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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  February 10, 2020 3:30am-4:01am GMT

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at the 2020 oscars, brad pitt has taken home the award for best supporting actor for the quentin tarantino film once upon a time in hollywood.‘ — and laura dern has won best suporting actress for marriage story. many of cinema's biggest stars are attending the ceremony. the korean drama parasite has one the best screenplay test film, internationally. millions of chinese citizens are due to go back to work, after the extended lunar new year break, but coronavirus restrictions mean many businesses remian closed. the number of deaths from the epidemic has now risen to more than 900 after hubei province reported 91 new fatalities. ireland's general election has seen an unprecedented surge in support for the left—wing nationalist party, sinn fein. despite fielding far fewer candidates, it's share of the popular vote appears similar to those of the two long dominant centrist parties. a coalition government now seems more likely.
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now on bbc news, dateline london. hello, and welcome to dateline london. i'm carrie gracie. this week, coronavirus or credibility shock. which is more dangerous to china's communist leaders? and was president trump's perfect week the starting gun to a perfect year? my guests today: american journalist and author jef mcallister, david aaronovitch of the london times, maria margaronis of us news weekly the nation irish broadcaster brian 0 7 connell. it's been another grim week in the battle against coronavirus, ever more infections, deaths, lockdowns and economic damage.
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but for china's political leaders possibly the worst headline of the week was the loss of one wuhan doctor. in late december, li wenliang had tried to warn about the virus but police accused him of disturbing social order. as usual, the chinese political system censored bad news. now mr li's death now draws attention to an uncomfortable question. should china have acted sooner? maria, start us off. i think it is clear china should have acted sooner and even chinese officials are now acknowledging this. and the outcry on social media over the death of doctor li wienlang is very moving and very powerful. we know that they didn't close down the live markets, they didn't alert people to the fact there was a new virus, that they in fact tried to censure doctor li wienlang. for me the question is where
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does that take china? will people feel we have all got to come together to fight the virus and we cannot fight the government? or will they be feeling, especially after all those protests in hong kong, that this is a moment for change? interesting question and, david, i don't know if you have a view on it. as part of that question, interesting to note that since li wienlang's death media have started complaining that outside forces are manipulating and exploiting grief over his death to deliver an anti—china message. i suppose, insofar as the chinese government is now receiving criticism about its system, linking that to coronavirus, and that is the way in which the state media are very likely to respond to criticism. i would add a word of caution here. and this is not to constitute in any way a kind of defence of the chinese habit of shutting down conversation about bad news. but looking at it as rationally as i can, i am not at all sure that we got any more than a week
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or two weeks delay as a consequence of this process. what youh've got is a highly communicable but, in the first instance, dormant virus. which is by no means, as far as we can tell, nothing like as deadly as the proportion of people who got ill as with sars, when many people died from it. nevertheless, it is a significant threat to health systems, particularly in underdeveloped countries where they will not be able to cope with it. therefore, i do not think it is surprising it took them a little bit of time to catch up with it. once they did catch up with it, boy, have they caught up with it. i think we will be hard pressed to see many countries where the reaction would be quite so strong and quite so effective as they have been in china, whatever else one thinks about the system.
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interesting. to pursue that thought, the government—controlled media in china are also now insisting the crisis demonstrates the superiority of the chinese system, the selfless heroes battling against the virus to control the spread and the building of hospitals at breakneck speed and all that kind of thing. they would have to and they should. there is a success story in the making here and the government really has responded ferociously. now, does that mean that we still really understand what's happening in china? when things are controlled to the extent they continue to be, it may be difficult still to get accurate public health information out.
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will you see everybody who should be in hospital if they need to be? is there a place where this is taking root outside of the view of the cameras which they do not want us to see? that is the problem of the source of political viruses. if the government feels it is important to show it is in control, it will show it is in control, whether it is in control or not. you can make decisions like quarantining wuhan, which means 300,000 people got out in eight hours between the announcement of the curfew and the curfew. so you want basically the people to trust the government, to make them think it is doing the right thing for you, and they cooperate with it, and i'm not sure that level of trust has been established in china between the people and the government, but it is doing a heck of a job in building hospitals and trying to get people into it. the reaction of the chinese government is not a surprise, it has happened before with industrial pollution, with large crashes and disasters like that and so on. i think what it does show is the power of social media, particularly in a country where the internet is very heavily policed.
