周波:台湾问题是中美确保相互共存而不是相互摧毁的底线

来源:观察者网

2022-10-06 08:37

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: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前日在《南华早报》发表评论文章“To avert war across the Taiwan Strait, the US must reinvigorate the one-China policy”(为避免台湾海峡的战争,美国必须重新充实“一个中国”政策)。周波提出,中美现在需要做的是“确保相互共存” (Mutually Assured Coexistence),而不是像冷战时期美苏之间的“确保相互摧毁”(Mutually Assured Destruction)。台湾问题是这一确保的底线。如何避免台湾海峡爆发冲突,周波建议美国从推动台湾当局接受“九二共识”、并劝阻其议(官)员访台开始,从而使大陆相信和平统一仍有可能。北京在台湾问题上的战略耐心,对华盛顿来说是一个避免付出过高代价的机会。

【文/观察者网专栏作者 周波】

随着中美关系“自由落体”式跌落,两国共存的底线不再是增加互信,而是避免似乎越来越有可能发生的台海冲突。

自特朗普执政开始,(中美之间)“一报还一报”式的恶性循环呈螺旋上升趋势。今年8月,美国众议院议长佩洛西不顾中方的警告窜访台湾,将事态推向高潮。中国人民解放军的反应是在台湾周边的六个区域进行了史无前例的军事演习,事实上把台湾岛封锁了三天。

如何避免一场双方都不想看到的冲突?很简单:让中国相信,两岸和平统一仍有可能。这意味着台湾当局重新回到“一个中国”原则,而美国亦重拾其声称一直坚持的“一个中国”政策。

这并不容易。1992年,大陆与台湾执政的国民党都同意只有“一个中国”,尽管在“一个中国”定义上有分歧。但是,以蔡英文为首的台湾当局声称,台湾从未接受过“九二共识”。北京方面担心,如果僵局持续下去,一个由分裂主义者领导的台湾可能会永远保持事实上的独立。

美国坚称其尊重一个中国原则,但却向台湾出售了价值数百亿美元的军火。拜登总统还不止一次地表示,美国将在台湾受到大陆攻击时保卫台湾。

近日,美国两党合作的《台湾政策法》(Taiwan Policy Act of 2022)提议将台湾列为其“主要非北约盟友”。面对日渐紧张的局势,北京有理由怀疑,华盛顿正在寻求基辛格所说的“某种‘两个中国’的解决方案”。

美国声称其坚持“一个中国”政策,但其行为似乎已有违中美联合公报

华盛顿需要扪心自问来回答两个问题。首先,如果台湾有可能将美国卷入一场与其实力相当的竞争对手的战争,它还会是美国的正资产吗?其次,如果美国因为担心发生第三次世界大战而不想在乌克兰战争中与俄罗斯对抗,那它为何要冒险与中国对抗?美国反复进行的战争推演已表明,如果在台湾海峡与中国军队发生直接冲突,美国可能会吃败仗。

或者,是不是因为中国的核武库比俄罗斯的小得多,且中国承诺“不首先使用”核武器?撇开核武器,中国的军事实力不会逊于俄罗斯。

中国人民解放军是世界上最大的武装力量,其国防开支是俄罗斯的三倍多。解放军甚至拥有比美军更多的海军舰艇。如果北京认为是俄罗斯无人能比的核武库阻止了美国的干涉行动,那么中国扩大自身的核武库也就是一念之间。

北京和华盛顿就避免发生海空意外达成了一些战术性协议,问题是,台湾海峡一旦发生冲突则绝非意外。如果北京认为任何关于“护栏”的建议都只是美国阻碍中国实现统一的诡计,这些护栏将不会被搭建。

关于美国如何通过增强台湾自卫能力将其变成“豪猪”,已经谈得够多了。但是再多一些水雷、武装无人机和反舰导弹,也无法改变大局。

比起上一次即1995-1996年在台湾海峡进行的导弹演习,今天中国人民解放军更有信心和能力守住中国的“红线”。只有180公里宽的台湾海峡,未来只会让解放军觉得越来越“窄”。

北京仍然保持着战略耐心,这是华盛顿的一个机会。不少西方国家怀疑乌克兰战争将促使北京很快拿下台湾。目前没有迹象能证明这一点。

乌克兰战争开始后,中国公布的最新军事预算仍低于国内生产总值的2%,与过去几十年保持一致,这是北京展现耐心的最佳例子。中国从未宣布统一的时间表,毕竟,如果台湾岛被打得稀烂,又有什么用?

