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China's Ruling Communist Party Marks Centennial; Delta Variant Fuels New Restrictions, Delays Reopenings; Historic Heart Wave Affects Millions In Western U.S. & Canada; China's Ruling Communist Party Marks Centennial; Miami-Dade Mayor: Two Children Among 18 Confirmed Dead; Judge Denies November Request To Remove Pop Star's Father As Co- Conservator; Bill Cosby Released From Prison In Stunning Court Reversal; Executed Iranian Athlete "A Hero For Millions". Aired 12- 12:45a ET

Aired July 1, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The select committee to investigate the January 6 attack. Criminal charges expected tomorrow against Donald Trump's company and one of his top corporate soldiers, longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg. The death toll climbing the Surfside Florida Apartment collapse as more bodies are found in the rubble. And sadly the number now includes children. John Berman in for Anderson. There's all that and then there's this.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: : Philadelphia court overturns Bill Cosby's sentence the sexual assault to the shock of more than 50 women who accused him of sexual misconduct.

As the saying goes, history is written by victors. And in Beijing, they're writing their own version of history to celebrate 100 (INAUDIBLE) glorious years since the founding of the Communist Party. The message from China's leadership, the Communist Party is the sole reason modern China has become a formidable world power. Anything that is good was their doing. Anything that was bad, well, judging by the ceremonies this week, there was no bad in the past, no dark moments, no mistakes, no repression.

Addressing a carefully vetted crowd of tens of thousands in Tiananmen Square, President Xi Jinping said China will never be bullied or oppressed by foreign forces. He also called out Taiwan, saying China wants to crush its independence. And he stressed the one country, two systems' principle of governance for Hong Kong and Macau must be respected. We get more now in the celebrations from CNN's Steven Jiang reporting in from Tiananmen Square.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the Chinese Communist Party, this thing is about putting on an enormous show to remind the people what the party has given them. It's about traveling down the memory lane, but very selectively, as we have heard from the parties in the country's most powerful leader in decades, Xi Jinping said in that speech extolling the party's virtuals, and listing his accomplishments, many of which undeniable from its humble beginning, the party has become the world's most powerful political organization, boasting more than 95 million members commanding the world's second biggest economy with a fast modernizing military that increasingly unnerves the United States.

But how the party has gotten here, the journey has not always been as glorious as the official history portrays. There is its ruthless nature, its harsh crackdown on any forms of dissent, both within and outside of party, resulting in the deaths of millions of Chinese. These dark chapters, obviously being downplayed, or even outright censored here in China, including the bloody crackdown on pro- democracy protesters right here in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

But the party has always managed to not only survive, but even thrive after these episodes because of its willingness and ability to shift ideologies and priorities. That's why the leadership launched its reform, the opening policy after the tumultuous cultural evolution, ushering in decades of rapid economic growth. That's also why Xi Jinping has been reinserting the party into every aspect of Chinese society, not just in politics and military but also in private business and private life to ensure the party maintains its monopoly on power in the age of new technologies and social media.

The party has taken advantage of its top-down power structure to deliver economic benefits and effective governance for ordinary people across the country, lifting millions out of poverty, and injecting a sense of national pride, thanks to its growing technological prowess, and increasing global clout. And all of this, obviously now being used by the party to tout the superiority if it's system, even as the strongman leaders, policies, and ambitions increasingly clash with those of the United States and other liberal democracies of the world. Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following the story live for us in Hong Kong with Will Ripley standing by in Taipei, but first, to you Kristie there in Hong Kong, this celebration, it's not just happening today. It's not just happening this week. It's been all year long, and the message that has to be coming from the Communist Party has been the same. All that is good has come from them.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it is culminated to this day a day of projected strength and triumph for the Chinese Communist Party. And in the last few hours, we had a very lengthy speech from the Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, Beijing, in which he marked the milestone in which he praised the successes of the party in last 100 years, in which he also praised the national rejuvenation that the party has been able to achieve. He also had some more pointed words while he said that -- made the claim that China's never bullied other nations, he had this message for China's rivals. Take a listen.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): At the same time,

the Chinese people will never allow any foreign forces to bully, oppress, and enslave us. Anyone who tries to do so will find themselves in a collision course, with the Great Wall of steel forged by 1.4 billion people.


