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Last U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base; WHO: New Cases are Up 10 Percent in Europe, First Increase Since April; There is Rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe; Crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray Region; Biden Meets With Families, Search And Rescue Teams; Trump Org, CFO Charged In 15-Year Tax Fraud2 Scheme; Xi: China Will Smash Taiwan Independence Attempts. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired July 2, 2021 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): And welcome to our viewers from around the world. I'm Paula Newton. Ahead right here on "CNN Newsroom," all American and NATO troops have withdrawn from Bagram Air Base, ending the security they provide to the people of Afghanistan. We are live in Kabul with the latest.

Plus, I'll ask Indonesia's health minister about how the delta variant is impacting the coronavirus outbreak. And his parents survived the holocaust. Now, he is the target of anti-Semitic attacks. A look at the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond. That's next.

And we continue with our breaking news coverage. Truly historic what is going on in Afghanistan as the U.S. and allied forces withdrawal is now apparently complete.

Now, a senior defense official tells CNN that the last American troops have left Bagram Air Base, ending U.S.-NATO security for the Afghan people. A sprawling compound has become the center of military power in Afghanistan. Here is what the top U.S. commander had to say about the situation there.


SCOTT MILLER, TOP U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: The security situation is not good right now. That's something that's recognized by the Afghan security forces and they are making the appropriate adjustments as we move forward.


NEWTON: And he went much further than that. CNN's Anna Coren has been there for all of it. She joins me now from Kabul. It's called America's forever war for a very good reason, Anna. You've covered it quite a bit. We are now two decades later. What is the United States leaving behind?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Paula, we've had just it confirmed by a U.S. defense official that all U.S. and coalition forces have left Bagram Air Base this morning.

That comes after the United States at the height of this war, this 20- year war, had 100,000 troops in the country. That has now been reduced to less than a thousand and they will protect the U.S. embassy as well as secure the international airport until Turkish forces arrive.

This U.S. defense official is telling us that General Miller, who you just saw then, the four-star general in charge of this withdrawal, he will still have the capabilities and authorities to protect the remaining forces.

But, Paula, America leaves with Afghanistan in an incredibly fragile state. We know that the security situation has rapidly deteriorated while the Taliban have launched offenses around the country, particularly in the north, gaining ground on a daily basis. The Taliban not interested in peace and certainly not interested in sharing power with the Afghan government.

We spoke yesterday in an exclusive interview to Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. He is part of the Afghan government leadership. He is in charge of the peace talks, which he says are virtually non-existent, no progress has been made. Take a listen to some of that conversation.


COREN: Dr. Abdullah, how can you guarantee that Afghanistan will not be a safe haven for terrorists in the future?

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN HIGH COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION: I don't think that there is a guarantee. The Taliban have failed. They promised that they will delink with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We don't have many signs of that. So, that's the danger for us as well as for the region and beyond.

COREN: A U.S. intelligence report said the Afghan government could fall within six months once U.S. troops withdraw. Do you see the Taliban one day toppling the Afghan government?

ABDULLAH: No. That may be their thinking or thinking in -- and parts of Taliban movement, but this will not happen.

COREN: You are obviously in charge of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. You've said yourself that they've made no progress. What is the latest?

ABDULLAH: Very little progress, very slow pace, and look at the urgency of the situation, look at what's going on in the country and the opportunities that we missed as a result of the continuation of the war.

COREN: What do you think the past 20 years America's longest war has achieved for Afghanistan?


ABDULLAH: Most part of Afghanistan was under the Taliban control. Al- Qaeda was freelancing. Osama bin Laden was planning Washington and New York from Afghanistan. That part, of course, some challenges remain. The situation of women in Afghanistan, so freedoms, freedom of speech, awareness of the people about their rights, it's a very different Afghanistan today.

COREN: We've been speaking to so many Afghans who now just want to leave the country with the deteriorating security situation. What is your message to these people, these people who were perhaps the future of this country?

ABDULLAH: Our country, our people are going through very, very difficult times. The world has supported us and they will continue to support, but it is only us who can save it. Those who believe in military takeover take responsibility for the continuation of the misery of the people, suffering of the people. And they will not have their ideas materialized.


COREN (on camera): Certainly a bleak assessment there from Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who has lived through decades of war, not just the U.S. involvement here in Afghanistan but also the Soviet involvement here in Afghanistan.

He said that if it was up to the Afghans, the Americans would not have left, but this is the reality and that they have to learn to live with it. The 300,000 Afghan national security forces, they now have to step up and protect the people, protect the capital cities.

