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CONNECT THE WORLD
Pakistan Against Permanent U.N. Security Council Seat for India; Security of Air Travel
Aired November 8, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: President Obama hails India as an indispensable ally as he backs its bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Well, back in the U.S., the closer ties with India are already paying off with the prospect of thousands of jobs for struggling Americans.
What will this warming relationship mean for one of America's biggest trading partners?
Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.
Well, Mr. Obama said the relationship between Washington and Delhi would be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. But with Pakistan looking on and China keeping tabs on developments, will this growing friendship come at a cost?
Joining the dots for you, I'm Becky Anderson in London.
As the vote counting gets underway in Myanmar, we'll ask whether it's time for the country's voice of democracy to change tactics?
And if you're a Harry Potter fan, we've got just the spell for you. Stay tuned to find out how you can quiz the boy wizard himself. If you can't wait out to find out more, head straight to the Facebook page. The address, Facebook.com/cnnconnect. Lots of good things for you there.
Let's kick off tonight with President Barack Obama, who's outlined his vision for a deeper partnership with India, one that includes closer cooperation on security. While the U.S. leader endorses Delhi's bid for a permanent seat on the Security Council, India's neighbor, Pakistan, is standing firmly against that move.
Sara Sidner reports from Delhi for you.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of big headlines out of India today, as President Obama is about to finish his three day tour here. One thing the president said that all of India has been watching and listening to is that India is not an emerging world power, but that is has already emerged. And to back that idea up, he was able to say that the U.S. will give full backing to India's desire to get a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. And he talked about that during his speech in parliament.
Let me let you listen to what he said and the reaction from the crowd.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As two global leaders, the United States and India, can partner for global security, especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years. Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate. And that is why I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Now, the president certainly made some comments about what America was able to get out of this trip. He talked about the fact that there were some big business deals that were made, worth about $10 billion and that that would create about 50,000 jobs back home. So, certainly, there has been what a lot of people feel like is a win-win situation here between the U.S. and India, this trip seen as very successful. And the president is going to try to sell what he did here to the American people and, of course, India's leader is trying to sell what they were able to get out of the president and the United States on this historic trip.
Sara Sidner, CNN, New Delhi.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, hundreds of business leaders traveled to India with the U.S. president for talks in Mumbai over the weekend.
Our Mallika Kapur looks at how US-based retailers are really trying to tap into what is a vast consumer market.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chetan Patel owns a convenience store in the heart of Mumbai. It stocks food, toiletries, cleaning supplies -- the kind of goods you'd find at Walmart. Business is pretty good, he says. No surprise, then, that the world's largest retailer wants to open stores in India, the world's second most populous nation.
Walmart's CEO is not the only one looking for new consumers. Still reeling from the effects of a recession back home, many top American executives traveling with President Obama on his India tour say they want to increase trade with India.
INDRA NOOYI, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PEPSICO: It's critical that U.S. Based multinationals like PepsiCo fully participate in growth markets like India, because driving growth in markets like India is what keeps us, as a company, competitive.
KAPUR: Even before the presidential visit, Walmart's president went to New Delhi to make his plea -- give overseas companies greater access to the Indian market.
Currently, India does not allow foreign multi-brand retailers to set up shop independently or to sell directly to consumers. So Walmart partnered with Indian Party Enterprises (ph) to set up wholesale centers, selling to restaurants and other businesses. Now, Walmart wants India to lift restrictions and allow access to everyday consumers.
MIKE DUKE, PRESIDENT & CEO, WALMART: We think it, of course, would be good for our business. We see the opportunity because of the -- the Indian population, the rising aspirations of millions of -- of Indian consumers that want to live a better life. And we believe we could contribute to that.
KAPUR: Analysts say opening up retail would ease massive supply bottlenecks and control food inflation. It's estimated that around 30 percent of India's farm produce spoils before it reaches consumers.
SALONI NANGIA, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, TECHNOPAK: When you look at food retail, there can be a number of benefits that can come in by the investment back in infrastructure, strengthening that, helping farmers with better prices, with better yield products, as well as controlling prices at the consumer end.
KAPUR: But not everyone is convinced of the benefits.
(on camera): India's retail sector is made up of millions of tiny but really well stocked local neighborhood stores like this one, who feel they will be wiped out if big retailers come in. "We want be able to compete with large chains," says Patel. "We'll all be jobless. I hope the big retailers don't come to India."
But the Indian government may think differently. It could press ahead with these market reforms as early as next year.
Mallika Kapur, CNN, Mumbai.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: I want to get you some context for this. So far, India barely squeaks into the list of top 15 countries trading goods with the United States. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, India moved up to number 12 this year. Last year it was at number 14, with trading at around $37 billion. That represents just over 1 percent of total U.S. trade. Compare that to China. Exports and imports reached $366 billion last year, putting China at number two.
Still holding onto the number one spot, out of interest, is Canada. In 2009, total trade topping $429 billion.