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the news did get out and it did have an impact and people have had their say on that on social media. but i suppose on the other side of that, in a society which has a command and control of the economy and society and the emergency services and everything else, to the point david was making, they've done pretty well building hospitals and reacting to it and quarantining. they have the resources to do it. but i think certainly the chinese government will probably be looking far more closely now at social media even though they have taken measures already to restrict the internet. just developing that thought, li wienlang, the doctor, one of the things he said was a healthy society should have more than one voice. that was his response to the censorship he faced, but ironically, actually
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the censorship around coronavirus in china and around what happened to him is growing and, to some extent, the surveillance by the state in terms of people putting on the masks and drones following them across fields and so on, telling them what to do, is growing at the same time. yes, and talk about a people's war and asking people to hand each other in and all of that. the effect for china, we don't know yet. there's so much we do not know. we do not know yet very much about the virus itself in that it's still mutating and will it mutate more, and we don't know if it will get more lethal or less lethal, and we don't know whether for china this will be a moment of clamp—down and crack down or whether the economic effects of this outbreak in the quarantining of china will mean that this will push for change. let's take it beyond the borders of china now. david, obviously we have seen over the last few days that we're heading towards 40,000
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confirmed infections, obviously hundreds of deaths, huge economic disruption to global supply lines and so on. the chinese ambassador in the uk, interestingly, said last week — warned against panic, overreaction and racism against ethnic chinese. is there a danger of the world over reacting? it is certainly the case that there is a kind of western reaction to epidemics that appear in the east that can have a slightly dodgy connotation, i shall be very careful, there is an element of yellow peril, to use that horrible old phrase, without taking into account that where you have very large populations and very dense populations, these are precisely the circumstances within which new viruses and new diseases are
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created and incubate, and we just took a little look at the statistics before coming on air and between 600,000 people died of flu in the west last year and we did not describe it as a deadly flu outbreak. we did not quarantine anybody. several thousand died last year. i meant to say 600—1000. that is my london diction, it swallows itself up. 8 million people! no, no... we did not call it a deadly flu virus, we did not quarantine anybody, and one of the things about a new virus which is probably mutating a bit and which has patterns we do not yet understand is you quarantine people. you would not imagine if somebody got ordinary flu on a liner that we would stick everybody in a cabin and force them to stay there. this are you saying it is wrong to do that? no, it is not wrong,
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the whole point is it is a new virus and we do want to contain it and we don't want it spreading around and we do want to deal with it, but as a consequence you have to put in place measures that put enormous strains on your health service. a lot of the people going in to be treated in wuhan and elsewhere probably have never actually been ill and may very well never become particularly ill, but nevertheless they have to be treated as if they were hospitalised cases. you can see... so, our big problem would be, if we got a large number of poorly people or a significant number of cases over here, it would effectively block off quite a lot of the capacity we have to react to other disease. i do believe we have things in place to deal with that if and when it happens, as it happens, although i would not like to be pushed too far on what i thought those were. ok, we won't push it. the point that david is making, that raises all kinds of dilemmas.
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the uk and the united states and other countries saying, citizens come home from china, we have seen airlines laying off huge numbers of staff, all kinds of knock—on effects which involve hard choices for many people. and we are seeing already in the chinese economy, which is much more integrated in the world and much more important in the world and during sars... which was back in 2003. all those luxury stores in los angeles, new york and london that now have chinese staff because they get a lot of tourists, those tourists will not be going and doing the same kind of things that are also important for the chinese economy. general motors sold more cars in china last year than in the united states and it is stopping production in its plants for one or two weeks because it has been asked to by the government. the whole supply chain for many commodities all round the world have these knock—on effects. i think it's important, it is essential when you get something that could be scary and could be worldwide lethal, the only kind of response is quarantine, these kind of crude measures.
