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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  January 23, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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welcome to "amanpour & company." here is what's coming up. the elite gather in davos but the big guns are staying away. trump is absent. his federal shutdown is squeezing nearly a million government workers. i'll talk to a union leader. bretan's theresa may is absent. i'll talk to the former prime minister tony blair about the brexit mess. and china's xi is absent while his economy is slowing and tit for tat with canada is escalating. i'll speak with the former ambassador to beijing. plus discourse or discord. our alicia menendez speaks to the highly controversial website editor who is questioning
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everything from race issues to feminism. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman's 60 year culinary career began, she didn't know the recipes from her cookbook would make their way to her line. while cruising through europe, asia, india and egypt. because according to bea, to travel is to eat. bookings available through your travel adviser. for more information, visit >> additional support has been provided by rosalind p. walter, bernard and irene schwartz, sue and edgar wachenheim iii, the cheryl and philip milstein family, seton melvin, judy and josh weston. the jpb foundation and by
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contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. you could be excused for not quite getting brexit or frankly not beginning to understand. in a turbulent world, it is a slow moving story about beaurocracy, back room dealing and how to honor a referendum that was held in 2016 which offered no facts about the future. right now the uk remains in the european union. in less than 70 days it leaves. the problem is britain has in exit agreement with the european union. experts say if it leaves like that on march 29th, hurling itself off a cliff, the economic impact will be disastrous. the british parliament has roundly rejected prime minister may's deal. and the plan b she property forward on monday looks an awful lot like plan a. the drama in parliament, some say the soap opera, has made
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this story oddly compelling around the world, even in the united states where this government's dysfunction is looking a lot like that government dysfunction. so what's to be done? i'll be speaking to tony blair, the former british prime minister, who tells me it's time now to take the choice back to the british people with another referendum. tony blair, welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> so you're very well-known to americans. you know, not just americans but people around the world are scratching their head after two and a half years and trying to figure out which way is up with brexit. if you could explain. let me read from "wall street journal." they have an essay titled the great brexit breakdown. from afar the spectacle of the uk undergoing national equivalent of a nervous breakdown has been the source of head scratching. the country once defined by its stiff upper lip has been indulging in a kind of orgy of public histrionics more
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associated with latin telenovelas. what do you say to that as a former prime minister. >> well, it's a difficult time for us. the situation is this, the country voted to leave european union in 2016. since then we've had negotiations. what the negotiations reveal is that in the end britain faces a choice of two different futures. it can either stay close to the trading system of the european union, because we've been four and a half decades in europe, so you've got a host of commercial relationships, investment relationships, trading relationships. for 4 1/2 decades, our economy has been trading within the european system. roughly 60% of our trade is gompgomp gomp governed by european systems. you can stay close europe will say if you would like access to our markets like you are now,
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you have though keep to our rules. right? you can't join the club or be part of the club and have your own rules. that's one brexit. the problem with that is it immediately leads you to the question, well, what's the point of brexit then. if the purpose of prex is to break free of all those rules and you stay part of the european system, people say, well, we've left but we've not left. okay. so that's one alternative. the other alternative is that you do what the heart brexiteers really want, you get out of the single market of europe, its unique trading system, you get out of the customs union, you break free of all those rules. but then since business is going to be severely disrupted by that, because you've been trading within this system for a long time, then it's going to be painful. what's the point versus what's the price. the trouble is, there's not a good choice. really what they have done, the prime minister is trying to
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reach agreements. she eventually has come out with a deal that's frankly neither one nor the other and parliament is split, gridlocked. >> here we are. you have just coined a new slogan, what's the point versus what's the price. that's pretty interesting. we all 'n' where you stand as former prime minister, former leader of the labor party. you obviously were a remainer, you remain a remainer. you want a second referendum. is that wishful thinking at this point, or do you believe seriously, politically, that momentum is seriously moving towards the second referendum. >> yes, i think it is moving that way. a year ago when i first said this or 18 months ago when i first said it, people dismissed it as fantasy, definitely as wishful thinking. now, i think as you carry on, and you see the negotiation, look, parliament can't agree. you've got the prime minister subject to a no confidence vote