Well, let's get more, then, on the recently unveiled trade deals between the U.S. and India and the potential impact on America's relationship with China and, indeed, politically with Pakistan.
Joining us tonight is Evan Feigenbaum.
During his eight years with the U.S. Department -- State Department, he most recently served as the deputy assistant secretary of State for South Asia, joining us from Washington tonight.
So, sir, you know the region well.
We welcome you to the show.
How important are these deals to both, on the one hand, and New Delhi, on the other?
EVAN FEIGENBAUM, DIRECTOR FOR ASIA, EURASIA GROUP, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the trade relationship has really been front and center in all of this. And it's a reflection, I think, in the first instance of the degree to which economic change in India -- rapid growth of 8, 9, 10 percent over more than a decade has really, in a sense, made it possible for this relationship to take place. It's giving India heft on the global stage. It's meant that American and Indian interests have begun to converge.
So, you know, your story is right, the trading relationship is still small compared to China, but the trend is clear and the trajectory is very positive.
ANDERSON: Yes, OK, 50,000 odd jobs in the U.S. always good news. If you take 270 businessmen out with you, let's -- let's face it, they're looking -- they were looking for some deals and they got them -- a whiff of you scratch our backs, we'll scratch yours, though, to a certain extent, when it comes to Washington backing Delhi's hopes for a permanent seat at the UN, surely?
FEIGENBAUM: I wouldn't describe it that way. I mean I think the commercial relationship is something there's been growing inexorably over a period of time. And it's something, frankly, that's very mutually beneficial across the board. Investment flows two says. You know, a company like Essar, which is an Indian company based in Mumbai, both an American company called Minnesota Steel.
The U.N. Security Council is something that's very different, although it is a reflection, as I said, of converging U.S. and Indian strategic interests. But it's a recognition, I think, in a sense, by the United States of it India's growing heft on the global stage right now.
ANDERSON: Yes, and it helps to have a friend on the permanent Council, of course.
The opportunity costs of burgeoning relations between Washington and New Delhi, of course, is the problems that the U.S. might have going forward with Pakistan and China.
Let's start off with Pakistan. Mr. Singh today calling Pakistan -- and I quote -- "a terror machine." Islamabad aren't going to be happy with this burgeoning relationship, are they?
After all, you know, they're supposed to be Washington's partner in the war on terror.
FEIGENBAUM: You know, I think a lot of people in Pakistan may not be happy. But I think it's important to take these two relationships on their own terms. You know, all of that economic growth in India has meant that India's trajectory has really diverged utterly from Pakistan's in a lot of ways. India is in the G20, Pakistan is not. India is in the G8-plus-5. Pakistan is not. India is on the Financial Stability Board. Pakistan is not.
So the United States has equities with India that it simply doesn't have with Pakistan. Now, that's not to say the United States doesn't have important equities with Pakistan, as well. But it's important, I think, not to hyphenate this relationship, not to see everything about the US- India relationship refracted through the prism of Pakistan, either through the US-Pakistan relationship...
FEIGENBAUM: -- or the India-Pakistan relationship.
ANDERSON: Yes and I -- and I agree, it's absolutely important not to see it through that prism. But I can tell you that Islamabad will. And you and I know that.
Let's -- let's talk about Beijing.
What's the message to Beijing in all of this?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, you know, I can think of 63 good reasons why the United States and India should have improved their relations a long time ago that have nothing do with the China. So this process is not entirely about China.
But having said that, it's clear that the United States and India and, frankly, many other countries in Asia, have some concerns about the emergence of Chinese power -- how China intends to exercise its stake on the global stage. So it's in the background. It's not necessarily the only issue, but it's definitely an important issue.
Now, I think, frankly, China should be trying to improve its own relations with India. And that trade relationship has been growing like gangbusters. So China has some reassurance to do of India, as well.
And I think we shouldn't have to see all of these things as zero sum. But, you know, it certainly shapes the strategic context in which China is emerging in the Asia region...
FEIGENBAUM: -- and that's a good thing from (INAUDIBLE).
ANDERSON: Just finally, then, I will press you on -- on the last question.
If you had to craft a message to Beijing from President Obama tonight, what would it be, briefly?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, I think it's very consistent with the message that American presidents have been sending to China since the 1970s, which is that the United States supports the emergence of a -- of a peaceful, prosperous China that exercises its stake on the international stage in a responsible way, what my former boss, Bob Zoellick, used to call a responsible stakeholder on the global stage. I think that's been American policy for a long time.
What's changing isn't American policy, it's China's weight in the world. And the question of how China exercises that stake, how it articulates its interests, I think, is something that's being watched very closely from Washington to New Delhi to Tokyo and beyond.
And it's something that the perceptions of which China can affect greatly through its choices and actions.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Your expert in Washington tonight.
