周波:气候危机的警示,中美应确保共存而非极限竞争

来源:观察者网

2021-11-26 10:03

周波

周波作者

清华大学战略与安全研究中心研究员、中国论坛特约专家

【导读】 清华大学战略与安全研究中心研究员、中国论坛特约专家周波,11月24日在《南华早报》撰文提出,当今情势下,中美应确保共存而非极限竞争。中美两国元首视频峰会中,拜登向习近平建议,双方应建立“理性务实的护栏”,问题关键是美方如何建立这一“护栏”。若华盛顿继续视中美关系为民主与专制的二元对立,两国恐怕难以实现长期共存。中国论坛翻译全文如下。

中美两国在格拉斯哥第26届联合国气候变化大会期间的联合减排承诺,就像是沙漠中的一片绿洲,尤其是考虑到近来紧张的双边关系。但这不应该令人感到惊讶。面对不断逼近自身生存的共同威胁,大国知道何时应该携手应对。

格拉斯哥第26届联合国气候变化大会。来源:半岛电视台

气候变化将一个问题摆在了面前:既然大会达成的最重要共识是(人类)时日无多, 我们还有时间互相竞争吗?

如果人性的天生缺陷是只有大难临头才会停止争斗,那么气候变化为我们提供了另一种从共存的角度看待彼此关系的方式:我们合作以求生存,不是生存以求竞争。

共存谈何容易,尤其是在两个几乎同等分量的巨人之间。冷战期间美苏两个超级大国之间的战略平衡,最终是通过相互确保摧毁的方针实现的。

诚然,由于今日中美之间存在着巨大的经济及其他方面的相互依存,中美关系与冷战时期的美苏关系并不具有可比性。但是,我们现如今看到的两国之间不断加剧的竞争却与冷战初期几乎并无差别,以至于美国总统拜登在11月16日的视频会晤上向习主席建议共同推动两国“建立理性务实的护栏”。

但问题的关键是:双方该怎么做?中美两国都宣称不让两国关系进入“新冷战”,但是谁也无法担保。

应该说,中国接受与美国共存相对容易,共存不仅与中国“和平共处五项原则”的外交传统一脉相承,而且除了中国必须捍卫的台湾、东海和南海的领土主权之外,中国和美国在其他地方不可能发生军事冲突。

和平共处五项原则。来源:《百年党史关键词》

一个更大的背景是,中国无意挑战这个几十年来都让中国获益的国际体系。

同北京共存对于华盛顿更像是难咽的苦果,因为美国很大程度上将中美关系视为民主与专制之间的决斗。

自中美建交以来,美国总统常常将希望看到一个强大、繁荣中国的话语挂在嘴边,但类似的表述背后的“潜台词”被前美国副总统迈克·彭斯(Mike Pence)于2018年在哈德逊研究所(Hudson Institute)一语道破:“苏联解体后,我们曾一度认为中国走向自由是不可避免的。”

现在这一希望已经破灭。中国变得更加强大,但却不是美国希望的样子。在特朗普执政期间,美国对中国采取了非常手段,发动贸易战,增加美国海军在南海中国领海的行动,废除了几乎所有与台湾交流的法律限制。

尽管拜登政府的对华政策在很大程度上是特朗普政府大国竞争战略的延续,但是情况似乎已经开始发生变化。

美国国家安全顾问沙利文(Jake Sullivan)近日在接受美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)记者扎卡里亚(Fared Zakaria)采访时表示:“美国以往对华政策的错误之一在于认为可以通过政策从根本上改变中国的制度。但这不是拜登政府的目标。”他甚至提到了“共存”一词。

美国国家安全顾问沙利文接受采访。来源:CNN

即使习主席与拜登的会晤标志着一个分水岭,但是在某种程度上,当今北京和华盛顿之间的共存比冷战期间华盛顿和莫斯科之间的共存更加困难。冷战时期,美苏之间的共存有着明确界定的势力范围,但是现如今中美之间甚至都没有缓冲区。

美国定期派遣海舰穿越台湾海峡,驶近中国南海岛礁,同时又要求中国人民解放军军舰与其保持安全距离。这种边缘政策极有可能引发拜登不想看到的局面——一场有意或无意的冲突。

临渊而知退。一旦发生冲突,除了日本和澳大利亚之外,美国的其他盟友都不可能心甘情愿站在美国一边。人们很难想象一向与中国和睦相处的泰国会作为美国的盟友在任何情况下追随美国而与中国交战。

即便奥库斯(Aukus)潜艇交易证明美国成功地用甜言蜜语说服了澳大利亚对抗中国,这也使它经失去了另一个重要盟友法国的信任。美国的短期收益为零,长期收益则可忽略不计。

奥库斯潜艇交易在印太地区。来源:外交官

阿富汗战争对美国形象和信誉的损害只有越南战争可相提并论。一些人认为,美国将浴火重生,像越战10年后一样繁荣兴旺。也许吧!但即便如此,中国的GDP也会于2030年,甚至在此之前超过美国,成为世界上最大的经济体。

