【英语中国】南中国海上的博弈 South China Sea

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2014-6-25 06:26

小艾摘要: When Wen Jiabao visited Japan as Chinese premier in 2007, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to make the East China Sea an area of “peace, co-operation and friendship”. Following suit, ...
South China Sea
When Wen Jiabao visited Japan as Chinese premier in 2007, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to make the East China Sea an area of “peace, co-operation and friendship”. Following suit, his successor Li Keqiang used an almost identical phrase about the South China Sea last October when he met the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei.

Despite the rhetoric about harmonious seas, countries from Vietnam and the Philippines to Japan and the US are increasingly critical of what they see as aggressive Chinese behaviour in the region.

In a recent speech at the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, Chuck Hagel, US defence secretary, said what many southeast Asian countries believe but are wary of articulating too forcefully out of fears about Chinese retaliation: “China has called the South China Sea ‘a sea of peace, friendship, and co-operation’ and that’s what it should be. But in recent months, China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea.”

From Manila to Washington, experts are trying to answer what Rory Medcalf, an Asia security expert at the Lowy Institute, describes as the “billion dollar question”: why is China taking a more assertive stance over territorial claims in the South China Sea that have, in most cases, existed for decades?

Where some see an emerging power flexing its new naval muscles, others view a bolder ambition to push the US navy out of the western Pacific where it has been dominant since the second world war. The tensions are mounting at a pace that worries everyone from military planners in the Asia-Pacific region to multinational retailers and global energy companies.

In the latest example of friction, scores of Chinese and Vietnamese naval, coast guard and fishing vessels are playing a dangerous game of maritime chicken near the disputed Paracel Islands after China infuriated Vietnam by starting to drill for hydrocarbons. The spat has also sparked deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam that forced factories supplying everyone from Apple to Adidas to temporarily halt production.

“It is still very serious, not only for Vietnam, but also for the region and the world,” said Chi Vinh Nguyen, Vietnam’s deputy defence minister. “They violated international laws when they placed the oil rig in our exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.”

Hanoi is mulling taking China to international court, following Manila, which has seen relations with Beijing plummet since Chinese ships wrested control of a Scarborough Shoal reef from the Philippines in April 2012 after a tense month-long stand-off.

In his new book Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, Robert Kaplan says there is “nothing unusually aggressive” about China’s actions given its geography and aim to prevent foreign powers taking advantage as they did in the past two centuries. “The fact that it seeks to dominate an adjacent sea crowded with smaller and much weaker powers, where there is possibly a plenitude of oil and natural gas, is altogether natural,” he concludes.

China dismisses the view it is raising tensions. At the Shangri-La dialogue, Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, a top Chinese officer, accused Mr Hagel and Mr Abe – who gave a highly critical speech on China – of teaming up to provoke Beijing.

The US accepts that the Chinese military will play a bigger regional role as it grows. But General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said China was using its military muscle in a “provocative” way that would complicate the search for diplomatic solutions.

“We had discussions just two years ago that regional powers?.?.?.?would not use military force or the military instrument of power in order to pressurise what is rightly a diplomatic issue and that dynamic has changed, so now there is military power being used to pressurise the diplomacy,” he said in a joint interview.

Just this year, Chinese warships have tried to block Philippine boats from resupplying a ship called the Sierra Madre that is lodged on the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands. Manila has also accused Beijing of breaching a 2002 regional code of conduct by reclaiming land at Johnson South, another reef in the Spratlys, for the possible construction of a runway. There have also been reports that China wants to turn nearby Fiery Cross Reef into an artificial island that would help it to project power in the South China Sea and beyond into the Pacific.

China argues that Hanoi and Manila are being hypocritical, saying they have breached the code of conduct, or drilled in waters claimed by China. Tommy Koh, a widely respected former Singaporean ambassador to the US and maritime law expert, points out that none of the six claimant nations in the South China Sea have adhered to the letter of the law of the code of conduct.

Some think China is responding to what it sees as growing US interference in its back yard. During the Bush administration, the US was so preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan that many Asian nations worried it was losing sight of China as its navy and coastguard grew.

