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高大伟、普罗迪:信息时代中美逐鹿,老欧洲怎样才能不被遗忘?

2015-12-27 08:57:11

如何占据陆地领土和海上航线,是传统战略家们思考的重心所在。近年来,对领空和太空的控制能力,对国家实力产生了重要影响。进入信息时代后,综合国力完全离不开该国在网络空间的存在。

中国的政策制定者们不但对地缘政治的各个维度进行综合考虑,更对迅速发展的网络政治领域给予了高度重视。

由于西方几乎把全部注意力都放在了中国互联网的局限性和不完善之处上面,因此并没有完全领会中国数字转型的重大意义。在当前这个时代,随着中国开始在全球投射影响力并追求创新,数字中国是影响最深远的事件之一。

18世纪的欧洲工业革命,翻开了人类历史的新篇章。中国没能迅速跟上机械时代的脚步,错过了工业革命的班车,曾在长达150年的时间里被边缘化;然而今天的中国不仅对全球科学开拓持开放态度,更有志成为技术进步的急先锋。

遭遇过内忧外患,经历过痛苦的衰退,当今的中国再也不甘偏安一隅,无论是生物技术还是互联网,纳米科技还是航空航天领域,皆是如此。更宽泛地说,中国不愿再当被动的旁观者,任由西方掌握全球化的主导权,而要成为现代性的来源,这是中华民族走向复兴的一大决定性要素。

虽然清朝既没孕育出工业革命,也没能迅速适应其带来的变革,但当今的中国却已成为数字化转型的催化剂。中国错过了工业革命,可她却成为了信息时代的构建者之一。

与二战后的国际关系体系相似,全球网络空间也是两极化的,网络世界的架构不再由美苏主导,而是由美国和中国决定。目前,数字世界的两极化体现在中美互联网公司之间的竞争上:谷歌、推特、YouTube、亚马逊、eBay、优步、Expedia和苹果支付,都是数字美国的标志;而百度、腾讯、优酷、京东、阿里巴巴、滴滴快的、携程以及支付宝,则是中国网络空间的象征。从某种意义上说,全球网络空间里有两套互联网的故事。

如今,互联网上使用最多的两大语言是英语(8.51亿用户)和中文(7.04亿用户),但随着中国互联网普及率进一步提高(中国互联网普及率约为50%,而美国则为87%),中文可能很快将成为互联网的第一语言。

韩国的数字经济已占国民生产总值的10%,在许多方面,它为信息时代提供了参考。然而,作为人口仅5000万的国家,韩国的网络影响力受到了根本性局限,无法撼动全球网络的两极化格局。

也许有人会说,尽管中国互联网的数量级十分庞大,但从性质上来看,中国不过是在步硅谷后尘。然而,通过保护本国互联网巨头的发展,中国不仅及时地缩小了与世界先进水平的差距,而且创造出一整套数字生态系统,这样一来,中国得以在互联网基础设施领域进行实实在在的创新,并改变网络空间的格局。

中国互联网公司积累的数据给了它们绝对的优势,因为中国很快将成为世界最大的经济体。单在电子支付领域,就有超过200家互联网公司服务于中国消费者,中国的互联网倡议已经成为推动互联网进步的驱动力。

只有拿中国同非洲、拉丁美洲、阿拉伯世界,甚至印度的互联网现状作比较,才能体会到数字中国的伟大意义,因为大多数发展中国家的工程师们都在为硅谷打工。很难想象,在美国互联网公司面前,欧盟竟然甘于仅仅扮演用户的角色,因为无论从商业还是安全的角度来看,这样的依赖性都将是欧盟的长期弱点。

诚然,“谷歌意大利”“谷歌法国”和“谷歌德国”丰富了欧洲人的生活,但它们都只是谷歌世界的边缘,真正的中心在美国加州山景城的谷歌总部。

16年前,马云创立了阿里巴巴;2014年,这个电商巨头在纽交所上市,首次公开募股250亿美元,创下历史融资纪录;如今阿里正在欧盟拓展业务,这将直接有利于中欧经贸关系。然而,当欧洲公司通过阿里巴巴搭建的交易平台向中国出口商品时,它们便对这个无法直接掌控的介质产生了依赖性。

