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《时代》周刊:中国上了美国国债的床却下不来 应怪自己

2013-10-17 10:13:53

美国《时代》周刊网站15日再次把关注点对准了新华社的“去美国化”文章。一篇题为《中国上了美国财政部的床却下不来》文章称,中国尽可以呼唤“去美国化”,但自己并没有作好取代美国的准备。文章称,中国手握巨额美债是由自己的开放和投资政策造成的;受困于华盛顿僵局,中国人应该怪自己。

国外政治漫画:中国被美国的债务危机绑架

以下为《时代》文章节译:

中国这些天对于华盛顿的僵局一定忧心忡忡。手持1.3万亿美元美国国库券的中国,是美国国债的最大外国持有者。如果美国国会不能在17日之前提高政府借款上限,那么,华盛顿可能没有足够的资金偿付债券,这或许会导致违约行为。这将导致国库券贬值,中国的财富将大大缩水。

这一可能性已经引起了中国的惊慌。中国官方媒体新华社的一篇评论文章抨击了美国在国际事务上的不负责任,呼吁在IMF等国际机构中增加发展中国家的话语权,并以一种新的储备货币取代美元。该文章还提出要建立一个“去美国化”的世界。

在中国的公共舆论中,美国的僵局也造成了困惑和愤怒。一些中国人质问,我们的领导人是否在一个运转不良的政府身上投资太多了。“买了这么多(美债),你就处在别人的掌控之中了。我们应该找出是谁做了这一决定,然后让他负责。”这是新浪微博上的一种典型言论。

中国人应该怪自己。在中国经济改革之初,政府采取的促进增长与出口的政策,同时也使中国对美国财政部发行的国债产生依赖。这些政策制造了巨大的经常账户盈余和庞大的外汇储备,这让北京除了对美国投资之外,别无选择。

中囯的政策总体上是鼓励出口,限制进口,并通过控制其货币价值以促进出口。与此同时,政府在利率管理上鼓励投资,不提倡储蓄,抑制国内消费。

中国在这些年里积累的经常账户盈余,导致了庞大的外汇储备——最新统计数字是3.66万亿美元。

在很多人看来,这显示了中国的经济实力,但同时,它也是一个金融负担。中国决策者在管理这些巨大的储备时,没有太多选择,他们只能购买美国国债。美国政府债券市场是一个深化、流动和可靠的市场,是存放所有这些美元的最佳(可能也是唯一的)选择。然而,该政策有其局限性。抛售美元会导致其贬值,从而侵蚀中国的财富。中国要摆脱这种投资国债的习惯,唯一的办法是全面改革其经济体系。

不过,中国正在缓慢地向这个方向努力。中国为减少美元依赖而采取的战略之一是,推动人民币在国际贸易和金融业务中成为美元以外的选择。该国政府已经取得了一些成绩。

欧洲央行和中国央行最近签署了一份高额的本币互换协议。另据国际清算银行最近的一项调査,人民币已经首次成为十大交易货币之一。然而,要使人民币真正成为美元的对手,中囯还必须进行更多改革。

这一切意味着,中国和美国财政部仍然拥抱在一起,而北京很难从这种关系中抽身。中国需要的是全方位经济改革,而北京至今仍不愿这样做。因此,北京可以一厢情愿地呼吁打造“去美国化”的世界,但中国并未作好取代美国的准备。

作者 迈克尔·舒曼

翻页阅读《时代》周刊网站原文

 

China Got Into Bed With the U.S. Treasury and Can’t Get Out

The Chinese sure are doing a lot of worrying these days about the stalemate in Washington. Li Keqiang, China’s Premier, told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that he was watching the tussle over raising the government’s debt ceiling with “great attention” in a meeting last week. He has good reason to be concerned. With a stash of nearly $1.3 trillion in Treasury securities, China is the world’s largest foreign owner of U.S. government debt. If U.S. Congress fails to lift the ceiling to allow the government to borrow more by Thursday, Washington may not have enough money to pay its bills, potentially leading to a default. That could sink the value of Treasuries — wiping out a big chunk of Chinese wealth in the process.