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from her own party and then from the parliament. okay. she survives both. you've got one part of the cabinet saying one thing. this is another part saying another thing. i don't think it's unreasonable in those circumstances to say we've got to take this back to the british people to resolve. they first of all said they want to leave. now when we're gridlocked, they have to decide the gridlock. >> just as an exercise in this, what would you put as questions for the second referendum. it can't be the same question, yes or no, in or out as the last one in 2016. >> yeah. the thing is, you can do the question one of two ways. some people are saying in parliament, you can have a question is it staying or close to europe or breaking free. you've got options. i think there are some difficulties with that but you could do that. alternatively you just take the two things that really have
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public support. in every single public opinion polls there's two propositions that have support. one is staying. the other is what i call break free. you practice free of the trading system. you're prepared to go through the pain because you think it's so important to be free of the european union. you could have a referendum with that simple choice. so i don't think the question is that difficult. the real issue is people say, look, we made our decision in june 2016. people again, that's dishonoring the mandate of june 2016 to which my answer is, yes. but we can't -- we don't know precisely what that mandate is now because you've got different versions of brexit. if it's 30 months, our knowledge of what's happened is infinitely greater. it's not an outrage to go back and ask people again. >> the current prime minister, that's you're view as former prime minister. the current prime minister
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theresa may said the opposite. she's implied it's anti-democratic. it's akin to a coup. that's not her words but some have used it. even some of your own party have used the specter of social unrest should the country go to what they call a very divisive referendum. here is what the prime minister said yesterday in parliament. >> many times my deep returns about returning to the british people for a second referendum. our duty is to implement the decision of the first one. i fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country, not least -- not least strengthening the hasn't of those campaigning to break up our united kingdom. >> so there is a lot in there. undemocratic, break up our united kingdom, a lot of that.
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what do you say to that. >> let's just unpack that for a moment. first, by the way, the single biggest threat to the uk, the united kingdom is brexit. it causes enormous tensions in northern ireland. we haven't yet resolved the border issue. scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the european union so you've got a problem with scotland when you do brexit. if you do a hard brexit, that is for sure the biggest strain you're going to impose on the integrity of the united kingdom. secondly, look, even if we had had a good negotiation, even if out of the negotiation we had a deal and parliament passed the deal, there's a perfectly reasonable case to saying back in june 2016 we didn't know the alternative. that was to be negotiated. it's perfectly reasonable once you see the alternative, once
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you know the house you're going to be moving to after you decided to leave the house you're in, but you're entitled to think again. that would be perfectly reasonable in my view. okay. the situation we're in today is where there's no agreement as to what form of brexit. the prime minister can't get her teal through. she got defeated by 200 votes in the house of commons. a huge defeat. in those circumstances, is it democratic to go back and ask the people -- we're not asking other people, we're asking the people if they want to proceed or not. people say it's going to cause social unrest. i mean, from who? i mean, people who if they still want to leave, they have got a perfect opportunity to come and make their case. but this is a boat two and a half years ago that wasn't like 65, 35, if you really take a step back and look at this, in
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these circumstances is it really unreasonable for them to say we've looked at the deal, the various options they offer, we can't personally support this. we don't think this is in the interest of you, our constituents we represent in this parliament but we're handing the final decision back to you. i mean, i think it's a little unreasonable people are protesting about being asked their win in those circumstances. >> we do obviously know there have been referendums run again in other countries about other issues and it's gone down fine. i guess the real question is if you were prime minister now, and you had put some kind of proposal to parliament and you see this deadlock, not just in the conservative party, which is ribboned by hard-liners against, i know, the moderates against the prime minister, but also in your own party, the loyal option is driven also by remain or the leaders desire for brexit and
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not to have a second referendum, what would you, as a guy who was elected three times to be prime minister of this country, what would you do to unblock this? >> i would have a skigs where you lay out the options. stay close to europe. norway broke free from europe trade agreement with canada. no deal. a bad idea. her deal or another referendum. the only way of resolving this is to lay it out for people, explain the options. they are all clear in their representations by the way. then allow parliament to decide. tat's the only way you can resolve this. run a set of votes. in the end parliament has to make up its mind. that's what it will do, by the way. in the end i think it will come to another referendum because the alternatives are all unpalatable. the thing about this is all the way people thought of this as a