The Taliban, I should note, Paula, wasn't making advances in gaining territory, have not taken any provincial capitals. And here where we are in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, you know, they are on the perimeter, 10, 15 kilometers away. But Dr. Abdullah, as you heard, convinced that they can secure these major areas.

But for the troops on the ground sustaining mass casualties, it is incredibly demoralizing today. This is not a victory for America that has lost so much blood and treasure over the last 20 years. This certainly is not a victory for Afghanistan, which thought it would have come so much further in the last two decades. The only victory that is being celebrated today is by the Taliban. Paula?

NEWTON (on camera): Yes, certainly the Taliban not negotiating because they don't think they need to at this point. Anna, as I said before, it's really good to have you on the ground there. We will continue to follow this breaking news story in Afghanistan. Thank you so much.

Now, global health experts are warning another deadly wave of COVID-19 infections could be on the horizon as the highly contagious delta variant spreads quickly worldwide.

The World Health Organization is now reporting a 10 percent spike in new cases across Europe, many of them linked to the delta variant. It's the first time those weekly figures have gone up since April.


NEWTON: Yup, that's called celebrating, and yet health experts say the scenes like we are watching there from London where football fans gathered in large numbers for the Euro 2020 championship games are contributing to the resurgence of cases. One WHO official said he fears another wave in Europe is inevitable.

HANS KLUGE, WHO REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: The city conditions for a new wave of excess hospitalizations and deaths before autumn are therefore in place. New variants, deficit in vaccine uptake, increased social mixing. And there will be a new wave in the (INAUDIBLE) region unless we remain disciplined.


NEWTON (on camera): Barbie Nadeau joins us from Rome, and standing by in London is Darren Lewis with "CNN World Sport." Barbie, first to you. We just heard it there, right? The WHO is alarmed, an increase of 10 percent. And this is the issue. It's not just the venues, obviously, themselves. It's all about people gathering to watch, right?

And a reminder to everyone that the vaccinations in Europe got off to such a slow start that they really are at risk with this delta variant now.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, it is very disconcerting all across Europe when you see -- a couple weeks ago, when they open up this Euro championship game here in Italy, in Rome, people were nervous about it. There were crowds gathered not just at the stadium.


NADEAU: Those in the stadium had proved they didn't have COVID. They had to prove they've been vaccinated. But the city was filled with fan zones. The pubs were filled with people screaming, yelling, hugging, all those sorts of things. That's the real problem when you look at the spread of COVID-19, especially the delta variant.

As you said, the vaccines got off to a slow start here. You know, we are not at 50 percent of Italians vaccinated with two doses yet. Yet on Saturday night, they were very worried about the English fans coming. They're supposed to have quarantine, but nobody is really going to be able to control that.

And that is a concern of huge worry across here, especially here in Italy, which was the epicenter of this pandemic. Some have suffered so much, so many people. And yet to throw it all away for soccer, for football, seems very, very, very frivolous to a lot of people here.

NEWTON: Yeah. And that is the issue. Darren Lewis, we bring you in for some reaction here. Has UEFA said anything about this? And in the U.K., they're also dealing with a significant wave of new infections.

DARREN LEWIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, indeed. Well, Paula, Barbie is right. This is a fascinating story as far as different perspectives inside and outside the U.K. concern. We've been raising them on World Sport.

Here in England, there is optimism that the nation's football team is going to win their quarter final and run tomorrow against Ukraine and return to Wembley next week for the semi-final in front of 65,000 people.

As things stand, nothing changes. In fact, as -- at the moment, the government are on course to lift all of their remaining lockdown restrictions.

Now, compare that with Germany where the interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has been adding his concern to that of Chancellor Angela Merkel who has made clear she sees the U.K. as a coronavirus hot spot. In Russia, there is concern of a potential rise in cases.

The Euro 2020 quarter final between Spain and Switzerland is going to be played in St. Petersburg tonight. That's going to be the seventh match played there. And in Italy, where there's been a rise in cases, measures are being taken to prevent English football fans from arriving.

The prime minister, of course, told last week about Euro 2020 final being moved to England. But here in England, you've just seen those scenes there.

What Barbie was saying, I totally concur. The way in which football fans watch, that's quite significant because obviously this is a tournament for England of national significance.

We have been, as I said, talking about it on "World Sport" because we are doing well in tournament, and that is creating euphoria around the country. People are celebrating with each other in ways that are raising concern with the scientists as you're just showing in your video a second ago.