In 2010, the US signalled a shift. Speaking in Hanoi, Hillary Clinton, then Barack Obama’s secretary of state, declared the South China Sea was in the US “national interest” – a remark that infuriated China, coming just months after Beijing had called the waters one of its “core” interests.

Two years later, Leon Panetta, then US defence secretary, told Asian defence ministers in Singapore that the Pentagon would boost its presence in the Pacific as part of a “pivot” to Asia. En route home, he flew to Vietnam, becoming the first Pentagon chief to visit the country in decades, and signalling to China that US-Vietnam relations were warming. Washington has since signed deals with Australia and the Philippines to base troops, planes and ships in those countries on a rotational basis.

Chris Johnson, a former Central Intelligence Agency China expert at CSIS, said: “From a strategic or military operational point of view, China looks around and from the Japanese islands down to the Philippines they see this net of US alliances and other defence arrangements that box them in.”

He argued China was responding to more than the “pivot”. It decided in the mid-1990s to focus on Taiwan instead of the South China Sea, where it had been building infrastructure on places such as Mischief Reef. But since the 2008 election of President Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan, ties with Taipei have sharply improved, allowing China to focus on its maritime claims.

In 2012, Hu Jintao, then Chinese president, gave a strong hint of the future when he announced in a major speech that the Communist party would “build China into a maritime power” – in what was the first time the country had declared itself a maritime power in 500 years. Towards that aim, China is creating a “blue water” navy that can operate far from its shores, and particularly beyond the “first island chain” that separates the South China, East China and Yellow seas from the Pacific.

“Chinese leaders believe strongly that as a rising great power they should have a sphere of influence in Asia, much like the US has maintained in the western hemisphere since its 19th-century articulation of the Monroe Doctrine,” said Paul Haenle, head of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing.

Many capitals worry that China will ignore international rules as it expands its sphere of influence. They point to the “nine-dash line” – a marking on Chinese maps that encloses most of the South China Sea, suggesting that China claims most of the waters, which critics say would contravene the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea [Unclos].

Gen Wang said the line was created in 1948 after the Paracels and Spratlys were returned to China following the Cairo and Potsdam declarations. He said China discovered them more than 2,000 years ago and that their sovereignty had not been contested until the 1970s when energy resources were discovered in the South China Sea.

While critics such as Jay Batongbacal at the University of the Philippines describe that view as “really misleading” (Unclos does not recognise historical claims to waters), Gen Wang’s explanation highlights that China does not want to be bound by an international system developed when it was a weak country.

“It is naive to believe that a strong China will accept the conventional definition of what parts of the sea around it are under its jurisdiction,” Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, said in March.

While this view is uncomfortable listening for China’s neighbours, it poses a particular dilemma for the US, as it balances the various strands of its broad relationship with Beijing. In 2012, Manila was disappointed that US ships did not appear to help its treaty ally during the Scarborough Shoal incident. Mr Johnson said the outcome signalled that the US would not match rhetoric with action and reinforced the view in China that Mr Obama was “fundamentally weak”.

“Scarborough Shoal has changed hands for the first time in 20 plus years?.?.?.?and there has been no reaction. That definitely gives people in the region pause,” said Mr Johnson.

Some experts think China has been emboldened by the perception that the Obama administration would not risk a conflict with China over the South China Sea, and that only a conflict between China and Japan, Washington’s key ally in Asia, would trigger US military action. “I would agree that that will be the case under this US president, but we’ll see what happens under a new US president in 2017,” said Mr Haenle. “Chinese actions and behaviour over the next two years will impact how fast and how far the pendulum will swing in the other direction.”

Some American officials think China’s assertive behaviour will push its neighbours closer to the US, but other observers are less sanguine given China’s pivotal role as a trading partner for Asean. Asked whether China was sending Vietnam more into the US orbit, Gen Nguyen said: “I don’t think so. We are standing alone?.?.?.?we don’t stand on one side or the other side.”

General Phung Quang Thanh, Vietnam’s defence minister, stressed that Hanoi would stay independent. But he said it was considering allowing foreign ships to use facilities at Cam Ranh Bay, a strategic deep-water port, which would also help US operations in the South China Sea.

Mr Medcalf thinks the jury is out on whether China has miscalculated, but adds that “China cannot be certain that it is not hurting itself” with its assertive actions.

