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Venezuela's Chinese lenders shut them out in 2017

Xi, Maduro
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Beijing. Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

China's policy banks did not issue loans to Venezuela in 2017, departing from a decade-long trend of pouring billions into the country's economy, the Inter-American Dialogue found. In 2016, China lent $2.2 billion to Venezuela to bolster oil production in the country.

The backdrop: As the U.S. has retreated, pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China has taken an increasingly influential role in Latin America, signing off big loans and investments to several countries. The lack of Chinese loans to Venezuela in 2017 could signal, however, that the Venezuelan economy and leadership seem too unstable to China — even though Beijing places far less weight on the quality of governance in nations where it invests than other countries do.

Haley Britzky 6 hours ago
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Russia continues pointing fingers after ex-spy poisoning

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with medalists of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with medalists of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games. Photo: Yuri Kadobnov / AFP / Getty Images

It's become relatively understood with world leaders that Russia probably poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal.

The bigger picture: The U.S. has said so, the E.U. recently voiced support for the U.K. in saying so; the only person who won't say is Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Kremlin has "spread a flurry of theories" to explain the nerve-agent attack, with "one common theme: It was anyone but Russia."

Zachary Basu 16 hours ago
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What to watch for in Egypt's sham election

Sisi billboard
A billboard in Cairo voicing support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the upcoming election. Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images.

Egyptians will vote March 26-28 in a presidential election that is sure to see incumbent strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi handily defeat Mousa Mostafa Mousa — the sole challenger who hasn't been jailed or intimidated into dropping out.

The backdrop: Sisi, the former minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, led a military coup to topple President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. He formally came to power in 2014 after winning 96% of the vote in the presidential election, but has since seen his popularity wane under deteriorating economic conditions and an oppressive human rights record.