06/04/2017 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis.

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The Chinese President has just arrived in Florida for 24


Potential flash points include Korea, Trade Wars - even Taiwan.


So which President holds all the cards?


Meanwhile - the Trump administration considers


what action to take in Syria after that horrific chemical attack.


We think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he's


there, and I guess he's running things, so something should happen.


Thanks, folks. I'll see you in a little while.


we'll ask if a United Nations deal is still possible.


It's his job to get the best deal for the EU out of Brexit.


The Irish Foreign Minister tells me he sees no sign that our former


Would free school meals mean kids do better in the classroom?


We ask restauranteur Henry Dimbleby and former teacher Laura McInerny.


We meet the Russian thrill seekers taking sometimes fatal risks


Donald Trump watched his words tonight like a man


who finally understood just how much trouble they could cause.


It was on the flight to Mar El Lago, ahead of a meeting


with his Chinese counterpart, that he skimmed the curtain divde


to talk to the press corp and tell them, with as much


diplomacy as he has perhaps ever mustered, that something must happen


but first, to the more pressing question in hand:


As the United Nations in New York works to find a resolution


to condemn the chemical gas attack this week at the hands of Assad,


the Pentagon has suggested it's looking for the appropriate


response, including detailed discussions on military options.


Our correspondent, Nick Bryant, is at the United Nations for us.


Just interpret what you were hearing from the Pentagon, from America,


tonight, and do you think it includes options for military


action? They talk about a serious response, so increasingly it looks


certain that that will be military. James Mattis, the Defence Secretary,


was already going to be in Florida, but we now understand he will be


presenting President Trump, the commander-in-chief, with various


military options, one of which includes rounding Syrian aircraft.


There is a lot of chatter at the possibility of not just a military


strike but an imminent one, possibly as soon as the night, which would be


aimed at the airbase in Syria from which America believes the planes


took off carrying that chemical arsenal in Idlib province. An awful


lot of chatter tonight in the Pentagon that the response will be


military, and that that response is imminent. What is the rush in your


understanding? Do you think he expects the UN resolution to fail,


RAC simply trying to beat the UN to it? How do you read it? -- or is he


simply trying. I have just received a text from someone in those


negotiations, and their expectation is that Russia will veto the


resolution under discussion. The French and British drafted the


initial resolution, and the Americans came in with stronger


language. They wanted access for international investigators to the


airbases that they believe these attacks might have been carried out


from, and they also wanted the Syrian military to hand over the


flight logs on the day of the attack, on Tuesday. I expect the


Americans will bring that to a vote in the next hour or two mac, and the


Russians will raise their hand for the eighth time to veto a resolution


directed against the Assad regime. The new UN ambassador from America


said that if there was obstruction and Russian intransigence at the UN,


then the Americans would take action. You can see a possible


choreography here - a vote in the Security Council, the Russians veto


the resolution which the Western nations have been calling for, and


then the possibility of some kind of military action later on. Nick, it's


fascinating and complicated. James Carafano is the Homeland


security and foreign policy expert He might be able to cast a little


light on what we are hearing in the last few moments. Have you


understood that any kind of military strike by the United States is


imminent? What do you make of that? I have heard the same chatter


everybody else has. It fits and the notion of a narrowly targeted


punitive strike, kind of saying, this is beyond the pale, that


certainly seems possible. This is not something that would be part of


a larger strategy dealing with regime change anything else. It


would simply be warning shot against this kind of behaviour. It reminds


me most of some of Reagan's punitive strikes that he did early in his ten


year send to people messages. I think that seems to be the closest


analogy of what we are expecting. President Trump would be putting


himself not just against Basharat Hussain but against President Putin.