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negotiation and it's really a choice in the he said. britain has to choose which future it wants. what this negotiation taught us is what those futures really look like. the only sensible is to have mps decide it. if they can't decide it, the people. >> you said no sensible people can get behind a no deal. these are people, they make up from what i gather about 15% of the relevant people, the sort of hard-liners in the torey party. this prime minister apparently doesn't want to be the prime minister who splits the torey party or splits the country or whatever. it seems she's in hawk to them. i don't know how you view it, again, as a former prime minister having this insurgency on her right flank, that by the way has already played the cards and lost, do you think she's still packing to the hard line brexiters, horace johnson, john redwoods, those types. >> i think to a degree, yes. ening to be honest she'll tack
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whichever way she thinks there's a majority for her deal. i think she thinks it's best to tack towards them. if the purpose was to reunite the conservative party, i think we can agree it's failed. you know, you said the labor party is decided, christiane, that's true. to a more limited degree. the labor party is a party, by the way, that is massively in favor of staying in europe, in favor of another referendum. >> prime minister, the leader isn't. you're right. the rank and file want to remain. there seems to be a lot of build for a second referendum among the rank and file of the labor party. not the leadership. >> the leadership has been very reluctant. i think the amendment they tabled yesterday is a big step forward and an indication they are recognizing this is eventually where we'll get to another referendum. but you know, look, this is really difficult. no one should pretend there are
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easy solutions. i've often said, by the way, at one level i completely sympathize with the prime minister. it's a hugely difficult task. she's faced on every side by people advocating things. her own party is pretty unreasonable. the coalition party and dup can often be extremely unreasonable. it's a difficult, difficult situation she's in. but the only way out is to let parliament try and reach an agreement. you can't do that really unless you put each option before them and say here it is. you've got to decide which one do you want. >> let me go back to how it's viewed overseas. on the one hand britain in its modern history, the little country who could, constantly punching above its weight. people are thinking, boy, what's up. this common sense country is in meltdown. it is kind of going a little viral around the world, this constant soap opera and drama we're seeing play out here. even celebrities are busy
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tweeting. we have one american model, this is a british columnist who wrote this, spoke for large swaths of society when she tweeted, one of my goals for 2019 is to understand uk politics. i read and read and try and learn but my brain cannot grasp it. i can see you smiling, i'm sure you agree. let me ask you about the european leaders there. you have tried to do an end run around the prime minister, and you've been lobbying for a second referendum with the europeans. what are they saying now today at this point? where do they position it's going to go? >> i think everyone is pretty confused right now. by the way, just to make this point, i should say this in defense of my own country, britain remains a serious and great nation and we'll get through this one way or the other. even if we end up doing brexit, which i hope we don't, it will get in our feet and we'll move forward. anyone who writes us off is making a mistake. i agree our policy is pretty confusing right now, even for
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those of us involved in it. what i've been saying to the european leaders is not you should support a second referendum. that's not their business. it's up to us to decide the way forward. what i've been saying to them is, the underlying causes, the issue about cultural and national identity. these are issues. the last 30 months hasn't turned europe on its head. you look around and you know from the analysis you do and the interviews you do in europe, the whole of european politics is involved at the moment. that's why the sensible thing in my view is for britain to think again but europe to think again, to realize it's going to have to come to a different type of settlement around issues to do with migration and identity. either going to have to recognize that in the future those countries that are part of the eurozone are going to integrate in a different way and
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in a bigger way than those countries outside it. so what i've really been discussing with the european leaders, it's our business to build the support for going back to the people. but should we do so, you guys should think carefully also about what you can say that helps the process of europe staying together and, you know, staying together is important for europe as well. britain coming out of europe is not just bat for britain it's bad for europe as well. >> again, i think you're putting a case to europe as well. let me ask you a question, about the point of davos all these years later, you know very well davos is considered the hobnobbing of elite, the very people who threw so many millions of people around the world into the calamities they find themselves in now and led to the rise of populism. let me play you a sound bite from a guy who has gone viral right now. he's just written this book snf