NEWTON (on camera): Yeah. The stunning figure, right, 65,000 people, breathtaking to even think about. We will continue to follow the story. Thank you to you both.

Now, coronavirus lockdowns and COVID conspiracies are being blamed for a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. But that's not all that is fueling violence against Jewish communities. CNN's Melissa Bell reports from Vienna.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elie Rosen knows all about where hate can lead. His grandparents survived the holocaust. They always warn him to keep his head down because there might be more to come.

Last August, they were proved right. Rosen was targeted along with his synagogue in the Austrian city of Graz. Its walls made from the bricks of the synagogue destroyed in 1938 defaced.

ELIE ROSEN, PRESIDENT, GRAZ JEWISH COMMUNITY: After this attack, those warnings of my grandparents had kind of flashed back. This made me very, very sorry and brought tears into my heart and sorrow to my face.

BELL (voice-over): A few days later, just outside the synagogue, Rosen was chased by a man wielding a baseball bat, but managed to get back into his car just in time.

ROSEN: Certainly I was scared being physically attacked. It is a dimension that is different than being verbally attacked, which I'm used to because anti-Semitism has risen within the last year.

BELL (voice-over): In 2020, anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reached their highest level since the country began keeping records 19 years ago. And in Germany, incidents rose as much as 30 percent, according to a German watchdog.

Much of the rise in both countries is being blamed on harsh COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Protesters demonstrating against restrictions held signs depicting forced vaccinations by Jews and two people in Berlin were shouted out by a man who they believe blamed Jews for the pandemic.

KATHARINA VON SCHNURBEIN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANTI-SEMITISM COORDINATOR: I think that anti-Semitic conspiracy myths have been there for centuries.


VON SCHNURBEIN: And in fact, whenever there is a pandemic, they have come to the fore again.

BELL (voice-over): Across Europe, anti-Semitic attacks have been rising for years, from a deadly standoff in 2015 at a kosher supermarket in Paris to Vienna, where four people were killed in a rampage outside the (INAUDIBLE) synagogue last year. And then there is the desecration of Jewish graves like these in Eastern France.

In Brussels, Rabbi Albert Guigui now wears a baseball cap when he goes out to hide his very identity.

Of course, I wear a yarmulke at home, he says. But outside, I prefer to cover my head less conspicuously. It is not healthy, he explains, to live in an atmosphere of fear and where you feel hunted. I think that as well as being vigilant, we must tackle the evil at the root of the problem, and that is about being different.

The holocaust killed an estimated six million Jews in Europe, but as living memory gives way to fading footage, so denial grow and hate speech returns.

As well as the tension around the COVID lockdowns, the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East in May also drove hate towards Jews across Europe. Like here in Berlin or in Brussels, where the chants spoke of ancient battles between Jews and Muslims.

BENJAMIN WARD, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH EUROPE: We do see (INAUDIBLE), that increase in expressions of anti-Semitism and also anti-Semitic violence linked to events in the Middle East. But if we look more broadly at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe, we see that it is much older and also much wider. It is really a European issue.

BELL (voice-over): The hate is also spreading online, according to Human Rights Watch. Horrific cartoons like this one depicting Jews with a big hooked nose or this one in France of a conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the pandemic and shared, he says mistakenly, by a candidate in recent regional elections.

The European Commission has a deal with tech companies to remove offensive content within 24 hours, but only once it's been alerted.

This is the memorial in the very heart of Vienna to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were deported during World War II. Most did not survive. It is a reminder of where words and conspiracy theories can lead, but it's also a reminder of Europe's own very violent homegrown history at anti-Semitism, an anti-Semitism that has never quite disappeared.

Prayers continue to be heard all over Europe, from the center of Paris to the old temple synagogue in Vienna.

Elie Rosen said that his grandparents' approach of keeping a low profile after the holocaust was understandable, but ultimately misguided. European Jews keeping their heads down, he says, has not prevented anti-Semitism from rearing its head once again.

ROSEN: Contrary to my grandparents, I will tell my son or I would tell young Jewish people to be proud of being Jewish.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN, Vienna.


NEWTON: Oren Segal is the vice president of the Center on Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League. He joins me now from New York. These are disturbing stories, disturbing images. We've been seeing this anecdotally. But now, recent research bears out what your organization I'm sure has been alarmed about for several years now.

I mean, look at what we've shown here on CNN. A rabbi has to wear a baseball cap for fear of being targeted in 2021? I mean, how and why do you believe now is -- are Jewish people being scapegoated for so many things including ridiculously COVID?

