You Get To Be Xi Jinping Visiting North Korea

You Get To Be Xi Jinping Visiting North Korea

China's President Xi Jinping arrived Thursday in North Korea for a two-day visit, the first by a Chinese leader in more than a decade. The official reason is to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic ties (together they fought the US and South Korea to a draw in the Korean war), but there are more pressing contemporary issues to address.

Here's the background:

The US and China are locked in a deepening trade war, which US President Donald Trump and Mr. Xi are set to discuss on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Japan next week.

North Korea is under fresh economic pressure as a poor harvest exacerbates the economic effects of harsh international sanctions.

Progress on the North Korean nuclear issue is stalled, after the second summit between Trump and Kim earlier this year in Vietnam ended in failure. The US wants Kim to significantly dismantle his nuclear program before seriously loosening sanctions, but Kim wants some relief sooner than that or no dice. Meanwhile, North Korea has gone back to its pastime of firing missiles into the sea, putting everyone in the region on edge.

Let's put you in their shoes: Here's what you are thinking, if you're …

Xi Jinping: You want to show that you still have the most clout in North Korea. China accounts for 90 percent of the North's trade, and you can do more than anyone else to alleviate the country's economic isolation. That means you've got leverage. So if Trump really wants a deal with North Korea, you reason, he ought to bear that in mind when you guys sit down to talk about the US-China trade war next week.

Kim Jong-Un: You rarely let foreign leaders into your house (this is just the second time since you've taken power) but a high-profile foreign engagement like this is a diplomatic boon for you, particularly when it's China. You ideally want a little more economic help from Beijing, but you don't want to be pushed too far towards fresh talks with the US. After all, you've got these nukes, and you mean to get something concrete and immediate in return for putting them on the table. If not, you're happy to keep firing short range missiles for a while if it comes to that. Trump seems cool with it.

Donald Trump: Would you go a little softer on China just to get a deal on North Korea? Tough one -- as you look towards 2020, hitting China hard can be a political winner. Plus you've got a direct line to Kim – those love letters! – making China's clout less relevant. You can probably live with the status quo on North Korea while you focus on putting – and keeping – China over a barrel. But then you pick up your phone and open Twitter and…

During the past year, 58% of all cyberattacks observed by Microsoft from nation-states have come from Russia. And attacks from Russian nation-state actors are increasingly effective, jumping from a 21% successful compromise rate last year to a 32% rate this year. Russian nation-state actors are increasingly targeting government agencies for intelligence gathering, which jumped from 3% of their targets a year ago to 53% – largely agencies involved in foreign policy, national security or defense. The top three countries targeted by Russian nation-state actors were the United States, Ukraine and the UK. These are just a few of the insights in the second annual Microsoft Digital Defense Report. Read additional highlights from the Microsoft on the Issues blog and find the full report here.

If you had to guess which current world leader has made the most trips to Africa, who would you say? China's Xi Jinping? Nope, hardly — he's been there just four times. France's Emmanuel Macron? Pas de tout.

The answer may surprise you: it's Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who's been to the continent more times than the leader(s) of any other non-African state. Just this week he notched his 28th visit, with stops in Angola, Nigeria, and Togo. Sure, being in power for two decades creates a lot of opportunities for exotic travel, but even Putin isn't close: he's been to Africa just five times, all to visit South Africa or Egypt.

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Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Religious tension rising in Bangladesh: Clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh have surged over the past week, leaving at least four people dead. After an image was posted on Facebook showing the Quran at the feet of a statue at a Hindu temple, Muslims burned Hindu-owned homes and attacked their holy sites. Both sides have taken to the street in protest, with Hindus saying that they have been prevented from celebrating Durga Puja, the largest Hindu festival in the country. Such acts of sectarian violence are not uncommon in Bangladesh, a majority-Muslim country where Hindus account for nine percent of the population. Indeed, as Eurasia Group's Kevin Allison recently warned, unverified social media content stoking inter-ethnic conflict is a massive problem throughout South Asia, where for many people Facebook is synonymous with the internet.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

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