As President Donald Trump prepares to meet with President Xi Jinping for the first time this week, the world is watching closely. Of particular importance is the ‘gut feeling’ which each leader will take away following their informal sessions together in Mar-a-Lago on Thursday and Friday. At the bilateral level, will the leaders trust each other to hold to the last quarter-century’s course of strategic engagement or will pressures from North Korea or from economic nationalism precipitate outright conflict? At the global level, will the two share some intuition that the national security of both countries requires continued demonstration of U.S.-China co-leadership on the world stage in confronting climate change? Or will they accept the break-down of the Paris COP21 breakthrough?
While the initial meeting between these two men is doubtless important, engaged citizens must remind themselves that their voices too matter greatly in answering these questions. Fortunately, in the Greater Philadelphia region, we already have a place on this global stage. With history to prompt us and the present-day resources of the city and region to guide our role, we can speak up and be heard on these vital questions.