因此,充实而不是掏空“一个中国”政策符合美国的利益。鉴于其与两岸的广泛联系,美国可以充当一名诚实的中间人,在两岸关系中发挥独特的作用。第一步,华盛顿应该推动台湾当局接受一中共识。

时任台湾地区领导人马英九做出的一中承诺为台湾带来了巨大的好处,这包括大陆不动摇台湾与个别国家的所谓“外交”关系的默契。台湾越早与大陆进行对话, 收益就越大。只有这样才能让北京相信,台湾海峡仍有和平可言。

其次,美国需要更加自律。即便拜登和五角大楼不喜欢佩洛西窜访台湾,但还是发生了。北京不会天真到相信拜登无法打个电话叫停这次行程。

美国官员对台湾的访问可能会增加,也只是象征性的。然而,这都会招致中国坚定和实质性的回应。随着中美冲突的可能性增大,台湾也将面临更大的压力。

冷战的一个经验教训是,即便敌人也可以找到避免军事冲突的方法。中美现在还不是敌人。在一场双方可能同归于尽的冷战中,对两个对手最有利的情况是相互确保共存。战争不一定不可避免,但防患于未然需要格外努力。

翻译/中国论坛 徐亚晖

核译/中国论坛 许馨匀、韩桦

原文:

To avert war across the Taiwan Strait, the US must reinvigorate the one-China policy

With China-US relations in free fall, the bare minimum needed for both powers to coexist is not to increase trust, but to avert a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, something that looks increasingly likely.

Since the Trump administration, a vicious circle of action and reaction has spiralled. It culminated in August when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan despite China’s warnings. The response of the People’s Liberation Army was an unprecedented military exercise in six areas around Taiwan that effectively sealed off the island for three days.

How to avoid a conflict that neither side wants? Simple: let China believe that a peaceful reunification with Taiwan is still possible. This will mean the Taiwanese authorities coming back to the one-China principle and the US reinvigorating the one-China policy it claims to have maintained.

This won’t be easy. In 1992, the mainland and Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang agreed that there was only one China, although they differed in their definitions. But the taiwanese authorities led by Tsai Ing-wen asserted that Taiwan had never accepted the 1992 consensus. Beijing’s worry is that, should the stalemate continue, a Taiwan led by separatist authorities could remain de facto independent for good.

The US insists it respects the one-China principle but sells arms to Taiwan worth tens of billions of dollars. President Joe Biden has more than once said the US would defend Taiwan in an attack from the mainland.

Most recently, the bipartisan Taiwan Policy Act proposes to recognise Taiwan as a “major non-Nato ally”. Amid growing tensions, Beijing has to suspect that Washington is developing what Henry Kissinger called “something of a ‘two-China’ solution”.

Washington has to search its soul to answer two questions. First, is Taiwan really America’s asset if it risks dragging the US into a war with a peer competitor? And, if the US doesn’t wish to confront Russia in Ukraine for fear of a third world war, why would it risk confronting China? Repeated American war-gaming has shown that the US might lose in a direct confrontation with China’s military in the Taiwan Strait.

Or is it because China has a much smaller nuclear arsenal than Russia’s and has a “no first use” nuclear policy? Nukes aside, China’s military strength should be no less formidable than Russia’s.

The PLA is the largest armed force in the world. Its military budget is more than triple Russia’s. It even has more naval ships than the US. If Beijing concludes that it is Russia’s next-to-none nuclear stockpile that is deterring the US from intervention, then expanding China’s own nuclear stockpile needs only a change of mind.

Beijing and Washington have a few tactical agreements on avoiding accidents at sea or in the air. The problem is, a conflict in the Taiwan Strait can hardly be accidental. If Beijing believes any suggestions on “guardrails” are simply American guile to handicap China’s reunification efforts, these guardrails will not be established.

Much has been said about how the US could turn Taiwan into a “porcupine” by enhancing its self-defence capabilities. But a few more sea mines, armed drones and anti-ship missiles are hardly game-changing.

Today’s PLA is much more confident and capable of guarding China’s “red lines” than at its last missile exercises in the strait in 1995-1996. A Taiwan Strait that is only 180 kms wide can only feel narrower for the PLA in the future.

Beijing still has strategic patience and that is a chance for Washington. Quite a few Western capitals suspect the war in Ukraine will encourage Beijing to take over Taiwan soon. There is no indication of that.

The best example of Beijing’s patience is the military budget announced after the war in Ukraine began. It remains below 2 per cent of gross domestic product, a level it has maintained for decades. China has never announced a timetable for reunification. After all, what is the use of an island that is shattered?

It is in America’s interests to invigorate rather than hollow out the one-China policy. Given its extensive connection with both sides, it could have a unique role to play as an honest broker. As the first step, Washington should encourage the Taiwanese authorities to accept the one-China consensus.

The one-China pledge made by then-president Ma Ying-jeou gave Taiwan tremendous benefits, including a tacit agreement from the mainland not to shake up Taiwan’s relationship with a handful of countries that diplomatically recognise Taiwan. The sooner Taiwan has a conversation with the mainland, the more it stands to gain. Only in this way can Beijing believe there is still peace to maintain in the strait.

Second, the US needs to exercise more self-discipline. Even if Biden and the Pentagon didn’t like Pelosi’s visit, it still happened. Beijing is not so naive as to believe that Biden couldn’t make a phone call to stop the trip.

Visits to Taiwan by American officials, which are likely to increase, are merely symbolic. But they will invite a steady and substantive Chinese response. Taiwan will feel the ever-harder pinch even as the prospect of a China-US conflict looms larger.

One lesson from the Cold War is that even enemies can find ways to avoid a military conflict. China and the US are not enemies yet. In a cold war where both face mutually assured destruction, the best thing that two competitors can achieve is mutually assured coexistence. War doesn’t have to be inevitable, but prevention requires earnest effort.

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