我将这称为“2030时刻”,它将比“史普尼克号时刻(Sputnik moment)”更具划时代意义。当时苏联发射了第一颗在轨人造卫星,令美国人目瞪口呆。“2030时刻”也会比联合国秘书长安东尼奥·古特雷斯(Antonio Guterres)称为“1945年时刻”的冷战开始时刻更有意义。

对中国来说,“2030时刻”标志着历史的回归,仿佛穿越时空隧道与我们昔日盛世重新相连。对美国来说,这将是该国自1898年美西战争成为全球大国以来,第一次必须接受与对手相互确保共存。而对全世界来说,“2030时刻”代表着常识的回归:国家兴衰更替,所谓民主与专制之间的斗争不过是一个神话。

“史普尼克号时刻”。来源:亚马逊

翻译:中国论坛 张佳奕

校译:中国论坛 韩桦

With the climate crisis threatening us all, this is a time for US-China coexistence, not competition

The joint pledge of China and the United States at the COP26 conference in Glasgow to cut emissions is like an oasis in a desert, considering their badly strained ties. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. In facing a common threat looming large over their own survival, major powers know when they need to act together.

The problem of climate change raises a question: if indeed time is running out – the most important consensus of the conference – do we still have time to compete against each other?

If human nature is intrinsically flawed so that people will only stop jostling each other right before doomsday, then climate change provides us with a way of looking at our relations from a perspective of coexistence: we cooperate to survive, we don’t survive to compete.

Coexistence is not easy, especially between two giants of almost equal weight. During the Cold War, strategic equilibrium between the two superpowers was eventually achieved through the doctrine of mutually assured destruction.

Admittedly, what is happening today is quite different from the Cold War if one thinks of the colossal amount of economic and other interdependence between China and the US. But, almost like in the early days of the Cold War, what we are seeing is ever intensifying competition to the extent that US President Joe Biden suggested to Chinese President Xi Jinping that they “establish a commonsense guardrail” in a virtual summit on November 16.

The question is how. Both China and the US have vowed not to slide into a new Cold War. But there is no guarantee of that.

Presumably, coexistence with the US is easier for China, not only because China’s time-honoured foreign policy is called “five principles of peaceful coexistence”, but also because – apart from what China views as its sovereign rights over Taiwan, and in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, that it has to defend – there is no possibility of a military conflict between China and the US elsewhere.

Against a bigger backdrop, Beijing does not wish to challenge the international system from which it has benefited tremendously for decades.

Coexistence with Beijing looks more like a bitter fruit for Washington to swallow, given that the US views the relationship very much like a duel between democracy and autocracy.

Ever since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the US and China, it has not been uncommon for American presidents to say how the US wishes for China to be strong and prosperous, but there has been an undertone, which was eventually voiced by US vice-president Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute in 2018: “After the fall of the Soviet Union, we assumed that a free China was inevitable”.

This hope has been dashed. China is getting much stronger, but is still different. During the Trump administration, the US took drastic measures to attack China, ranging from the trade war to increased US navy operations in Chinese waters in the South China Sea and lifting almost all legal restrictions on exchanges with Taiwan.

The Biden administration’s policy towards China is very much a continuation of Trump’s great power rivalry. But it seems things are starting to change.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “One of the errors of previous approaches to policy towards China has been a view that through US policy, we would bring about a fundamental transformation of the Chinese system. That is not the object of the Biden administration.” He even mentioned “coexistence”.

Even if the Biden-Xi summit signals a watershed, in a way, coexistence between Beijing and Washington today is more difficult than it was between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. Unlike during the Cold War, when coexistence between two superpowers was marked by clearly defined spheres of influence, there aren’t even buffer zones between China and the US.

The US Navy regularly sends ships to sail through the Taiwan Strait and near the Chinese islands and rocks in the South China Sea while asking the Chinese People’s Liberation Army ships to keep a safe distance. Such brinkmanship risks veering into exactly what Biden hopes to avoid – a conflict, intended or unintended.

To stare into the abyss helps one to step back. Should a conflict occur, with the possible exception of Japan and Australia, no American ally would wish to take the US’ side. One can hardly imagine that Thailand, an American ally and a friend of China, would follow the US into a war with China under any circumstances.

If the US has succeeded in sweet-talking Australia into antagonising China, as was proved with the Aukus submarine deal, it has lost the trust of France, another important ally. The immediate outcome is zero, the long-term benefit is inconsequential.

The damage done by the Afghan war to the image and credibility of the US can only be matched by the Vietnam war. Some people have argued that America will rise from the ashes and prosper like it did 10 years after the Vietnam war. Perhaps it will. But even if that is so, there will still be the moment, maybe even before 2030, when China surpasses the US in terms of gross domestic product as the largest economy in the world.

I call it the “2030 moment”. It will be more epochal than the “Sputnik moment”, when the Soviets stunned the Americans by sending the first satellite to orbit, or what UN chief Antonio Guterres described as the “1945 moment” referring to the beginning of the Cold War.

For China, the “2030 moment” marks a return of history, a reconnection through a time tunnel with the heydays of the past. For America, it will be the first time that the country has to accept mutually assured coexistence with a rival since it became a global power after the war with Spain in 1898. And, for the whole world, it represents the comeback of common sense: nations rise and fall, the story of the rivalry between democracy and autocracy is a myth.

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