That would be the first time those two mac had been set against each


other so far. People miss the point. -- those two. We have seen no


evidence of that apart from some tweets. President Trump has


difficulty in getting over the idea... You don't want to do


something that will escalate things, because no one wants to start world


War three of others. It is a diversion. It would have to be a


limited strike. The argument for sooner rather -- sooner rather than


later is, do it and get it over with. If it is a limited strike, and


we have heard Donald Trump trying to explain to the press corps on that


flight tonight that he thinks something should happen to Assad,


would it be limited but effective in terms of stopping Assad from going


on, or not that far? It would be proportional. If you were attacking


the military installations that were carrying out the chemical strikes,


you could argue that's a proportional response. I don't think


he is trying to take down the regime. People read way too much


into that. James Carafano, thank you, and stay with us.


Watch the handshake, the body-language and the words


tonight - this is as good as it gets for diplomacy nerds.


It's China meets America, Xi Jinping meets Trump,


and the world's waiting to see who emerges on top.


Perhaps they're not as different as they seem.


Nationalists, businessmen who both recognize the Art of the Deal.


Whether they both end up with one is the stuff of the next


Trump fans still remember what he said about China


The question is, does China - and will it bear a grudge?


Look beyond the sun-kissed setting and you'll find a minefield.


This is one of those encounters that matters.


The big beasts get to stamp their ground


in the same room, to the


And this is where we really start to see who has


the upper hand - Xi Jin Ping or the man who airs his


diplomatic grievances on a chat show.


The President of China's coming, a man named Xi Jin Ping.


If you were president, would you throw him a big dinner?


I'd get him a McDonald's hamburger and say,


On the campaign trail, Trump never shied away


We can't continue to allow China to rape our country.


Jobs disappear, and the way the economy's going right


For "rape", you might wish to read "trade".


It's the thing that keeps his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, up at night,


documentary on the subject he called death by China.


President Trump has consistently criticised the large


trade deficit between their two countries, currently around $350


billion, an imbalance caused by American imports of cheap Chinese


I don't think it's necessarily bad that a president


came in having said tough things about China.


It's almost the norm in American presidential politics, and


George W Bush, who I worked for, said in the first months of his


presidency, he would rise up and defend Taiwan if it is attacked,


And over the next years, he had a very productive relationship with


But there is also that small matter of nuclear


Last week, Trump told the Financial Times that if China were


unwilling to "solve" North Korea, he'd go it alone.


The US is looking to China to implement


sanctions against North Korea as punishment for its recent bout of


The meeting of these superpowers, visualised so


powerfully by the 1972 union of Mao and Nixon,


who normalised relations after a 25-year freeze, has become a


They expected that he, and the other deputy


premier, should wear the


Dong Xiaoping, magnificently incongruous at a Texas


rodeo, paved the way for the next China trip -


Reagan in 1984, when the full force of China's economic


might was becoming too big to ignore.


And by the time Obama met his counterpart, the pivot to Asia


The United States is a Pacific nation, and we are very


interested and very focused on continuing to strengthen our


Some believe for all the easily satirised bellicose banter,


famously sent up, you'll remember, on Saturday Night Live, his team's


There is no major China policy in place, few old China hands in his


He hasn't got a China strategy in place yet.


That's why I think the Chinese government


decided that it's worth their while to take


the risk on President Trump and


try to see whether they can persuade President Trump to approach


relations with China more in a direction that the Chinese


Trump needs to emerge from this with the


promises of wins on trade and American jobs.


He may well get that, but the Chinese may be looking


significant longer term - confirmation of the reach of their


power within the Asian neighbourhood.


If Trump walks into simple linguistic traps many fear


the sophisticated Xi will leave, the end result may look far more


compromising, and it will matter to us all.


Our China editor Carrie Gracie joins me now.


How important is this encounter for Xi, and what does success look like


for the Chinese right now? It is incredibly important. He has a


Communist party congress at the end of this year and if he can bring


home something he can call a victory from the biggest foreign policy


stage, then that enormously strengthens him at home. They see


this as a moment of danger, yes, a moment of risk, to head into Florida


without an agenda, with this unpredictable counterpart, but on


the other hand, it is a moment of opportunity. The US has no China


strategy right now. As you were saying, it has no team for China.


