汤姆·福迪:“印太经济框架”动静很大,实质很虚

来源:观察者网

2022-05-24 07:19

汤姆·福迪

汤姆·福迪作者

英国作家、国际关系分析人士

【文/汤姆·福迪 译/观察者网 宁栎】

美国正准备拉亚洲国家启动一项名为“印太经济框架”的计划。根据白宫的说法,该框架将寻求在该区域“制定经济交往规则”,特别是关于投资、技术和供应链。由于美国的商业保护主义政策,它被排除在该区域两个主要自贸协定即RCEP和CPTPP之外,因此美国急需加强其在亚洲的经济存在。

然而,“印太经济框架”并没有实际的内容,仅仅是一个口号。这个计划拉了一些亚洲之外或与该区域经济联系不大的国家,制造了一个光怪陆离的概念,试图决定游戏“规则”,同时试图假装该区域最大的经济体和贸易国中国并不重要。充其量,“印太经济框架”只是一个口号,实质上是空的。

美日印三国首脑宣布“印太经济框架”(来源:美联社)

中国是该区域的枢纽和贸易中心。这不是政治的产物;而是地理的产物。作为最大和人口最多的国家,中国自然拥有亚洲最大的进口和出口市场,使中国成为其周围每个国家(包括美国盟友)最大的双边贸易伙伴。

这种密切互补的贸易随后产生了法律需求,要求各国统一标准和法规,这推动了所谓的“区域一体化”进程,即各国就共同关心的问题讨论和协调治理。

这种区域一体化进程是推动RCEP以及中国与亚太国家双边自贸协定的原因。截至目前,中国还在谈判加入CPTPP进程中,同时还在谈判一项数字贸易协定。该区域的其他国家认为与中国达成此类协议对于改善其经济和监管至关重要。

与此同时,美国没有加入亚太区域的任何主要自贸协定,特别是美国强调“美国优先”,反对自由贸易,理由是自由贸易会削弱美国制造业的竞争力和就业机会。

尽管如此,美国仍执着于以遏制中国为名,不惜一切代价在亚洲发动一场区域意识形态的竞争,企图将该区域划分为相互竞争的集团。因此,美国认为应由美国而不是中国在经济上主宰该区域。相对于中国而言,美国自认对该区域的未来拥有最大的发言权。

所以,“印太经济框架”是美国试图制定该区域规则的努力,而实际上美国与该区域经济联系甚少。“印太经济框架”不是一个自贸协定,不是一个条约,不是一个机构或一个多边机构,也不是任何实质性的东西,它只是一套规则和原则,美国认为靠它能孤立中国。

在发起“印太经济框架”时,美国可能会向该区域的主要伙伴,包括韩国、日本、澳大利亚和新西兰发出呼吁。虽然东盟是美国寻求控制的焦点,但最终东盟国家都不准备放弃与中国的经济关系,因为它们认为这对其增长战略至关重要。

当然,这并不奇怪,韩国在其新任亲美总统的领导下,已经宣布将加入该框架。鉴于韩国在全球半导体供应链中的作用,这似乎很重要,而美国热衷于孤立中国。但实际上,韩国将继续全面依赖中国作为其最大的双边贸易伙伴,包括在半导体领域,而且无法承担升级对抗的代价。去年,美国试图阻止韩国代工厂海力士在中国扩产,却未获成功。

在美国推动“印太经济框架”过程中,日本很可能是一个比韩国更重要的合作伙伴,但需要质疑的是,日本是否真准备损害密切的中日经贸关系?在亚洲各国的贸易、金融和基础设施投资领域,日本不断被吹捧为中国的替代。日本近年来也有一些明显的举措。例如,日本在越南胡志明市建设地铁系统,同时还与中国竞争印尼高铁项目。然而,这远远不是为整个区域“制定规则”,因为在现实中,中国的GDP远远大于日本,而日本的经济实际上是停滞的,即使是日本也只能承认现实。

