周波:中国可以为了台湾问题将其他一切置之度外

来源:观察者网

2022-08-14 09:17

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】 编者按:8月11日,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应邀为《南华早报》撰写评论。他认为,中国从军事到外交的一系列行动向全世界表明,中国可以为了台湾问题将其他一切置之度外。佩洛西窜访台湾,不仅给了北京加大统一努力的动力和机会,也意想不到地改变了台海现状,结果对中国有利。

【文/观察者网专栏作者 周波】

历史并非总是由胜利者撰写,也同样被失败者留痕。

美国众议院院长佩洛西对台湾的窜访正是一个典型,它展现了一个以自我为中心的利己主义者是如何偷鸡不成蚀把米的。

佩洛西是美国最高级别的立法机构领导之一,也是总统一职的第二顺位继承人,临退休前虽努力吸引眼球,但并无太多斩获。绝大多数人都认为她的台湾之行是不必要的挑衅。就连发表她本人的专栏文章解释访台原因的《华盛顿邮报》,也刊登了没有歧义的社论,题为:“佩洛西不明智的台湾之行带来的损害必须得到遏制。”

北京的反应缜密又异常迅猛。它没有像一些人猜测的那样尝试阻挠佩洛西的飞行,但在她8月2日抵达台北后,中国宣布在台湾岛周边的六个区域进行连续三天的海空军事演训行动,实际上封锁了台湾。其中的两个演习区域安排在台湾的所谓“领海”内,数十架战斗机无视台湾的所谓“领海”和台海中线,飞越台湾海峡。导弹也第一次飞越了台岛上空。

中国人民解放军东部战区在台湾海峡实施远程火力实弹射击训练(图片来源:ICphoto)

解放军通过这些行动证明,只要它愿意,它可以协调行动,实施全面封锁。相比1995-1996年台海危机期间进行的规模小很多的导弹发射演习—意在对台湾“总统”李登辉访美之后发出警告—解放军已今非昔比。当时,美国一艘航母穿越海峡,另一艘在附近演习。与1996年不同的是,这次里根号航母小心翼翼地避开了台湾海峡的入口。

拜登政府会如何反思这一切?中美一直在为谁改变了台海现状而相互指责。具有讽刺意味的是,这次是佩洛西改变了台海现状,而结果对中国有利。

这次很像2012 年的情况,当时日本政府宣布,要将中国认为是其领土一部分的钓鱼岛国有化。被激怒的中国政府派船进入该群岛的毗连区。时至今日,中国海警船不理会日本的抗议,定期在那里巡航,以彰显北京的主权。

未来这种围绕台湾的演习是否会变成常态,取决于台北和华盛顿,而不是北京。即使反对与大陆统一的代价在不断增加,以分裂主义者蔡英文为首的台湾当局也很难真正回心转意。

真正的问题是,大陆这一史无前例的举动会如何改变台湾人的心态,尤其是在他们的下一次选举中。中国仍有战略耐心,毕竟,与台湾实现和平统一符合北京的利益。但中国的耐心也不是无限的。根据其《反分裂国家法》,如果中国认为所有和平统一的可能性都已丧失,则可以采取非和平手段来实现统一。

要想在台湾海峡实现和平,关键在于要让中国相信和平统一仍有可能。多年来,尽管原因不同,但北京和华盛顿的策略都是保持战略模糊。过去,中国屡屡谈及 “红线”,但是没有明确表示,为了捍卫它会做出什么。现在,在解放军为增强军力所做的不懈努力下,北京首次以实力表明,它不仅有意愿,而且有能力维护其核心利益。

当下,美国的战略模糊—不挑明若台湾受到攻击,它是否会协防台湾—看起来愈发像一块遮羞布,试图掩盖它在与解放军海峡直接对抗中可能失败的现实。毕竟,中国拥有本土作战的所有优势。

中美两国都不想开战,但无法保证双方能避免一场战争。对于中国来说,美国的“一个中国”政策已被掏空。尽管两国仍有一些建立信任的措施,但它们本质上是一些技术规则,旨在避免在南海等地发生意外。

然而,中美两军如果在台海发生冲突,几乎不可能是意外。拜登政府曾谈到建立“护栏”的必要性,但如果中国断定这种护栏是美国为阻止中国把使用武力作为统一最后手段而建,那么这种护栏从一开始就不会被建立。

8月5日,中国外交部明确表达对美方的不满,宣布采取一系列措施,包括从取消所有防务磋商到暂停气候变化谈判等。这第二波反应表明,中国可以为了台湾问题将其他一切置之度外。

接下来,我们可能会看到一个连锁反应:美国将加快售台武器,扩大培训和人员交流,把台湾变成一只 “豪猪”;而一个更有信心、更有能力的中国将做出更有力的回应;结果是,台湾的回旋余地进一步缩小。很难说终局在哪里,但有两件事是确定无疑的:台湾不可能搬走;时间在大陆这边。

翻译:中国论坛 程泽笠

核译:中国论坛 许馨匀 韩桦

本文英文原文:

History is not always written by victors. It is equally written by losers. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a typical example of how a self-centred egoist has gone out for wool and come home shorn.

