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In 2012 Weng Jianlin acquired AMC Theaters to become the world’s biggest theater owner.
In 2012 Weng Jianlin acquired AMC Theaters to become the world’s biggest theater owner.
Guo Haifei

BEIJING — Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, calmly states that he has set a goal of $99 billion (600 billion RMB) in revenue by 2020 for his real estate development company. Just as calmly, he then adds that he’ll retire that year to write his memoirs.

In mid-December, in front of dozens of reporters who showed up for the press conference of the Wanda Guilin City project, Wang’s sparse hair and bloodshot eyes betrayed a tired man. But he was announcing the launch of a colossal $4 billion (24 billion RMB) cultural and tourism real estate project that includes cinemas, a shopping mall, a theme park and luxurious hotels. It is the group’s third such project after those in Harbin and Nangchang.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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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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