GZERO Media logo

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…

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

More Show less

Listen: The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he talks about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take