That possibility has caused much consternation in China. In a blistering (and highly hypocritical) editorial, state news agency Xinhua blasted what it sees as Washington’s irresponsibility in handling global affairs and called for greater say for developing nations in international institutions like the IMF and a new reserve currency to replace the dollar.

“As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” the commentary recommended. “Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated, and a new world order should be put in place.”

Among the Chinese public, the stalemate in Washington has caused confusion and ire. Why, some Chinese are asking, have our leaders invested so much of the country’s money in a government that seems so dysfunctional? “Bought so much [American debt], now you are under the control of others,” went one typical comment posted on microblogging site Sina Weibo. “We should find out who made this decision and let him take the responsibility.”

The Chinese can blame themselves. Since the earliest days of Chinese economic reform, policies that the government has employed to create growth and exports have also made it dependent on debt issued by the U.S. Treasury. Those policies have generated huge current-account surpluses and gargantuan reserves of foreign currency that have left Beijing no other option but to invest in the U.S.

Chinese policy has generally pushed exports while discouraging imports. By controlling the value of its currency, the renminbi (RMB), to promote exports, China hasn’t allowed its exchange rate to adjust to shifts in trade in a way that would bring balance. Economist Huang Yiping once proffered that policies that reduce prices of land, energy and other costs of production also subsidize exports, and thus contribute to surpluses. Meanwhile, the government’s regulation of interest rates has favored investment and punished savers, suppressing domestic consumption.

The current-account surpluses China has notched over the years have resulted in a vault full of foreign-currency reserves — a staggering $3.66 trillion at last count. Though China’s surpluses have been declining (relative to GDP), the country is still adding to this mountain of foreign currency. In the third quarter, China’s foreign-exchange reserves jumped by the largest amount in more than two years.

To many, this ocean of foreign currency shows China’s economic strength, but at the same time, it is also a financial burden. Chinese policymakers simply don’t have many options when managing these giant reserves, and that has forced them to gorge on Treasuries. The U.S.-government-bond market is deep, liquid and reliable — the perfect (and, arguably, only) place to park all those greenbacks. Sure, the Chinese can switch some of their dollars into other currencies, but there is a limit to that strategy. Dumping the dollar would depress its value, eroding China’s own holdings. The only way for China to wean itself off its Treasury habit is to change its entire economic system.

That, though, is happening slowly. One strategy China is pursuing to lessen its dollar dependence is by promoting its own currency as an alternative to the greenback in global trade and finance. The government has had some success. The European Central Bank and China’s central bank recently agreed to a large swap of their currencies. And according to a recent survey from the Bank for International Settlements, the RMB entered the list of top 10 most traded currencies for the first time. Yet in order for the RMB to become a true rival to the dollar, China has to undertake far more reform.

The RMB isn’t fully convertible, nor does it trade freely around the world like the dollar, euro or yen. China is taking stabs at the sort of financial liberalization that would give the RMB an international boost — experimenting with freer capital flows in a new zone in Shanghai, for instance — but those steps are tentative at best. The Chinese government is still reluctant to throw open its financial sector and loosen capital flows and currency trading in a way that would turn the RMB into a solid reserve currency like the dollar.

“China’s policymakers remain deeply uncomfortable with allowing market forces a say in determining the exchange rate at times of uncertainty,” research firm Capital Economics said in a report on Monday. “Policymakers still see opening of capital controls as an important goal. But their actions underline that it remains a long way off.”

What this all means is that China and the U.S. Treasury remain locked in an embrace from which it is very hard for Beijing to escape. What it will take is extensive reform to China’s own economy that so far Beijing has been reluctant to undertake. So Beijing can call for a “de-Americanized world” all it wants. China is not ready to take America’s place.

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来源:参考消息等 | 责任编辑:张广凯
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