【英语中国】中国中东欧战略棋局遇阻 Ukraine a setback in China’s eastern Europe strategy

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2014-3-4 08:46

小艾摘要: Just three months ago, China was in diplomatic overdrive to establish a grand plan for economic and political cooperation with central and eastern Europe (CEE) at a summit with 16 regional leaders in ...
Ukraine a setback in China’s eastern Europe strategy
Just three months ago, China was in diplomatic overdrive to establish a grand plan for economic and political cooperation with central and eastern Europe (CEE) at a summit with 16 regional leaders in Bucharest.

Since then, more than $19bn in Chinese investment and loan pledges have flowed to the region, outstripping in scale any previous phase of bilateral economic engagement, according to research by Grison’s Peak, a London-based merchant bank. The $19bn plus in pledges since November accounted for the lion’s share of a total of $22.2bn in signed loan and investment deals between China and the region for all of 2013, the Grison’s Peak figures show.

But “plans cannot keep pace with changes” as a Chinese phrase puts it. The revolution in Ukraine has thrown up a series of delicate questions for Beijing, which had a “strategic partnership” with the government of ousted president Viktor Yanukovich.

Ukraine was a key plank in Beijing’s CEE strategy. Of the estimated $19bn in investments and loans announced since November, $8bn was destined for Ukraine. In addition, most of a further $10.9bn for Romania, $783m for Macedonia, $507m for Hungary and $306m for Serbia was in the form of Chinese investment and loan pledges, according to data collected by Grison’s Peak.

Ukraine has several key attributes from Beijing’s point of view. Logistically, it is a gateway to China’s big markets in western Europe as Beijing ramps up rail freight exports along the “iron silk road”. Its farmland, already the object of ambitious leasing schemes with China, could help secure Chinese imports of grain. Strong military ties include Kiev helping to build engines for Chinese fighter jets and co-operating on other projects as part of the strategic partnership.

For these reasons and others, Beijing had extended about $10bn in loans to Ukraine even before the $8bn in Chinese investments promised at the end of last year. A key question now is how much of an impact the revolution may have on these commercial arrangements and on Beijing’s broader plans for engagement.

“I don’t see that this development is likely to change China’s investment policy very much,” said Rana Mitter, professor of history and politics of modern China at Oxford University. “It seems to me that China does not have the ideological commitment that Russia has to a particular view of Ukraine.”

“China’s major issue these days is to encourage other countries to serve its security and trade interests, not to pay much attention to the form of those governments per se,” Mitter added.

This type of pragmatic approach would be broadly consistent with Beijing’s nuanced diplomatic stance during the protests against Yanukovich’s government. The foreign ministry hedged its bets, supporting Kiev’s efforts to “preserve stability” but expressing respect for the “people’s choice”.

China’s main preoccupation now will be protecting its economic interests in Ukraine, said Bill Bishop, author of the Sinocism China Newsletter. But it will tread carefully so as to avoid antagonising Russia, which views Ukraine as within its sphere of influence.

“I assume Beijing does not want to be at odds with Russia and [Russian president Vladimir] Putin over this, nor does it want a ‘victory’ for the west [US and EU] in a colour revolution,” Bishop said.

“Yes, Beijing will want to protect their economic interests but is there even a new government with whom they can negotiate?” he added. “Ukraine clearly needs cash and Beijing could play a role in a bailout, but I doubt they would do that given the uncertainty and Russia’s concerns.”

The deals struck during Yanukovich’s visit to China in December were for investments in energy, infrastructure, ports, airlines and food. The largest was with Wang Jing, a Chinese entrepreneur, who signed a $3bn agreement for the first phase of a deep water port construction project in the Crimean peninsula.

The port would be designed to redistribute rail freight flows from the east to Europe by cutting 6,000km off the current shipping routes. A second phase in this envisaged project, costing $7bn, would be focused on grain elevators, crude oil reserves and natural gas production bases, according to Grison’s Peak.

However, with armed men seizing Crimea’s regional parliament and government buildings on Thursday amid fears that separatists could split the region from Ukraine, the outlook for Wang’s Crimean port investment looks bleaker.

Some doubt may also attend the closeness of the strategic ties that Kiev under Yanukovich had built up with Beijing, analysts said. Much in this regard depends not on Beijing but on the attitude of Ukraine’s new leaders.

Nevertheless, in other areas of its CEE strategy, China is showing no sign yet of scaling back the momentum. In one example this month, Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, met with Li Keqiang, his Chinese counterpart, and announced that they had agreed on the financing of a Budapest to Belgrade rail project which they had proposed at the China-CEE summit in Bucharest last November.

Orban appeared to be keen on seeing further Chinese investment in infrastructure in CEE countries. “Highways and high-speed railways in the North-South direction are still not completed… and central European countries lack resources. We believe we have cooperation opportunities with China in this respect,” Orban was quoted in China’s official media as saying in Beijing.

James Kynge is the FT's Emerging Markets Editor and an Associate Editor.

