The 35th Session of Eurasian Online Seminar with Dr Michael Tai
On 11 November, the Department of International Relations and the International Laboratory on World Order Studies and New Regionalism of the Higher School of Economics held the 35th Eurasian Online Seminar with Dr Michael Tai, Fellow of the Royal Asian Society of Great Britain and Ireland and research fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, University of Malaya. The topic of his presentation was “What factors determine trust between states? The case of US-China relations".
Dr Michael Tai is the author of US-China Relations in the 21st Century: A Question of Trust (Routledge 2015) and China and her Neighbors (Bloomsbury 2019) and book chapters and scholarly articles about China’s external relations. He taught at the University of Cambridge, the Belarusian State Economics University, the American University in Central Asia, and the Beijing Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in engineering from Cornell University, MBA from the University of Cambridge, MA in theology from Regent College, and PhD in international relations from the University of Cambridge where he explored US-China relations in the areas of finance, climate policy and security.
Michael Tai has rich experience as a management consulting and later CEO of companies in the steel and public transportation sectors in Malaysia. He is a contributor to the South China Morning Post, CGTN and The Diplomat .International relations theory seeks to explain causal and constitutive effects of international politics. Theories put forth by Western scholars such as Hans J. Morgenthau (1904-1980) and Edward H. Carr (1892-1982) are based largely on modern European experience and yet considered to be universally applicable. Michael Tai revisits this assumption with his current research focusing on China’s Warring States period (c. 476-221 BCE) with a view to develop a theory of international relations which may better explain China’s foreign policy.
In his presentation, Dr. Tai drew attention to the historically shaped factors that influence trust between states in the modern era. The US-China relationship was used as a case study because of its importance to the modern system of international relations.
According to Dr. Tai, cooperation between countries is often built on trust, which is mainly based on cultural knowledge of the potential partner - the more the population of one country is familiar with the cultural norms of the other, the more countries will trust each other, which increases cooperation. The example of China and the US shows that the Chinese pay considerable attention to learning about Europe and the US, including languages, history, popular culture, etc., but in the US, judging by textbooks and school curricula, there are no such trends. Finally, Dr Tai answered questions from the audience.