President Obama had a strategy - there was the transpacific


partnership, the betrayed trade deal for Asia, underpinned by security


alliances. Without the transpacific partnership, the whole of Asia is


looking on and saying, what is the US policy in Asia? This is a time


for China to step in while policy is unformed, and to help President


Trump form it in a way that suits President Xi. I think for them, they


see a lot they can do, and if they can just the live arena on trade to


avert trade war if they can deliver enough to avoid serious secondary


sanctions against Chinese firms on North Korea, then they can get the


mood music right and Government call it a triumph. Thank you very much


indeed. Joining me now from Washington


is James Carafano, a Homeland Security and foreign


policy expert from the In the studio are author and Chinese


activist Diane Wei Liang, and Martin Jacques, an academic


and author of When China Very nice to have you all here. What


do you believe is at stake, Martin? I think an enormous amount is at


stake, because from the Chinese point of view, this is the first


time since Don Xiaoping that they have faced a situation of this kind,


president in America who is on a different course to all the previous


presidents. Why do you say that? Actually, a lot of them have gone in


with the sabre rattling approach, haven't they? They haven't, like


Trump, rejected the whole idea of the alliance system of the United


States since 1945 and said, walk away from global leadership, what we


want is America first. That is different from any other position.


What we don't know is how far Trump will go along this course. We know


he has had a lot of rhetoric about it, but we don't know how much he is


actually going to do. James, I want to bring you in on that one point.


Do you think we will hear the same rhetoric again from Trump? Does it


still work in close proximity, one-on-one?


No, I think that President Xi is well matched for President Trump, he


can be serious and engaging and I think they could have a fairly


productive discussion if they keep it at business level, I think you


are right on trade, they could come out of the room and both feel like


they can offer something. But, North Korea, because of the news, that's a


top thing in the US, they will came in -- come in with a tough series of


demands and demand China do things and give them 30 days to do


something, it will include sanctioning Chinese companies which


is absolutely on the table for the US. The administration is talking


seriously about that threat. The perception is that Xi is incredibly


well prepared for this and sophisticated, the kind of landmine


traps that he can set for President Trump, what do you think he will be


hoping for? Well, President Xi, I have to say, he has come in in a


very strong position actually. I have two disagree with carry on this


one, he is into the middle of his tenure -- I have to disagree with


Carrie Gracie. He is even a strong position, although he has the


People's Congress coming up. It's a rubber stamping, he has enormous


support within China, the Chinese governorate has been used to


American presidents coming in, and having a dip in the relationship.


And, with every US president, the China US relationship had always


deteriorated within the first six months. It did not go well with


Barack Obama, he was a pacifist and facing the Pacific Ring, it didn't


really work, do they admire President Trump's strongman? They


see him as a deal-maker and they believe that he is one. Now they


suspect that he might be a one trick pony, talk tough and try and get in


to get a good negotiating position. For China, on trade, there is


definitely room to manoeuvre, and North Korea also has room to


manoeuvre. They could offer corporation. China is not an ally of


North Korea. China does not want a military action. Or tens thousands


of refugees at the border. May I strike a slightly optimistic note?


If Xi and Tramp can get through this summit on reasonable terms, with a


reasonable exchange getting on with reasonable chemistry -- President


Trump. On one or two things they may reach some sort of agreement, a


concession here, gains there, so one. It is not inconceivable down


the road they could not actually strike a much bigger bargain. A much


bigger global agreement. That is not impossible. You mean a different TBP


or Nafta? There are things that China could do for the United


States. For example, they could open up China to more sectors in the US,


and invest serious money in American infrastructure. Either through the


AIB or through direct form. China rebuilding America and making


America great again? China could have a role in this... James, what


are your thoughts? I do agree that they could come out of it looking


strong, both of them, or they could accomplish nothing. But I do think


this lady is some sort of grand bargain.