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a vaccine will take a year and we can try a retrovirus and other drugs, they're now pulling out of the american laboratories, they've been trying to find animals rather than humans, these things will end up working. we are a species that sneezes and salivates and is susceptible to this kind of virus and we will, because they do transmit between bats and other kinds of animals and get into the markets. this is something that is an inevitable part of our existence for a long time. but brian, if it's an inevitable part of our existence, do we need to look at the costs of how everyone‘s handled coronavirus this time and say, in future we will expect people to report much faster, we're all get our facemasks on across the globe, we will all wash our hands every hour, and that is the way we handle it, rather than close off millions of people. yes, i don't see why there should not be a review
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by the world health organization, ramping up the response to whether it is a pandemic or not. this argument has been going on for days. but to go back to david's point about the racism and everything else, and containment, i am not so certain that it's a great idea if you have a novel virus, as this virus is, to suddenly stop flying people around the world on aeroplanes just because of the colour of their passport, whether they're british, american or something else. i don't understand why that should happen when most airlines have now decided not to fly there and decided that quite a long time ago. there's another thing going on here which is important to mention, which is obviously this is real, we don't know how dangerous it is, we don't know how far it is spreading, but i have a feeling that the panic
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about viruses is a very kind of attractive panic. there are science fiction novels about it, there are films about it, we are in a state of so much uncertainty with the climate crisis, australia burning, politics shifting and polarising all over the globe, that i think a lot of the anxiety is also coming from other things and focusing on this. more than at any other period in history? i think the uncertainty especially because of climate change, not more than any other period, but it is very high at the moment. i think epidemics, pandemics are obviously terrifying and it is a thing you can't see that will get you, that is mysterious, that has come from somewhere else, and i think there is a bit of that going on as well. some are not old enough to remember when nuclear war was a viable disaster to end the world... some say it still is. people were issued with instructions, this is what you have to do,
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hide under the kitchen table or something, but i do not see why it should not be compulsory in every country around the world to actually explain to people from childhood upwards how to deal with something like this. how to wash your hands. if people understood basic microbiology, it would not be a terribly damaging thing. they would understand a bit more about themselves and about the way the hidden world works. let us move on because we need to talk politics directly, american politics to be precise. on monday, his enemies formed a circularfiring squad. on tuesday he bestrode the national stage. on wednesday, his allies shielded him from existential threat. the iowa caucus, the state of the union address, the senate acquittal in the impeachment inquiry. all in all, an excellent week for president trump. is this the shape of things to come?
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a week is a long time in politics, but it is hard to see the trend lines that are going to make trump deviate from what has got him to the position he is now in. the economy is doing quite well, a little better than anticipated, his poll numbers are at the highest of his presidency, even though he was impeached and was only a few votes away from being removed from office. the complex of fox news and his supporters and the internet and the things that make them think that he is doing a wonderfuljob, and that all the plots against him are by strange, washington, corrupt politicians. looking at the way the republican party dealt with impeachment where every rational argument was dispensed with finally because they simply had
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to vote for his acquittal. mitt romney, the former presidential candidate, the only republican to vote against him was told overand overagain, stick with the team, the team is what matters, not whether what he did was right or wrong. and he is now firing people from his white house that testified truthfully about what happened at the white house. his very strange performance at the national prayer breakfast and later in the day decrying his enemies, using dirty words on television, he is who he is. the question is can the democrats figure out a way to unseat him? what did we learn about them from the iowa mess? i and a lot of other people have not, but it is still mesmerising forjournalists because it looks like bernie sanders is not going to go away.
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he has got his supporters and they will stick with him. the former mayor of south bend, indiana, pete buttigieg, did better than anticipated, joe biden did worse. but this is the strange thing. iowa is a tiny state with almost no black people, agrarian, not typical of the democratic party or the rest of the country. what happens next? we have former mayor bloomberg of new york not going in any of the primaries to begin with, but spending an amazing amount of his $10 million fortune, hoping joe biden will be the centrist standing. interesting in the debate last night there was a level of civility that is a harbinger of the democrats' desire not to let themselves be divided into smithereens. so the image is wrong?