三个月前,在罗马尼亚首都布加勒斯特举行的中国-中东欧国家领导人会晤上,中国大施外交手段,极力促成与该地区进行经济和政治合作的宏伟计划。

总部在伦敦的商业银行Grison’s Peak研究发现,此次会晤之后,中国向中东欧国家承诺的投资和贷款总额已超过190亿美元,规模大于以往双边经济合作中的任何一个时期。Grison's Peak的数据显示,2013年全年,中国与中东欧国家总共签署了222亿美元的贷款和投资协议,而11月份之后这批超过190亿美元的承诺资金占了绝大多数。

但正如一句中国俗话所说,“计划赶不上变化”。乌克兰革命给中国政府提出了一系列难题,因为北京方面与被罢免总统维克多?亚努科维奇(Viktor Yanukovich)的政府拥有“战略伙伴关系”。

在中国的中东欧战略中,乌克兰是一个关键部分。去年11月以来公布的约190亿美元投资和贷款协议中,有80亿美元是和乌克兰签署的。此外,Grison’s Peak获得的数据显示,在向罗马尼亚提供的109亿美元、向马其顿提供的7.83亿美元、向匈牙利提供的5.07亿美元和向塞尔维亚提供的3.06亿美元中,大部分都是以中方承诺投资和放贷的形式提供的。

从中国的角度来看,乌克兰有几大价值。物流上,乌克兰是西欧一道通往中国巨大市场的大门,而中国正希望通过“钢铁丝绸之路”扩大铁路货运出口。乌克兰的农田有助于保障中国的粮食进口,中乌已制定了庞大农田租赁计划。两国军事关系密切,乌克兰帮助中国制造战斗机发动机,此外双方还根据战略伙伴协议在其他项目上合作。

出于诸如此类的原因,早在去年底承诺投资80亿美元之前,中国就已经向乌克兰提供了约100亿美元的贷款。目前的关键问题是,乌克兰革命会对这些商业安排以及中国加强与中东欧联系的全面计划造成多大影响?

牛津大学(Oxford University)当代中国历史与政治教授拉纳?米特(Rana Mitter)表示:“我认为乌克兰局势的变化不太可能显著影响中国的投资政策。在我看来,中国不像俄罗斯那样,对乌克兰的看法存在着意识形态因素。”

“中国目前的主要问题是鼓励别国照顾它的安全和贸易利益,而不是高度关注这些国家的政府形式本身,”米特补充道。

这种实用主义的态度与中国政府在亚努科维奇政府遭遇抗议期间的微妙外交立场是相吻合的。中国外交部两面下注,一方面支持乌克兰当局“维护稳定”的努力,但另一方面又表示尊重“人民的选择”。

Sinocism China Newsletter新闻简讯的作者利明璋(Bill Bishop)表示,中国的当务之急是保护自身在乌克兰的经济利益,但中国会小心行事,避免对抗俄罗斯。俄罗斯认为乌克兰在其势力范围之内。

利明璋称:“我认为北京方面不愿意在此事上与俄罗斯和总统普京(Vladimir Putin)起冲突,也不希望西方(美国和欧盟)在颜色革命中获胜。”

“不错,北京方面希望保护自身经济利益,但是有没有新政府跟他们谈判都是个问题,”他补充道,“乌克兰无疑需要资金,中国可以参与救助它,但我怀疑,考虑到局势的不确定性和俄罗斯的顾虑,中国会不会这么做。”

去年12月亚努科维奇访华,与中方达成能源、基建、港口、航空、粮食等领域的投资合作协议。最大的一笔交易与中国企业家王靖有关,他签署了价值30亿美元的协议,投资克里米亚半岛一个深水港建设项目的一期。

这个港口项目旨在重新布局东方至欧洲的铁路货流,它可将目前航运路线缩短6000公里。Grison's Peak表示,项目二期预计投资70亿美元,将建设配备有升降机的粮食储备区、原油储备区和天然气生产基地。

然而,武装人员周四(2月27日)占领克里米亚地区议会和政府大楼,外界担心分离主义分子会将该地区从乌克兰分离出去。在此背景下,王靖的港口投资前景似乎变得黯淡起来。

分析人士表示,亚努科维奇政府与中国建立的战略关系的紧密性也存在疑问。这方面主要取决于乌克兰新领导人的态度,而不是中国政府。

但在其中东欧战略的其它领域,中国没有表现出放慢脚步的迹象。例如本月,匈牙利总理欧尔班?维克托(Viktor Orban)与中国总理李克强会晤,宣布就布达佩斯至贝尔格莱德铁路项目的融资问题达成一致,该项目是他们在去年11月的布加勒斯特中国-中东欧领导人会晤上提议的。

欧尔班似乎盼望中国进一步投资中东欧国家基础设施。据中国官方媒体报道,欧尔班在北京表示:“南北方向的高速公路和高速铁路还没有建完……中欧国家缺乏资源。我们相信在这方面与中国有合作机会。”

注:本文作者为英国《金融时报》副主编兼新兴市场主编。

译者/何黎

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