said that, we need a full blown sort of investigation/

BERMAN: You read the 2018 --

(CROSSTALK)

BURKETT: I have.

BERMAN: What were your feelings?

BURKETT: Well, listen, there are findings there. There are serious significant issues in that report that should have been addressed. Now, it probably should have never gotten that bad, prior to 2018.

BERMAN: Should never have gotten that bad?

BURKETT: It probably, you know, again, if it had been maintained correctly, it probably wouldn't have gotten that bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Burkett also says he understands families and rescue crews are frustrated with the slow pace of the operation.

As the U.S. and NATO troops continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban, making more territorial gains in a lightning offensive. We'll take a look.

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CHURCH: More on our top story as COVID cases rise in many countries around the world. In Australia, more than 10 million people. That's more than a third of the entire population will soon be under lockdown. Authorities are enforcing stay at home orders for four of the eight capital cities. Queensland's premier says she is furious with the rising cases and a lack of vaccines.

Singapore is laying out its plan to "Live normally with COVID-19" accepting that the virus is not going away. Reporter Manisha Tank joins us now with the details. Good to see you, Manisha. So how does Singapore plan to live normally with COVID-19? What does that mean exactly?

[02:30:07]

MANISHA TANK, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it means vaccination is number one, Rosemary. By August 7 of this year, Singapore hopes to have seen two-thirds of its population having received two doses of vaccination here, and the two prominent ones here of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, that, of course, subject to supply. And this is really different to what we're seeing to some other major financial hubs here in Asia, Hong Kong, for example, where the policy seems to be towards zero case numbers.

And in an op-ed that came out in The Straight Times Newspaper about four or five days ago, from the chairs of the multi-ministry COVID-19 task force here, it's made it perfectly clear that there was a roadmap being drawn up for this new normal here in Singapore. And what they cited to this the transmissibility of the delta variant, basically admitting that we may see zero cases. So we have to accept it.

So like I said, vaccination would be key to that, it is running quite high at the moment, but they are doing another boosts. But also producing test kits that make it much easier to know where COVID-19 is apparent in the community and particular variants too, as we will be able to buy tests in pharmacies. And Singapore is also developing a breathalyzer test.

Again, I want to put this in context, in terms of other major cities here in Asia, Hong Kong, we're continuing to see long quarantines for people coming in from various countries. Flights from the U.K. have been totally banned to Hong Kong to stop particularly delta variant cases coming in.

Not so the case here in Singapore. We still have quoted (ph) the reentry. So it's all about treating this particular disease, COVID-19, as if it's similar to flu, for example. But we do see high case numbers every year. The government also saying, we may see vaccinations program. So in addition to the vaccinations that we're getting now, we may have to live a life where we get yearly jabs, for example.

So it's a very different roadmap, and it marks a real milestone in Singapore's approach to this disease, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. It's a very interesting approach. Manisha Tank joining us there from Singapore, I appreciate it.

Well, the violence in Afghanistan is surging as the Taliban move to gain more territory outside of their southern strongholds. The attacks comes us peace talks in Qatar have stalled, and U.S. and NATO forces plan fully withdraw by September 11th.

Nic Robertson reports on the Taliban offensive, and a warning, some of the images are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Days after seizing the strategic border town Shir Khan Bandar, straddling the only highway linking Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the Taliban have reopened it. Although CNN cannot independently verify the video, the lost is not disputed by the government, and is a major first for the Taliban since losing power in 2001. The Afghan border guards, given sanctuary in Tajikistan, effectively becoming the first refugees, the Taliban's northern offensive.

For weeks, a steady stream of unverified victories is being pushed by the Taliban. This purports to be in Parwan Province, Central Afghanistan. The district was under siege for two days now, the commander says, checking his watch, as if every second counts.

Over the past week, the Taliban, claiming to have taken 27 more districts, totaling 117 since May, a figure disputed by the U.N., the Afghan government and the U.S. military. Videos often highlights seizure of U.S.-made military hardware, humvees and trucks.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending. It's going to be sustained.

ROBERTSON: As a meeting with Afghan leaders last week, President Biden promised ongoing military support but no change to the U.S. drawdown, not an easy adjustment for the Afghans.

ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: It has made everybody recalculate and reconsider. We are here to respect it and support it.

ROBERTSON: The Taliban's recalculation, appearing to be, fight first, talk later. Even so, the government is still pushing for peace.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, CHAIRMAN, AFGHANISTAN HIGH COUNCIL FOR RECONSILIATION: I think we shouldn't shut the doors, unless it is completely shut by the Taliban.

ROBERTSON: Glimmers of hope, Taliban gains can be quickly reversed, are rare. This video, government officials say, is the Taliban surrender, a 130 gunmen, handing over their weapons, is disputed by the Taliban, claiming the fighters were a local militia, not their loyal followers.