Pelosi, one of the US’ highest-ranking legislators and second in line to the presidency, has gained little more than some limelight before her retirement. Her Taiwan visit was widely considered unnecessarily provocative. Even The Washington Post, which published her op-ed explaining why she would make the trip, published an editorial that can hardly be misunderstood: “The damage from Pelosi’s unwise Taiwan visit must be contained”.

Beijing’s response was carefully calibrated yet exceptionally strong. It didn’t attempt to obstruct Pelosi’s flight, as some had speculated, but in the wake of her arrival in Taipei on August 2, Beijing announced that it would conduct air and sea drills in six areas around the island that would effectively seal off Taiwan for three consecutive days.

Two target zones were placed inside Taiwan’s “territorial waters” and dozens of fighter planes were flown across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, as a show of disregard for that boundary. For the first time, missiles were fired over the island.

With these measures, the People’s Liberation Army has proven it could coordinate operations to impose a full blockade should it ever choose to. It has progressed from the much smaller missile firing exercises conducted during the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis. Those exercises were meant to send a warning to then Taiwanese “president” Lee Teng-hui after his visit to the US.

But, unlike in 1996 when one American aircraft carrier sailed through the strait and another manoeuvred close by, this time, the USS Ronald Reagan cautiously kept away from the entrance to the Taiwan Strait.

How might the Biden administration reflect on all this? China and the US have been pointing fingers at each other for changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. This time, Pelosi has changed the status quo, ironically, in China’s favour.

This is very much like the situation in 2012 when the Japanese government announced that it was going to nationalise the Diaoyu Islands  which China claims as part of its territory. A furious Chinese government sent vessels into the archipelago’s contiguous zone. Today, Chinese coastguard ships sail regularly there, despite Japan’s protests, to demonstrate Beijing’s sovereign claim.

Whether such exercises around Taiwan become more common in the future depends on Taipei and Washington, not Beijing. Taiwan’s authorities, led by the separatist Tsai Ing-wen, can hardly have a real change of heart, even as the cost of their opposition to reunification with the mainland continues to grow.

The real question is how this unprecedented move by the mainland might change the mentality of the Taiwanese people, especially in their next election. China still has strategic patience. After all, it is in Beijing’s interests to achieve peaceful reunification with Taiwan. But China’s patience is not infinite. According to its Anti-Secession Law, it may resort to non-peaceful means to achieve reunification if it concludes that all possibilities for peaceful reunification have been completely exhausted.

For peace to prevail in the Taiwan Strait, then, the key is to let China believe peaceful reunification is still possible. Over the years, both Beijing and Washington have maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity, albeit for different reasons. China talked about its “red line”, but didn't explain what it would do explicitly to safeguard it. Now, thanks to the unremitting efforts of the PLA to build its strength, Beijing has been able to show for the first time that it has not only the will but the capability to protect its core interests.

Today, America’s strategic ambiguity – not clarifying explicitly if it would come to Taiwan’s defence if the island was attacked – looks more like a fig leaf to hide the reality that it might lose in a direct confrontation with the PLA in the strait, where China has all the advantages of fighting on its home turf.

Neither China nor the US wants a war, but there is no guarantee they can avoid one. For China, America’s one-China policy is already hollowed out. Although the two countries have a few confidence-building mechanisms, they are essentially a litany of technical rules aiming to avoid an accident, say, in the South China Sea.

The problem is, a clash between Chinese and US militaries in the Taiwan Strait can hardly be accidental. The Biden administration has talked about the need to establish “guardrails”, but if China concludes that such guardrails are America’s way of preventing its use of force as a last resort for reunification, they won’t be established in the first place.

On August 5, China’s Foreign Ministry made clear its displeasure at the US with a series of measures ranging from the cancellation of all defence consultations to the suspension of climate change talks. This second-wave response shows that, for Beijing, everything can come to a stop for the Taiwan issue.

Looking down the road, we will probably see a chain reaction: the United States will speed up arms sales and expand training and personnel exchanges to turn Taiwan into a “porcupine”; a more confident and capable China will then respond more forcefully. As a result, Taiwan’s room to manoeuvre will shrink further. It is hard to tell where the endgame is, but two things are sure: Taiwan cannot move away and time is on the side of mainland China.

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo (ret) is a senior fellow of the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University and a China Forum expert

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