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Fishing on the Chinese side of the Heixiazi Island, a border island that links China and Russia.
Fishing on the Chinese side of the Heixiazi Island, a border island that links China and Russia.
Aleksandr Gabuev

MOSCOW — The Kremlin is already busy looking for ways to compensate for the economic hit that could come if sanctions get worse or Western businesses start to shy away from working in Russia. And the direction Moscow is looking is decidely to the east.

Actively developing relationships with East Asia was on Moscow’s mind even before the crisis in Ukraine and impending sanctions imbued the issue with more urgency. Last September, the process of developing Russia’s own Far East was radically overhauled in an effort to stimulate growth. Now developing connections with Asia looks like one of the best insurance policies in the event that the West imposes paralyzing sanctions, a source in the Russian government told Kommersant.

According to Sergei Men, a managing partner at the Hong Kong investment boutique Eurasia Capital Partners, Asia is the best alternative to the current over-reliance on the European market.

The countries of East and Southeast Asia are some of the fastest-growing markets for a number of key Russian exports: fossil fuels, metals, chemicals and manufacturing. Although China doesn’t do as much trade with Russia as it does with the European Union, it has been Russia’s most important single trade partner since 2009.

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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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