STOUT: Xi Jinping also said that no one should try to underestimate China's strong ability to defend its sovereignty. And when he used those words, strong ability, or (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) that brought about a huge reaction from the crowd, a roar, a huge round of applause.

Now look, in the days and weeks leading up to this moment, there has been wall-to-wall coverage in the real world and also online and in state-run media, praising the party, and what it's done the last 100 years being able to transform a nation that was once impoverished, wracked by famine, and civil war and turned it into an economic and high tech powerhouse, that was underscored by a message sent earlier today from outer space.

Three Chinese astronauts on board the Tianhe Chinese Space Station module, beaming down to China, congratulations to the party on its centennial. But this day, analysts say, is not just about the party, it's also about a person, Chinese President Xi Jinping, the core leader of China, take a listen.


GRAEME SMITH, DEPARTMENT OF PACIFIC AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: He's powerful until things run against him. So at the moment, he's doing quite a good job of controlling the narrative around which China is going. And it's -- from the outside appears to be an increasingly hardline narrative. But he does certainly have -- seems to have a firm grip than he had on apparently in 2013, that's for sure.


STOUT: And a firmer grip on Hong Kong as well. Today is also the one- year anniversary of the imposition of the National Security Law. In the last year, 117 people have been arrested under the law. John.

VAUSE: So Kristie, when we're looking at the situation, one of those aspects, which, you know, maybe not so glorious would be the situation in Hong Kong with the democracy and the handover from Britain to China. That was 24 years ago, also on this day.

STOUT: Yes, that's right. And today, marking number of anniversaries, the centennial for the CCP, 24 years since the handover, as well as one year of the national security law, and this day, July 1, historically speaking in Hong Kong, which used to be a raucous and rebellious place, would be a day of mass protest. Before the second year in a row, no protests taking place in a massive scale this day. There was a small protest that we monitored earlier today. Four people

marching on the streets of Hong Kong, surrounded by police, saying release political prisoners and down with fascism. Back to you, John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Let's go to Taiwan now which China sees as a breakaway province. CNN's Will Ripley is standing by for us in Taipei. Quite the message for the folks here in Taiwan if you thought about independence.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are no congratulatory official telegrams coming from Taipei to Beijing on this day, John. This self-governing island, since the end of China's Civil War back in 1949, has evolved over the decades into the world's only Chinese- speaking democracy.

And it is a system that most people here cherish, even those who are in support of a more sustainable, friendly relationship with Beijing primarily for economic reasons, simply because of China's economic firepower that Kristie alluded to in her report and Steven Jiang earlier, China is certainly an economic force. And on this island, it's also an intimidating force. Just last month, the largest ever recorded incursion through Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone of Chinese warplanes 28 war planes.

And so this display of strength from Beijing is certainly being watched very closely here in Taipei, but the mood is not celebratory, it is defiant. It is a mood of -- it is a move -- a mood of an island that says it wants to remain governing itself despite the fact that China has claimed this island as its territory for more than 70 years since the end of the Civil War.

VAUSE: Will, thank you. Will Ripley live for us there in Taipei, also we got Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. Thanks to you both.

U.K. is now reporting its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in months. More than 26,000 infections were reported on Wednesday, a peak not seen since the end of January. The country is heading towards another potential wave of Coronavirus cases with the Delta variant mostly to blame. The pandemic that was claiming fewer lives, mostly because nearly two thirds of adults there are now fully vaccinated. The U.K. Department of Health is considering booster shots to those who are most at risk to be given out later this year.

Well, the Delta variant has now been confirmed in all 50 U.S. states. It's spreading around the globe faster than vaccinations. We have details now from CNN's Kim Brunhuber.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Plans to ease COVID restrictions now delayed in parts of France, strict new measures imposed in South Africa, fresh lockdowns in three Australian cities, new restrictions in Bangladesh. Indonesia, parts of Thailand, and elsewhere in Asia.

[00:10:03] They are among countries renewing the fight to contain the Coronavirus as the so-called Delta variant reaches across the globe. First detected in India in February, cases have now been reported in dozens of countries. In some places, it's spreading quickly as the country struggled to vaccinate their populations. Public health officials warn the new strain is behind recent spikes in some countries like Russia, South Africa, and also Indonesia, where Red Cross says there is a warning of a COVID catastrophe as the country's recent surge strains hospitals and oxygen supplies.

