[The New York Times] 2012-11-17
The Mechanics of Trust/ Leif-Eric Easley, Research Fellow at the Center for Foreign Policy of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies
Yan Xuetong (“The Problem of ‘Mutual Trust,’” Nov. 16) unfairly dismisses the importance of trust by treating it as a binary concept, as if two countries either have trust or not. Better to consider trust as a continuous variable that can spiral up, yielding greater cooperation and even more trust; or spiral down, yielding less cooperation and even less trust. U.S.-China mutual trust declined after 1989 because of conflicting values over human rights; trust improved after 2001 because both sides valued a stable, free trade order. The next chapter of U.S.-China relations will be written in a time of improving or deteriorating trust, depending on whether leaders in Washington and Beijing have increasingly shared or conflicting beliefs about good governance.
Leif-Eric Easley, Seoul