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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  March 21, 2021 2:30am-3:01am GMT

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more in the eu back into lockdown. here in london, there were also protests against the uk's lockdown. police say some of their officers were injured in the demos. 33 people were arrested. in istanbul, thousands took to the streets over turkey's decision to pull out of an international treaty aimed at preventing violence against women and girls. the government there says existing laws already offer protection but the main opposition party says abandoning the treaty threatens the safety of women. now on bbc news, dateline london.
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hello, and welcome to dateline london — the programme which brings together international correspondents filing from the uk with the best of bbc expertise. i'm geeta guru—murthy. this week, we ask what is britain's role in the world? with a huge moment of change as we battle a global pandemic, and brexit has become real, there is renewed interest in what the uk's international future looks like. a new government report, called global britain, focuses on the indo—pacific — suggesting closer ties with india, japan and australia. what does this mean for the relationship with china? a question faced at the moment by president biden. meanwhile, nations all over the world continue to grapple with their vaccination programmes. what do the diplomatic skirmishes over covid tell us about where power lies today? with me are isobel hilton, founder of china dialogue, jeffrey koffman, a us—canadian
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journalist and formerly war correspondent for abc news, and the bbc�*s chief international correspondent, lyse doucet. welcome, and thanks so much forjoining me today. borisjohnson launched a new foreign policy direction, global britain — the integrated review this week. it was driven by professorjohn bew, a historian known across the political landscape here and author of a much—read biography of labour's post—war prime minister, clement attlee. seen in that light, the focus on nato, a renewed comittment to nuclear and a tilt to the indo—pacific, with more interest in space, cyber and technology are perhaps unsurprising. politically, can global britain be made to chime with the government's other key mantra of levelling up? and what about china — friend orfoe, or both? isobel, are we already in a sort of new cold war? well, we certainly have elements of a cold war, but unlike the original cold war we are dealing with not the soviet union, but a country that has the second biggest economy in the world and is a huge trading partner, so it's more
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complicated than that. but we are in a systemic confrontation, and a series of reports from the us, the eu, various western democratic partners have identified this strategic contest that we are certainly engaged in. the difficulty that all of these countries are facing is, how do you pursue that systemic confrontation? how do you defend human rights and democratic values whilst continuing to trade with such an important partner? that's at the heart of this report too, but the question isn't answered. borisjohnson once described his position as wanting to have his cake and eat it, and there is a lot of cakeism in this report without really confronting the question of whether there is a cost to defending values
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and is britain prepared to pay it at a time when it has lost its major trading partner, the eu, and is seeking to compensate for this by patching together new and different relationships across the world. jeffrey, do you think this is pragmatism we are seeing from the uk, the eu and the us, who have had major talks with china this week? i think the report itself represents a kind of identity crisis for the uk in the post—superpower, post—brexit world. where exactly does the uk fit in? it's not really a major player in any way in global politics, but it has a historic legacy that it wants to sustain. naturally what the report seems to be to reconcile. in leaving the eu, which represents 43% of this country's trade, it is simply not going to be made up with trade withjapan, which has 1.9% of this country's trade.
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i think it's about trying to find that place. on the question of china, it is really an irreconcilable challenge for every country. we saw in alaska this week, with the stand—off between the american and chinese diplomats, it was a very, very uncomfortable display of the kind of antagonisms that now exist. america lecturing china, china lecturing america. and i think britain is caught in the middle of the same kind of conundrum. you can't ignore china. lyse, the uk's still on the security council, we are still a big military contributor in europe and to nato. is that if the analysis? —— is that a fair analysis? it is attempting to say britain is in a new place
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and this is how we see our future. this review is _ absolutely fundamental. jeffrey called it an identity. crisis, you could even call it yes, britain is on the un security council. - how does itjustify its position? - for a long time, it was known| as the go—to power for the us when it wanted _ costly military engagements. it was the bridge to europe, you would call up to talk - to someone that you know, speaks the same language, when you wanted to talk - to europe about something. britain, post—brexit, _ needs a new place in the world. the language in thisl report is interesting. gone is that phrase, - much beloved of scandanavian nations, "middle . power", the phrase we used to use about britain punching above its weight. l they talk about shaping the international order, j and of course we had a look at britain's trends — - science, technology — - and britain looking to this idea of the indo—pacific tilt.