Worldwide, it's on track to become the most dominant version of Coronavirus according to one W.H.O. official. European health officials say it's 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in England, making it the most contagious form of Coronavirus to date. In the U.S., it now accounts for one in four cases and has spread to every state.

In the United Kingdom, the Delta variant makes up nearly all new infections. Although the U.K. had a relatively successful vaccine rollout, the variant is spreading quickly among the unvaccinated. The current vaccines being used in the U.K., Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are proving effective against the Delta variant.

Still, experts say the new mutations are changing the equation of herd immunity, adding to the concern a new and slightly changed version of the Delta variant called Delta Plus, which has been spotted in at least 11 countries. Health officials are investigating whether it may be more resistant to vaccines. For now, authorities say it's too soon to tell.

Instead they're warning the public stay watchful but don't panic as an ever changing virus prolongs the world's fight to contain this pandemic. Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


VAUSE: Dr. Peter Hotez is Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He is joining us from Houston in Texas, and it's been a while. It's good to see you, Dr. Hotez.


VAUSE: OK. Well, you know, we've talked a lot in the past about the vaccinated and the unvaccinated world, the haves and the have nots. And we're now talking about another here where the vaccinated world gets the best available with the highest efficacy like Moderna, which this week announced its vaccine is effective against the Delta variant. Well, the other world where they get the vaccine they can afford, and the New York Times reports that there's 90 countries whose only real option was the much less effective made in China vaccine.

Here's the headline, "They Relied on Chinese Vaccines. Now They're Battling Outbreaks." Add to that, the recent case in Indonesia, 10 doctors who died from COVID linked to the Delta variant, even though they were fully vaccinated with this sign of that, clearly, not all vaccines here are created equally when it comes to the Delta variant. And with the Delta variant so dominant around the world now, that clearly matters.

HOTEZ: Yes, that's absolutely right. And what you're seeing is a clear Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere divide. The Northern Hemisphere, having full access to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines, the J&J vaccine, where the Southern Hemisphere has limited access to those and access to vaccines that are not quite as effective. And the reason we know that is these vaccines, all -- they all work by similar mechanisms, inducing what are called very high levels of virus neutralizing antibody, the mRNA vaccines do that -- the best and maybe with the J&J vaccine, the others do not.

And so they're not as resilient against the variants. And that's why you're seeing some of the Chinese vaccines, some of the others are not as effective. And, you know, in my 40 years of being a vaccine scientist, this is one of the worst disparities I've seen in a long, long time.

VAUSE: Well, this sort of situation of a vaccinated world and unvaccinated world is existing in the United States. Here's the chief -- White House Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci talking about that.


ANTHONY STEPHEN FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR: It's almost like it's going to be two Americas. You're going to have areas where the vaccine rate is high, where there's more than 70 percent of the population as we see the least one dose. When you compare that with areas where you may have 35 percent of the people vaccinated, you clearly have a high risk of seeing these spikes in those selected areas.


VAUSE: So you have spikes in these selected areas, but for the most part, the unvaccinated in the U.S. are unvaccinated by choice. If you look at the world map where people are fully vaccinated and where they are not, well, you know, the Africa, for example, has a very high rate of -- or low rate of vaccination. There's no vaccine hesitancy in Africa. It's simply a problem of supply.

So again, if that supply comes from China, it may be better than nothing. But it seems to be the best way to end the pandemic.

HOTEZ: That's right. So there is some vaccine hesitancy in Africa and we now know that some of this is coming from the Russian government, which has been seeking to discredit Western COVID vaccines in favor of Sputnik V. This has been reported by the analytics group NovAtel and there's a lot of anti-vaccine disinformation coming out of Russia.


So it's not entirely true. We are seeing vaccine hesitancy in the Southern Hemisphere through deliberate disinformation, which is so tragic. But you're absolutely right, we need to do a better job providing access.

VAUSE: There's also this reporting from the Washington Post about the vaccine passwords in Europe. AstraZeneca vaccine dose produced in India, not included in Europe's vaccine passport ahead of launch. And that's despite the fact it's chemically identical to the versions being made in the West. But the end result is that for the E.U., travelers coming from more than 130, mainly low and middle income countries who may have been vaccinated through the COVAX program, will be considered unvaccinated.

