[The New York Times] 2012-11-17
The Mechanics of Trust/ Leif-Eric Easley,
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