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Geopolitics

Why A Chinese-Russian Trade Agreement Was Dead On Arrival

The often-tense relationship between Beijing and Moscow has not been helped by a 2009 regional trade pact. Expectations on both sides have never been met, as the dispute came to a head at a recent economic forum in Siberia. One problem: China would rather

Russian Pavillion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (KimonBerlin).
Russian Pavillion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (KimonBerlin).

Worldcrunch NEWSBITES

IRKUTSK - Russian and Chinese officials appear on the verge of scrapping a regional trade agreement that was once hailed as a boon to both commerce and good neighborly relations.

The agreement, signed in 2009, was supposed to attract Chinese investment to eastern Russia, and was meant as a model for Russia's increased cooperation with its East Asian neighbors. But the pact, which had not been living up to expectations, may now be rescinded after a dispute erupted at an economic forum that ended Tuesday in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

While acknowledging that some of its own slated projects had been poorly planned, Russian leaders complained that China was not committed to economically investing in its western neighbor. Russian officials claimed that China commits eight times less investment in Russia than in Africa. Chinese officials responded by saying that the investment climate was simply better in China than Russia.

The two countries apparently signed on to the agreement with very different expectations. The Russians hoped to develop a high-tech industry in the eastern reaches of their country, with help from Chinese investment; while the Chinese see their cooperation with Russia as an opportunity to extract raw materials for their transportation industry.

The two sides traded insults during the meeting in Irkutsk, each one blaming the other for unfulfilled promises. Regardless of who's to blame, the regional partnership is clearly not working for either county, and will likely be a point of discussion during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit next month to Shanghai.

Read the original article in full in Russian by Alexander Gabuev

Photo - KimonBerlin

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How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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