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winners take all, the charade of the global elite." see what he told me. >> i think it should end going forward. it is a family reunion for in my view the people who broke the world. >> you can't argue with that, right? >> i can. look, it's the easiest line in the world. i'll tell you what i do when i come to davos. i'll be meeting three of my presidents from africa, they broke the economic system. i'll be meeting a whole lot of people from multi-lateral institutions who work in the developing world. i'm here because my institute because a not for profit institute that works in some of the poorest parts of the world to help them. to be fair, the people who come here are discussing serious issues, the easiest play in the world. these people coming along here, global elite and so on. by the way, these arguments about cultural identity and nationalism in my experience
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you've got elites on either side of the argument. davos, it is what it is. it's an opportunity for people to come and network on issues of importance. and you know, some people may come here who are billionaires from different parts of the world but other people come because some of the issues they are discussing here are important. >> on that note, tony blair, former prime minister, thank you for joining me. >> thanks very much, christiane. all the best. now, president trump would also have been in davos, but he canceled because of the shutdown which is hitting the one month mark. he seems as far as away from the democrats as british prime minister does on a deal for brexit. it's important to remember this is not just a political but a humanitarian crisis. government workers and contractors keep missing out on their paychecks, which for many means trouble paying rent, utilities even even buying food. j. david cox sr. is president of
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the american federation of government employees. his union sued the administration earlier this month for making some of his members work without pay. he's joining me now from washington. mr. cox, welcome to the program. >> thank you very much for having me on today. >> tell me where your suit lies. do you have any hope of winning this? have you tried this before? >> we have tried it before, and we got a favorable ruling in the past and winning the suit. however, with the partial government shutdown, our justice system is now shut down in america, so therefore the case can't move forward. 800,000 people are being required to either go to work without pay or sent home from their job through no fault of their own with this government shutdown that president trump and majority leader mitch mcconnell have imposed on the
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american people. >> on the one hand you're saying you're suing the government, but the ministry in charge, so to me, is also out so it can't process it. just tell me what are the grounds of your lawsuit? on what basis are you suing? >> we are suing over the fact that the laws require employees to be paid at least the minimum wage, and employees have not been paid the minimum wage because they have received zero in their paycheck, so therefore they weren't paid properly. also the law requires employees to be paid time and a half for overtime. again, they were not paid for anything. so the lawsuit deals with that. we believe we will prevail in the end. currently 800,000 federal employees are literally in soup kitchen lines asking for free meals, trying to barter, as president trump said, for their rent, mortgage payments, car payments. they are suffering tremendously,
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going to work every day but not being paid on payday. >> i think one of the things that really sort of illustrates this kind of desperation is when people need to survive by using food stamps. even that is at risk of grinding to a halt. tell me what the status of the food stamp issue is right now and how many of your workers that would affect. >> the food stamp program is administered by the department of agriculture, which president trump and majority leader mitch mcconnell have chosen to sthut down and will not open at the current time. so therefore the food stamp program, s.n.a.p., as it's called, is getting in jeopardy. there are many people that are working for the federal government now who are receiving no income would be eligible for it. again, those resources are starting to dry up also because of the this partial government
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shutdown. we're back to all senator mcconnell needs to do is call for a vote in the united states senate to open up the government. the government signs the law and continue to operate our government. >> mr. cox, i don't know if it's just me, but i feel the advice of government agencies for workers like the ones you represent to hold yard sales or try getting a side job as a dog walker or babysitter is awfully callous that. what's it doing to the moral of your people? >> the moral is at rock bottom. tsa, our transportation security officers who have done a superb job in this country, protecting this country since the 9/11 incident, a great job, they are not being paid. they are some of the lowest paid in the country. they are struggling. they make about $40,000 a year. they are living paycheck to paycheck. many of them do not have the
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resources to get to work to buy groceries, to provide for their families but yet they are required to go to work every day or either they face disciplinary adverse action and lose their job. they are very dedicated civil servants. very dedicated. >> we have heard a lot about the crucial workers you just mentioned. all of them are. to work in a high stress, high security area as tsa or even the air traffic controllers or other people must add considerably to the are stress. let's not forget you once worked for a government agency. how does it sit with you to hear other government workers being told, you know, just either don't come to work or don't expect a paycheck. come to work. >> well, it does not sit well. i went through a government shutdown, lock out in 1995, '96. my wife and i both worked for the government, the department of veterans affairs.
