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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  February 8, 2021 3:30am-4:01am GMT

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south africa is to delay and review the oxford—astrazeneca jab from its upcoming vaccine programme after a study shows disappointing results against the country's coronavirus variant. it comes less than a week after the country received a million doses and just days before its inoculation program was set to begin. a breakaway glacier washes away a dam in northern india. the flooding kills at least nine people — more than a hundred are missing. and tom brady has extended his record of super bowl wins with a seventh title for himself as the tampa bay buccaneers have beaten last year's champions, kansas city chiefs, 31 — nine, to claim the title. brady was also named the game's most valuable player.
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now on bbc news, it's dateline london. hello and welcome to dateline london, the programme bringing together bbc expertise with correspondents filing around the world. i'm geeta guru—murthy. this week, we heard president biden�*s new take on us foreign policy — ending support for the saudi offensive in yemen, a tougher line on russia and a still strong stance against china. the challenges ahead are many. in the last few days alone, we have seen protests crushed and heard deeply unsettling evidence of the human capacity for evil. in china, horrifying news emerged of atrocities against the muslim uighurs. in russia, thousands were arrested for protesting in support of alexei navalny.
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and in myanmar, aung san suu kyi and civilian leaders were put in detention in a military coup. but there is a new leader in the white house, which, for many, is grounds for hope, and across the world we see almost unbelievable acts of individual bravery from those who will not be cowed. with me this week are the china expert isabel hilton, the commissioning editor of the mail on sunday, ian birrell, and here in the studio, at a safe social distance, lyse doucet, the bbc�*s chief international correspondent. welcome to everyone, thank you so much forjoining us. first, isabel, can i ask for your take on thejoe biden speech — is it a big reset? he was still predictably tough on china. some things won't change, and he doesn't have much wiggle room on china. this was a bipartisan area of concern before trump and that remains. and, given xijinping's new authoritarianism, which has been building since he came to power in 2012, i think it is very difficult for any american leader given,
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you know, the challenge that china is offering — he couldn't get away with it in congress, for one thing, even if he wanted to. it is something that they are just going to have to square up to. but part of his difficulty will be re—establishing america's credibility as an ally after four years of trump. and given that china works a lot through trade and investment, and how complicated trade deals are for a democratic president given biden�*s narrow wiggle room in congress, i think that is going to be a little bit complicated, and then there are the big questions and where they fit in. john kerry has said that he wants to carve out climate change. it remains to be seen whether china will allow climate change to be separated
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from other potential issues. ian, what was your one big takeaway from the biden speech? it was interesting to see the approach to russia, which has always been a problem for american presidents. and it was more of a resetting of policy, back towards the pre—trump era, with a firm line on things like the navalny issue and human rights abuse and what america would see as wrongful behaviour. but, equally, a hand being offered to try and restart the process on things like missile controls with the new start treaty. so, in a way it was a reassertion of the more traditional american stance, which i suspect is what we are going to see with so much
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of the biden presidency. and, a lot of asia—pacific focus, but the middle east is always a key strategic part of the world for the us — what did you take from it? i was interested in what they i decided to focus on in the most detail in his first foreign policy speech at - the state department. he did not mention the iran nuclear deal, because his. congress is divided, - and his own administration doesn't know what to do. he didn't talk about - afghanistan which, again, his administration does not know what to do. _ he chose yemen. there have been months of bipartisan support - and resolutions in congressj calling on the united states to end military support. to the saudi—led coalition to end the war. president trump ignored them i largely, and so president biden has picked up the baton to say he wants to end the war, - and end support for offensive operations, engaging - diplomatically — _ and it was probably the one issue where he was welcomed across the board. _ it will be hard to end the big war against the saudi—led i coalition backed by the west. backing the yemen government against the houthis aligned to iran, but six years- after the war started - there are so many small wars that have to be ended. big job, but he is . taking the first step.