It's kind of like a reverse discrimination, if you like. This is a -- we have a vaccine with high efficacy, but it's being treated as if it's just not effective.

HOTEZ: Well, I think the worst part is it sends a chilling message to those who've gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute, which is, you know, one of the largest producers of vaccines in the world and a very strong high quality organization. You know, if we start creating this two-tier system of vaccines coming out of India versus coming out of Europe or North America, this is not going to go well. And it only adds to vaccine hesitancy and refusal across the Southern Hemisphere.

So we have this terrible situation of not only health and health equity situation where the Southern Hemisphere doesn't have access, but we do things to either spread to disinformation, or actions that are taken by leaders in Europe in the United States, to basically say that we don't really care very much about the Southern Hemisphere. We don't care so much about global health. And it's unacceptable, and it's awful.

And I've actually been quite critical of the Biden administration in this aspect, because they've not really created a coherent foreign policy for vaccine diplomacy for the world. What they're doing are kind of one-off activities, patent waivers, which will have no impact on the pandemic in the foreseeable future, or they agreed to donate 200 million doses of mRNA vaccines this year and 300 million doses next year.

Let's look at the scope of this. We have two to three billion people in the world's low and middle income countries in the Southern Hemisphere. We need six billion doses of high quality vaccines, and we need the U.S. government to step up and take that leadership role in collaboration with the other g7 countries. Otherwise, this pandemic will continue to rage including the Delta Varian.

VAUSE: Peter, thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come. Ethiopia's government says a troop withdrawal from the capital, the Tigray region, was voluntary, not forced. That claim will be hard to verify because of the communication blackout. More on that in a moment. Also, a brutal heatwave continues across the western United States and Canada. Ahead, we'll get the forecast and when temperatures may finally begin to cool. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


VAUSE: Exactly what is or is not happening in Ethiopia's Tigray region remains unclear. The U.N. describes the current situation as extremely fluid and unpredictable. Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from the regional capital, Mekelle, but the Prime Minister says they left voluntarily for political reasons. That claim cannot be independently verified because other communications blackout. CNN's Larry Madowo has more now reporting from Nairobi.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After declaring a unilateral ceasefire and leaving Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, now the Ethiopian military is trying to reframe the conversation and the narrative about why exactly they left. The military's saying now that this Mekelle is no longer the center of gravity it once was, and the Tigrayan fighters do not present an existential threat to the nation. And they withdrew so that their humanitarian needs of this region can be addressed. Access for aid workers and withdrawing Eritrean troops that remain there.

There's the State Minister Redwan Hussein speaking to the press.


REDWAN HUSSEIN, ETHIOPIAN STATE MINUTES (through translator): First, the fighting needed to stop which we stopped. Secondly, if we were still there, even if we stopped fighting, the government would still be blamed for killing people or hindering access. So we decided to take our troops out all together in a transparent manner for everyone to see. It was a political decision, not a military one. If the political decision were reversed, the military could enter Mekelle even now.


MADOWO: The Tigrayan Defense Forces have rejected this unilateral ceasefire declared by the Ethiopian government and communications still remains down in the area, no phone connectivity, no internet, it's difficult to access and tell exactly what's going on. There's going to be a U.N. Security Council meeting about this region and this conflict on Friday. The Ethiopian government is also warning that if they're provoked, the word is provoked they're using, they can easily re enter Mekelle at any time.

And this is the spectrum of conflict that still hangs over this region, which has seen a bloody brutal conflict for eight months. And it looks like if this continues the standoff, the people who are in dire need of aid or food, of help, will still be very gravely affected by what happens. Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.

VAUSE: Donald Rumsfeld, best known for sayings like "There are known knowns -- known unknowns and unknown unknowns." He was also the military architects of the US wars in Iraq and defense secretary to President Ford and George W. Bush has died. He passed away Tuesday at his home in New Mexico.

He was 88 years old. He says George W. Bush in his administration during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was one of the architects. Critics blamed Rumsfeld for many of the issues that likely went wrong including the Iraqi insurgency, the Abu Ghraib scandal, and the fact that the brutal dragged on for years. Rumsfeld never accepted any blame. In a statement, former President Bush said he and his wife, Laura, are very sorry to learn of Don's passing. Bush also called Rumsfeld an exemplary public servant and a very good man.