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neither one of us was paid on payday. we had young children. we had to buy groceries. it was a very difficult situation. that's what we're having to occur now with tsa. we don't talk much about the fact because correctional officers in all of our federal penitentiaries and bureau prison, they are being required to work without pay a very dangerous job guarding us from the most heinous criminals in this country who are being fed every day but they don't have enough money to buy food for their own children. >> so you mentioned you were once a government official. in fact, you worked for the veterans administration. right now the head of the veterans administration is really angry and demanding an apology from your union because some local leaders suggested that the pressures of this shutdown could particularly affect vulnerable veterans work for the country and potentially lead to suicide. he's very angry and demanded an apology.
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tell me where you stand on that. why would your local leaders have said that? is there evidence in that regard? >> yes. that local leader is a service connected disabled veteran in this country. he works in the bureau of prisons. he's a local president. he has runs of correctional officers coming to him continuously saying, look, my children need food. my mortgage is due. my car payment is due. i need to pay my bill. how are you going to get the government to pay me my paycheck on payday. yet mr. trump isn't paying them on payday. for the secretary of the v.a. to say that about a service connected disabled veteran is unconscionable. i cannot believe the secretary of the department of veterans affairs would say that. i worked in psychiatry, i'm a registered nurse. i understand about disabled veterans and we need to show compassion for our veterans in this country. a third of the men and women
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locked out of their jobs not being paid in this country right now are veterans, and i say shame on the secretary of the department of veterans affairs for even saying such a thing about a man or woman that served our country. >> it really does bring it home very, very starkly. i think i hear you saying, and many others have said that all these workers are being used essentially as bargaining chips for a political process, a political game of chicken in washington. do you see any way out of this impasse as you stand right now as it hits it's one-month mark? >> yes. it's a very simple way out of the impasse. senator mcconnell, all he's got to do is allow a vote in the senate on the legislation that the house has passed. that legislation will pass overwhelmingly with a veto proved majority of democrats and republicans, send it to the president and allow the president to sign the legislation. there's a simple way out except
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senator mcconnell does not seem to want to do that. he doesn't want to upset the president. we have our system of checks and balances in our government. that's what congress is supposed to do. federal employees need to be paid. they are required to work. all workers want to be paid on payday. they shouldn't be asking for a hand out, they should be getting their fair wages on payday. >> very, very briefly because i'm running out of time. shouldn't the workers be out on the street protesting. you're asking the republican majority leader to do something. often things don't happen unless there's pressure on these leaders. we haven't seen people out on the streets in this shutdown, workers being affected. >> we have been having protests every day. we've had them all over the country. they are continuous protests. there will be a protest tomorrow on capitol hill. there's been protests in front of the white house. workers have been constantly
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protesting. many in the religious-based community are beginning to protest because in the book of leviticus it says that, you know, you shall not rob from anyone and that you shall pay your hired hand before the day comes to an end. it's unconscionable that the united states government would not pay its employees who are going to work every day providing services to the american people and all those that visit our great country. >> j. david cox, president of one of the biggest unions affecting so many government workers. thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you so much for having me today. >> so the american economy is also taking a big hit from the federal shutdown and also from the two-year long trade war with china. but china is hurting, too. new figures released by the government in beijing showed the economy grew at its slowest rate in almost three decades last
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year. is economic anxiety one reason for the escalating diplomatic standoff with canada. it's arrested two of complained's citizens and sentenced a third to death just last week. most see this as retaliation for canada's arrest of a top chinese tech official who is wanted by washington for allegedly violating sanctions against iran. it is complicated. david mull roonny is one the of the diplomats and activists who signed a letter demanding the release of those two canadians. he's joining me from toronto. ambassador, thank you and welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> i set up by saying first and foremost you wrote this letter that's the latest intervention from you and others. the chinese have responded very verbally violently, if you like, and completely dismissed that. what do you think is going to make the china he's reconsider? >> well, the situations are very