OREN SEGAL, VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER ON EXTREMISM OF ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: There are many triggers for anti-Semitism. There are always been many triggers. And what we're seeing now is sort of this perfect storm. We have a conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas and those who oppose. Some people are blaming all Jews for the policies and activities of the state of Israel. And when you scribe blame to all Jews for the state, that's anti-Semitism.

We're seeing protests against vaccination and comparisons to holocaust era, trivializing the memory of that holocaust. We're also seeing mass casualty attacks in some cases, violent incidents over the past several years against the Jewish community.


SEGAL: And so anti-Semitism is one of those hatreds that animate people across the ideological spectrum and you never know when it is going to come up but you do know it will.

NEWTON: Unfortunately, it has. What role does social media, the internet play in this? It is the bullhorn that dangerously we know, right, amplifies not just anti-Semitism but extremism of all kinds.

SEGAL: The internal, social media platforms, that is where people create their world view. That's where people create the campaigns that they want to engage in, the communities that they find to support them.

And when we see that these communities are being exploited by extremists and anti-Semites, it's as easy to find phrases like Hitler was right as it is to find the local grocery online. That normalizes anti-Semitism. That makes it part of people's every day. And that's why we see it spilling out into the streets.

You know, we tracked 17,000 tweets right after the conflicts started in the Middle East saying Hitler was right, which is cesspool of extremism, a 300-plus percent increase in anti-Semitism. And so this is impacting all social media platforms, including where our kids are learning about these issues for the first time.

NEWTON: Oren Segal, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

SEGAL: Take care.

NEWTON: Now, as the humanitarian crisis in Tigray Ethiopia drags on, many are asking, where is the international community? Ahead, a long overdue meeting and a new setback for aid efforts.



LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The council still has not yet held a single, a single public meeting or take unnecessary action to address the human rights and humanitarian crisis that we are witnessing. What are we afraid of?


NEWTON (on camera): The U.S. ambassador to the UN arguing for the Security Council to take up the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region. Now, they are expected to do so in the coming hours, but only after eight months of fighting and growing evidence of war crimes. A major humanitarian crisis is underway now in Tigray and now a key bridge used to deliver aid to the war-torn region has been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people do not have enough food, and electricity and telecommunications have been cut off.

CNN's Larry Madowo is tracking this from Nairobi. You just returned from Ethiopia. We want to deal first with the United Nations. They've been fairly impotent so far. You've heard the U.S. ambassador there. She was quite blunt. Can an intervention at this point make a difference, especially where the people of Tigray are concerned and have been suffering so much?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the suffering is great, Paula, as you mentioned.


MADOWO: What the U.N. Security Council public meeting can do is to pressure the parties of this conflict to come to a table and figure out a political settlement to what is happening here, or at the very least shame them into some kind of action because there has been lots of condemnation, rounds and rounds of condemnation from international actors. But so far, it has not happened. It has not lead to real change.

This unilateral ceasefire declared by the Ethiopian military on Monday still has not led to the opening up of roads, has not led to the access of humanitarian items that badly need to get to many of the people here who are at risk of starvation, to people who need medical care, and to a resumption of normalcy here.

So that is something that the U.N., the U.S., the U.K., the European Union have all been calling for, but it has just not happened. What we've seen the last few days, Paula, is that the Ethiopian military and Ethiopian government are trying to reframe the narrative around why they left Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, as a victory for them, and they say that the Tigray fighters no longer present an existential crisis to the nation of Ethiopia.

But at the heart of this conflict, it should be remembered, this region of about seven million, most people are in dire need of humanitarian help and it is just not getting to them when we hear all these rounds of statements from the rest of the world.

NEWTON: Yeah. And to make the point clear, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people at this point on the brink of starvation and quite possibly seeing a very stark famine taking hold there.

I don't have a lot of time left, but, you know, this issue about whether or not there is this ceasefire, some would argue that the Tigrayan forces have never really been in a better position, and yet is anyone hopeful that the ceasefire really will amount to, you know, some kind of a peace agreement?

MADOWO: So, it's unclear at this stage, Paula, because the Tigray fighters have rejected that unilateral ceasefire and they say they consider the Ethiopian and the Eritrean military in that territory to be an invading force that they need to completely defeat, even though they are grateful or they feel victorious.

And the majority of the population of the Tigray region support the Tigray fighters because they see it as a nationalist fight against the Ethiopian government, but we will have to wait and see if this ceasefire actually is implemented and if all the parties agree to it, and crucially if Eritrean troops are pulled out.