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that is a big, global, quick look across many parts of the world, but i want to pick up one theme this week which has really struck me. it has been the incredible bravery of those who take a stand forjustice, for what they believe in, whether in china, russia or myanmar. in china, the bbc reported utterly horrifying accounts of atrocities against muslim uighur women — the story coming to light because of one woman daring to speak out. isabel, it was difficut to read about, let alone imagine, what people are going through. why, in your view, is china so resolute in this action?
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it is a totalising policy. i mean, we are effectively seeing an attempt to eradicate the separate identity of a people who are a turkic people with a different language, a different culture, a different history from china. they are not, you know, in any sense, culturally chinese. this territory was only conquered by military conquest in the late 19th century. in the 20th century, several moves to re—establish independence, and an ambivalent approach by the party. the party had very much a soviet approach to minorities within its borders for a long time. you know, which was to give them notional autonomy. that could have worked. but we are in a different china now. we are in a china that is trying to claim, you know, 5,000 years of unchanging history. china is "eternal, immutable." and these people, with their notable differences, are a problem, so we have seen since 2012 effectively a cultural genocide going on in xinjiang. and, as lyse well knows, when you have policies like that, women become a major victim. let mejust bring you in, because the bbc has obviously
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had some criticism from china in reporting this story. a lot of criticism from china . reporting the story and in how they have responded l to the covid—19 crisis, but that is journalism, - asking questions and trying to get answers. it is interesting that the - latest is that antony blinken, the us secretary of state, has called his chinese - counterpart to say that, - you know, we have got to do something about this, and it was very muchl in president biden's speech as well. - where the voices i are silent have been from the muslim world. the 01c in 2019 came up with a statement, | the organisation of islamic states, commending - china for taking care - of its muslim population. the only, really, muslimj majority country which is spoken out and criticised has been turkey. - but now there are some| reports that, well, china is the biggest supplier
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of vaccines to turkey, | and while china says no, no, no, we won't put vaccines i and foreign policy together, there is some concern thatl turkey too could fall silent, and that is why, i mean, i as isabel knows, the whole l uighur crisis shows the rising ascendancy of china with one of the biggest investment. projects in the world, - the belt and road initiative, countries don't want to criticise china for| fear of repercussions. you followed the whole origins of covid and the covid investigation very closely with china, but when you read this account on the way some uighur women have been treated and attacked, what were your thoughts? to be honest, it was a very strong story by the bbc. i went to sweden and spoke to a kazakh woman who was also in the camps and saw these sorts of sexual abuses and atrocities taking place, and i have also been to turkey and spoken to many women there who have suffered things
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like forced sterilisation, forced abortions, even at nine months of pregnancy. so i think it is striking how grim the details are, and also we know now a lot of what is going on. xi has ramped up the oppression, and made life utterly intolerable as he tries to wipe out separate peoples. and, really, it isjust such a clear issue of genocide taking place, which people have to be strong against and have to stand up against, even if that results, i think, in economic damage to their own countries. in terms of why the middle east countries are not getting more involved and haven't got more involved in this question, you know, apart from chinese influence and power, is there any other reason? because that has been a question many have raised. well, there is this, - take for example pakistan, which has very close relations with china, decades of being i
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very, very close partners, partly because of their. problems with india, _ when the prime minister imran khan was first asked about it he said, well, i don't know. anything about this. and when he was asked again by anotherjournalist he said i well, my aides haven't briefed me on it. - and when he was asked againi at the world economic forum, he said, well, china helped us out when we were down, - so we're going to help them. saudi arabia, which is. the custodian of the two holiest shrines in islam, l they have not spoken out. in a sense, they agree with the chinese viewl that these are internal. matters, and we should not be criticising. but as i mentioned earlier, they are also concerned . about china's growing sway in the world. _ but also china argues that the uighurs are terrorists, and they are fighting _ against terrorists, and in some ways they accept that argument. and in so many of these - countries such as afghanistan, pakistan, turkey, there - are large uighur populations, and very secretly a lot - of countries have sent uighurs back, and now there is- a concern that the large uighur community in turkey could also be sent back _