It is very unreal. There are major strategy issues on the table that,


ground is not going to be easy. The South China Sea, Taiwan, that is a


bit like Pollyanna. But if we learn to get along, then


yes. It is a start. Learn to get along... Until Donald Trump's


supporters realise all the jobs that he said had gone to China haven't


really but gone to automation? But it doesn't matter, as long as Donald


Trump creates jobs, he will be re-elected. That is his challenge. I


do not see Donald Trump getting into a trade agreement, and this is one


thing that he does not believe in, the trade agreement. But I can see


the bilateral relationship between China and the US... But can you see


China opening up to more American investment and China wanting to


rebuild the railways in America? China does want to invest in


America. But opening up China's market can be tricky. It depends on


how much you are talking about. China has got to open up to you


about everything after America. They've been trying for the last


three decades... Absolutely. The Chinese invested $42 billion, a big


increase. And they have invested in carriages and the LA subway system,


if I remember correctly. Certainly, these are private Chinese firms,


some things are in motion already. Thank you very much for joining us.


Time now for Viewsnight, the part of the programme we give


to those with spiky views on prickly subjects.


Tonight, it's the turn of George Mpanga -


better known by his stage name, George The Poet.


Here's his take on keeping it political.


Theresa May has met Donald Tusk for the first time since


the triggering of Article 50 - and since the negotiating terms


Many are on tenterhooks about the details -


Ireland now becomes one of the 27 nations that we will be


looking to trade with - and will also crucially have a veto


Earlier, I spoke to Charlie Flanagan, Irish Foreign Minister.


I began by asking him if Ireland was worried that the rest of the EU


would not make Brexit easy for Britain.


I don't see any intent, I don't see any disposition


on the part of my EU colleagues to exact retribution,


I believe it is important that the process now proceeds


Yes, there are unique circumstances in Ireland,


that relationship between Ireland and Britain is the warmest ever,


a positive and constructive relationship that one could only


This has been the case under the umbrella of


And it is important that that warm and friendly relationship continues


Are you putting pressure on the EU now?


Do you feel Ireland is being listened to?


Ireland will remain firmly a member of the EU, having regard to the fact


that our nearest neighbour, the UK, will be leaving.


The process has now commenced, Article 50 has been invoked.


I believe it is important in our context that we have a situation


at the end of these negotiations in two years' time, maybe even


longer, where a member of the EU, namely Ireland, cannot be placed


in a position of more disadvantage than someone who is leaving.


You think that this is going to be painful for Ireland, ultimately?


I do - I believe it is going to be painful for Britain.


I believe it will be painful, potentially, for Ireland.


Ireland is not withdrawing from the EU.


Ireland will remain firmly a member of the EU.


Irish people enjoy our membership of the EU.


But now we've got to grapple with our nearest


Ireland will be the only English speaking member


We acknowledge the fact that our legal system,


our public administration, has been broadly similar


Do you believe, are you confident, that a hard border can be avoided?


Yes, I believe it is absolutely essential that a hard border


We have made great strides here, particularly in the context


of the peace process and the hard-won gains of the peace


process, which is why I am here in Belfast this evening.


It is absolutely essential that the open border remains


For example, over 30,000 people travel over the border every day,


crossing it to work or to school, or hospital appointments.


So essentially, free movement will continue


We have enjoyed, since our independence from Britain


We have enjoyed the common travel arrangement between


It is absolutely essential in the context of these


negotiations, that the common travel arrangement endures and continues.


I knowledge what Prime Minister May has said in that regard


and what the Secretary of State in Northern Ireland James


Brokenshire has said in that regard, that is Dublin's policy as well.


It would be wrong then, to believe, Britain will start


to control her own borders if this one essentially remain


This is a matter entirely for the British government


From our perspective here in Ireland, we must


acknowledge the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement,


the Belfast agreement, a legally binding internationally


recognised document which brought an end to hostilities


We saw deaths of over 3000 people in a 30 year period.


The Good Friday Agreement remains the foundation stone of our peace,


and anything adverse to that agreement will not be acceptable.


I wonder, so on a very personal level, we saw Donald Tusk seem close


to tears over the triggering of Article 50.