NEWTON (on camera): Yeah. There is a specter of that as well as Eritrean troop involvement in that region. Larry Madowo, thank you so much for following it. I appreciate it.

Ahead right here on "CNN Newsroom," President Biden comforting families of those killed and unaccounted for after that catastrophic condo collapse.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My message today is that we're here for you, as one nation.


NEWTON (on camera): Plus, sparks fly between Beijing and Taipei. Some fear a diplomatic incident could, in fact, be in the offing. We will talk to an expert who says future conflicts will be fought online, not on the battlefield.




PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching CNN Newsroom. Joe Biden says he's amazed at the resiliency of the families whose loved ones are missing in that South Florida building collapse.

U.S. President visited the Surfside community on Thursday also meeting with first responders and of course rescue workers. He and the first lady laid a bouquet of flowers at a memorial wall near the collapse site.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The whole nation is mourning with these families. They see it every day on television. They're going through hell, and those who survived the collapse, as well as those who are missing loved ones.


NEWTON: Search and Rescue operations have resumed after being suspended for much of Thursday. The Miami Dade fire chief reports dangerous shifting in the structure plus a large column hanging from the building could have fallen. Authorities say the remaining tower likely will have to be demolished although a final decision could take weeks.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is calling the tax fraud charges against his real estate company and its financial - Chief Financial Officer a so called political witch - witch-hunt. The case focuses on Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, and the alleged role he played in keeping some income off the books for 15 years.

You know, prosecutors allege payments to executives for things like apartments, cars and school tuition were kept hidden. Attorneys for the former president's company say the charges should never have been filed.


ALAN FUTERFAS, TRUMP ORGANIZATION ATTORNEY: These cases are always resolved in the civil context. The IRS has never made a case like this.

SUSAN NECHELES, TRUMP ORGANIZATION ATTORNEY: They cannot point to any case, any case where a corporation has been prosecuted, based on a few individuals in the corporation, who allegedly on their personal tax return, made a mistake or did not pick up fringe benefits on their personal tax return.


NEWTON: Well, the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty. Chinese President Xi Jinping says Beijing will smash any of Taiwan's attempts at formal independence. That's just one comment from his speech marking the 100th anniversary, the Chinese Communist Party and that's making matters worse, between Mainland China, of course and the islands.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Taipei, as always good to have you there in position. You know, Xi's speech, maybe a bit of a game changer sort of for Taiwan, or have they heard these kinds of threats for years. And I'm just wondering, when you see China, when they in Taiwan see China becoming increasingly frustrated, do they worry?

Especially when Xi Jinping is using words like unity between Taiwan and China?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, here in Taipei The view from the current leadership is that is the same old game that Beijing has been playing for quite some time as they say that they want to peacefully unify with a self-governing island of 23 million that has taken care of itself, elected its leaders, then, you know, you don't want to say independent because China claims it is part of their territory, but they've been - they've been autonomous for more than 70 years.

But Xi - President Xi very, very clear, saying that any notion of Taiwanese independence should be crushed. China claims this island politically, territorially and even if it wasn't an all-out military confrontation with Beijing, experts say there are a lot of other ways the mainland is trying to intimidate this self-governing Island, including cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and attempts to undermine the populations faith in their democratic system.


RIPLEY: Prepare for war, the menacing message of mainland Chinese propaganda aimed at the islands of Taiwan. Military intimidation in real time. 28 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone, Taiwan calls it the largest air incursion ever recorded. In this exclusive interview the Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tells CNN, China is engaging in psychological warfare.

JOSEPH WU, FOREIGN MINISTER OF TAIWAN: They want to shape the Taiwanese people's cognition that Taiwan is very dangerous and Taiwan cannot do without China.

RIPLEY: More than 23 million people caught in the crossfire, a battle between Beijing and Taipei, a fight for their hearts and minds. I'm flying to the front lines across the Taiwan strait to the small island of Kinmen, more than 200 miles from the Taiwanese Capitol, just six miles from Mainland China.

Kinmen is the only place in Taiwan that saw actual combat during China's Civil War ending in 1949.


Many buildings bear the scars the fighting. Ferocious Nationalist Forces fended off communist troops, effectively shielding Taiwan's main island, warding off a Chinese invasion.

ANDY YANG, MAGISTRATE OF KINMEN COUNTY (through translator): Kinmen people often say only those who experienced war can understand its horror. We have the right to say loudly, we want peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place was called Dodo.