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tough. when china has taken a step like detaining canadians, and as you say reopening the conviction of the canadian and giving him the death sentence, it's very hard to change the behavior. have you to work at it through many steps. what's important is illustrating to the chinese this isn't a canada/china dispute. canada likes to isolate countries, pick them off one by one. the only country it can't do that to is the united states. what we're saying is many people, governments and also scholars and diplomats are concerned about things china is doing. we hope that registers. >> in part of the letter you said it's understandable -- rather the chinese ambassador said it's understandable these canadians are concerned about their own citizens. have they showed any sympathy for the official arrested in china after they say she was illegally detained and deprived of freedom. give us an update about her, the
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chief financial operator of hweheih. >> not only did he tepgs but we know from their testimony and others, their lights are on, 234 hour interrogation. these things count astor tour in international law, sleep deprivation. what's happening with her couldn't be more different. she got a a bail hearing. she made the case she should live in one of her two properties in vancouver. she's hired her own security guard and she's on a occur view where she has fig-of-to be back in her residence at night. she has to be pack. she's been seeing many times shopping, going about her
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business. canada is following the rule of law to the letter. she will have her day in court. the same is not true for the canadian. >> do you have any doubt the chinese reject any linkage, they say it's not tit for tat response. is your analysis this is a tit for tat, what's happened to your citizens in china. >> yes, this has. the chairman loud in his denunciation of china basically made that point. in 2014, canada extradited an aerospace technician on suspicion of stealing u.s. military secrets. he subsequently pled guilty and was sentenced to jail.
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but in the wake of that two canadians, a couple in north china who ran a coffee shop on the border were detained. the husband was kept in detention for 19 months. this is china's response of choice in these incidents. they know countries like canada, united states, ux are very vulnerable because we care about our citizens. we don't want them to be held hostage like this. >> what do you think will be the outcome. historically these lessons, this pressure work on beijing? >> these are all small steps but steps in the right direction. president xi jinping is a powerful leader and he's made him self more powerful through his presidency but he is vulnerable to a certain extent. every leader has enemies and he's made himself susceptible to
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him. in china there's criticism he's too assertive. the canadian foreign minister warned not to seek allies at davos because that's precisely ey don't want to hear this have. serious countries like uk and france and australia, and others, the united states, are all concerned about its behavior. so this is really one of the best options we have available to us. it's going to take time. i think if relations with china are really a succession of plateaus and valleys. you descend into difficulties inevitably because of differences in the systems. norway has gone through this, awarded nobel prize to chinese human rights champion and they stayed for several years. sweden coming out of a period like that. they had the temerity to complain about detention of two swedish citizens. we're going into that, too. i think today's news, seems the united states will, indeed, proceed with the extradition request only pro longs this
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because the chinese haven't found bottom yet. they don't know where this is ending. they are concerned huawei will be under scrutiny in a trial in united states. it's their champion, the business dealings will be put in a negative light by prosecutors in the u.s. if, indeed, she stands for trial there. he this is a great concern for china. we haven't heard the last of this one. >> how much of this do you think, or how much does the economic worries for china right now play into this. we said the latest figures show a slowing economy. the trade war still unresolved. how much economic anxiety does china face right now. >> a great deal of economic anxiety. you reported on there the numbers at the end of the year. the annual numbers, slowest
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since 1990. there's a lot of concern there. what's happening this is taking place as china hopes to get into the final round of its negotiations with the u.s. to end the trade war. a very senior chinese person, advice premier, economic czar, in washington next week. chinese were hoping they could put this to rest. their strategy was to buy their way out of the impasse with the u.s. to say we will buy at an accelerated rate through 2024. by that stage the trade deficit will have accident happendisapp. let's get on with things and you don't need a tariff. that addresses part of the u.s. delegation who want this to end, too. they don't want disturbances in the market. they want to kick the problem down the road. there's representatives who keep a list of all the failed deals with china and doesn't want to
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do another one. for those folks, really key is intellectual property piracy and cyber espionage, all things associated with the file. this is a nightmare scenario for china and could upend the trade talks as well. >> you just mentioned trade talks, i just had word that the united states has turned down china's offer of these preparatory trade talks. former ambassador, thank you very much indeed for talking to us about this. it's a really, really important issue. it also affects the global economy. now, we turn back to the united states where a group of online writers are forcing us to ask the question where should we draw the line between provocative thought and those that simply want to be pro vok turs. they founded the website as part of the darkweb. it's a platform for those with