Sir, we thank you very much indeed for joining us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
Well, the next stop in President Obama's 10 day tour is Indonesia. That is where Mr. Obama, of course, spent a few years of his childhood. He is scheduled there to meet with the president in Jakarta. He'll next travel to South Korea, where he'll attend the G20 summit. That meeting in Seoul, of course, taking place on Thursday and Friday. And on Saturday, the U.S. president will be in Japan for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. He will sit down with APEC leaders in Yokohama before he returns to Washington.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, joining the dots on the day's big stories for you.
Breaking the rules in a big way -- senior officials are caught owning brothel buildings.
And did they keep their jobs?
Plus, tracking packages from the source to the final destination -- Reza Sayah puts cargo security under the microscope.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back.
It's quarter past 9:00 London time.
I'm Becky Anderson for you now.
Dishonesty, violence, drink driving and prostitution -- not the kind of thing you'd expect from E.U. officials, who take home taxpayer funded wages and pensions. But a report from the European Commission reveals that dozens of its civil servants have broken the rules, they have kept their jobs.
Among them, three officials demoted for owning properties used as brothels. Another E.U. staff member has had his post downgraded after being convicted of assault and battery. Two other fist fighting staffers were denied promotions for 12 months. Unofficially, of course, the drink driving accident was simply reprimanded. And a convicted pedophile had his pension reduced for eight years.
Well, Roger Helmer is the British member of the European Parliament who obtained the disciplinary files.
And he joins me now from Brussels.
Sir, have we seen the true extent of the wrongdoings or should we expect more?
ROGER HELMER, MEP: Well, we've got four years worth of reports here that I got from the commission when I re--- requested the information. And I look forward to getting in 2010 in due course. But this is what we have to work on at the moment. There's some pretty juicy stuff in it.
ANDERSON: Our viewers will be rightly shocked by what they've heard.
Are you telling us that the commission's disciplinary system is broken or that we or they are employing a particularly poor set of individuals?
HELMER: Well, I -- I think that the media are taking a great interest in this story, because you mention brothels and prostitution, and, obviously, that makes it a story. But the angle that I think is important is this, that if people have committed non-political offenses, whether they're fighting in the corridor or drunk driving or owning a brothel, these non-political offenses get fairly small punishments, a slap on the wrist.
The one thing that can get you fired from the European Commission is challenging the politics, being a whistleblower. And we have a number of cases from Bernard Connolly, who challenged the single currency through to Marta Andreasen, who pointed out that there were no proper accounting procedures in the Commission. The moment you raise issues like that, you get fired. And that's the contrast that worries me particularly.
But non-political offenses are treated very lightly, indeed. But political offenses are hanging offenses.
ANDERSON: Well, how concerned are you about your job after flushing out all of this?
After all, as you say, whistleblowers have been punished in the past.
HELMER: Well, indeed, yes. But we're talking here about officials in the Commission. And, of course, I'm not an official in the Commission. I'm an elected member of the European Parliament. And I think we have considerably more flexibility. It's my job to -- it's the parliament's job to scrutinize the work of the Commission so that essentially, I'm simply doing that.
ANDERSON: All right. OK. And I -- it's my job to point out for the viewers that there are 35,000 people employed by the Commission, I believe, and only 30 cases of disciplinary action. That is over this period. That is less than 0.1 percent.
Is it -- is the E.U. really any worse than any other organization, do you think?
HELMER: Oh, no, I -- I'm not saying that it is. And the Commission's defense immediately is to say well, it wasn't very many and they weren't that senior. But for me, that isn't the issue. The issue is not whether there are a lot or whether there are a few. The issue is the way in which non-political offenses are just winked at and let go, whereas the moment you challenge the political structures of the European Union, they get very angry, indeed, and it becomes a firing offense.
It's that different, the fact that they can't take political criticism, that I think is very, very worrying.
ANDERSON: What do you want to see done?
HELMER: Well, what I would like to see done is for the European Commission to start listening to political criticism. But it -- it treats the opinions of -- of the public with contempt. You know, we had a series of referenda on the European constitution, the French and the Dutch voted against it. And the Commission simply ignored that result, came back with essentially the same document with a different title and said, all right, we won't have referendums this time, because they knew perfectly well that if they did, the answer would be no all over again.
It's the fact that they want to do their own thing, they can't take criticism and they can't bring themselves to listen to the opinions of voters.
ANDERSON: All right, Roger, we're going to leave it there.
We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us, a member of the European Parliament out of Brussels for you this evening.
Well, we -- the revelations that misbehaving E.U. officials remain on the payroll come as millions of Europeans face austerity measures -- $9.8 billion of taxpayer's money goes toward E.U. administrative costs each year. That includes more than a billion dollars in pension payments for Eurocrats retiring on 70 -- 7-0 percent of their salaries. And those costs are expected to rise.
The European Commission wants a 3 percent pay rise for its public servants. And in a recent study, it estimated pension costs would double, to more than $2 billion in the next 20 years.
So what does the European Union have to say about all of this?
Well, earlier today, I spoke with Michael Mann, who comments on E.U. administrative issues.