RIPLEY: Longtime tour guide (Robin Yung) takes me underground to one of the islands massive military bunkers, once top secret now abandoned. He also shows me how China's relentless artillery barrage left the island with mountains of old shells.

When the battle ended, the shells kept flying. Local historians say half a million of these landed on Kinmen between 1958 and 1978. But this was not artillery. These shells were full of communist propaganda.

The beginning of what experts call a decade's long disinformation and war, a war supercharged by social media.

How dangerous is disinformation?

PUMA SHEN, ASST PROFESSOR OF CRIMINOLOGY, NATIONAL TAIPEI UNIVERSITY: The danger here is that I mean the main goal of all this disinformation campaign is to create chaos and create distrust.

RIPLEY: Is China doing this exact same thing in the United States?

SHEN: Yes, definitely. And also in Australia, Canada, also Europe.

RIPLEY: Beijing denies disinformation warfare. China's Taiwan Affairs Office has previously called Taipei's accusations, imaginary. Experts say the threat goes well beyond disinformation. The Taiwanese government says it's hit by 20 million cyberattacks every month.

Targets include defense, computer systems, finance, communications, even critical infrastructure.

ALLEN OWN, CO-FOUNDER, DEVCORE (through translator): In information security, we believe World War III will happen over the internet.

RIPLEY: Basically, every aspect of our life from which we rely on computers could immediately be turned off.

OWN: Yes.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's major gas company CPC was hit by a major malware attack, a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which U.S. Intel believes came from Russia paralyzed the U.S. East Coast.

TSAI SUNG-TING, FOUNDER, TEAM T5: Just imagine what - what just happened in United States. You could do nothing.

RIPLEY: Cyber is a bigger threat than nuclear weapons.

SUNG-TING: Yes, from my point of view, because it is happening every day.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen named cyberattacks a matter of national security. Back on Kinmen island, this 30 foot loudspeakers spent decades, blasting anti-communist propaganda to the mainland, a supersized reminder of how much things have changed.


RIPLEY: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations of cyber warfare. They like to point the finger at the United States saying that they also have one of the world's most powerful cyber armies. I will say that we reached out specifically to the Taiwan Affairs Council and the Mainland and also Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Did that more than a week ago? I keep checking my email but so far Paula, they have yet to respond to the specific claims made in our piece.

NEWTON: Yes, they certainly respond in their own way. I will say that. And a fascinating - fascinating look there at Kinmen. Thanks so much for taking us there. Appreciate it, Will. Now dire warnings as coronavirus cases surge in parts of Indonesia. We'll speak with the country's health minister about the emergency measures being taken.



NEWTON: Indonesia is preparing to implement new COVID restrictions in the islands of Java and Bali. That's where the worst outbreaks are driven by the fast spreading Delta variant. Reported infections across the country keep hitting new highs. You see that graph there. Hospitals are being overwhelmed and the Red Cross warns Indonesia is on the edge of a catastrophe.

Earlier I spoke with a Budi Gunadi Sadikin, he is the country's health minister and earlier I asked him about the measures being taken.


BUDI GUNADI SADIKIN, INDONESIA HEALTH MINISTER: We have seen a dramatic increase in confirmed cases after the festive holidays. We anticipated this already. But we didn't realize that it is very, very fast actually because of the Delta variants. We still have some rooms to cater to people, but it is growing very, very fast, the case.

So what we are doing now we are building a large bed - additional bedroom at the stadium. So hopefully for the next two weeks, we can cater for more about - more than 5000 additional beds in Jakarta. But for your information it is not across the country, it's only isolated in several region like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya where the Delta variants is noted.

NEWTON: And yet given travel patterns, you must be concerned that it will spread to other areas. I mean, you're building this field hospital. You must be concerned though about running out of both not just hospital beds but the personnel needed and obviously oxygen as well.

SADIKIN: We - yesterday we do a major isolations of those three pandemic centers. So starting tomorrow it will be isolated. On the additional bed, Jakarta - two of the areas, Bandung and Surabaya still have bedrooms. Jakarta is the place where the increase of number is very, very fast.

You are right, we are looking now for doctors which is just finished their educations to start getting into the hospital, including nurses and we bring in also doctor and nurses from other cities that doesn't have the outbreak.


NEWTON: That was the Indonesian health minister speaking to me earlier. Stay tuned for the rest of that interview. Some important things to say about how the Delta variant is striking children in Indonesia. I'm Paula Newton and I'll be back at the top of the hour with more CNN Newsroom. World Sport is next.