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controversial views on race, gender and even sexual assault were considered far too extreme for mainstream publication. when they spoke in new york, they told menendez while she's determined to keep prodding acceptable discourse. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> they weren't getting the attention you believe they deserved? >> yeah. that's simply because my thoughts and my views didn't neatly fit into a box, a conservative box or a progressive box. it was somewhat in the middle somewhere or just outside that framework. i was interested, for example, men and women's different interesting occupations and often criticized the feminist narrative which portrays men and
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women's choices as being somewhat forced or socially constructed. i was interested in evidence that suggested that many women come to different occupations because they have innate differences. >> the term we hear thrown around a lot is pc culture. i want to know if you believe we're in a time of pc culture and if you can define that for me. >> yes, i do believe we're living in a time of increasing political correctness. it's difficult to define exactly but i think one of the -- some evidence that we are is the amount of people who are getting into trouble for voicing opinions that they wouldn't have gotten in trouble for maybe five or ten years ago. we can see this on social media people get mobbed. people are losing their jobs now over some pretty benign opinions. even saying men and women are
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different. biological differences can be controversial in some contexts. >> can you give me an example of someone you believe lost their job over what was a benign opinion. >> i think the example of james demoore at google. he wrote a memo and had various arguments and hypothesis in it. then his memo was presented in mainstream press as anti-diversity creed, said women can't do the job of computer science, technology, engineering up to the same standard as men, but he never made those arguments. he presented much more nuanced arguments based on empirical evidence showing many women have on average different interests. so i think the way in which we strip down conform indicated and complex arguments and present them in simplistic fashion is a system of pc culture and driving
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pc culture as well. >> there's currently a piece on colette, new war on comedy, takes a look at louis c.k., someone who admitted to wrongdoing. there's this question of if he gets to return, when he gets to return, and how free speech operates in the context of comedy. where do you come downton that? >> well, i come down on the side of whatever is funny is comedy. >> understanding that's wildly subjective. >> absolutely. but laughing at something -- laughter is an involuntary response. so if a comedian makes a joke and we laugh, there's no gap between the joke and the act of laughing where we can say, hang on, is that an appropriate joke or not. we just laugh if it's funny. i think comedians play a really important role in exposing some of the hypocrisies and some of
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the empty dogmas into society, breaking convention and being transgressive. as soon as we start clamping down on comedians and telling them what they can and can't joke about, i think we become a less free culture in society and i think it's dangerous. >> is it wrong to be upset by his comeback. >> #metoo victims can be upset over whatever they want. i don't think the rest of us have to pay attention or listen to their demands. i mean, people can have any kind of emotional response that they choose to have but it's not -- it's not -- that doesn't mean we all have to suddenly comply with demands that these people have. >> there's also a piece on the site about the posthumous #metooing of j.d. salinger. is it going too far to look back retro speculatively in the men
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of history in the context of #metoo. >> there's nothing wrong with going back and relooking at behavior of historical figures. i think it just becomes problematic when suddenly we don't read the books of the authors because they weren't up to our moral standards. i think we miss out on precious literature and precious art if we constantly judge artists and people of the past by our current moral standards. >> what do you define as a dangerous idea? what crosses the line for you? >> well, we are all liberal humanists, and we believe in the dignity of all human beings. we don't like -- we don't publish anything where groups are denigrated in moralistic terms. one reason we reject identity
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politics. all groups are equal. however, we do think that there are empirical questions that are open and we'd like to explore them about differences between people and their interests and occupations and preferences and that type of thing. >> the vast majority of names publicly identified with the intellectual darkweb are white men. >> yeah. >> what do you make of that? >> i think it's a bit of a misrepresentation, there are people in the intellectual darkweb who aren't men, my star contributor, john mcwhartcwhart debra so. >> you'll agree those names are not nearly as well-known as jordan peterson or ben shapiro. >> well, that's partly because