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there is a discussion| of an extradition bill. so it is still unfolding, i you know, as we speak. thank you. let us move to russia, now, where a man who nearly died after being poisoned did not give up and go away, he fought back. this week, alexandre navalny made a heart sign to his wife yulia in the courtroom in moscow as he was sentenced to nearly three years in jail. ian, it's extraordinary. we cannot imagine what navalny is made of to return to this fight. what did you make of those events? it was very moving watching the courtroom images, ithought? his bravery is extraordinary. to have suffered that poisoning and attempts on his life, to then issue that extraordinary documentary showing what they allege to be putin's palace, the billion pound edifice on the black sea with astonishing security, like a fictionalised portrait of wealth. then to return and lay down such a challenge is extraordinary. on a human level the bravery
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is incredible, but it also puts putin in a difficult position as to whether he martyrs this person or leaves him be. he knows there is support in the country. what's really interesting about the protests that have exploded is the difference between now and the previous protests. i was there in 2011 for the last lot of protests, and people talked very energetically about confronting the state. but at the same time, there was a realism that these were people that had grown up in the soviet era, were tasting the fruits of economic growth, travelling the world, and did not want to give all that up to take on the state. this feels slightly different — there is disenchantment amongst younger people with the putin regime, and they have only known this kind of country and this kind of leadership
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in their lives. and also one in seven people in russia are beneath the poverty line, so to see those images of the palace and the behaviour of the oligarchs when so many people are struggling with basic living conditions and basic standards of living is something very strong. i don't think we are on the cusp of seeing putin thrown out right now, but at the same time this does feel different and does feel something that navalny has put his finger on and sparked with his constant campaign to expose what they call, you know, the party of thieves in charge. isabel, it is striking that putin still has such popularity, isn't it? yes, it is, although i do remember the scenes of weeping when the last dictator of north korea died, or indeed mao zedong. so, you know, one cannot really account for that kind of popularity as you would in a democratic system, where people are free to form
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and express their own opinions. but i think that ian has kind of put his finger on the question of the dilemma for putin, because if you lock up morally credible people, as a dictator, you tend to enlarge their reputation. think mandela, aung san suu kyi, and navalny is a classic case of this, and the underlying problems which have fed today's discontent are set to continue. you know, russia's economic model is exhausted, 50% of its oil goes to china, china's oil demand is set to peak in 2025, just four years away, and then decline. putin needs high oil prices and a continuing demand forfossilfuels, and he is not going to get it. he is in a dilemma. he has locked up a morally credible figure and he cannot fix the problems that are fuelling discontent. locking up navalny, will it help or hinder putin?
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initially, the big question was that the first round l of protests, not only - were they bigger in number but they were in places i where there had not been protests before, right across i the many time zones of russia. the question, was how| long can they continue, will they peter out? will navalny still be a rallying cry? - what we have been hearing i in the last day from protesters is that they are hearing from the navalny team| that they have decided to pull| back from the street protests, partly because of the brutality of the russian police, - but because they want to save their fire for. the upcoming elections at the rest of the year, | seeing that as their betterj opportunity to actually get real power, if you like. and what has really been - remarkable in this is how will organised the navalny team was. they were all there - when he came back, the list of people who should be sanctioned were given . out, the instructions| were given as to how to organise the protests. they thought this through.
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this was not just _ a spontaneous, impromptu act. ian, i do not know what you have been hearing about about whether process will delay their fire, and again, it was incredible watching people being dragged off the streets this week, young people not willing to give up. it is in many ways quite inspiring when you see people fighting for freedom in places like this and belarus, where i was last year, when we are quite casual in the west about our own democracies. but it was also fascinating to see that even in yakutsk in the first week, when temperatures were below 50 degrees, people came out in the streets. and equally, there have been thousands of the arrests, record numbers of arrests in the first week, about 4,000, and then more the second week. i saw a figure of about 82 journalists being rounded up, and these things will trickle through a little bit. i suspect there will be pulling back now, but this is an issue which is bubbling away very dangerously for the regime.