We began by addressing the lenient punishments handed out to officials who, for example, have owned buildings used by prostitutes.
This is what he said.
MICHAEL MANN, SPOKESMAN, E.U. ADMINISTRATION: They had a building that they rented out. They were not -- not aware as far as were aware that this business was going on. They were merely the landlords of buildings. So there is no evidence whatsoever that they actually ran a brothel at all.
Fist fights, you mentioned. There was a case there where two colleagues fell out, had a bit of an argument. At the end of the day, they made their excuses. They made up to each other and we decided that as they didn't want to take any further action, there was no further action needed, except for a reprimand.
ANDERSON: Well, none of this sounds good, it's got to be said. There are those who will say that you get a job at the EU, it's a job for life.
Is that true?
MANN: That's absolutely not the case. We have certain cases where people are fired from the Commission, unfortunately. As I said, we -- we take our decisions on disciplinary cases based upon the seriousness of the offense. We don't want to throw people out. But if they do commit very serious offenses, then they have to be fired. There have been cases in the 2009 report that you refer to of people being fired because of what they did, you know, fraudulent activity, for example, or consistent insulting behavior, for example. That was another case that people were getting thrown out for doing that.
So, you know, it does depend on the gravity of the offense.
ANDERSON: How many people at the E.U. sat after they had been convicted of a criminal offense?
MANN: The last year, I believe there were three people sat following one of these disciplinary boards for very serious offenses. So, you know, it is -- it is actually untrue to say that there are jobs for life. If the offenses are serious enough, then, of course, we take the ultimate sanction against people. Even if people have already retired, we can also take away their pension if we find what they've done is beyond the pale.
ANDERSON: It doesn't look good, does it?
MANN: This terrible reputation that there seems to be for this -- this idea of corruption, I mean we have an annual report of OLAF, which is the independent anti-fraud body, that shows that the degree of corruption is actually extremely low. We have got very strict accounting status. We've got very strict rules. We've reformed our financial regulations to make sure that fraud is not possible or if it is possible, we found out about it and deal with it.
ANDERSON: Are you sure these rules and regulations that you talked of, they're being adhered to?
MANN: Yes, I mean the rules and regulations are broken in all organizations. But if you look at the evidence at the European Commission, we have less than .1 percent of our staff coming out into disciplinary proceedings. So at the moment, it looks pretty much like most people are doing what they're supposed to do and following the rules. And we do have tough sanctions if necessary.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.
Well, post-election violence and the mass exodus from Myanmar -- we're going to take a look for you next at why thousands are fleeing across the border into Thailand amid claims of a voter intimidation.
And it's the tracking system which allows you to follow your package minute by minute around the world and it's all available for anyone to see and use.
More on that after this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back.
Now, from wheels on the ground to the jets cruising the skies, tonight and all this week, we're going to take a look at all things aviation for you.
We begin with airline security.
It's been under some intense scrutiny, hasn't it, over the past few weeks?
You'll remember a series of package found to have traveled on both cargo and passenger planes undetected.
But is it just a case of tightening our air cargo security or are we giving too much away online?
Take a look at this report from Reza Sayah.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can terrorists mail a package bomb across the world, track it and blow it up where they want to and when they want to?
It would be pretty scary if they could.
So we're going to do an experiment to see how precisely we can track a package from all the way where we are, here in Islamabad, Pakistan, to my CNN colleague, Michael Holmes, in Atlanta, USA.
Remember, this experiment is about tracking the item, not so much the item itself. It's getting a little chilly Atlanta, so we thought we'd get Michael a traditional Pashtu hat.
The shipping service we picked, FedEx. No particular reason. Other services, like DHL and ups, have similar tracking systems.
Are you just searching it to make sure nothing is hidden there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SAYAH: This is going to Michael Holmes, USA.
That -- that's the tracking number?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SAYAH: Thank you. All right. Appreciate it.
So the hat is on its way. Now we sit behind a computer and track.
We're going to track this package using information that's open to the public. We're also going to see if it's ever on a passenger flight. The FedEx online tracking system tells you exactly when and where your package arrives and leaves along its journey. FlightStats.com gives you precise departure and arrival time for most every airline. FlightAware.com -- this site is amazing. It gives you real time tracking of most flights going in and out of the U.S., U.K. and some other areas while the flight is in the air. You get the plane's altitude, even how fast it's going.
OK, using the FedEx site, we see the following morning, the package leaves Lahore, Pakistan around 6:30 a.m., arrives in Dubai around 1:00 p.m.. FlightStats.com tells us the package has to be on one of two passenger flights, Pakistan International Airlines, departing 9:30 a.m., arriving 11:30 a.m. or Gulf Air, departing around 7:00 a.m. Stopping in Bahrain and getting to Dubai around 12:00. That type of information is available to us throughout the journey.
That same day, the FedEx site says the package leaves Dubai around 3:30, arrives in Paris around 7:30. FlightStats.com says only one flight matches that time frame. It's another passenger flight, Emirate Airlines, arriving at the gate at exactly 7:30. So we're pretty sure around 7:30, the flight was coming down somewhere over Paris.
