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Visitors walk past an image of President Xi Jinping holding a ballot ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

REUTERS/Florence Lo

What We’re Watching: China’s party congress, US-Mexico migrant deal

China's party is having a party

China's ruling Communist Party kicks off its 20th Congress on Sunday. By far the most-followed event in Chinese politics, the CCP will give itself, as always, a (glowing) report card and lay out how it'll govern China until 2027. All eyes will be on Xi Jinping, a shoo-in to get a precedent-shattering third term as CCP secretary-general, paving the way for him to become China’s leader for life. What's more, Xi is also expected to adopt the symbolic title of “Helmsman,” putting him at the same level as Mao Zedong. Perhaps even more importantly, by the end of next week, we'll know the composition of Politburo's elite Standing Committee, whose seven members — including Xi himself — have the final say on major political, economic, and social issues. If the bulk of them are Xi loyalists instead of technocrats, that'll be a signal that he prioritizes political control over the structural reforms China needs to fix its big problems. Finally, keep an eye out for the order in which the seven men step onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. If none of them is in his mid-50s and stands close to Xi, that’ll mean he hasn’t picked a successor yet.

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A natural gas pipe in front of EU and Russian flags.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We're Watching: Russia-EU pipeline repairs, AMLO in the (White) House, Sri Lanka's new leader

Will Russia turn the taps back on?

“Trust us,” Russia is saying, “we’re just doing routine maintenance.” Moscow has just shut off its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a major source of natural gas for Germany, for 10 days of summer repairs. Annual checkups to these pipelines are normal, but this is no normal year. Berlin worries the Kremlin might leave the pipes closed as a way to retaliate against the EU for the bloc’s Ukraine-related sanctions. Nord Stream 1 carries about 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Germany, equaling about half of the country’s yearly consumption. If Moscow keeps the line shut, Europe would struggle to store up enough gas supplies ahead of next winter. Natural gas prices in Europe are already soaring, and although the EU is moving to wean itself off of Russian energy, any further shortfalls would further stoke already-high inflation, with unpredictable political consequences across the continent. Putin, of course, knows this. Keep an eye on that “closed for repairs” sign hanging on Nord Stream 1.

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Residents carry Ukrainian national flag as they gather in the Olympic Stadium to mark the Unity Day.

REUTERS

What We're Watching: US-NATO skepticism, EU rule of law ruling, US truckers' protests, atrocities in Tigray, guac wars

US-NATO skepticism and Ukrainian unity. The US and NATO aren’t yet buying claims by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that some Russian troops have pulled back from the Ukrainian border. “We have good reason to believe the Russians are saying one thing and doing another … in an effort to hide the truth,” said a US State Department spokesman on Wednesday. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg then warned that NATO sees a continued buildup of Russian troops and that the alliance must prepare for a “new normal” in which “Russia is willing to contest some fundamental principles of our security.” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, continues to strike a delicate balance. On Wednesday, he tried rallying his war-weary country to celebrate a "Unity Day" with mixed results. He's urging both outsiders and Ukrainians not to exaggerate the threat of a Russian invasion that is stoking fears and hurting Ukraine’s economy. But he’s also moving forward with a bold plan to tackle Russia-friendly “oligarchs” at home. He announced on Monday that he will keep promises to tackle both corruption and Russian influence within Ukraine by stripping some of the country’s richest business owners of some of the wealth that Zelensky says gives them too much influence over the country’s policies and politics.

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Crisis at the border a no-win scenario for Biden

As thousands of migrants, many of them children, attempt to cross the US southern border, stretching the immigration system's ability to process and integrate them, President Joe Biden now finds himself facing a challenge that has bedeviled presidents and Congress for decades: how to reform an immigration system that everyone agrees is broken, but which no one can agree on how to fix.

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Ian Explains: The Road Ahead for US-Mexico Relations | GZERO World

The road ahead for US-Mexico relations

With a new American president in office, US-Mexico relations face a turning point. Can Mexico's populist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, forge the same bond with President Biden as he did with former President Trump? And how will that dynamic impact immigration reform in the US. These questions come at a critical time for Mexico, as it scrambles to regain control of rampant violence and a raging pandemic.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Can AMLO Live Up to Mexico's Critical Moment? Jorge Ramos Discusses

Can Biden Work With López Obrador on Meaningful Immigration Reform? | Jorge Ramos | GZERO World

Can Biden work with López Obrador on meaningful immigration reform?

Can President Biden work with Mexican president López Obrador to pass meaningful immigration reform for the first time in decades? Acclaimed journalist and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos thinks there is a path, but it requires a certain baseline understanding. "There has to be an immigration plan that includes the fact that one-to-two million immigrants are going to be coming every single year to this country. Those are the facts, like it or not." With tens of thousands of Central American migrants amassing just south of the US border, many living in squalid conditions, Ramos argues that Biden must act swiftly but also shrewdly. He spoke with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Can AMLO Live Up to Mexico's Critical Moment? Jorge Ramos Discusses

Why Mexico’s President Waited So Long To Congratulate President-Elect Biden | GZERO World

Why Mexico’s president waited so long to congratulate President-elect Biden

Weeks after President-elect Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 US election, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO for short) was one of the last world leaders to congratulate him. In fact, he waited until December, after the Electoral College certified its vote, to join Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in being some of the last world leaders to contact the President-elect. Acclaimed journalist and Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos explains why the Mexican leader waited so long and if the delayed felicitations bode ill for US-Mexico relations.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Can AMLO Live Up to Mexico's Critical Moment? Jorge Ramos Discusses

The Unlikely “Bromance” Between Presidents Trump and López-Obrador | GZERO World

The unlikely “bromance” between Presidents Trump and López-Obrador

When leftist Mexican politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO for short) came to power, many predicted that his relationship with the far-right President Trump, who had won office largely on an anti-immigrant platform, would be rocky at best. And yet, the two got along swimmingly. Why?
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