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isabel, when we look at that joe biden speech, obviously, a very different take on russia compared with his predecessor is what everyone is imagining. how is that going to change the outlook for russia and china? 0bviously, still much to be seen on that front. again, i think that comes back to the question of who's credible and what people aspire to, and again before trump or in the long period of the cold war, protesting crowds on the street tended to look to western democracies. that has taken a bit of a hammering lately, but if biden can restore the idea that there is a kind of moral core at the heart of his government, then i think it will give courage back to people on the streets and they will not feel alone in the face of dictatorships. isabel hilton, thank you very much indeed. to another figure of global renown, aung san suu kyi. winner of the nobel peace prize for her enduring fight for democracy in myanmar, her allure was tarnished when she failed to condemn
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the military actions against the muslim rohingyas. now, the generals who drove that brutal assault are fully in charge of myanmar. so, is this the end for the lady? the lady, as you say, has a i very different reputation now. during her many years of house arrest she was of course hailedl by the world is a pro—democracy leader, noble prize laureate, i people flocked to her door when her house arrest - was lifted, when . martial law ended. so it was interesting - the reactions from the human rights organisations who said, well, let's put aside our- concerns about where _ aung san suu kyi stands when it comes to human rights - for all the people of myanmar, we condemn the coup. they swept the last elections by a landslide, she still has. a lot of popularity, - some would argue even
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more popularity. and that explains a lot. of why this has happened with the military, so the world will still be concerned - about her, in fact we do not. know where she is, there has been no confirmed information about her whereabouts. - she is the recognised leader| of people supporting at least a return to some kind - of democracy in myanmar. ian, people are asking, how physically safe is aung san suu kyi going to be now? how politically safe? does she have a future? i think she certainly has a future, but in many ways what i find fascinating is that here is a country which crushed democracy in the year that i was born, 1962, then it's had this brief flirtation over the last decade of slightly loosening the ties, yet at the core of everything is the dilemma identified by winston churchill, the same dilemma that putin has, which is what does a dictator do?
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how do they get out? churchill called it like riding a tiger, you cannot get off the back, because if you do the system you created devours you. that is particularly true in a place like myanmar or a place like russia, where there's incredible corruption and people have stolen vast sums of money. it seems, from what we know about the myanmar coup, that it was really all about protecting the income for a very small group around the generals, and it was all about protecting their assets, and that was why they so feared democracy. this is the age—old dilemma and the problem, i think, for the west, is when we end up propping up some of these regimes, which we have done in parts of the world, and we fall for the myth of the sort of strong person in charge. but actually we are creating these systems which are explosive, and when they do erupt, when you try to take the person off the back of the tiger, they can have cataclysmic explosions in trying to sort the problems and return to democracy, or find a way to more freedom and looser control and more
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space for civil society. isabel, do you think aung san suu kyi is safe? does she have a politicalfuture? i think she's physically safe, i think they're well aware of the dangers of any physical harm coming to her. my take on the policy is that dictatorships need some kind of legitimation and we have seen 20 years of attempting to legitimise through elections, referendums, a rigged constitution, what is the raw power of the military. they have attacked her landslide victory in november, if this sounds familiar from other countries stop me on the grounds of fraud. they wanted to postpone the parliament to investigate that fraud and the coup is the result of not getting that done, so i think what they will do with aung san suu kyi is that they will convict her on these minor criminal
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charges, which will disqualify her from standing in another election, and they will then stage some even more controlled elections which will sanctify their power, and we will see. she is a very powerful, totemic figure. will this work? it has not worked in the past, so the game goes on, i think. is it clear that china is definitely fully backing the generals in this? have they lent some support to aung san suu kyi in that movement as well? they have got got on surprisingly well with aung san suu kyi in the past and there have been expectations that she would be more hostile to china, but she has played a very canny game with china and they have no complaint against aung san suu kyi and havejust said hands off, you know, we do not interfere in the internal affairs of another country. they have massive investments in myanmar — oil pipelines and gas pipelines and infrastructure and access to the bay of bengal, and are really trying to straddle both sides here. 0ther neighbouring countries,