Using these Web sites, we're also very confident the package then goes from Paris to its first U.S. stop, Memphis, Tennessee, on one of two FedEx flights. And FlightAware.com gives us its minute by minute progress. We see around 1:00 a.m., FedEx Flight 5271 is starting to come down over Memphis, Tennessee with a 1:18 a.m. landing.
Eventually, the FedEx box with the Pashtun hat arrives at its destination, Michael Holmes at the CNN Center in Atlanta. And we learn the Internet offers a lot of information for anyone who wants to track minute by minute progress of a flight.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: For what is a special week here on CNN, tomorrow, it's another vulnerability for the air freight industry and one that can circumvent security -- a major freight forwarder based in Switzerland has admitted paying bribes to government officials in at least seven countries to avoid inspection, documentation requirements and customs duties. We're going to be taking a closer look at that case tomorrow here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
You're still with us this evening though. Monday out of London, why are thousands of refugees flooding across Myanmar's border into Thailand?
Well, the exodus comes as a widely criticized election is all but certain to keep the country's military junta in power.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back, and apologies. Just had a few technical issues, but you are back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Coming up, the count continues in the Myanmar elections, but some are asking what's the point? We're going to speak with a reporter who's made it into the deeply secretive country.
Then, small acts of resistance that can make a big difference. A book that looks around the globe at some definitive moments of defiance.
And we are also entering the magical world of "Harry Potter" this evening. The seventh film in the blockbuster series is about to hit the big screen. We're going to tell you how you can connect with your favorite wizard.
Those stories are ahead in this show. Let's get you a very quick look at the headlines, though, first.
US president Barack Obama emphasizes growing ties between Washington and New Delhi as he wraps up his visit to India. In a speech before parliament, he's endorsed India's quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Pakistan accuses its neighbor of violating Security Council resolutions in Kashmir and says that should disqualify India's bid.
Qantas is grounding its fleet of A380 Airbus planes for three more days. The airline's CEO says the planes won't be used until Qantas is 100 percent sure of their safety. The maker of the A380 engine, Rolls Royce, says it's making progress towards understanding last week's engine failure.
Health officials in Haiti say they are worried flooding from Hurricane Tomas and mounting garbage could be spreading the cholera outbreak, making it even worse. The health minister says cholera has now killed at least 544 Haitians in remote areas and infected more than 8,000 others.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is vowing to punish those behind this weekend's brutal assault on a journalist. A grainy video appearing to show the assault on Oleg Kashin played on Russian media outlets, and there are reports of two more attacks on Russian reporters on Monday.
Just a day after Myanmar held its first election in 20 years, violent clashes between ethnic rebels and Myanmar government troops have sent about 10,000 refugees pouring over the border into Thailand. According to a Thai commander, Myanmar military officials say they've retaken control of the border town of Myawaddy about -- after bringing in 500 reinforcements, the battle beat Karen splinter group.
Meanwhile, the vote counting continues in Myanmar. State media and election commissions are reporting that 40 government-backed candidates have won their races. Myanmar has refused to allow international monitors to oversee the elections, and CNN has not been allowed in officially, so we will not identify the correspondent who filed the following report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First results from Myanmar's election seem to confirm what critics were expecting. A landslide by the forces supported by the country's military rulers.
So far, the opposition has only won a few seats in parliament. We managed to speak to a member of the largest opposition group, the National Democratic Force, or NDF. We're hiding her identity to protect her from retribution by the ruling junta. She says, from the outset, opposition parties never had a chance.
"If you compare us with other parties, like the one close to the military," she says, "They already had their regional groups and could easily begin campaigning everywhere. But our candidates had to begin organizing from zero. We had nothing. The problem for us was we never had the necessary manpower."
The NDF is the largest opposition group, but only managed to put up candidates in about 15 percent of the more than 1,000 voting districts. Observers say that's largely because of financial and administrative hurdles put in place by the ruling generals.
State-run media is calling the election "free and fair," but critics see it as little more than a public relations ploy to gain international credibility by the junta and its leader, Than Shwe. The NDF member we spoke to says her party was under constant surveillance.
"Of course the intelligence is watching us," she said, "but it is our duty to continue on with our work. And we did our best to avoid the spies."
Voters seem to feel little enthusiasm for the election. Very few said they believe the vote will bring change. Also, because the opposition is divided. Opposition icon Aung Saan Suu Kyi and her party the NLD called for a boycott of the vote.
Still, the NDF official says she believes participating in the election is the right thing to do, hoping opposition groups might now be able to voice their opinions in parliament without having to fear retribution.
She says, "For the past 20 years, since the last election, they've been doing whatever they wanted, and we just followed whatever they said. Now, maybe, at least we can keep them in check a little bit. Although there will be no change, maybe there will be some movement."