Either way, says Mr Johnson, the US needs urgently to “re-arm our toolkit” to meet the challenges from China. “Relying on the other team to consistently score own goals is not a strategy. That is wishful thinking.”

2007年,时任中国总理的温家宝在访日期间,与日本首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)达成共识,双方同意使东中国海成为“和平、合作、友好之海”。他的继任者李克强去年10月在文莱会见东盟(ASEAN)领导人时,对南中国海也使用了几乎一模一样的措辞。

尽管各国嘴上说着海洋和谐,但无论是越南和菲律宾、还是日本和美国,都认为中国在该区域态度强硬,并对此日益不满。

美国国防部长查克?哈格尔(Chuck Hagel)最近在新加坡香格里拉对话(Shangri-La Dialogue)上发表演讲时,说出了许多东南亚国家由于担心中国报复而不敢过于激烈表达的心中所想:“中国已将南中国海称为‘和平之海、友谊之海、合作之海’,实际也理应如此。但近几个月来,中国采取了破坏稳定的单方面行动,对南中国海提出声索主张。”

“价值亿万美元的问题”

从马尼拉到华盛顿,专家们都在努力回答一个问题:为什么中国现在对南中国海的领土主张采取更强硬的姿态,而这些主张多数已经存在数十年?这个问题被澳大利亚罗维国际政策学院(Lowy Institute)亚洲安全事务专家罗里?梅德卡夫(Rory Medcalf)形容为“价值亿万美元的问题”。

一些人认为这是一个新兴大国在展示自己新的海军力量,也有人看到了一个更为大胆的企图——把美国海军从其二战以来一直占主导地位的西太平洋挤出去。从亚太地区军事规划者到跨国零售商和全球能源公司,无一不在担心日趋紧张的局势。

在最新的摩擦事件中,中越两国大量军舰、海警和渔船正在存争议的帕拉塞尔群岛(Paracel Islands,中国称西沙群岛)附近,玩一场危险的海上“胆小鬼博弈”,起因则是中国在海上钻探石油而激怒越南。这场争执还在越南点燃了一场充满仇视的反华骚乱,导致苹果(Apple)、阿迪达斯(Adidas)等多家公司的供货商临时停产。

“形势依然十分严峻,不仅对越南,对整个地区和全世界都是如此。”越南国防部副部长阮志咏(Nguyen Chi Vinh)说,“他们在我们的专属经济区和大陆架搭建钻井平台时,已经违反了国际法。”

越南政府正仔细考虑要不要仿效菲律宾政府将中国告上国际法庭。2012年4月,在经过长达一个月的紧张对峙后,中国船只从菲律宾手上夺回对斯卡伯勒浅滩(Scarborough Shoal,中国称黄岩岛——译者注)的控制,此后中菲关系一落千丈。

罗伯特?卡普兰(Robert Kaplan)在自己的新作《亚洲火药桶:南中国海问题和太平洋安定局面的终结》(Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific)中写道,从中国的地理位置以及目标——阻止外国势力像过去200年那样利用自己——来看,中国的行为“毫无异常强硬之处”。他得出结论:“它寻求在那片近海占据主导地位再自然不过,那里都是小国和弱国,而且可能存在大量石油和天然气。”

中国否认自己在加剧紧张局势。在香格里拉对话上,中国人民解放军副总参谋长王冠中中将斥责哈格尔和安倍(在演讲中对中国大肆抨击)是在联手挑衅中国政府。

美国承认随着中国军力的不断成长,它在该地区将扮演更重要的角色。但美国参谋长联席会议主席马丁?邓普西(Martin Dempsey)将军表示,中国正以“挑衅”的方式利用自己的军事力量,令寻求外交解决方案变得复杂化。

邓普西在一次联合采访中说:“两年前我们才讨论过,如果明明是外交问题,地区大国……就不该动用武力或大国军事工具来对其增压,然而现在事态已发生变化,所以出现了动用军事力量向外交施压的局面。”

