A cargo train marking the 10,000th trip made by China-Europe freight trains operated by the China-Europe Railway Express (Chongqing), waits for departure at
Tuanjie Village Central Railway Station in Chongqing, southwest China, June 23, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]
Through participation in common projects, especially ones that tackle common challenges such as climate change, China and Europe can enhance trust for better relations, said Reinhard Bachmann, a leading expert in the field of trust research based in London.
"Trust is something that gives people a strategic advantage, it creates value and can save transaction costs … And what I realized is that in China, it is very important to build a relationship first before you talk about business," said Bachmann, who first traveled to China in 2007 and has been in contact with many Chinese researchers and institutes.
As a long-time scholar focusing on trust as a social mechanism to coordinate interaction between individual and collective actors, Bachmann is the director of the Centre for Trust Research under the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Bachmann categorized trust into two forms — interpersonal trust and system trust. The latter means people trust each other not because they know each other but because they are members of the same organizations or follow the same set of rules.
"I think the way forward when it comes to reestablishing trust between China and the West is to build system trust because it complements the interpersonal trust development," said Bachmann, noting the recent worsening relations between China and the United States and some European countries.
"People need to work together in working groups so that they feel that they are part of the same project rather than just being friends," he said. "For example, if we start an environment agency between the West and China, and let people come together to define certain projects that both want to do in the future, I think that would help.
"If we can work on big international joint projects to meet challenges which the whole mankind is concerned, that would get both sides into the same organizational structure and follow the same set of rules," said Bachmann, adding that there are many areas in which China is now leading and Europe could benefit from.
Bachmann also noted that some European countries have been holding back from cooperation programs on climate change and renewable energy.
"But I think it's necessary for us to create a common platform and collaborate as much as possible if we want to have a good future," he said.