Expectations are so low in Myanmar, people like this opposition member must try to see the bright side of an election many are simply calling a farce.
ANDERSON: The election process has drawn some intense criticism from world leaders. Perhaps not surprisingly, in the US, President Obama said that they were "neither free nor fair," and the world, he said, "cannot remain silent" as peaceful democratic movements are suppressed.
Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned them as "flawed elections." He said the result a "foregone conclusion." Their ambassador to Burma, Andrew Heyn, called the poll a "missed opportunity as its rulers once again," he said, "put their own interests well ahead of the public interests."
And Japan's foreign ministry said it was "deeply disappointed" Aung Saan Suu Kyi was not freed before the vote. Authorities should also, they said, quote, "ensure these elections mark the start of a more inclusive phase by releasing political detainees."
One country that remains largely silent about the election process is China. Stan Grant takes a close look at the Yangon-Beijing connection, and what's really at stake for Myanmar's powerful neighbor.
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): China has nurtured a close economic and security relationship with Myanmar. Over the past 20 years, it has invested billions of dollars into the country, seeking the rich natural resources that Myanmar has to offer, timber, oil, and gas. China is developing a gas and oil pipeline that will directly run from the Indian Ocean through Myanmar and into China.
Over the past year, trade between Myanmar and China has totaled about $2.9 billion. China is Myanmar's third-largest trading partner.
It's also important strategic relationship. Myanmar, of course, borders southeast Asia and south Asia, and provides a buffer to China's relationship with India.
China, of course, is seeking to develop a blue water navy, and Myanmar gives China access to both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This is going to be an important ongoing relationship during the past year, Premier Wen Jiabao from China has visited Myanmar, and Myanmar's military leader, Than Shwe, visiting Beijing ahead of the election.
China, of course, has a policy of not commenting directly on other countries' internal affairs. Regardless of the outcome of this election, China is looking to make sure that its interests are protected. Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.
ANDERSON: All right. For many, opposition leader Aung Saan Suu Kyi has come to embody the struggle for democracy in Myanmar, hasn't she? Detained by the junta there for much of the past two decades, she is scheduled to be released from house arrest this Saturday. Her party, which won a landslide victory in 1990, decided to boycott the vote.
Let's bring in the former charge d'affaires of the US embassy in Myanmar. It's Priscilla Clapp, joining me tonight from CNN in Washington. Firstly, just your reflections on what we've seen and learned so far with these elections.
PRISCILLA CLAPP, FORMER US CHARGE D'AFFAIRES, MYANMAR: I'm afraid that they were even more fraudulent than I expected. It seems that at the last minute, the government party, the USDP panicked, because it felt that it could actually not achieve a majority vote, and they have just been running rampant stuffing the ballot box and miscounting votes, from what I've heard. It's going to take a while for the dust to settle on this.
ANDERSON: Priscilla, given what you've then said, do you think Aung Saan Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, was right not to contest the election, given now that we believe it's actually been quite close. Might they have been the straw that broke the camel's back, as it were?
CLAPP: They certainly know how the government would operate fraudulently, that's for sure. But the reason they didn't contest them was not that, it was because of the election laws that would have excluded all of the political prisoners, the NLD political prisoners, from the party. And that was unacceptable. There are more than 400 of them in jail right now.
ANDERSON: Is it still relevant, that party, given what you've just said? Is it still relevant to people who live in Myanmar today?
CLAPP: Absolutely. In fact, a lot of the people who either didn't come out to vote or voted and spoiled their ballot by ticking the wrong boxes, did so because they support the NLD. There's very wide support for it still.
ANDERSON: Aung Saan Suu Kyi is still, Priscilla, clearly a hero for many people. Is she, though? And I hate to say this, but I'm going to ask you. Is she, though, still an effective politician at this point?
CLAPP: Well, she can't be effective while she's being held under house arrest. When she is free to speak, she is quite effective, because she speaks in a very simple form of the language, which other Burmese leaders don't. And people respond very easily to her. She's really quite charismatic with the people
And when they do allow her to move around, she draws crowds of tens of thousands of people.
ANDERSON: There are those, though --
CLAPP: That fears the devil.
ANDERSON: Sorry, Priscilla. There are those who say that her rigidity to a certain extent in her narrative has actually held the pro- democracy movement back somewhat. I'm wondering whether you agree with that.
CLAPP: I don't, because I feel that many people who claim to speak for her are not actually speaking for her, because she has been in detention for so long, that many people don't really know what she thinks. And she changes her mind from time to time. When I lived there, she was not in detention all the time, and I spoke with her regularly. She watches and listens and sees what's happening. She doesn't stay rigidly in one position.
ANDERSON: Given --
CLAPP: So, I think that's an unfair charge.
ANDERSON: Yes. Given that we are expecting that she will be released this Saturday -- many people raise their eyebrows when they heard that she would be released, but only after these elections, of course. But, given that, be that as it may, she is expected to be released this Saturday. Should we, as the international community, as the rest of the world watching on to see what happens, should we expect that when she is freed, she will be free, as it were, in a true sense of the word?