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big powerhouses, india, pakistan which is a chinese ally, they all going to be affected by this further destabilisation but, again, the question, partly, for many, comes back to the rohingya. are the muslim states supporting the rohingya people now tragically stranded in bangladesh in camps? how are these military manoeuvres going to affect the power balance? it really touches on what is| really the defining moment in the world in which we are. the proliferation of platforms on social media has given- everyone a megaphone, including world leaders, j so the words that leaders have i to condemn policies and actions that they don't like, - whether it is from washington or beijing or moscow, is even greater. - the words are so fine _
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and there are so many of them, but the tools to do anything more is very limited - because we have seen that i sanctions actually don't have much impact, have had no impact, whether in. russia or iran, changing behaviour of people. - so what can, for example, i the biden administration do when it comes to russia? when it comes to myanmar? we know, antony blinken contacted his chinese - counterpart and asked if they can be tough i on the generals in myanmar, and we're back to the old - mentor when it comes to foreign policy, interests come before. i a lot of people asking now, - when the new biden team—mates, because with europe on issues like human rights, will- vladimir putin listen? will the chinese leader listen? who will listen and who will act or are we just going - to have a lot more words and no action? _ back to you. we have got two minutes at the end of the programme — what hope for change perhaps in the us on these huge questions? i think at least we are seeing a reassertion of america trying
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to be what it has always aspired and not always lived up to, which is some kind of moral beacon in the world for a sort of free way of life but, in a way, what is so interesting about all these issues is that there has long been this debate about the importance of individuals in history, whether individuals who change history or whether they are just part of waves and surges within societies. and of course what we have seen so much is if you have a handful of individuals here, we talk about xi jinping in china who can change the nature of the communist party and repression in china, putin in russia, trumping america, navalny challenging them, in all these places it is fascinating to see how individuals are trying to flex their muscles, assert their power and, as strengthened in some ways by social media, and it is an amazing reflection on that age—old debate within history. make their own history- but i have to mention this, we are speaking ten years on from the so—called - arab spring that mesmerised the world and those - were revelations right- across the region in places where, if you open your mouth
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you were thrown injail. - those were leaderless revolutions. _ now, you know, we're i ten years on and people are rising up again. this time they have leaders and maybe you are right, . maybe individuals do i make their own history. let us see how this - round of uprisings fares and if it fares better- than when people vote up. there was this great mantra during the arab spring. - "the power of the people is greater than— the people in power." thanks so much to all my guests this week — ian birrel, isabel hilton and lyse doucet. it has been a really momentous week with huge ripples and perhaps unsurprising as we see change coming out of washington. shaun ley is here next week. i will be back in a couple of weeks. thank you for watching and bye for now.
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hello. a further covering of snow for some into the morning, but the heaviest snow, covered by met office amber warning, parts of east anglia in towards kent. that weather warning will finally lapse as the snow turning a bit later and patch year into the morning. only a few flurries into the west as we start the day, but wherever you are comes that risk of ice. some western areas will see the odd flurry through the day. many here will be dry, best chance of some sunshine. we will see some more showers across the eastern areas, but with strong winds they will start to align themselves into snow quarters. one particular one, potentially from lincolnshire through the peak district and another one aberdeenshire
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and kinross. under those committee could see some significant snow which could cause disruption. either side of that, not much snow at all. all of those easterly winds themselves known. temperatures in the thermometers around zero to three degrees. 0ut there the wind—chill will be substantial. the strongest of the winds in east anglia and the southeast made to feel like —8 during the afternoon. that subzero wind—chill continues during the first half of the week as winds fall lighter. hard overnight frosts return mid week.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm lewis vaughanjones. our top stories: south africa pulls the 0xford—astrazeneca jab from its upcoming vaccine programme after a study shows disappointing results against the country's coronavirus variant. protests against myanmar�*s military coup continue, now becoming the country's largest in over a decade. former us secretary of state george shultz, whose negotiating helped end the cold war, has died. a breakaway glacier washes away a dam in northern india. the flooding kills at least nine people — more than a hundred are missing. and brady brilliant — tom brady wins his seventh super bowl

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