就在今年,中国军舰曾试图阻止菲律宾船只给一艘名为马德雷山号(Sierra Madre)的军舰提供补给,这艘军舰搁浅在斯普拉特利群岛(Spratly Islands,中国称南沙群岛)的第二托马斯礁(Second Thomas Shoal,中国称仁爱礁)。菲律宾政府还谴责中国政府在约翰逊南礁(Johnson South,斯普拉特利群岛的另一座岛礁,中国称赤瓜礁)填海造陆,可能要建造飞机跑道,违背了2002年的区域行为准则。还有报道称中国想围绕永暑礁(Fiery Cross Reef)造一座人造岛屿,以便在南中国海部署军力,进而深入太平洋。

中国认为越南与菲律宾政府一派虚伪,称它们或已违背行为准则,或在中国所主张的海域钻探。广受尊敬的前任新加坡驻美大使、海商法专家许通美(Tommy Koh)指出,南中国海的6个声索国无一遵守过行为准则的法律条文。

有些人认为,中国觉得美国在自己后院插手越来越严重,它是在对此作出回应。小布什(George W Bush)政府期间,美国专注于伊拉克和阿富汗,以至于许多亚洲国家担心它忽略了中国日益壮大的海军和海警队伍。

2010年,美国发出了转变的信号。时任巴拉克?奥巴马(Barack Obama)政府国务卿的希拉里?克林顿(Hillary Clinton)在河内发表讲话,宣称美国在南中国海也有“国家利益”,这番言论激怒了中国,就在几个月前,中国政府刚刚称这片水域是自己“核心”利益之一。

两年后,美国当时的国防部长利昂?帕内塔(Leon Panetta)在新加坡对亚洲各国国防部长表示,作为“重返亚洲”计划的一部分,五角大楼会加强自己在太平洋地区的存在。他在返回美国途中飞往越南,成为几十年来第一位访问这个国家的美国国防部长,从而向中国发出信息:美越关系正在升温。之后美国政府分别与澳大利亚和菲律宾签订协议,在这两个国家定期轮换部署军队、飞机和舰船。

美国国际战略研究中心(CSIS)的克里斯?约翰逊(Chris Johnson)说:“从战略或军事运筹视角出发,中国举目四望,发现从日本列岛到菲律宾,形成了一张美国盟友及其他防务安排网,中国被包围其中。”他曾任美国中央情报局(CIA)中国事务专家。

他认为中国的反应不止是针对美国的“重返亚洲”。中国在20世纪90年代中期决定将注意力放在台湾,而不是南中国海,此前中国一直在美济礁(Mischief Reef)等地建造基础设施。但自从2008年马英九(Ma Ying-jeou)当选台湾总统,中国政府与台北方面的关系大幅改善,令中国政府得以关注自己的领海主张。

中国的“门罗主义”?

2012年,当时的中国国家主席胡锦涛在中共十八大报告中发出一个强烈的未来信号,他宣布要把中国建设成“海洋强国”,这是中国500年来首次宣称自己是海洋强国。为实现这一目标,中国正在打造一支“蓝水海军”,它能执行远洋任务,尤其是能突破分隔南中国海、东中国海和黄海与太平洋的“第一岛链”。

北京智库清华-卡内基全球政策中心(Carnegie-Tsinghua Center)主任韩磊(Paul Haenle)说:“中国领导人坚信作为一个正在崛起的大国,中国理应在亚洲拥有势力范围,就像美国自19世纪发表‘门罗主义’(Monroe Doctrine)后在西半球所保持的势力范围。”

许多国家担心中国在扩张势力范围过程中会忽视国际规则。他们的矛头对准了“九段线”,它是中国在地图上画出的边界线,将南中国海大部分海域圈了进来,暗示中国对南中国海大部分海域拥有主权,批评者认为这违反了《联合国海洋法公约》(UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Unclos)。

王冠中表示,中国根据《开罗宣言》和《波茨坦公告》收回西沙群岛和南沙群岛后,在1948年划分九段线。他表示中国早在2000多年前就发现了这两个群岛,而且它们的主权一直未受到质疑,直到上世纪70年代南中国海发现了丰富的石油资源。

菲律宾大学(University of the Philippines)的杰伊?巴汤巴卡(Jay Batongbacal)等批评家形容上述观点为“完全误导”(《联合国海洋法公约》不承认对海洋领土的历史性主张),但王冠中的解释凸显出中国不想受制于自己身为弱国时形成的国际体系。