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the mainstream gives jordan peterson and ben shapiro more of a platform than these lesser well-known names. perhaps that's something that should be remedied and rectified. perhaps these individuals should be given more of a platform. >> if the intellectual darkweb is anti-tribalism, how do you respond to the critique you're simply creating your own tribe. >> i think the critique is correct. i think we are creating our own tribe. it is something to watch out for, because we will become susceptible to our own form of group think and confirmation. absolutely. >> where do you see that tribalism manifesting? >> unfortunately today you see that kind of tribalism occurring in university settings more and more where theories like -- such
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as intersectionality are becoming more popular. for example, not just university settings but i believe the women's march that has occurred here in the united states has got into a bit of trouble for excluding jewish women for their privilege. i know that in california a women's march was canceled because some of the organizers thought too many white women were going to be on the women's march. it's that kind of tribalism which we critique. we don't think that's helpful. we don't think juning people or shutting down conversations or ranking people according to their privilege on the virtue of their skin color is in any way useful at all. >> i wonder how much of it in the context of america, america becoming a minority/majority country has to do with the fact people with marginalized
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identity, african-american, closed out and looking for appear community and belonging for those on the margins. >> i don't think there's anything wrong with that. i don't think that is not beneficial. i think it becomes a problem, however, if groups are seeking reparations or seeking to punish groups that they perceive as being oppressive. at the moment white men are sort of this group who are perceived as the oppressor class. because white men have always held power throughout history, now there needs to be some kind of redress. i'm not saying power shouldn't be shifted away towards other groups, but if we're going to be looking at individual white men, they are not necessarily guilty for hundreds of years of power held by their identity group.
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soening the problem is when we attribute guilt and blame to people who have not done anything personally wrong. >> can you give me an example of someone who has experienced that? >> well, we seeet it -- we've sn it in the united states on college campuses with some of the rape culture rhetoric where young men have found themselves caught up in unjust sort of procedures on catch us where they found guilty by universities but they haven't had their full due process rights protected. often the arguments made are, well, white men for so long have had so much power and rape or
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sexual assault hasn't been prosecuted as aggressively as it should have, so what does it matter if some innocent men are being unfairly convicted or charged on university campuses. >> who is making that argument. >> jessica valenti on twitter has made the point that she doesn't care if innocent men are now afraid of women because this is the time for redress. the #metoo movement and prosecuting -- aggressively prosecuting sexual assault, sexual harassment in the workplace, it's time for a reckoning. if innocent men are afraid, then that's bad luck. the argument has been made. >> so there's a difference between innocent men being afraid and innocent men being unduly prosecuted. >> yeah. yeah. you know, i would say someone like the mathematics professor who had his paper censored in academic setting.
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i would say that's an innocent man. duke lacrosse players charged -- or the accusations of rape against them fell apart. it was the "rolling stone" article which alleged a rape happening at virginia university, uva, that fell apart. that was a false story. now the "rolling stone" are being sued. i know that there's been dozens of lawsuits in the united states on behalf of young male students who have been found guilty on university campuses but in actual courts in the actual justice system. that decision has been overturned. there are dozens and dozens of lawsuits. so i think there's a real issue. it can't just be swept under the rug. >> would you say the intellectual darkweb is
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anti-victim hood? >> yes. yes. >> is there then a contribution in declaring yourself victims of pc culture who are anti-victimhood. >> yes, i think there is a contradiction somewhat, and it's an interesting one to navigate. certainly there are true victims of callout culture. people who have lost their jobs because of something they have said on social media. we could argue losing a job over a comment made on twitter is perhaps a disproportionate punishment. at the same time i think there's a real danger with people like myself and the tribe that we are a part of perceiving ourselves as victims, because as soon as you perceive yourself as a victim you, you lose a sense of agency and a sense of purpose. although there are problems with call out culture and some people have lost jobs and some people
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do feel silenced in university settings and that type of thing, we have to be very careful not to overplay that and undermine our own agency by thinking we are victims of this cultural phenomenon. because in the long run we really aren't. >> thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. >> some controversial views for sure. let's do back to davos and end on a more optimistic quote with two fame outside people plugging our needs to combat climate change. legendary conservationist was interviewed on stage by britain's prince william. tomorrow we'll have more with former vice president and environmental activist al gore. that's it for our program tonight. thank you for watching "amanpour & company" on pbs and join us again tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman's 60 year
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