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you began by asking isobel- whether this is a new cold war. i don't think so. the cold war was driven by ideology, this is - driven by interests. india and china are the two most populous countries i in the world, both of them almost 1.4 billion people. i of course you are going to want to trade with those countries, l have relations with those i countries, but we are back to thatjuggling act. it seems to me it'sj always been there. how do you weigh up your values versus your interests? _ i think in this new paper we are seeing interestsl are tilting more than values. there was that video leaked of dominic raab basically. telling people, if we had to decide who we trade. with based on their human. rights record, we wouldn't be trading with any of-
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the great growth markets. it's very honest, it is- realpolitik, it is the world we're living in today. it's that british expression — we are who we are. - —— it's that british expression — we are where we are. - isobel, if there is a real push from the us, europe to back up india, the other big superpower, and japan and australia — is it possible that can really provide a counterbalance to the growing might of china? it has spread its influences across the world in so many ways, hasn't it? there is a confusion between the strategic need for the quad and the economic weight of china. i disagree with the characterisation that it's about we are where we are. a lot of it is about we are where we were. there is a lot of invokation of past influences and past virtues, most of which is really divergent with current policies. there is a lot of bragging
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about soft power and cultural power and the reach of the bbc. we know what the government is doing to the bbc. it has cut aid to the most vulnerable country in the middle of a crisis. there is a divergence between the picture presented in this report... let me bring lyse in for the bbc, for a pure bit of self interest. maybe i don't agree with isobel. - britain, with of all its l baggage, all its former colonial ruler relationships, the bbc — all that weight. of history — as it moves i forward it is carrying those bags as it travels to - new regions of the world. in the same way that the us is seeing that part _ of the world, the indo—pacific. antony blinken and jake sullivans' first visits - were to japan and south korea.
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their first meetings were with the chinese in alaska. - so, they are also i saying something. it is interesting that the us and britain are still movingj in the same direction. let me bring jeff in. what do you see when you look at the way that the us and canadian media looks at the uk? obviously brexit has galvanised everybody here, but it does throw up legitimate questions about how much the uk matters and how useful it is to that old us allegiance. it is a fair question, and i think moving away from europe has really diminished the uk's power and presence in this debate in the eyes of the us and canada. people can't quite understand, at least on some sides of the political spectrum, what is going on. i think right now, candidly, the thing you are seeing the most is this awe
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of the way the uk has distrubuted the vaccines. i think that has really eclipsed everything else because the uk doesn't seem to be bumbling and stumbling and everything, and that's kind of dominated the discourse of the uk outside of the uk. isobel, i just want to talk about the whole fix on cyber, space and so on, isobel, because we have seen in recent years that has become a focus of real concern. does this paper give the uk and others enough protection? do you think there is enough focus from democratic nations on protecting ourselves on that front? it does certainly talk about investment and commitment britain is no slouch when it comes to cyber, but it does need investment. historically, we have underinvestment in the whole science and technology area. we are very good at inventing and very bad at supporting
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inventions to market, and therefore retaining the value of them. there are quite structural issues for britain to have the kind of domestic resilience that it's going to need to cope with being adrift as a small, medium—sized power in a very contentious world. we are going to need a lot of attention to domestic issues. and it is not straightforward to say that we can just put material interests ahead of human rights when it comes to china, because we also proclaim our close friendship with the us, which is involved in a systemic confrontation. when it comes to choosing, and there will be moments when we have to choose, what will britain choose? we are sending an aircraft carrier to the far east. what's it going to do? would it defend taiwan? is itjust doing freedom of operations in the south china sea? well, you know, china doesn't like that either. all these choices are going to come up, repeatedly, and i don't get the sense from this paper that the direction
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is clear enough for us to make those decisions properly. jeffrey, that has been one criticism — that the uk has been making choices on an issue by issue basis as moments arrive rather than having a definite and clear strategy. i think so. we talked earlier about having cakism. yes, we want a global presence, but we are cutting foreign aid and we're not meeting our targets. we want to be a power on the international stage, but we are going to diminish our military here in the uk. there is a kind of wistfulness of where we want to be and what we are willing to be. lyse, there is still a lot of detail to come out on defence budgets and so on. one political question raised is whether this global britain idea can be linked with levelling up. this conservative government here has got a huge mandate and is trying to shift the dial and bring the public
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with it, obviously. it's a huge challenge. it's a huge challenge for every single country coming out - of this global pandemic. with europe reeling - from a third wave, no one is out of the woods yet, no one knows yet what is going to be i the economic impact of this pandemic, and whether it's| going to really have to cut| expectations down to size. jeffrey mentioned the cut in the aid budget. - boris johnson said this - is temporary, when we return to fiscal strength wel will resume our role. in the aid community, - britain has always been seen as a leader when it comes to funding of education, l funding to places like yemen, where the aid has been cut. by nearly 50%. two thirds of aid to syria has been cut. j if you lose that reputation, that standing, if you like, i do you ever return to it? is it possible to return to it, both in terms of finances i and your global prestige?