欧盟要以长远眼光看待信息时代的欧洲利益,就必须把发展欧洲数字大战略视为首要任务。在21世纪,任何大国都不可忽略网络政治的核心地位,否则必将遭到边缘化。

欧洲应该得到的,远不止各种语言版本的谷歌,欧洲也应培养足以同亚马逊和阿里巴巴竞争的电子商务平台。在此背景下,欧盟委员会负责数字议程的小组,自然要在监管层面努力朝数字化单一市场而努力,但它也应为欧洲数字商业在全球范围的发展壮大创造条件。

欧洲的长期数字战略必须考虑到硅谷的创造力,但另一方面,欧洲也须通过新的数字丝绸跟上中国互联网不断前进的步伐。在布鲁塞尔和北京之间不存在网络信任的问题,中欧互联网朝同一个方向汇集,是对“一带一路”互联互通倡议的补充。

从发现美洲开始的地理大发现时代,标志着“全球化1.0”的开始,欧洲掌握了工业革命带来的技术手段,得以在世界事务中发挥卓越的作用。如今,世界正在迎来“全球化2.0”的黎明,人类正朝着无限的电子领域进军,并将新的数字技术应用到生产过程中去。

作为“全球化1.0”的中心,难道欧洲要沦为“全球化2.0”的边缘地带?现在这样说自然为时过早,但欧洲人应该好好从以下两个历史转折点中汲取教训。

在文艺复兴时期,意大利城邦代表着欧洲贸易、金融、科学和艺术的最前沿。在发现新大陆以后,欧洲的中心逐渐从地中海转移到了大西洋。意大利城邦之间无法相互协调,以维护它们在地缘政治新格局中的重要性,于是走上了衰落的道路。直到19世纪下半叶意大利统一,才重新回到世界政治的地图上。

另一个例子是乾隆皇帝,他使中国无法同18世纪的欧洲正常来往。虽然当时大清国的经济仍占世界经济总量两成有余,但天朝上国的思想使他无法料想机械时代将给世界权力版图带来改变。因为他的自大,中国走向了屈辱的衰落。

虽然欧洲曾是信息时代的共同缔造者,但如果它拿不出政治智慧来促进一体化,不能集中力量全面进入信息时代,那么它可能逐步被边缘化,无法有效参与塑造新的全球秩序,最终沦为无关轻重的小角色。

(观察者网杨晗轶译,英文版以刊载于《赫芬顿邮报》,作者授权观察者网独家翻译)

本文系观察者网独家稿件,文章内容纯属作者个人观点,不代表平台观点,未经授权,不得转载,否则将追究法律责任。关注观察者网微信guanchacn,每日阅读趣味文章。

翻页查看英文原文

The strategists were traditionally preoccupied by the possession of territories or the domination of sea routes. More recently, the capacity to control airspace and outer space modified the equation of national strength, in the Information Age, a country’s comprehensive power has become inseparable from her presence in the cyberspace.

Chinese policy makers have not only integrated the various dimensions of geopolitics but they have rightly paid great attention to the rapidly evolving domain of cyberpolitics.

By almost exclusively focusing on what it perceives as the limitations and the imperfections of the Chinese internet, the West has not yet fully realized the significance of the Chinese digital transformation. At the intersection of China’s global projection and of her quest for innovation, digital China is one of the most significant stories of our time.

Not a source of the 18th century Industrial Revolution which, after its birth in Europe, opened a new era in the history of mankind, marginalized for 150 years as a consequence of her incapacity to rapidly connect with the changes associated with the reign of the machines, China is now marked by her openness to the world’s scientific advancement but also by her ambition to be at the avantgarde of technological progress.

Following a painful decay whose causes were as much internal than external, China is currently, from biotech to the internet, from nano-tech to aeronautics or space exploration, in a quest for relevance. More generally, the ambition not to be a passive spectator in a western led globalization but to stand as a source of modernity is one of the defining elements of the Chinese renaissance.

If the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) was neither able to generate the Industrial Revolution nor to rapidly adjust to the changes it implied, the PRC is already a catalyst of the digital transformation. China missed the Industrial Revolution but it is a co-architect of the Information Age.

Global cyberspace, like the post WWII system of international relations, is bipolar, not structured around Washington D.C. and Moscow, but articulated around the U.S. and China. The current digital bipolarity is reflected in the competition between internet companies : Google, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon, eBay, Uber, Expedia and Apple Pay are the icons of digital America while Baidu, Tencent’s Wechat, Youku, JD.com, Alibaba, DidiKuaidi, Ctrip and Alipay symbolize China’s cyberspace. In a sense, global cyberspace is a tale of two internets.