新加坡国父李光耀(Lee Kuan Yew)在今年3月时曾表示:“如果认为中国强大后,会接受对于周边海域哪些部分属于其管辖范围的常规界定,那就是单纯幼稚。”

虽然这一观点在中国邻国听来很不顺耳,但确实给美国平衡与中国政府广泛关系的方方面面造成了一个特别的困境。在2012年斯卡伯勒浅滩事件中,菲律宾政府失望地看到美国船只没有前来帮助自己的条约盟友。约翰逊说这一结果表明美国的言行不会一致,也加强了中国对奥巴马“在根本上软弱”的看法。

约翰逊说:“斯卡伯勒浅滩20多年来第一次换手……却没引起任何反应,这绝对引起了这一地区人民的深思。”

一些专家认为中国的大胆来自一个认识:奥巴马政府不会在南中国海问题上冒险与中国起冲突,只有中国与日本(美国在亚洲的主要盟友)之间爆发冲突才会引发美国的军事行动。“我同意这是本届美国总统治下的情况,但我们可以拭目以待,看看2017年新一届总统会怎么做。”韩磊说,“未来两年中国的动作和行为将影响这一钟摆摆向另一边的速度和幅度。”

部分美国官员认为中国的强硬态度会把其近邻推向美国,但鉴于中国作为东盟贸易伙伴的关键角色,其他观察人士则没有这么乐观。当被问到中国是否在将越南推向美国轨道时,阮志咏说:“我不这么觉得。我们保持中立……我们不选边站。”

越南国防部长冯光青(Phung Quang Thanh)强调,越南政府会坚持独立的立场。但他也表示越南正考虑允许外国船只使用战略深水港金兰湾(Cam Ranh Bay)的设施,这同样会有助于美国在南中国海的活动。

梅德卡夫认为,中国是否做出了误判还没有定论,但他补充说“中国也无法确定(其强硬表现)没有伤及自身”。

约翰逊说,不管怎样美国急需“升级工具包”以应对来自中国的挑战。“指望对方球队一直自摆乌龙并非良策。这不过是痴心妄想。”

延伸阅读:中国致力于提升海军实力

中国之所以能在南中国海上采取果敢得多的行动,部分是因为其海军和海警的规模、能力以及海上作业经验已迅速增长。

虽然近些年来各类军事开支均迅速增加,但中国政府投入资金最多的还是海军,目的是帮中国实现成为真正海洋强国的宏伟抱负。

中国人民解放军海军拥有三大舰队,母港分别位于黄海、东中国海和南中国海。在过去十多年里,中国海军扩大了规模,同时用更新的高科技潜艇、驱逐舰和两栖舰船替换了老旧的船只。

尽管自2000年以来,中国的潜艇数量只从60艘增至70艘,但它将重点放在了舰队的升级上,目的是让更多的潜艇携带州际弹道导弹。

美国估计,中国今年将用其相对较新的“晋级”(Jin-class)核潜艇展开首次核威慑巡逻。

中国的首艘航空母舰是由从乌克兰购买的一艘航母翻新而成,该舰被命名为“辽宁号”。去年,“辽宁号”首次在南中国海与其他舰船进行了联合演练。

此外,中国海军一直在进行更具雄心的海上演练,以增强远洋作业能力。2013年10月,中国的三大舰队在菲律宾海(Philippine Sea)举行联合演练,这是中国海军在公海举行的最大规模的演练。

IHS Maritime研究中国海军的专家Gary Li表示,一个重要变化是,辅助中国海军执行远洋任务的补给舰的数量有所增加。

他补充称,中国海警的舰队规模也在迅速扩大,舰船数量在过去十年增长了一倍,达到60艘。仅今年一年,就有11艘舰船服役,另外还订购了38艘。

今年早些时候,中国海军在前往印度洋举行演练的途中,首次穿越了位于印尼两个主要岛屿之间的巽他海峡(Sunda Strait),突显出其影响力所及的范围越来越广。

去年,中国舰队还首次穿越了日俄之间的宗谷海峡(Soya Strait)。中国国内媒体认为,此举代表着中国海军实现了有能力突破“第一岛链”的目标。第一岛链将中国近海与更宽广的太平洋分割开来。

译者/何黎

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