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Economy

Mercedes-Benz Goes Pedal To The Metal In China

The top German luxury car brands are taking their longstanding showdown to Chinese showrooms. Mercedes, the best-known brand, has found itself playing catch-up behind BMW and Audi.

Lagging behind Audi and BMW, Mercedes is looking to make its move in China
Lagging behind Audi and BMW, Mercedes is looking to make its move in China
Zhang Yaodong

BEIJING - There has been a lot of activity lately in China amongst the top three German luxury car brands: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi. In particular, Mercedes is revving things up in China: establishing a design center, building an engine plant, and combining the sales channels of its China-made cars and its imported cars into one. Its production capability is to increase to 100,000 cars per year.

Indeed, it's about time that Mercedes speeds up. For the first half of this year, Mercedes' sales, although they increased by 59% in China, are nonetheless still 18,000 cars behind BMW, and 44,000 cars behind Audi. As for the global market, Mercedes has been caught by Audi, and its sales gap behind BMW has widened to 79,000 cars.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s Decoy-In-Chief

The Russian Foreign Minister, among the country’s most recognizable figures, embodies both the corruption and confusion of the Putin regime. Not everything is what it seems — and that’s the point.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a diplomatic reception for heads of African diplomatic missions

Anna Akage

From the outside, one might have the impression that the Russian Federation is run through a highly complex and well-coordinated apparatus that ensures that any single cog in Vladimir Putin’s system is by definition both in synch with the other cogs — and utterly replaceable. The Kremlin appears to us through this lens as an impregnable citadel with long arms and peering eyes that are literally everywhere.

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And yet, this is a completely false picture — and there’s no greater proof than in looking more closely at one of Russia's most prominent figures, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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