这一原则同样适用于新西兰和澳大利亚。澳大利亚基本上紧跟美国,但新西兰对与中国经济一体化采取了务实和现实政策,因为新西兰从对中国出口中获得了创纪录的贸易顺差。

最后,印度可能被视为中国在更广泛的“印太”区域的最大潜在对手,至少印度人口规模和市场潜力接近中国。美国及其盟友从未隐瞒将印度视为在战略、军事和经济上制衡中国崛起的事实,这也是绝对成立的。

然而,在经济层面上,印度如何促进“印太经济框架”?印度坚定不移实行经济保护主义政策,拒绝与该区域的贸易融合。印度退出RCEP带来很大劣势,使印度无法制定游戏“规则”。美国及其盟友几乎肯定会试图在印度建立战略供应链。但基础设施不足、大规模失业、高贫困水平和大量农业人口,都是印度与中国竞争的长期障碍。

综上所述,“印太经济框架”最终会是无稽之谈,因为它忽视了地理和经济的现实,完全基于意识形态,甚至是一厢情愿的幻想。美国认为它对该区域未来的影响比中国这个实际最大的经济体和贸易国更大,这不符合逻辑,加上其他许多原因,导致该计划只能落空。因此,“印太经济框架”不仅没有提供什么,而且最终也没有什么意义,正是由于这个原因,这样一个由口号驱动的政策几乎毫无疑问将是一个失败。

美国认为能主宰一个区域的未来,同时以美国利益的名义逃避对该区域作出严肃的经济承诺。未来不是美国所设想的。亚洲各国的经济未来依赖于与中国建立强大伙伴关系,除此没有其他方案。

(本文系作者赐稿,英文原文见下页。)

The US Indo-Pacific Framework Doesn't Really Offer Anything

By Tom Fowdy

The United States is preparing to imminently launch a program for Asian countries which it calls the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”. According to the White House, this framework will seek to “set the rules of economic engagement” in the region, particularly concerning investment, technology and supply chains. It comes amidst pressure upon the United States to up its economic presence in Asia, having excluded itself from the two major trading blocs of the region, the RCEP and the CPTPP due to its protectionist policies on commerce.

However, there is no actual substance on what the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” actually represents in real terms, other than being an actual slogan which facilitates the bizarre rendering of a country which is not based in Asia or physically present in the regional economy, attempting to dictate the “rules” of how the game ought to be played, all whilst attempting to act as if the largest economy and centre of trade in that region doesn’t matter. At best, the Indo-Pacific economic framework is a slogan, and one which in substance offers nothing at all.

China is the regional nexus and hub of trade in the Asia-Pacific region. This is not a product of politics; it is a product of geography. As the largest and most populated country, China naturally possesses the largest import and export market in Asia, making China the biggest bilateral trading partner of every country around it include those aligned with the United States. Such heavily overlapping forms of trade subsequently create legal pressures for standards and regulations to be harmonized between countries, which drives the process of what is known as “regional integration”- that is when countries pool and coordinate aspects of governance together on matters of mutual interest.

This process of regional integration is what has driven the RCEP free trade agreement, as well as China’s bilateral free trade agreements with most countries in the region. As of present, China is also negotiating entry to the CPTPP free trade agreement, as well as a digital trade agreement with the region. Other countries in the region see obtaining such agreements with China as critical to securing their economic and regulatory interests. Meanwhile, the United States is currently not present in any major trading blocs with the Asia-Pacific region, particularly because its policy is focused on “America First” principles which espouses opposition to free trade on the premise that such erodes American manufacturing competitiveness and jobs.

Despite this, the United States is obsessed with bringing a regional ideological competition to Asia at all costs in the name of containing China, seeking to divide the region into competing blocs. As a result, the United States believes that it should economically dominate the region and not China, and that it, as opposed to Beijing, ought to have the greatest say in its future. As a result, the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” is an effort by the US to try and set the rules of region whilst not actually being economically integrated with it at all. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is not a free trade agreement, not a treaty, not an institution or multilateral body or anything substantial, it is merely a set of rules and principles which the US thinks it can utilize to isolate China.