Well, the number of reported Southern deaths in Western Canada is climbing as the region remains gripped by a record-breaking heat wave. Nearly 500 people have died since Friday in British Columbia, almost triple the usual numbers seen over a five-day period. Chief Coroner of the provinces says it's likely the spike in deaths can be linked to the extreme weather. And we're now earning the village of Lytton, which is -- set Canada's highest ever record temperature this week, is now being evacuated because of a fast-moving wildfire.

Let's go to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who has the very latest on this. Almost like they burst into flames.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know what, that's exactly what's been happening across a large area of the region here in British Columbia. And, of course, the Western United States, John, and you talk about these fatalities. Often we've seen studies in the past with large scale heat waves as the one we just experienced and a lot of these fatalities, the onset of them can happen within a say seven to ten-day period after the peak of the heat wave as people begin to really succumb to these extreme conditions.

Day after day, the body gets weaker and weaker. But, of course, given a lot of these areas do not have air conditioning within their homes, it makes it that much more challenging on the body to be able to recover night after night of remaining warm. But notice there's the community there of Lytton, population sits at about 250 people. Fires across this region beginning to encroach onto the community where the evacuations now are in place for the entire village.

And we only have here, of course, this is the community where temperatures for three consecutive days broke all-time Canadian National records, getting up to values that we're comparing to the Middle East here. We're talking nearly 50 degrees in British Columbia. Not only is that impressive in its own right, it is the warmest temperature ever observed at the 50-degree north latitudinal mark.


So it speaks to how far north the air here has been heating up to over the last several days, but across the Western U.S., upwards of almost 50 large active fires. We know Western U.S. also dealing with 90 percent of the region -- imagine 90 percent of the entirety of the Western United States dealing with drought conditions.

Now look at this, wildfires, of course, the seasons still yet to give and it's underway. It's typically August and September, you kind of see fire activity flourish but 10-year average here for fires is about 25,000 and we are already well ahead of that mark. And of course with high pressure across this region, gradually shifting a little farther towards the east, we expect the temperatures to cool off.

But here's the forecast across this area of British Columbia, notice there is a possibility of thunderstorms, not much rain is going to reach the ground when the atmosphere is so dry, we call this virga, the rain falls out of the atmosphere, it evaporates, you can kind of smell it if you live in a dry landscape, you smell the rain falling and sometimes we feel the temperatures try to cool down a little bit, but not much reaches the ground. And the concern with that is, of course, it could ignite additional fires and these gusty winds will make it that much more dangerous with very little rain inside, John.

VAUSE: OK, Pedram. Thank you. Appreciate the update. We'll take a short break. When we come back, China's Communist Party turning 100. Pulling out all the stops to celebrate. We'll speak to an expert on Chinese communism about the significance of this anniversary and what Beijing might just be planning for the next 100 years.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN Newsroom with me, John Vause. Well, it's party time for China's communist celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ruling party.

Tens of thousands have gathered in the past few hours in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to mark the occasion. China's President Xi Jinping addressed the crowd saying China, "Will never allow any foreign forces to bully, oppress, and enslave us. And if they do, they will find themselves in a collision course with the great wall of steel forged by 1.4 billion people."

Richard McGregor is a Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia. He was the Financial Times Bureau Chief in Beijing and Washington. He is author of The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers. It's regarded as the definitive book on China's Communist Party. And Richard, it's good to have you with us on this day. Just your bumper sticker take here on the celebrations. It seems the propaganda hasn't really changed. The omissions are still there about what went wrong, it just kind of gets a lot glitzier over time.


RICHARD MCGREGOR, SENIOR FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE: Yes, so glitzier. Bigger -- I think the big change. I mean, John, you, like me have been in Beijing for some of the parties, parties. But, you know, China is that sort of peak confidence right now, you know, in the past China was, you know, proud and assertive, but they weren't strong and powerful. Now they are strong and powerful with a growing military, and an economy, which will probably soon overtake America.

So that's my big take. It's not so much that the sort of the rhetoric is different, but the China is a much more powerful nation and can kind of do the things now that it always wanted to do in the past, but couldn't. VAUSE: Wish it was a little more from President Xi's speech earlier today. Here he is, listen to this.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translation): Comrades and friends today, the first of July is a great and solemn day in the history of both the CPC and the Chinese nation. We gather here to join all party members and Chinese people of all ethnic groups around the country and celebrating the centenary of the party.