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these are really. defining moments. i guess it's where the politics and votes are for this government. whether people care about cutting aid or not. the vaccine — no matter howl much talk about global public good, you have to make sure that your mother, i your grandmother, your father, your street are vaccinated - first. your voters. beautifully linked there by lyse because we are coming onto vaccines. the story of the astrazeneca vaccine surely shows how interlinked we all are. created in a uk university, with a british—swiss company, produced in bulk in india, with constituent parts from the us, the vaccine is in demand around the world, apart from those european nations who seem unsure as to whether they want to use it. europe is being hit by a third wave of covid, driven by the uk variant, in part, yet seems unable to arrive at a coherent policy.
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jeff, has this slightly swayed you in favour of brexit, and away from the idea of an integrated european policy? that's a cruel question to ask! sorry. don't ask a canadian. it's also a fair question. i think we have to acknowledge that the critics of europe really can point to what is going on now and say that this is an ungovernable beast, the european union, 27 member countries. but the eu itself is not a nation, and that's what been exposed in the absolute failure to address the global pandemic and the vaccine rollout in an efficient manner. the caution, the bureaucracy, the lack of accountability and transparency — all of these things which were part of the brexit debate — have been exposed. there is no question. we talked a moment ago about existential crises. i think europe has to confront some hard questions
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about its own ability to deliver what it claims it can. it has so far failed miserably and there is a huge amount of anger across europe about this. astrazeneca, i think it's also mixed with some anti—british politics because it came from oxford. i think there are some very mixed up medical ethics, some dubious claims of a handful of deaths amongst millions of people should trump the protection for tens of thousands who may otherwise die. isobel, we are seeing all the fears around vaccine nationalisation coming out, yet the big countries, like china and india, are still distributing the vaccine. but also under pressure to protect its own population. where is the right and wrong here? it shows in a way of wielding international power, doesn't it, if you are distributing vaccines? for china, this has been another opportunity. crisis always
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creates opportunity. the biggest producer of pharmaceuticals, until now, has been india, but india is also under pressure to vaccinate its population. china has ramped up its production and is distrubuting vaccines to a number of countries. if you look at a country like chile, which has a high vaccination per head vaccination rate, it's also a chinese vaccine. it is having success in latin america, africa, one or two countries in former eastern bloc in europe, but it has an extraordinarily low vaccination rate at home. this is partly because china had such a successful lockdown policy that the incidence of the virus is relatively low. within china's borders, a lot of people are are leading rather normal lives and the demand for the vaccine is therefore relatively
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low in china. the problem for china is how would you maintain that if you want to open your borders? there is the virtue of being able to return to normalcy, but there is the difficulty of not having much coming and going with the outside world for the foreseeable future because you haven't vaccinated the population. the way the chinese government has played it is that this is a bid for a global position in global pharmaceuticals, slightly at the expense of its own population. lyse, some people will be thinking that every country should be making their own vaccine, their own masks, their own health protections because we can't trust our neighbours to give us what we want. is that at all realistic, or are we way beyond because of globalisation? another one of those defining moments. . i think if you were the who, or another international - agency, they would say this is a test to the world - to work together. if we had a concerted, -
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coordinated policy of buying vaccines, ratherthan what we saw — - a race to buy, - wealthier countries paying a lot more just- so they could more, it has turned out to be a wise made by a lot of them if they had . the resources and the strategic thinking to do that. _ yes, it has. i'm from canada, and i canada's really behind. it has not been able to buyi the vaccines that have been manufactured in europe. people had been asking| why doses are not being there was a leaked reportl of a who document calling on countries to remove. the patents, to let more countries produce them. only about a third of- the vaccines that are needed are now being produced around the world. - of course, the pharmaceutical companies are saying that - you have — to have protections, you simply can't just give it to everyone. _ to which the critics - are saying, listen, billions of public money has gone into the production of these vaccines, - it is unassailably - a global public good. this vaccine issue, -
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like the coronavirus itself, has shone a light on so manyl ways in which the world works or doesn't work. jeff, will this be a new missile, effectively — who can help, who has got the manufacturing capacity on the health care front? i think there is no question what lyse said is correct that countries will start examining their own supply chain. globalisation has failed in this case. countries will suddenly acknowledge or have to start to acknowledge that they need domestic capacity, even if it is more expensive. the us can supply canada, but has until this week refused to give canada the doses that it needs. canada sold off its domestic manufacturing in the 19805 and in 2000, and is now rapidly scrambling to build its own supply chain. that is going to happen in europe and in countries across the world in countries that can afford it.