Do you worry that you are losing a major ally at this point?


I felt very sad and I believe I'm speaking on behalf of the majority


of the Irish people when I say that we felt very sad


about the decision of the British people to leave the EU.


It was not our decision, I believe it was a bad decision


but as a Democrat I fully respect and recognise the will and wishes


The Article 50 process has commenced and I believe


it is essential now that we get through the negotiations in such


a way that the end result can be as close as possible a relationship


between the EU and the United Kingdom, albeit with the UK gone.


Charlie Flanagan, thank you very much indeed.


Social media has certainly changed the way we view the world.


We're more connected, more self-conscious, more interested


in whether we are 'liked', but how far would you go


Young Russians are at the forefront of a growing trend for extreme


selfies and social media videos, performing life-threatening stunts


to attract fans - even sponsors - and escape lives in dead-end towns.


Lucy Ash has travelled to Siberia to find out why this


is a particularly Russian phenomenon, and asks


And of course, please don't try this at home -


it's incredibly dangerous and many people have died doing it.


On the outskirts of this city in southern Siberia,


23-year-old Alexander Chernikov prepares for his most


Police tell onlookers to stop filming, but footage of this


Clocking up more than 10 million views in a month.


Nine storeys high, set yourself on fire on the top,


TRANSLATION: I felt a sense of victory, joy and pride in myself,


that I was able to do it and survive.


You are aware of that moment, that you're standing on the line


And if something goes wrong, you might die.


Would you do all this if you weren't filming it?


TRANSLATION: I think that if I couldn't make


an extreme selfie or video, I probably wouldn't do it.


I would find a different way to get on in life,


And it helps me to stand out and show off my achievements.


It's inescapable, it comes to us all.


In fact, dozens of young Russians have died, and hundreds more have


been injured while trying to impress their Internet audience.


Pavel Kashin fell 16 floors after trying to perform


The Russian government is so worried about this trend it launched


a safe selfie campaign, warning people to avoid posing


on moving trains and high roofs, with wild animals, or with weapons.


TRANSLATION: A Moscow office worker shot herself in the head


with a flare gun as she attempted to take a selfie.


When people press a button with one hand, they often squeeze


This extreme selfie culture continues to grow in Russia.


And it can have its rewards, as well as its risks...


Angela Nikolau and her boyfriend climbed what is said to be


the tallest crane in the world in China, some 640


The daughter of a circus trapeze artist, Angela has sponsors,


including fashion brands, camera companies, and travel firms


which pick up the tab for her foreign ventures.


The Moscow art student has around half a million


followers on Instagram, and is now something


of a celebrity, invited onto Russia's coolest chat show.


Angela sees herself as an artist rather than an adrenaline junkie,


and explains why filming her exploits is essential.


TRANSLATION: Imagine an artist painting all alone in his studio,


He does this for five years, just for himself, until he's


He thinks, if no one sees my work, what am I doing it for?


I think we are all created to produce things we


Russia does not have a monopoly on risk, but young Russians


are building a global reputation for being the most daring,


or stupid, depending on your point of view.


Maybe because nobody has really told them to stop,


says Kirill Vselensky, one of Moscow's most infamous


TRANSLATION: It's illegal here, but not that risky,


because in America, Canada or Europe, the guys who do this


stuff have to cover their faces and only climb at night


because they can have serious problems with trespassing laws


But here, we did not have many legal problems, which is why it


It's a paradoxical situation, isn't it?


TRANSLATION: If you don't get involved in politics,


and don't bother people here, you can pretty much


A Ukrainian friend of his climbed one of Moscow's landmark buildings


and poured blue paint on the yellow star on top.


He fled back to Kiev, and so the police raided


Kirill's flat instead, and the young Muscovite wound up


Like Angela, Kirill is a star on social media.


His photos have been featured in magazines around the world.


Back in Siberia, Alexander Chernikov continues to risk his life.


Alexander works as a labourer from time to time,


His dream is to be a stuntman - a film star even -


and to escape what he sees as a dead-end life.