Looking back on the glorious journey, the party has traveled over 100 years of struggle, and looking ahead to the bright prospects for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.


VAUSE: Yes. That glorious journey over the past 100 years, yes, there have been some moments of glory. But there's also been moments of tragedy and completely wasted moments of great pain, suffering and death.

You know, the old argument would be a truly confident Communist Party would own the bad as well as the good. But by ignoring the dark pages from the past, almost seems to be, you know, a sign of confidence verging on arrogance?

MCGREGOR: Well, it's strange, you know, China is a weird mixture of great confidence and extreme insecurity. And I think that in some perverse ways, held the party in good stead. You know, they're always sitting on the edge of their seats, are worrying about the next problem.

The second point, I think, is that history really matters. They want to control history, they don't want to highlight the sorts of things that you were referring to the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the great famine, and the like, 1989 in Beijing, the military crackdown. They want to, you know, accentuate the positive, it really essentially bury or manage the rest of the stuff. And that's the way I think that's a sort of an appeal to, you know, important thing about this, they want to appeal to the emotion of the Chinese people.

Notice the words you had in the intro, that this piece that foreigners want to enslave the Chinese. And I think looking at the positive side, the negative stuff is the sort of thing that we want to talk about, not the Chinese.

VAUSE: What is also notable is this is very much Xi Jinping's Communist Party, and gone are the days of Deng Xiaoping who preferred on low profile international affairs, biding times and hiding strengths and approach to domestic reforms has been like crossing the river by feeling for stones. You sort of alluded to, at the beginning, this is now a very confident and very powerful China. And this is what we can expect in the next 10, 20, 30 years.

MCGREGOR: Absolutely, I think. I mean, a lot of it depends on how whether China continues to do well. And a lot I think, depends on frankly, the U.S. whether the U.S. can have a robust recovery, settle its political system, and be confident in its own software, many China benchmarks itself against U.S. power, not so much Western power.

But certainly Xi Jinping is likely to stay in office for some time, we don't know exactly how long. He doesn't want to leave office without having made genuine progress on Taiwan via political talks or actual takeover. He wants to sort of cement Chinese control of the South China Sea and the East China Sea where they conflict with Japan. So these are all really big deals, and Xi is absolutely committing China and the party to reach them.

VAUSE: We will find out I guess, for sure next year, if Xi Jinping really will be president for life when we?

MCGREGOR: Yes. We'll find out next year. I mean, he's in theory, he's under the old rules, he should have old conventions, he sort of stepped down, he should step down at the end of next year. There's no indication he will. There's also no indication, we don't know whether he'll sort of nominate a successor or a number of potential successes. In all likelihood, he won't.

There's one position you probably don't want to occupy in China. And that's to be Xi Jinping successor, because you probably then have a massive target on your back. And I think he wants to hang around. I mean, my working days and this is speculation is 2035 and 2035, he'll be 82 years old, which by the way, is the same age as Joe Biden at the end of his first term.

VAUSE: Interesting point. You know what, the thing about the Communist Party in China, it's been in power for 72 years without a mandate by voters. The communists in Moscow ruled for a little longest actually the Kim family in North Korea, the Workers Party. But in China, they've built what is now the world's second biggest economy. They looked at an impoverished nation. You know, they've hundreds of millions out of poverty. How they get to that next stage which was described today by Xi as, a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced. And they wanted is by 2049, which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.


MCGREGOR: Yes, well, you've done your math, John. They're --

VAUSE: Thank you.

MCGREGOR: -- about to take over the Soviet Union and North Korea depends, some people say 48 Some people say 49. But in any case, most communist parties have been consigned to the dustbin of history. North Korea, it's a mendicant nation, only Vietnam is somewhat similar to China. But the key to China's success is to state the obvious, but some people forget this is a successful economy.

Now, they're not going to grow at 10% a year anymore, they go coming back to about 5 or 6%. That's probably enough. But it depends how you get to that 5 or 6% and/or whether you simply do it by issuing more debt or by greater productivity. So, it gets tougher, in many ways. Not tough so much that the party collapses, but tougher to keep adding sort of sinew to the muscle, declining population, great debt, environmental problems, a more hostile world. That's why Xi Jinping is, you know, always talks about struggle. We've seen those, China's got, you know, triumph ahead of it, but a lot of hard years as well.