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in iowa since the democratic party could not run an efficient vote, which made them look stupid, but everybody's concern is can we beat trump? he is existential for the country and the democratic party. fortunately or unfortunately, there are divergent views in the democratic party. if you get a centrist like bloomberg, could he win activists and black people who are the core of the turnout machine for the democratic party to care enough to show up on election day? who will bring the enthusiasm and intelligence to get it done? no one candidate now seems obvious. this is scary for democrats. david, what is your take on the democrats right now? i don't understand iowa. we will leave iowa. no, but honestly, one of the things you get when you get to a place
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like this is that everybody tells you it is a moment of momentum and i have never believed why somebody would put so much on something like the iowa caucus. the fact you can vote in primaries also makes you really wonder about how good a test of opinion some of them actually are. but it is fairly obvious from the outside that you want, if you are not a trump supporter, you want the candidate who is most likely to win the vote in the places that could defeat donald trump period. you don't particularly care who that is. i have to say, i felt i have seen worrying signs out of the bernie sanders' campaigns that they have gone over to the other side, which is it is not worth having a democrat facing donald trump unless it is bernie sanders. even today people were sending me conspiracy theories from the bernie sanders camp
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about problems in iowa. there are always conspiracy theories and things like that. no there aren't. there always are. the democrats in america are so deeply split about how to defeat donald trump. the fact many people felt that bernie sanders would have done much better than hillary clinton. the last time around in the so—called progressive camp, i hate that word, the fact that the democratic national committee has now changed the rules for who gets to participate in debates so that bloomberg, even though he does not have a large number of donors, which used to be one of the qualifying characteristics, they changed the rules last week,
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can take part in future debates, is a very interesting thing. you can see it different ways. you can see it as the corporate democrats try to hold the party and make sure that it does not vote for a left candidate like bernie sanders or indeed elizabeth warren, who has not been getting the airtime that many people feel she deserves because she is a woman. or is it the democratic national committee going, help, we have got to open up everything we can to make sure that we beat donald trump and maybe bloomberg is more likely to do it. i don't know the answer to it. taking on board what everybody says about iowa, it is interesting that you had a so—called moderate and a so—called progressive coming neck and neck. brian, where do you think all of this is going? i don't see anybody at the moment who can beat donald trump as he comes out of his impeachment hearings. it is kind of ironic that the object of the exercise in his phone call
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to the president of ukraine only came fourth, third or fourth in the iowa caucus. trump's ability to fundraise has gone up. the only person that can outspend him now is michael bloomburg. so it is very difficult to see how any of the others... i wouldn't have thought that bernie saunders would be electable right across america, particularly in the places that donald trump is winning. i think the democrats need to have another look at it. they need to look outside the box and say who could defeat donald trump? there are only two people that might possibly be able to do it at the moment. one would be michelle obama and the other would be oprah winfrey. neither of those have declared candidacy. exactly, that is the direction they need to go in. i do not think there
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is anybody who can do it. the iowa caucus and the mess they made of it isjust a sideshow. this limps on from state to state all the way to july, unless a clear winner emerges. willa clear winner emerge before then? otherwise, trump is left as the incumbent delivering the narrative. incumbency has tremendous advantages. the party divided is another advantage. it will be bloody and messy. that will be good for donald trump. he has got the russians on his side and the saudis were good enough to hackjeff bezos' phone and there are lots of advantages he will have. however, as we saw in the 2018 elections, trump caused so much revulsion among a wide strand of democrats and independents that they got out and voted. he does cause revulsion
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and it is so difficult to predict. if you can do that again, he can be beaten. if those results were repeated, he could be beaten. and hillary clinton got 3 million more votes than he did. there is material to work with here. it is the strangeness of the electoral college system. he can claim economic success. he does claim he has made the country respected internationally. not a single one of his allies knows where they stand. the entirety of europe, including britain, is having to recalibrate its defence strategy and foreign policy strategy because it does not believe it can rely any more on america. they will not care about that as voters. on the economy he is doing no better or worse than bill clinton did. actually, the trends are not so dramatic and there are a lot of places where...
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what i am saying is there is a conventional wisdom developing that he is a shoe—in no matter what happens at the next election. he is not a shoe—in. if people do the right things in the right places, he could and would be beaten. they need to find a candidate who can beat him first. last word. not necessarily a shoe—in, but likely. i agree, there is a momentum that builds with the narrative and you just go oh, yes he will win. depending on your political standpoint? yes. that's it for dateline london for this week — we're back next week at the same time. goodbye.
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hello there. damaging gusts of wind cause major disruption and it looks like it is going to stay very windy throughout this week, with frequent showers an issue, some of them turning to snow across northern parts. because it is turning colder, you can see the first signs of that with temperatures close to freezing so there will be some snow showers and icy stretches across the far north. showers into the south—west will merge together for longer spells of rain as we go through the day, some of those heavy with hail and thunder. snow showers across northern england, northern ireland and scotland, anywhere above 150 metres, and it is going to feel cold with gale force gusts of wind on exposed north coast. it's almost a repeat performance of the theme on tuesday, plenty of isobars and strong, gusty winds to look out for, and plenty of snow showers, so blizzard—like conditions in the north and more in the way of sunshine near the south, but cool for all with highs of 4—8 degrees.
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this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm james reynolds. our top stories: at the oscars, brad pitt takes home the best supporting actor award and laura dern wins best suporting actress. here in hollywood we are heading towards the big finish. eltonjohn wins heading towards the big finish. elton john wins and heading towards the big finish. eltonjohn wins and a director of parasite. millions are set to head back to work in china after the extended lunar new year break. but coronavirus restrictions mean, many businesses remain closed. ireland's general election changes the country's political landscape with a surge in support for the left—wing republican party sinn fein. the new solar orbiter space mission, showing us the sun as we've never been able to see it before —


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