【英语中国】美国衰退不利中国崛起

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-10-15 08:47

小艾摘要: China’s rise was made in America. The ingenuity and industriousness of its people aside, China’s rapid emergence as the world’s second-largest economy was made possible by an open international eco ...
China’s rise was made in America. The ingenuity and industriousness of its people aside, China’s rapid emergence as the world’s second-largest economy was made possible by an open international economic system designed and built by the US. Now Beijing has serious cause for concern. What America makes, it may also be able to break.

The fiscal stand-off in Washington has drawn sharp words from the People’s Republic. US President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress have been told in no uncertain terms that China expects Washington to live up to its global responsibilities. Behind such words lie deep concerns. China’s growth rate has already slowed. Another shock and it could sink beyond the 6 or 7 per cent deemed necessary by the Communist party to underwrite political and social order

These are not the best of times for American power and prestige. Mr Obama’s contortions over Syria and his willingness to talk to Iran have left traditional Arab allies seething, Turkey has chosen a Chinese over an American air defence system, while Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rails that Mr Obama is too soft on Palestinians as well as Iranians. These countries have all made plenty of their own mistakes, but it is hard to think of a time when mistrust of the US in the Middle East was quite so high.

The government shutdown forced Mr Obama to cancel appearances at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bali and the East Asia Summit in Brunei. His absence and the fiscal farce playing out in Washington scarcely inspire confidence in the administration’s much-vaunted “pivot to Asia”. Presence matters in this part of the world, and Mr Obama left the stage to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

For his part Mr Xi is left with a trinity of concerns about the direction of US policy. The first two are serious but cyclical. The third is the dangerous one – a structural shift that threatens China’s medium to long-term economic prospects.

The most immediate worry for Beijing is that a protracted stalemate in Washington would send the US economy back into recession and throw markets into a tailspin. If the holder of the world’s reserve currency cannot (or will not) pay its bills on time, what future for the global financial system? China would not escape lightly from a US default.

The second thing disturbing Beijing is that the continued weakness of the dollar is devaluing China’s huge stock of US debt. China held nearly $1.3tn of US Treasury securities in July 2013, putting it at the top of the international table – ahead of Japan. Chinese officials have long complained that the US is inflating away its debts, shifting the burden of economic adjustment on to those with large dollar holdings. There is little they can do. The US response to such complaints is a shrug of the shoulders that says no one is asking Beijing to buy US debt. It could always go elsewhere.

The big threat, though, comes in the third dimension of US policy: a shift that is seeing the US move from acting as the guarantor of broadly based multilateral rules to a preference for small coalitions with its friends. Washington is edging back from the liberal order it created after the second world war.

This order allowed western Europe to rise from the rubble, assured US hegemony and solidified the western alliance in response to the Soviet threat. America’s national interest was perfectly aligned with its international responsibilities as the world’s leading economic power. What was good for the Germany, for France, Britain and others, was also good for America, which needed strong and prosperous allies.

As Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment told a conference hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Bahrain this week, the postwar economic settlement is now fracturing. What the US had not reckoned on was that the emerging powers in general and China in particular would also be beneficiaries of this US-led system.

The rise of the rest has muddied the relationship between US interests and its provision of global public goods. China now looks set fair to become the world’s largest economy. Empowering a country that would then challenge US hegemony was not part of the postwar game plan.

So the US is swapping postwar multilateralism for preferential trade and investment deals with like-minded nations. As I heard Mr Tellis tell it, this means sidelining comprehensive trade arrangements in favour of bilateral and regional deals where Washington can more readily identify its interests.

In an ideal world, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact would serve as frameworks for subsequent, inclusive trading and investment rules – a bridge back to multilateralism. But in US eyes, they are looking more like a useful strategy to lock out China. Of course, these negotiations could fail – on questions of trade there are formidable differences even among friends. But the trajectory has been set: just as the US is scaling back its provision of global security, so it is taking a more hard-edged view of its role as guarantor of the open economic system.

Beijing should be worried. However destabilising the present shenanigans in Washington are in the short term, sustained prosperity in China rests above all on access to a level international playing field. Without strong US backing, the multilateral order will fall into further disrepair and globalisation will give way to fragmentation. China, the biggest gainer from the liberal order, would be the biggest loser from its demise.