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ok, we have a short amount of time to ask everybody for a story that caught their eye that we might have missed. one has fallen completely off the radar. _ this is the year which marks 20 years since the attacks - of september". a us—led invasion wenti in to topple the taliban. astonishing, 20 years on, i the us are trying to get out of afghanistan when the taliban are on the brink of power. - there was a meeting in moscow, there will be a meeting - in turkey next month. the us is accelerating - diplomacy, trying to achieve dignified peace, - dignified withdrawal. but it is not getting - the attention it deserves. lyse, this is your long—term interest we know. jeffrey, what's caught your eye that we really should have been talking about? it is being talked about in the us, but i think not so much here. that is the calm on the us political front. this is day 60 of the biden presidency, and what a difference. the temperature has
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been brought down... the culture wars have been deescalated. biden is the anti—trump, he has done so much in 60 days, and yet he has shelved his ego in the process. what a difference. isobel, the idea of the boris—biden linkage — do you think that will get any traction going forward? i hope it will improve, it started poorly. boris seems to belong to a different political era than biden. jeff, how is the uk seen? we have the global summit and the 620 we have the global summit and the g20 coming soon. is that going to be a personality clash or is everyone going to be pragmatic?
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there won't be a personality clash, there won't be the hostility we have seen in the previous regime towards some countries. but i wouldn't want to overstate it either. they are very different culturally. biden has verred left since his presidency. given his track record, he is much more progressive than boris ever wants to be. politically, culturally, they are very different people. your story that you think should have been talked about this week? i bring you the news that north korea hasn't gone away. we have seen the exchange of rhetoric, but i hadn't been aware until i picked up on the story that there has been a fantastic drain out of north korea of aid workers, un diplomats and diplomats of every stripe. one russian diplomat left north korea on a hand—cranked trolley because it was the only way they could get across the border. but he isolation is deepening, and signs that a food crisis is getting worse.
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that usually means north korea is going to rattle its nuclear cage. lyse, it's amazing that brexit and covid have drowned out our focus on so many corners of the world. it begins at home. everyone has had to. focus on that bubble, on the lockdowns. everyone has been looking inwards, but every time i they peek out the door, or down the street, - they realise that their health and the wealth depends i on the state of the world. no one is safe until everyone is safe, whether it's health, i science, or military matters. we are all inextricably linked, for better or worse. _ right now, it seems for the i worse, but it is not over yet. jeffrey, isobel, ten seconds each. it's almost a year since lockdown here. one sentence on how it's been for you. listen, i think for me, what's really interesting is how the role of government has changed. i think that the attack
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on government and the push to diminish governments in our world really has been paused, because we see that the only solution to something of the scale is government involvement. the successes around the world are really about governments that have addressed this head on. it is not a private—sector solution _ isobel? i have no personal complaints, except like everyone else, it's been tedious. but i am very curious to see how much of the life we had before covid actually returns. i think we are in a huge transition. so, let's see. crises bring _ opportunities, as well. it's for all of us to seize them. | thanks so much to all my guests: jeffrey kofman, isobel hilton and lyse doucet. shaun ley is here next week, but from me and the team,
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thanks for watching and bye for now. hello there. the quiet weather continues into sunday. hopefully, more sunshine more widely. with some clearer skies though by the morning, lowest temperatures are going to be around lothian, fife, and tayside. could be close to freezing. there's a band of cloud bringing with it a few pockets of drizzle heading south across england and wales at the moment. still a bit of a cloudy damp start towards the south west though the weather should improve here in the afternoon. more cloud streaming into northern parts of scotland but otherwise, it's going to be a dry day and there'll be some spells of sunshine now and again. the winds will be quite light on sunday but the area is cooler. we had 18 degrees in aberdeenshire,
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17 in bridlington on saturday. it's not going to be quite as warm as that on sunday — typically 10—12 celsius. now, high pressure is keeping it quiet and dry. that's still going to be in charge of our weather through monday and tuesday before weather fronts bring in some atlantic air later on in the week and turn things more unsettled. but otherwise through monday and tuesday, it's dry, some sunshine at times, the breeze probably picking up though during tuesday.
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welcome to bbc news, i'm mark lobel. our top stories: thousands of people take part in protests across europe, against coronavirus lockdown measures. demonstrations in istanbul as turkey's criticised for pulling out of a treaty protecting women and girls. tu rkey�*s turkey's main opposition party has put it like this: women will be kept as second—class citizens and left to be killed. homes washed away in australia as heavy rain and flash floods batter the east coast, thousands of people are ordered to evacuate. and, coming to life after 800 years, a volcano erupts 30 kilometres outside iceland's capital reykjavic.

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