In formulating the “Indo-Pacific economic framework”, the United States is likely to make an appeal to its primary partners in the region, including South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Whilst ASEAN is the primary focus which the US seeks to dominate, ultimately none of these countries will be prepared compromise their economic ties with China which they see as critical to their own growth strategies. It is not surprising of course that, South Korea already, under its new pro-US president Yoon Seok Yeol, has announced it would “join” the framework. Whilst this may seem significant given its role in the global semiconductor supply chain, something the United States is keen to isolate Beijing from, in practice Seoul continues to rely overwhelmingly on China as its largest bilateral trading partner, including too in semiconductors, and cannot afford the price of increased confrontation. Last year, the US attempted to block the expansion of South Korean foundry Hynix in China. The move was unsuccessful.

Japan is likely to be a more prominent partner for the US in pushing the “Indo-Pacific framework” than Seoul, but again one must question is it truly prepared to make serious compromises to its heavily integrated commercial relationship with China? Tokyo is constantly touted to represent an alternative source of trade, finance and infrastructure investment to other countries in Asia than China, and there have been some obvious initiatives to try and push this in recent years. One might note for example how it is building a metro system in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, whilst it has competed with China for High-Speed-Rail projects in Indonesia too. However, this is far from a bid to “set the rules” of the entire region because in reality, China’s GDP is ultimately far larger than Japan’s, an economy which is in practice stagnant. Even Tokyo cannot divorce itself from reality. The same rule applies for both New Zealand and Australia. Whilst the latter is overwhelmingly loyal to the United States, Wellington has taken a pragmatic and realistic view to economic integration with China on the back of the record trade surplus it receives from exports there.

Finally, India might be perceived as the biggest potential rival to China in the broader “Indo-Pacific” region primarily because of its almost equal population size and market potential. The United States and its allies have never hidden the fact they see New Delhi as the key strategic, military and economic counterweight to China’s rise, and it is absolutely logical. However, on an economic level, how can India facilitate the “Indo-Pacific economic framework?” A big problem lies in India’s steadfast economic protectionist policies which has shunned integration with intra-regional trade at large. India withdrew from the regional comprehensive economic partnership, putting it at a distinct disadvantage and making it impossible for New Delhi to set the “rules” of the game. However, the US and its allies will almost certainly look to attempt to consolidate strategic supply chains in a rising India. However, insufficient infrastructure, large scale unemployment, a huge level of poverty and a majority agrarian population, all stand as long-term obstacles to India’s ability to compete with China.

Therefore, in conclusion, the Indo-Pacific economic framework remains ultimately nonsensical because it is ignoring the realities of both geography and economics and is based solely upon ideology, if not wishful thinking. The US thinks that it can have greater weight over the future of the region than the actual biggest economy and trading nation in that specific area, making it illogical and for many reasons, a non-starter. As a result, the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” not only offers little, but ultimately means little too, and it is for this reason that such a slogan driven policy is almost undoubtedly going to be a failure. The United States believe they can dictate the future of a region whilst exempting themselves from making serious economic commitments to it in the name of self-interest, that’s not how things work, and there is no scenario whatsoever whereby the nations of greater Asia can envision an economic future for themselves which does not include a robust partnership with China.

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。

责任编辑:谌海滨
中美竞争 印太战略 中美经贸
观察者APP,更好阅读体验

专题

中美关系

美贸易组织警告:涉疆法案会加剧美国通胀

2022年06月29日

“你们早去哪儿了?怪我们这种穷国转向中国?”

2022年06月29日

作者最近文章

05月24日 07:19

“印太经济框架”动静很大,实质很虚

05月06日 07:46

甘当美国傀儡、挑起对华冷战,对英国没好处

风闻24小时最热

网友推荐最新闻

朔尔茨拿定主意:G20就算有普京在,我们也会参加

英媒:若天然气危机加剧,英国可能切断对欧盟输气管道

习近平:把科技的命脉牢牢掌握在自己手中

习近平乘专列抵达香港

冲突后普京首访中亚:北约利用乌克兰达成帝国野心

“北约不能像基辅地铁老闸门,靠近就关,付钱就开”

普京警告芬兰瑞典:别这样做

北约时隔12年公布新战略,首次声称中国构成挑战