【英语中国】越南对抗中国的战略两难 Hanoi faces tricky balancing act in standing up to Beijing

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2014-5-21 06:40

小艾摘要: The Vietnamese anti-China protests that last week morphed into attacks on foreign companies have revealed how a reactive nationalism in government and wider society risks undermining Vietnam’s attemp ...
Hanoi faces tricky balancing act in standing up to Beijing
The Vietnamese anti-China protests that last week morphed into attacks on foreign companies have revealed how a reactive nationalism in government and wider society risks undermining Vietnam’s attempts to face up to its giant neighbour.

While analysts say Vietnam has a good case to make to the world against China’s behaviour in the dispute over the Paracel Islands, its lack of international alliances leaves it poorly placed to take on a vast country on whom it relies economically.

“For Vietnam, it amounts to a full-blown crisis,” said Jonathan London, a professor in the Department of Asian and International studies at the City University of Hong Kong. “Hanoi is in a position that calls into question its whole strategic outlook.”

China has evacuated thousands of its citizens from Vietnam after mobs ransacked hundreds of foreign companies, leaving at least two people dead. The riots were the culmination of protests that erupted after China deployed an oil rig near the Paracels, which are controlled by Beijing but claimed by Hanoi.

The spat is the latest episode in a broader rise in maritime tensions between China and its neighbours. Over the past few years, Beijing has been more aggressive in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea, in what many see as an effort to confront the US regional presence and Washington’s declared “pivot” to Asia.

The eruption of the longstanding but mostly simmering dispute over the Paracels surprised analysts, given that relations had improved since Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, visited Hanoi last year.

Relations between the communist governments in Beijing and Hanoi have also generally recovered from a brief 1979 border war that is still a source of resentment in Vietnam.

Hanoi exploited that popular feeling last week by allowing extensive media coverage and rare public protests against China. But the tactic backfired as motorcycle mobs smashed, burnt and looted their way across the country’s flagship industrial parks.

Police swarmed main city centres on Sunday to stop further protests that could have triggered more violence – or acted as a platform for public frustration over problems ranging from the sluggish economy to official corruption.

Another difficulty facing Hanoi has been its reliance on Chinese products, from consumer goods to power. Vietnam imports electricity from its neighbour and runs a trade deficit estimated at more than $20bn.

Vietnam is also hampered by a lack of strong links with western powers. While Hanoi has edged closer to the US in recent years, its relationship with Washington is still soured by memories of the Vietnam war and by the Communist party’s authoritarianism in the since reunified country.

One former US official said he had “never seen them work the town like this”, referring to Vietnamese officials trying to drum up support in Washington. But few experts expect this to result in a big shift, given disagreements within the Communist party over how much to lean towards the west.

“The problems Hanoi faces with Beijing over the South China Sea claims could nudge Vietnam toward common cause with the US,” said Tan See Seng, an Asean expert at the

S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “But it wouldn’t be a full embrace at the expense of its other interests with China.”

Li Mingjiang, a China-Vietnam expert also at the S. Rajaratnam School, said Beijing and Hanoi were seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The conflict between Vietnam’s vulnerability and its desire to win concessions from China is one that may be played out across southeast Asia as Beijing presses its maritime claims. As Carl Thayer, an Australia-based expert on Vietnam, puts it: “The balancing act is: how do you stand up just enough to China?”

越南反华抗议上周演变为针对外国公司的袭击,这表明政府和社会的“被动反应式民族主义”有可能削弱越南对抗中国这一庞大邻国的努力。

尽管分析师表示,越南在国际社会上有充分理由反对中国在帕拉塞尔群岛(Paracel Islands,中国称西沙群岛)争端中的所作所为,但缺乏国际盟友使得越南难以挑战中国这个它在经济上所依赖的国家。

“对越南而言,这已经成为一场全面危机,”香港城市大学(City University of Hong Kong)亚洲及国际学系教授乔纳森?伦敦(Jonathan London)表示,“河内方面所处的境地使它的整个战略前景蒙上了疑云。”

暴民洗劫数百家外国公司,导致至少两人死亡,中国随后从越南撤出数千名公民。中国之前在帕拉塞尔群岛附近部署钻井平台,在越南引发的抗议最终导致暴乱发生。帕拉塞尔群岛由中国控制,但越南对其宣称拥有主权。

中国与诸邻国的海上紧张关系升级,此次中越争端便是最新一例。过去几年,北京更为强硬地主张自身在南中国海的领土主权,许多人认为此举旨在对抗美国在亚洲的势力和美政府所称的“转向”亚洲战略。

围绕帕拉塞尔群岛的争端由来已久,但往往只是在酝酿。考虑到中国总理李克强去年访问河内以来双方关系有所改善,争端突然爆发令分析人士感到意外。

自从1979年那场短暂的边界战争以来,中越两国共产党政府的关系总体恢复,但那场战争仍是越南国内仇恨情绪的来源之一。

上周,越南政府利用了民众情绪,允许媒体大幅刊登反华报道,允许民众发起罕见的反华抗议。但这一策略的效果事与愿违,暴民骑摩托车经过越南主要的工业园区,一路打砸抢烧。

周日,大批警力进入市中心主要地段,避免进一步抗议引发更多暴力,或成为公众对经济不景气、官员腐败等问题发泄不满的平台。

越南政府的另一项难处是它对中国产品的依赖——从消费品到电力。越南从中国进口电力,对华贸易逆差估计超过200亿美元。

缺乏与西方强国的牢固关系,也对越南不利。虽然越南近年来慢慢接近美国,但越战记忆和越南统一后共产党的威权主义给美越关系蒙上了一层阴影。

一位美国前官员表示“从未见过他们这样给华盛顿做工作”,意指越南官员试图争取华盛顿方面的支持。但考虑到越共内部对倾向西方的程度存在分歧,罕有专家预计越南的努力将带来重大变化。

“越南在南中国海主权纠纷中所面临的问题,可能推动越南与美国结成统一战线,”新加坡南洋理工大学拉贾拉南国际问题研究院(S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies)东盟问题专家陈思诚(Tan See Seng)表示,“但它不会牺牲与中国的其他利益而全面拥抱美国。”

该研究院的中越问题专家李明江表示,北京和河内正在寻求通过外交途径解决危机。

越南的矛盾在于,它一方面十分脆弱,另一方面却想争取中国的让步。随着中国强势推进其领海主张,东南亚各国都可能暴露出这种矛盾。正如在澳大利亚工作的越南问题专家卡尔?塞耶(Carl Thayer)表示:“越南需要权衡利弊,把握好一点:如何以刚刚好的力度对抗中国?”

译者/何黎

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