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…

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Does Boris Johnson strengthen or weaken the US-UK relationship?

Well I mean strengthens it in so far as he and Trump like each other. They're both oriented towards Brexit. They're kind of right-wing populists that aren't ideologically moored. But will it last? Boris could flip on a dime on any major issue as can Trump. So it's kind of volatile. Plus they both really love the media and when they're in front of each other with other people the potential to - I mean Boris upsets people and Trump easily takes offense. So this could easily go south.

Will Iran release the captured UK oil tanker?

I mean over time I suspect it will. But remember the UK has an Iranian tanker as well, so it's much more likely they work these things out together even if they're not explicitly linked, than suddenly the Iranians say, "Oh I'm sorry. Here's your tanker"

Will protests continue in Hong Kong?

It certainly seems that way. The question is what will China do about it? Xi Jinping is now saying that they are reaching the danger zone and the ability of the Chinese to hit back and hit back hard is real. I worry about those protesters.

Will Robert Mueller reveal anything new when he testifies on Capitol Hill?

I highly doubt it. He said very clearly that he does not intend to go beyond what was in his report. So Democrats looking for bombshells on collusion or obstruction are likely to be disappointed.

Can President Trump expand his electoral college edge in 2020?

Well he thinks he can. He thinks he can win in places like Minnesota and New Hampshire. I think it's more likely that he just hangs on to the Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that got him there in 2016.

Should the governor of Puerto Rico resign?

Absolutely. Governor Rossello should resign. He's lost the confidence of the island. Puerto Rico needs a fresh start particularly after all these terrible text messages. He should definitely resign.

Finally for The Rant: today's rant is on Elizabeth Warren who put out a report today saying the economy is on the brink of collapse. It was very alarmist, certainly there are problems with the economy. Issues that could be fixed but she risks sounding like she's yelling fire in a crowded theater with calls like that.

"A regime willing to kill en masse to stay in power,' Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iranian, discusses the challenges facing the rise of democracy within the country.

Avi Loeb, The Chair of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, delves into the search for extraterrestrial life.