Today, the two top languages of the World Wide Web are English (851 million users) and Chinese (704 million users) but with the rise of the internet penetration in the Middle Country (around 50% internet penetration in China against 87% for the U.S.), Mandarin might be soon the internet number one language.

South Korea whose digital economy represents 10% of her GDP is in many ways a reference in the Information Age but with 50 million inhabitants the country’s impact is intrinsically limited and it can not affect the dynamics of a bipolar cyberspace.

Some would argue that despite the quantitative dimension of the Chinese internet, China has been qualitatively a mere follower of the Silicon Valley. However, by choosing to protect the development of her own giants she has not only be able to narrow the gap very aptly, but the country’s existing digital ecosystem put her in a position to genuinely innovate in the infrastructure and the systems of the cyberspace.

The data that the Chinese internet companies have been accumulating give them an absolute advantage in what will be soon the world’s largest economy, and in the field of e-payment where more than 200 firms serve the Chinese consumers, the Middle Country’s initiatives have become driving forces.

The significance of digital China is even more striking when it is compared with the internet situation in Africa, Latin America, the Arab world or even India whose engineers continue to contribute to the success of the Silicon Valley. The European Union finds it satisfying to be the user of tools developed by American companies even if such a dependence is both from a commercial and a security perspective an incredible long term weakness.

“Google Italy”, “Google France” or “Google Germany” have certainly enriched the life of Europeans but they are variations in a universe centered around Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

Alibaba, the e-commerce giant created 16 years ago by Jack Ma and whose IPO raised a record $25 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, is increasing its presence in the European Union in a move which will immediately benefit the Sino-European trade relations. However, when European companies export to China through trading platforms conceived by Alibaba they become dependent on a new kind of vehicle upon which they have no direct control.

A long term view of the European interests in the Information Age commands to put the development of an ambitious European digital strategy at the top of Brussels’priorities. In the 21st century a power which ignores the centrality of cyberpolitics condemns itself to irrelevance.

Europe would deserve better than linguistic variations on the Google main theme and should be able also to grow e-commerce platforms capable to compete with Amazon or Alibaba. In that context, the European Commission’s team in charge of the Digital Agenda of the European Union should certainly work at the regulatory level for the Digital Single Market but it should help to shape the conditions for the emergence, beyond startup companies, of European digital global businesses.

Any long term European digital strategy has to take into account the creativity of the Silicon Valley but the vision of a New Digital Silk Road would allow Europe to keep pace with the evolving Chinese cyberspace. While cyber mistrust is not an issue in the relations between Brussels and Beijing, a converging Sino-European internet has to complement the “One Belt, one Road” connectivity.

The discoveries of new continents, starting from the discovery of America, marked the beginning of “Globalization 1.0” and, equipped with the instruments of the Industrial Revolution, Europe has been in a position to play a preeminent role in the world’s affairs. At the dawn of “Globalization 2.0”an expansion into unlimited e-territories is combined with the injection of new digital technology into the production processes.

Would it be possible that the civilization which was at the center of “Globalization 1.0” ends at the periphery of “Globalization 2.0” ? If it is certainly too early to tell, Europeans should nonetheless meditate upon two historical turning points.

During the Renaissance, Italian cities were leading in the fields of trade, banking, science and art. Following the discovery of the New World the European center of gravity gradually shifted from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Incapable of coordinating their efforts to reach the necessary dimension to maintain their rank in a new geopolitical configuration, the Italian states declined and one had to wait the unification of Italy in the second half of the 19th century for the Italian peninsula to be back on the map of world politics.

When the Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) made it impossible for his Empire to have normal interactions with the 18th century Europe, the economy of the Qing dynasty was still more than 20% of the world economy. But, convinced by the idea of the superiority of the Middle Country, the Son of Heaven was unable to anticipate that the age of the machines would change the distribution of power and his complacency caused a humiliating decline.

If Europe does not find the political wisdom to deepen her integration and the strength to fully enter the Information Age as one of its co-creators, it simply takes the risk, after a gradual marginalization, to end at the periphery of a new global order which would have been shaped without her effective participation.

本文系观察者网独家稿件,文章内容纯属作者个人观点,不代表平台观点,未经授权,不得转载,否则将追究法律责任。关注观察者网微信guanchacn,每日阅读趣味文章。

罗马诺·普罗迪

罗马诺·普罗迪

欧盟委员会前主席,曾两度出任意大利总理
高大伟

高大伟

中欧国际工商学院教授,中欧论坛创始人

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