TRANSLATION: Some of my friends just hang out in courtyards,


Some are drug addicts, others are in prison.


That's what young people here are like.


There are very few people who strive for something, success in sport,


TRANSLATION: Of course, of course, I want to leave this place.


If you haven't lost your stomach already, we're going to talk about


school meals now. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn,


wants to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils


in England and he says he'd cover the cost by introducing VAT


on private school fees. The proposal is being sold


as a measure that will - in his view - improve the health


of many young children by "ending But would it have any direct effect


on a child's performance in class? Laura McInerney iseditor of Schools


Week and a former teacher joins me here with Henry Dimbleby,


co author of the School Food Plan This is a pretty decent idea this,


isn't it? It has to be something that can be seen to be helping kids.


It is great that Jeremy Corbyn is looking at getting more money for


schools, because they are squeezed at the moment. He's talking about ?1


billion, which is incredible, but there is a problem: We don't have


great data that shows that putting more money into meals for children


makes that much difference to their outcomes, so you have to remember


that children from low income families already do get free meals,


but he wants to add meals for children from middle income and high


income families as well. Just because we don't have the data


doesn't mean it doesn't do good. If you have ?1 billion, do you give


that to children who mostly have meals already, or do you do


something different with it? Laura was a headteacher renew when the


trials were run between 2009 in 2011. It is interesting and complex,


the result from that trials. The children from Key stage two were


almost one term ahead of where they were expected to be as a result.


Other interventions were going on, but every single headteacher... And


these kids were the more forced -- the most deprived? New baby food to


everyone, and the poorer children did better. Every headteacher in new


said it improved morale, behaviour and the cohesion of the school. You


are not contradicting Laura, who says it might help the poorest, but


it might not have the same benefits for the others. In order for it to


help the poorest, you have to do it for everyone. Why? It is not just


the chemical process of the food, making them not sleepy in the


afternoon, it is the cohesion of having the whole school eating and


working together that makes the difference. That makes difference,


doesn't it, Laura? It does. I was a teacher at the time. As you


mentioned, there was lots going on, many interventions. The authors of


the report said themselves, yes, there was an increase in


achievement, but we don't know that it was down to the food. We have had


no further trials, even though, currently, under sevens do get free


meals. The head teachers said it was a good idea, and there were other


interesting benefits. For example, the amount of crisps eating went


down 18%, fizzy drinks down by 18%, sandwiches down by 27%. So


we have had the introduction of free school meals for 5-7 -year-olds. But


not above? Why wouldn't you listen to a teacher, given that Laura has


worked as the head of a school, why would you not take on board but she


says? I have listen to lots of teachers and talked to


schoolchildren. We agreed in certain areas that in terms of the roll-out


of it, I would look at the areas with high free school meal


percentages as the place to start, rather than a very affluent area.


Laura, are you saying that you would not spend the money? I was a


teacher, not a headteacher. I was reporting on this when we were


seeing the roll-out across the country, nationally, and I suddenly


realised that deprived parts of London where this was piloted are


not the same as everywhere else in the country. You suddenly saw


primary schools where loads of children already had food,


everything was fine, it didn't have the kitchens to deliver it, so money


was poured into schools to do up the kitchens, then children who already


had food were given more money, and in the meantime, the pupils I was


teaching in London, who were coming in without breakfast, who at half


term do not get lunch, they don't get anything. If I had that money, I


would have to think seriously, do I give that to a child... I would also


spend it on breakfast. Michael Gove did well to protect the education


budget. It is the most important thing. Do this and those things, and


I think you will see our children grow up not only better but


healthier. You must be a head chef as well, just to even it out.


That's all we have time for this evening.


But before we go, all politicians know that the odd egging or flour


attack is part and parcel of political life.


Nonetheless, spare a thought for Francois Fillon,


who might well think the scale of this one today really


MUSIC: Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros


It will probably be a chilly start for southern and eastern parts of


the UK tomorrow, but warming up quickly in the sunshine.


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