VAUSE: They do put on a good parade. Richard, thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate you having me on this day. It's a great to have your insights.

MCGREGOR: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Take care.

(INAUDIBLE) break when we come back, Bill Cosby, a free man, after a state Supreme Court threw out his sexual assault conviction. How his accusers are now responding to that, in a moment.


VAUSE: The bodies of two children aged four and 10 have been pulled from the rubble bringing the death toll in that Florida apartment building collapse to 18. All workers will join the search and rescue effort in the coming days but their work will be more difficult by rain and thunderstorms with the potential for strong winds as well as lightning.

The mayor of Surfside says, the work will go on until all 145 people were still missing are found.


CHARLES BURKETT, MAYOR, SURFSIDE FL: You know, nobody's giving up hope here. You know, if I have anything to do with it, we're going to keep going till we pull every single person out of that, well, there's no reason to stop. There's no reason to lose hope and we are praying and expecting a miracle. The President is coming tomorrow. And, you know, the enthusiasm, energy, the desire to find these people and bring them out alive is stronger than ever.


VAUSE: Just moments before the building collapse, these images were recorded by two people staying in a nearby hotel, showing water and debris crush it -- gushing from the building's garage.

The U.S. federal government is now launching its own investigation into what caused the collapse.

Well Britney Spears' father will remain in charge of the pop stars multi-million dollar state at least for now. Los Angeles judge has denied the motion from November, which requested the singer's father be removed as her co-conservator. The decision is not a result of Spears' bombshell testimony last week, where she asked a judge to help regain control of her estate. Three sources close to the star say, she plans to file a petition soon to terminate the nearly 13-year-old conservatorship.


After spending nearly three years in prison, disgrace comedian Bill Cosby is back home, a free man with his sexual assault conviction surprisingly overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because of the major legal error by the prosecution.

CNN's Jason Carroll has reaction now from his accusers.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walking free. Bill Cosby leaving prison after Pennsylvania's highest court vacated his conviction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said his heart was racing. He couldn't believe it.

CARROLL (voice-over): The 83-year-old former comedian now home after being released this afternoon. The court deciding that prosecutors violated his due process rights, writing, the subsequent decision by successor DA to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby's due process rights. He must be discharged in any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.

According to the court, Cosby was originally promised immunity in exchange for testimony in a civil case. A decade later, a different prosecutor use that testimony against him in his criminal trial.

BRIAN PERRY, ATTORNEY FOR BILL COSBY: We said from day one, we just didn't think he was treated fairly and that the system has to be fair. And fortunately, the Supreme Court agreed with us.

CARROLL (voice-over): In 2018, Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. That conviction came after a mistrial on the same charges. Cosby, once known as America's dad has long fought for his release being denied appeal in 2019 and denied parole just last month. His conviction was the first high profile celebrity case in the me-too era.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Guilty, guilty, guilty.

CARROLL (voice-over): And his release dealing a blow to the multiple women who accused him of sexual assault. A lawyer for three of the accusers tweeting, he is not released because he is innocent. He is released because a prosecutor promised him years ago that he would not be brought to justice.

Andrea Constand, the woman at the center of the criminal case and her lawyers releasing a statement saying in part, today's majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern, despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality. And we urge all victims to have their voices heard. But Cosby does have some support and former co-star Phylicia Rashad, he tweeted finally a terrible wrong is being righted. A miscarriage of justice is corrected.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.


VAUSE: One of Princess Diana's favorite parts of Kensington Palace will be the permanent site of a statue her honor. The statue will be unveiled later Thursday on what would have been her 60th birthday. Work began on redesigning the Sunken Garden 2019 and it's filled with Princess Diana's favorite flowers including forget me nots, and tulips.

Many will be watching the strange Princes William and Harry as they attend the unveiling of their mother statue. They last saw each other at the funeral their grandfather, Prince Philip.

With that, thank you for watching "CNN Newsroom". I'm John Vause. Please stay with us, "WORLD SPORTS" starts after the break. And I'll see you in about 16 minutes more.