CLAPP: I would be surprised if they allowed her to have complete freedom. In the past, they have confined her. They've technically freed her, but then confined her to downtown Rangoon. She couldn't move beyond that, and I suspect they will do that again, at least for a while, if they let her out. But I will believe that when I see it.
ANDERSON: Last question, this is a very brief question for you. Just how important is China's influence on the military junta who run and probably will continue to run Myanmar going forward?
CLAPP: China has very little political influence on the junta. It has a lot of economic influence in the country. They have basically bought the generals and the generals' cronies -- business cronies. There's so much Chinese wealth flooding into the country to buy up the resources and to do business there, that they've been co-opted economically.
But politically, China doesn't have a lot of influence, and it frustrates Beijing, I believe.
ANDERSON: Priscilla Clapp, it was a pleasure to have you on the show from CNN in Washington. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
Some original thought, a bit of tenacity, and a dose of courage. That's the recipe if you want to make a profound change in the world. Find out who has put it to the test. Small acts of resistance. That's next.
ANDERSON: You just heard about the difficulties the people of Myanmar are facing in their bid for a democratic state. Change may well seem impossible. But is it? In his new book, co-authored with John Jackson, Steve Crawshaw from Amnesty International tracks some of the profound differences that small acts of resistance have made around the world.
STEVEN CRAWSHAW, ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: John Jackson, a friend of mine, we knew each other when I was a journalist and we worked on Burma issues together. And we were having dinner together one night, we thought with all these great, untold stories that resistance often achieves so much, but also the mischief that's involved with resistance.
So that was, if you like, the starting point of the book, was how much mischief can achieve. And then it broadened out, a sense of courage, mischief, imagination, achieving much more than we could ever dream.
ANDERSON: And it's the mischief that couldn't be more connective around the world. Which stories stand out for you?
CRAWSHAW: A really favorite, actually series of stories for me is from Poland. I happen to be privileged enough to be living in Poland in 1980 when Solidarity, this mass movement, was created in unthinkable circumstances, really. There was a one-party state, which seemed absolutely unchallengeable. But Solidarity, a trade union, a mass movement, was created, was legalized.
Then, they said, "Enough is enough," said the authorities, and they put tanks on the streets to stop it. And the Poles said, "Well, we don't want this to be stopped." They declared a boycott of television news, and they said, "Well, actually, we're not really showing on that thing if we're boycotting."
So, a lot of people started in one particular town, and then it spread, they started putting the televisions into their windows faced outside onto the street saying, "We're not watching this stuff." To disconnect the television is useless.
And a few years later, many, many protests that continued right through the 1980s. Towards the end of the 80s, they said, "You know, we've been protesting so much against the authorities, why don't we pretend to protest in favor of Communism?"
So, very nice demonstration for me, I thought, was on the 17th anniversary of Communist Russian revolution, that was in 1987 was the anniversary. They said, "You must all wear something red. Red shirt, red scarf, red lipstick, anything you'd like."
People who hadn't come with that then said, "Well, what do we do? Oh, we'll buy some fast food over there, which has some ketchup as well, and we'll wave it, and we'll see the ketchup," because that's red for Communism.
And the police were so unhappy, they closed the fast food store down, and they even arrested the guy who wanted some ketchup. And then came the fall of the Berlin Wall. So, you can tie up all these little things together.
ANDERSON: Women in Liberia.
CRAWSHAW: A most dramatic story, I think. Again, you have a horrific war that was taking place in Liberia, where you had drug-fueled militias. You had both government forces and the rebels maiming, killing, raping, horrific circumstances. Hundreds of thousands were fleeing their homes. The country was really going through an absolute nightmare.
And women from all sides came together and said, "Really, enough is enough." And they sat, day after day, week after week, by the roadside demanding, simply, an end to the war. And they were mocked. The president said, "You're embarrassing yourselves."
But gradually, they achieved more and more. Peace talks began in neighboring Ghana. Not only, but partly because of the women's protest. And then, some of the women went to those peace talks, and they said, "These aren't real peace talks. You're still directing the war back at home. This is really bad."
So, they then had a great idea. "We'll barricade you into your room, and until you come out and make a peace agreement, you're not coming out." The guys inside were absolutely furious, but it basically achieved something. Liberia gained peace, and today it is -- it's achieved an enormous amount.
ANDERSON: The front page of your book has a very iconic image, which we see here behind us. And if there were one image that evoked a small act of resistance better than any other, I think, perhaps, this does.
CRAWSHAW: I agree.
ANDERSON: Talk to me about the story behind this.
CRAWSHAW: I absolutely love this picture. I think it's almost -- we'd already come up with the title of the book before finding this photograph, but I have to say, if we hadn't given any, this little old lady, who's now famous in Nepal, I'd have to say. She's now -- her face is on a stamp, I think.
