The reported appointment of General Kim Su Gil as director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, for example, puts in place an official "seen as moderate, reliable and malleable while Kim Jong Un tightens his grip on power" ahead of his meeting with Trump, Kirk writes.
"The prospect of Kim getting overthrown while he's gone for two or three days may seem far-fetched, but in his world one can never be too careful or too ruthless. It was only last year that his agents allegedly murdered his half brother with VX nerve agent."
"In any case there is no doubt he would feel vastly more secure with a new set of generals beholden to him for their promotions."
America Needed a Trade Fight. It Just Picked the Wrong One
"Trade in old line goods and services has been flat for years, while digital trade flows increased 45-fold from 2005 to 2014, according to the McKinsey Global Institute," Foroohar writes.
"The new world economy is based not on metal bashing, but on computing power and data. There is tremendous opportunity for productivity growth here, which the world desperately needs […] But to reap those gains and ensure that they are widely shared, we also need a new set of rules for everything from tax and intellectual property protection to trade. All of this calls for a coherent internal economic strategy, which of course the US administration does not have."
"As Assad consolidates his rule, he and his backers are attempting to normalize his presence and secure funding for reconstruction. And although Assad is unlikely to get reconstruction money from the West, he is hoping that Brazil, China, India, and even some European states such as Italy may seek investment opportunities in a rebuilding Syria. Assad does not want war with Israel, a military power capable of doing significant damage inside of Syria and undermining his drive for consolidation and normalization. Moreover, there will be no international investment if the Syrian civil war is replaced by fighting between Iran and Israel."
China Is About to Overtake the US as THE Science Powerhouse…
"The United States spends half a trillion dollars a year on scientific research — more than any other nation on Earth — but China has pulled into second place," they write.
"China is on track to surpass the United States by the end of this year, according to the National Science Board. In 2016, annual scientific publications from China outnumbered those from the United States for the first time."
"Meanwhile, China is spending more on infrastructure than the United States or Europe, and the middle class has ballooned — making relocation more attractive."
…That Doesn't Mean Keeping Its Students Out Is a Good idea
The Trump administration has announced it plans to tighten restrictions on visas for some Chinese citizens coming to the United States. That's bad economics for America – and hurts it in the war of ideas, too, writes Noah Smith for Bloomberg.
Chinese students "pay high rates of tuition that help subsidize the educations of native-born Americans. They are also amazingly productive researchers, generating scientific output as much as 30 percent higher than other students. And the vast majority of these brilliant individuals tend to stay in the US after graduation, working to boost American prosperity and contributing to the talent of the domestic workforce," Smith writes.
Meanwhile, growing state repression like that seen in China "is what the US, at least in theory, was created to oppose. Escaping it, and enjoying more personal freedom in general, is probably a big reason Chinese people are sending their kids abroad. To deny that hope of escape and freedom […] would diminish the US's reputation as a beacon of freedom and opportunity."
What to Watch This Week
President Trump is expected to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, ahead of Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un next week. Glen S. Fukushima suggests in The Australian Financial Review that the US President is well aware he has the upper hand. "Trump knows that Japan cannot do without US military support against China and North Korea. In addition, he knows that Abe, for domestic political purposes, needs to show progress on the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea. In return for providing Abe what he needs, Trump is expecting from Japan economic concessions, both on a national and personal level," Fukushima writes.
Vladimir Putin is scheduled to hold his annual Q&A on national television on Thursday. Russian news agency TASS reports that more than a million questions have been submitted by members of the public.
China will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization security summit from Saturday. Per China's Xinhua News Agency: "The SCO's full members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Its observer states are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia."