China’s Xi Defends Globalization at Opening of Davos Talks
Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping opened his speech to political leaders, CEOs, and bankers at the World Economic Forum by admitting that many people are concerned about what has gone wrong with the world in recent years. But he said it was wrong to blame economic globalization. The Chinese leader said in Davos that the “migrant crisis had been caused by war, conflict and regional turbulence,” not globalization. Xi said the world should not write off globalization altogether, but instead countries must “cushion its impact.”
In Final Days, Obama Administration Signs Law Enforcement Pact with Cuba
Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
The US State Department signed a new agreement on law enforcement cooperation with Cuba on Monday, seeking to further deepen ties with the communist island just four days before the end of the Obama administration. Notably, the agreement did not include a return of US fugitives that Cuba has harbored, including New Jersey cop killers, Black Panther hijackers, and Puerto Rican terrorists. Cuba’s continued protection of those fugitives has been a major source of congressional opposition to President Obama’s Cuban policy.
Lithuania Plans Fence on Russian Kaliningrad Border
Lithuania has announced plans to build a fence to boost security on its border with Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave. The move comes amid heightened tensions in the Baltic region, where NATO is deploying extra troops and Russia has installed nuclear-capable missiles. Lithuania says it aims to prevent any Russian “provocations” and smuggling. Lithuania aims to complete the 2m-high (6.5ft) fence by the end of this year. Later, border guards will get new surveillance systems, including drones, the country’s interior ministry told the BBC.
North Korea to Obama: Focus on Moving, Not Human Rights Record
Euan McKirdy, CNN
North Korea has said President Barack Obama should concentrate on packing rather than focusing on the reclusive nation’s human rights record. State-owned North Korean press agency KCNA slammed additional sanctions filed by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), calling the move a “hostile policy” and the “last-ditch efforts” of an administration “whose days are numbered.” KCNA said, “The US is not qualified to talk about somebody’s ‘human rights’ as it is the world’s worst human rights abuser and a tundra of human rights.”
China Goes Food Shopping—to Russia
Amie Ferris-Rotman, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
China bought more than $1 billion in food products from Russia last year, replacing Turkey as the top importer of Russian foodstuffs. Now the world’s most sprawling country is seeking to further expand its food sales to the world’s most populous one. That ambition is central to Russia’s economic and political pivot toward Asia, as the Russian economy continues to suffer under Western sanctions and the low price of oil, and US-Russian relations deteriorate to their worst level in decades. As American allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections revive Cold War-style rhetoric, Russia and China, once rivals for pre-eminence in the Communist world, describe current relations as the best in years.
In UN Lawsuit, Ukraine Demands Russia End Support for Separatists
Ukraine filed a lawsuit at the United Nations’ highest court demanding that Russia immediately halt its support for pro-Moscow separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused Russia of “acts of terrorism and discrimination in the course of its unlawful aggression” in the filing to the International Court of Justice, according to a ministry statement issued on Monday evening. The filing itself has no direct consequences, though a finding by the court in Ukraine’s favor could be enforceable in some national courts, theoretically triggering legal steps to freeze or seize Russian assets.
For Trump, Three Decades of Chasing Deals in Russia
Megan Twohey and Steve Eder, THE NEW YORK TIMES
President-elect Donald Trump was asked about his business interests in Russia at a news conference last week. Mr. Trump was emphatic on one point: “I have no dealings with Russia.” Mr. Trump repeatedly sought business in Russia as far back as 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have appeared in Moscow over and over in search of joint ventures, meeting with developers and government officials.
One Day at a Time Calls Out the Che Guevara T-Shirt in One Perfect Scene
Maria Elena Fernandez, VULTURE
Cultural details are sprinkled throughout Netflix’s One Day at a Time. But there is perhaps no moment more Cuban than when neighbor and landlord Schneider walks into the Alvarez family’s apartment sporting a Che Guevara T-shirt and the family informs him that wearing a Che shirt is akin to him wearing a shirt with Hitler’s image on it in a Jewish family’s home. “We live in a world where people can have opinions and spread things about something they don’t know anything about,” says co-showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett. “There is a danger to that, and it seems like such a ripe opportunity for us to laugh and make fun of something but also talk about something real. You see these shirts a lot. It’s interesting that people are putting things on their bodies without knowing what it represents.”
Venezuela Issues New Bank Notes Because of Hyperinflation
Ana Vanessa Herrero and Elisabeth Malkin, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Venezuela’s government began to issue new bank notes on Monday to replace the 100-bolívar bill, made virtually worthless by hyperinflation. President Nicolás Maduro announced early last month that new notes would be issued to replace the old ones, a measure that promised to lighten the load for many Venezuelans, who must carry around bags of cash for even the simplest transactions.
China-US Rivalry Spurs Vietnam to Look for New Comrades
James Hookway, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Vietnam is using new security and trade partnerships to shore up its ties around Asia and beyond, as it seeks to avoid getting caught up in growing tensions between the US and China, which look set to intensify as President-elect Donald Trump takes office. The maneuvering is a sign of how countries in Asia are having to adjust their policies on the fly following the collapse of President Barack Obama’s Pacific trade deal and lack of clarity over the direction the US will take toward the region. After visits from the leaders of France and India in recent months, on Monday Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with top Vietnamese leaders to discuss business and security.