So, this was the Nepalese people when horrific circumstances that country went through, 2005, the then King Gyanendra basically took absolute power. The parliament was shut down. Very, very severe censorship, no one was allowed to protest, no one was able to speak.
The people of Nepal protested again and again, including at risk of their lives. And the journalists said, "OK, we're not allowed to do news, but lets do, quote, 'entertainment' instead, which was still allowed." So, they kind of smuggled their news programs into the entertainment programs, hoping the authorities wouldn't notice.
And to start with, they didn't notice. And then they noticed that, and then they changed the name again. So these news stories came out even when they weren't supposed to.
ANDERSON: The title of this book is, in some ways, an obvious misnomer. "Small Acts of Resistance." Is today's world, do you think, one in which we are more or less likely to be beaten up or at risk of being jailed? More or less likely to be killed for acts of -- in retribution for speaking out, do you think? 2010, where are we?
CRAWSHAW: There are, of course, horrific situations all around the world. North Korea, Burma, which is in the book, Iran, which is in the book. People there have regularly risked and lost their lives to their protests.
Vaclav Haval, who wrote the preface for the book, he said that -- on one occasion, he said, "When somebody breaks through in one place, then everything appears in a different light." And I think that's exactly that right, and I think that's what we're all looking for, is those changes to come.
ANDERSON: Steve Crawshaw, fascinating stuff. And, given what's going on in Myanmar at the moment, all the better for seeing it this evening. What a picture of that little lady as well.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Coming up, it's the series that cast a spell on audiences all over the world and, this week, the stars of "Harry Potter" are sitting down with me here in London. We're going to take a look back at the huge success of the franchise and tell you how you can be part of our coverage. Do stick around. That is coming up.
ANDERSON: Right. Now, the countdown is on. Less than two weeks from now, the seventh film in the "Harry Potter" franchise will hit your cinemas or your theaters. But before it does, I want to bring you up close and personal with its biggest stars. We've watched them grow up, and now they're going to be answering your questions. In a moment, I'm going to tell you just how you can get involved.
First, though, a look back at the humble beginning of the most magical book and film series the world has ever seen.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Before the box office records.
DUMBLEDORE: Harry Potter!
ANDERSON (voice-over): Before the theme park.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Before the screaming fans, the midnight release parties, the merchandise, and the costumes, there was a book.
Ever struggling author, JK Rowling, wrote "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in Scotland in 1995. It was published in Britain two years later, in the US in 1998, and became a global sensation.
In the 15 years since, that book and the six that followed have captured the world's imagination. The series has been translated into 69 languages and sold 400 million copies worldwide.
And when the lucrative franchise moved to the big screen in 2001, the beloved book characters came to life.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE, ACTOR, HARRY POTTER: A long time ago, I read the first two books. And I have since then completely forgotten everything about them. I have read the least of "Harry Potter" in my class, and I managed to get the part somehow.
RUPERT GRINT, ACTOR, RON WEASLEY: Well, I was really scared, because it's my first ever film audition, it was. So I was very nervous. But not as nervous as I've been to this boy's press conference.
EMMA WATSON, ACTRESS, HERMIONE GRANGER: I'm not top form goody two- shoes, no. But I'd like to be top form.
ANDERSON (voice-over): In the last decade, the stars of "Harry Potter" have grown up before a global audience.
HARRY POTTER: If they can do it, why not us?
HERMIONE GRANGER: It's sort of exciting, isn't it? Stupefy! Breaking the rules.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The first six movies in the series have taken in more than $5 billion at the box office, making "Harry Potter" the highest-grossing movie franchise in history. And there are two films left to go.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One" hits theaters next week. And to the delight of diehard fans everywhere, JK Rowling has not ruled out writing more adventures for Harry. Meaning the magic of "Harry Potter" could be casting a spell on readers and audiences alike for generations to come.
ANDERSON: And I would be remiss if I didn't remind you that the "Harry Potter" films are produced by Warner Brothers which, of course, is part of Time-Warner, CNN's parent company.
Now, if you've always dreamed of casting a spell on one of the cast members, here's your chance. I'll be interviewing all of the stars of "Harry Potter" this week in London, and we want you to get involved, so you can head to the website, cnn.com/connect. Or join our Facebook page at facebook.com/CNNconnect. I want you to tell us what you want to ask the stars.
And tune in on Thursday, starting on Thursday, for all of the interviews. And just a reminder, the "Harry Potter" films, of course, I'm going to say it again, produced by Warner, which is part of Time-Warner, that's our parent company.
So get involved. I want to know what you want to ask the cast. It's your part of the show, they are your Connectors of the Day this week.
Between now and then, we have some other exciting interviews to bring you. Tomorrow, Japan's most famous chef joins as our Connector of the Day. Nobu Matsuhisa will tell us his favorite foods and share his recipe for global success. That's this time on CONNECT THE WORLD tomorrow.
That's it for tonight, that is your world connected. "BackStory" up next, right after a very quick look at the headlines for you.