中国崛起是美国制造的。且不提中国人民的聪明勤劳,正是因为借助了美国设计并建立的开放的国际经济体系,中国才有可能迅速崛起为全球第二大经济体。如今中国政府有理由忧心忡忡。美国既然能打造出这套体系,就能毁灭它。

美国政府的财政僵局招致中国的尖锐批评。中国明确告诉美国总统巴拉克?奥巴马(Barack Obama)和国会的共和党人,希望美国承担起其全球责任。在这些言辞背后隐藏着严重的担忧。中国的经济增长速度已经放缓了。一旦出现另一场冲击,中国经济增长速度就可能降到6%或7%以下,而这一增速是中共认为保证其政治和社会秩序的底线。

现在已非美国权力和声望的巅峰时刻。奥巴马在叙利亚问题上的立场变化以及愿意与伊朗对话,让传统的阿拉伯盟友愤懑不已。土耳其选择了一套中国的防空系统,而没有采用美国的;以色列总理本雅明?内塔尼亚胡(Benjamin Netanyahu)抱怨奥巴马对巴勒斯坦和伊朗的态度太过软弱。这些国家自身都曾犯下大量错误,但中东对美国的质疑程度之深前所未有。

由于美国政府关门,奥巴马被迫缺席了在巴厘岛举行的亚太经合组织(APEC)会议和在文莱举办的东亚峰会(East Asia Summit)。他的缺席以及华盛顿正在上演的财政闹剧,让人们很难相信美国政府大肆吹嘘的“重心转移到亚洲”政策。现身这一地区很重要,但奥巴马把舞台让给了中国国家主席习近平。

就习近平而言,他对美国政策走向有三层担忧。前两层担心很严重,但都是周期性的。第三层担心就很危险了——结构性变化威胁到中国的中长期经济前景。

中国政府当前的担忧是,财政僵局无休止地拖延下去会让美国经济再次陷入衰退,导致市场失控。如果全球储备货币的持有者无法(或者未来无法)按时偿还其债务,全球金融体系有什么未来?中国无法轻易地从美国违约中脱身。

让中国政府心烦的第二个问题是,美元持续疲软,正在降低中国所持巨额美国国债的价值。2013年7月,中国持有美国近1.3万亿美元国债,从而超过日本,成为美国最大的债权国。中国官员长期以来一直抱怨美国用通胀来缩减债务,把经济调整的负担转移到美元持有大国头上。他们对此无能为力。美国对这种抱怨的回应是耸耸肩,意思是没人让中国购买美国国债。债务也可以去任何地方。

不过,中国面临的最大威胁来自美国政策的第三个方面:美国的角色转换,即不再扮演基础广泛的多边规则的担保人,而是选择与朋友结成小规模同盟。美国正在逐步退出其自二战以后创立的自由秩序。

这套秩序让西欧从废墟中站起来,保障了美国的霸权地位,面对苏联威胁时巩固了西方同盟。美国的国家利益完全与其作为全球头号经济大国的责任相一致。对德国、法国、英国和其他国家有利的事情,对美国同样有利,而美国需要强大繁荣的盟友。

正如卡内基国际和平基金会(Carnegie Endowment)的阿什利?泰利斯(Ashley Tellis)在本周国际战略研究所(IISS)在巴林举办的一场会议上所言,战后经济格局如今正在分崩离析。美国当初没有料到,大部分新兴大国(尤其是中国)也会从以美国为首的这套体系中受益。

其他国家的崛起打乱了美国的利益与其提供全球公益品之间的关系。中国如今看上去必将成为全球最大的经济体。给一个接下来会挑战美国霸权地位的国家赋权,可不是这套战后游戏规划的一部分。

因此,美国正在放弃战后多边主义框架,改为与志同道合的国家达成优先的贸易和投资交易。我听到泰利斯指出,这意味着退出全面贸易安排,转而采纳双边和区域协议,在这样的协议中,美国能够更容易地找出其利益。

在一个理想的世界中,拟议的《跨太平洋战略经济伙伴关系协定》(TPP)和《跨大西洋贸易与投资伙伴关系协定》(TTIP)将构成接下来全面的贸易和投资规定的框架——这是重返多边主义之路。但在美国看来,这更像一种把中国拒之门外的实用策略。当然,这些谈判可能会失败——在贸易问题上,即便朋友之间也存在巨大的分歧。但道路已经设定好了:正如美国正在缩减它所提供的全球安全服务一样,美国正在采取更理智的眼光看待其作为开放经济体系担保人的角色。

中国政府有理由担心。不管美国政府当前的闹剧在短期内带来多大的不稳定,中国的持久繁荣尤其系于能够进入公平的国际竞技场。若失去美国的强有力支持,多边秩序会进一步崩塌,全球化将让位于碎片化。而自由秩序的最大受益者中国将成为自由秩序消亡的最大输家。

译者/倪卫国

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