What the Taliban don't dispute is that their fighters are getting killed. Their spokesman calling out government forces for the poor treatment of their dead in this pro-government video, the bodies, desecrated, no sign of any calming in the near term.

[02:35:06]

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, cities across China lit up in red lights, as the Communist Party celebrates a century of existence. A live report on the other side of the break.

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CHURCH: China has face fears criticism for its handling of COVID-19 and human rights abuses over the past year. But despite all of that, Beijing has a major celebration on its hands, the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party.

And this is how the Communist Party parties. President Xi Jinping has been on hand for fireworks and other massive displays, leading up to the official anniversary on Thursday.

And CNN Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong with more. Good to see you, Kristie. So what are the major plans for this 100th anniversary and how much of this is about sending a message to China's critics?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, on Thursday, that is big day. That is when China will mark 100 years at the Chinese Communist Party. But celebrations had already begun. In fact, last night on Monday, a number of lightshows took place in cities across China.

Also on Monday, there was a big performance at the National Stadium or the Bird's Nest. Of course, that's the centerpiece site that was build for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Earlier today, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was also the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, handed out July 1st medals or awards to outstanding Communist Party members. And in a speech that he gave a few hours ago at the Great Hall of the People, he commended those awarded for their selflessness and their humility. Of course, the big day, the blitz takes place this Thursday, and China ahead of that day is not taking any chances.

It is shadowing down traffic in the Chinese capitol with roadblocks, hundreds of police officers out in force. It is ramping up security and surveillance, and also covert rehearsals of what will take place on Thursday, have been taking place as well.

Now, we have seen this type of micromanagement before. In fact, when I was in Beijing covering the National Day celebration, October 1 of 2019, it was also the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, we saw similar measures in place.

But this year is different. This is the CCP centennial, a very sensitive time. I want you to listen to this, Graeme Smith, from Australian National University.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAEME SMITH, FELLOW, DEPARTMENT OF PACIFIC AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: How do you prove that you are a legitimate government of China? You do so by putting on an enormous show to remind people of what you've given them.

[02:40:01]

So you've lifted them out of poverty, you give them economic growth and you've restored China to its central place in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: That main audience for this celebration is, as Graeme Smith mentioned just there, domestic audience. And the messaging is virtually everywhere inside China, not just slogans and banners in the real world, but in the virtual world as well.

Now, talking to our colleague in Beijing, they say if you fire up an app or a website, even an online shopping platform, you will see banners celebrating 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party. It's also being marked (ph) outside Mainland China here in Hong Kong, where we're you're seeing 100 years of Chinese Communist Party banners and signage on even the iconic ding-ding trams that travel throughout Hong Kong.

This is unprecedented. It's a sight that we have never seen before. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, Kristie Lu Stout joining us there, I appreciate it.

Well, the (INAUDIBLE) of Hong Kong has now close Apple Daily Newspaper continues. According to a staff member, Apple Daily told its workers the Hong Kong government asked for sensitive information during negotiation to unfreeze the company's assets. The paper's parent company believe the request violated the staff's privacy and was consulting legal counsel.

Apple Daily's assets were frozen on after a police raid on the paper's headquarters nearly two weeks ago resulting in its closure since they couldn't pay employees. CNN has reached out to the Hong Kong government for a response.

Barcelona was hosting Europe's first major tech expo since the pandemic began. The Mobile World Congress kicked off Monday with a mixed of in-person and virtual events.

CNN's Nina dos Santos has the highlights and more on the big name headline for Tuesday.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Titans of the world that mobile telecommunications and technology came together to herald the return of big conferences with the unveiling of a much reduced Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This is an event that usually gathers crowd to about 100 thousand strong every single year. People come to hear about the latest trends and also to see the latest technology being unveiled amid great excitement and fan fair.

It could be held at all last year amid the first wave of the pandemic, amid concerns that big events like this had the potential to become super-spreader events. But now, with more people vaccinated against the coronavirus, more testing available and also mask wearing indoors and social obligatory, the organizers say that they feel comfortable they can push on a safe event.

Despite that, a number of CEOs who will be addressing the crown will be doing so remotely. That includes the likes Ericsson or Qualcomm and Intel. But there are some who will still be present, including the likes of Huaweii.

Among the big topics of conversation this year, inclusion, the internet thing, which has helped people and the connectivity to do things, like work from home and also the latest wearable technology, touch screen devices, yes, but also hands-free devices as well, but in today's COVID-era, might be as safer option.

Amid the big draws (ph) will be Elon Musk's address the crowd. That will take place at the end of the day on Tuesday. Many people came to hear what the Tesla founder will have to predict for the next year to come after the last turbulent two that we had.

Nina dos Santos, CNN in London.

CHURCH: And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back at the top of the hour. But World Sport is coming up next.

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[02:45:00]