【英语中国】英国讨好中国没得到好处

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-12-3 08:55

小艾摘要: Britain has “sold the store”, “surrendered” and “totally capitulated” in its efforts to get back into the good graces of the Chinese leadership, in the words of several senior Beijing-based dipl ...
Britain has “sold the store”, “surrendered” and “totally capitulated” in its efforts to get back into the good graces of the Chinese leadership, in the words of several senior Beijing-based diplomats from Asia and Europe.

There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy from the representatives of countries that have themselves gone to great lengths to ingratiate themselves with China.

But, as Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in Beijing today to begin his first state visit in more than two years, it is hard to avoid the perception that the UK, like most other countries, is struggling to cope with a more assertive China.

British diplomats insist the UK’s position has not changed on human rights or on Tibet, but European diplomats and human rights groups say London has clearly downgraded these issues over the past year. What Britain has gained is not clear.

The UK was thrown into the diplomatic deep-freeze in May 2012 after Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, posed with the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, during his trip to London.

China reviles the Nobel Peace Prize-winning lama as a “wolf in monk’s robes”, bent on Tibetan independence. It views any official meetings with him by foreign leaders as part of a western plot to split China.

Other European nations feel the UK mishandled the meeting with the Tibetan leader and then gave in too quickly in its efforts to placate Beijing.

When Mr Cameron decided to emphasise Britain’s opposition to Tibetan independence in the House of Commons this year, the UK was made to look weak when the decision did not yield an immediate thaw. And the subsequent lobbying to arrange official visits before the end of the year looked overeager.

Trade and investment between the UK and China seemed unaffected after the Dalai Lama visit, which has only added to the perception that London is trying too hard.

British exports to China have doubled to £15.9bn in the past five years; and last year, even after the May meeting, the UK ranked fourth as a destination for outbound Chinese investment, behind only Hong Kong, the US and Kazakhstan. In 2011 Britain was eighth and in 2010 it was 21st.

European diplomats say British euroscepticism has made it less able to come to a unified position with other European countries when dealing with China on issues such as meeting the Dalai Lama.

That leaves the UK exposed to even more pressure from Beijing, which is adept at exploiting rifts and rivalries within the EU.

There is a wider question here that has been around for as long as liberal democratic political systems have had foreign policies: does it do any good to lecture authoritarian regimes on universal values?

To Chinese ears, there is something faintly ridiculous about the UK, which China blames for the opium wars, colonialism and “100 years of humiliation”, coming to Beijing with sermons on human rights.

As Boris Johnson put it in his inimitable way during a visit to China in October: “I don’t walk into a meeting and say:

‘I say, you chaps, how’s freedom doing?’”

The business community looks at the potential opportunities in China’s enormous market and asks how useful British finger-wagging actually is.

“If defending the rights of the Dalai Lama puts the UK behind the French and other countries in the relative pecking order in the eyes of the new Chinese leadership, then that is a big mistake and very depressing for Britain,” one western financier told the Financial Times this week.

The answer, of course, is that abandoning the defence of universal values in the hopes of more market access or better political relations is an even less effective way of earning the respect of China’s leaders, or of anyone else.

And it is not just the UK that appears reluctant to raise such issues with China. Given Beijing’s willingness and ability to inflict diplomatic and economic pain, it is quite likely that the ageing Dalai Lama will never again be granted an audience with a European leader in his lifetime.

用亚洲和欧洲的几位高级驻华外交官的话来说,为了重新博得中国领导人的欢心,英国“把能卖的全卖了”,已经“屈服”和“彻底投降了”。

作为国家的代表,这些人的话中带有浓浓的伪善味道,因为他们自己的国家也在极尽能事地向中国示好。

但随着英国首相戴维?卡梅伦(David Cameron)今日抵达北京,展开两年多来的第一次国事访问,人们难免会产生这样的看法:与其它多数国家一样,英国正在艰难地和一个更自信的中国打交道。

英国外交人士坚称,英国在人权和西藏问题上的立场没有改变。但欧洲外交人士和人权组织表示,过去一年中,英国显然降低了这些问题的重要性。而英国从中得到的好处还不明确。

2012年5月,卡梅伦和英国副首相尼克?克莱格(Nick Clegg)会见了在伦敦访问的西藏精神领袖达赖喇嘛(Dalai Lama),此后英中外交关系进入冰冻期。

中国将诺贝尔和平奖得主达赖喇嘛称为“披着袈裟的狼”。达赖喇嘛热衷于推动西藏独立,中方将所有外国领导人与达赖喇嘛的官方会面视为西方国家分裂中国阴谋的一部分。

其他欧洲国家则认为,英国在会见达赖喇嘛的问题上处理不当,而在安抚中国时又让步过快。

今年,卡梅伦决定在国会下议院强调英国反对西藏独立,但这一决定没有立即缓和中英关系,反而让英国显得软弱无力。随后英国努力游说中国,希望在今年年底之前安排官方访问,这又显得过于心急了。

实际上,在英方会见达赖喇嘛之后,英中贸易和投资似乎未受影响。这只是强化了以下看法:伦敦过于卖力了。

英国对华出口5年来翻了一番,达到159亿英镑。去年,即使在5月的会见达赖事件之后,英国还成为了仅次于香港、美国和哈萨克斯坦中国境外投资的第四大目的地。而在2010年和2011年,英国分别排在第21位和第8位。

欧洲外交人士表示,在会见达赖等需与中国交涉问题上,英国的“欧洲怀疑主义”令其更无法与欧洲其他国家达成一致立场。

这让英国面临来自中国方面的更多压力,而中国又善于利用欧盟内部的不和与纷争。

这里存在一个更广泛的问题:对一个威权体制说教普世价值观有什么好处吗?——这个问题存在的时间其实和自由民主政治体制拥有外交政策的时间一样长。

在中国方面看来,英国来到中国就说教人权问题有些荒谬,中国认为英国是鸦片战争、殖民主义以及“百年耻辱”的罪魁祸首。

正如伦敦市长鲍里斯?约翰逊(Boris Johnson)在今年10月访华期间以他独有的风格谈到的那样:“我不会在走进一个会场时说‘喂,伙计们,你们国家的自由状况怎么样啦?’”

企业界看重中国巨大市场的潜在机遇,它们怀疑英国的指手画脚究竟有什么用。

一位西方金融家上周告诉英国《金融时报》:“如果英国为了维护达赖喇嘛的权利,让自己在中国新领导人心目中的位置落后于法国和其他国家,将是一个重大失误,也会让英国人非常沮丧。”

当然,答案是,为了获得更大的市场准入或者改善两国的政治关系而放弃维护普世价值观,就更难以博得中国领导人——或者其他任何人——的尊敬了。

不愿向中国提及此类问题的国家似乎不只英国一个。鉴于中国让其他国家在外交和经济上付出代价的意愿和能力,日渐老去的达赖喇嘛在有生之年很可能没有机会再会见欧洲领导人了。

译者/何黎

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