财新传媒
位置:博客 > 韦爱德 > AMERICAN CONCERNS: CHINA RELATIONS

AMERICAN CONCERNS: CHINA RELATIONS

140125

_______________________________________________________________

SERIES: This Post is the fourth in a January series on American Concerns: About what problems are American intellectuals and policymakers most worried? This Post treats concerns about relations with China. Other Posts treated short run politics (140104), mid run economy (140111), and long run ecology (140118).

_______________________________________________________________

AMERICAN  CONCERNS:  CHINA  RELATIONS

140125 

Recently a new genre has emerged in which leading American and Chinese scholars of Sino-American relations exchange letters about particular policy domains. The letters try both to clarify areas of disagreement between the two countries and to search for common ground.  In the process, the letters reveal what most worries each country about the other.

An early masterpiece in this genre was a 30 March 2012 paper by Wang Jisi and Kenneth Lieberthal “Addressing U.S.-China Strategic Distrust” (Washington DC: Brookings, 51 pages). Wang presented American concerns while Lieberthal presented Chinese concerns. This reversal of roles deftly demonstrated that, no matter how much the USA and PRC disagree, they should  at least be able to understand each other. 

A current followup is Nina Hachigian ed. 2014 Debating China: the U.S.-China relationship in ten conversations. New York NY: Oxford University Press, 272 pages. This new book contains ten new exchanges between ten pairs of scholars on ten policy topics.  At a personal level, the exchanges are all polite; most are friendly, some even cordial. However, in their policy stands, many exchanges are uncompromising, ultimately reflecting government stands on the two sides.

  

A surprisingly high proportion of the participants professed themselves very worried about Sino-American relations. Nevertheless, a surprisingly high proportion of the exchanges themselves quite confrontational. I personally found that rather worrying, since the exchanges really do reflect current attitudes – official and unofficial – on the two sides. 

This Post highlights some of the main concerns expressed: American concerns about China, Chinese concerns about America, and concerns of all participants about the state of relations between the two countries. Most participants are optimistic that in the long run America and China can cooperate. Nevertheless, many worry about the short and mid runs. 

This Post groups the exchanges into the usual three policy sectors: Security, Economy, and Identity.  Disagreements are sharpest over Security.  On the Economy, disagreements are quite sharp about exchange rates, much less sharp about prospects for cooperation on the environment.  Identity (culture, values) served more to justify disagreement than to find common ground. 

Within sectors, we treat exchanges from supranational through national to subnational. (Numbers in parentheses indicate chapter numbers in the book.) 

______________________________________________________________ 

Introduction      Nina Hachigian

Overview     Kenneth Lieberthal & Wang Jisi (1) 

SECURITY 

Global roles and responsibilities     Yuan Peng & Nina Hachigian (5)

Regional security roles and challenges      Wu Xinbo & Michael Green (10)

Military developments      Christopher P. Twomey & Xu Hui (8) 

ECONOMY 

Global development and investment      Elizabeth Economy & Zha Daojiong (7)

Climate and clean energy      Kelly Sims Gallagher & Qi Ye (6)

The economic relationship      Barry Naughton & Yao Yang (2) 

IDENTITY 

Political systems, rights and values      Zhou Qi & Andrew J. Nathan (3)

The media      Wang Shuo & Susan Shirk (4)

Taiwan and Tibet      Jia Qingguo & Alan D. Romberg (9) 

Conclusion    James P. Steinberg

_______________________________________________________________

  

OVERVIEW

Kenneth Lieberthal and Wang Jisi provide “An overview of U.S.-China relations” (chapter one). Lieberthal argues that Sino-American relations are now mature, dense, expanding, and (increasingly) distrustful. China is particularly distrustful, despite American efforts to cultivate trust. Lieberthal is particularly worried when Chinese view the relationship as zero-sum, making conflict inevitable.  Actually, American and Chinese visions of the future do not sharply conflict. However, they do assume that both countries can successfully manage their problematic domestic affairs, which cannot be taken for granted. Moreover, an antagonistic relationship will be hard to avoid unless deliberate measures are taken to reduce strategic distrust. 

Wang agrees with the analysis of Lieberthal (an old friend), but adds some points. He worries that new circumstances in both countries complicate decision-making. The more issues and interests, institutions and individuals brought into the process, the greater the strain on US-China relations. More and more issues are multilateral, involving more and more actors. Unfortunately, more interactions between America and China are producing not more compromise but more conflict. Continuing change in relative power – as measured by GDP –  further strains relations. China is more concerned with current American “interference,” the USA about the PRC’s long-run rise. Top leaders on both sides are well-informed and moderate, the public is neither.     

Lieberthal agrees with Wang’s additions. However, he thinks the influence of interest groups on mutual policy is declining in America, rising in China, which needs stronger coordination of policy.  Projections of future GDP growth are not the main – or reliable – measure of relative power. Strategic distrust will be hard to overcome when American military services, struggling to maintain high budgets, launch large new programs whose only plausible target is China. 

Evidently Wang largely agrees, but again adds new points. China is far from guaranteed to exceed America in power. China already has better policy coordination than Lieberthal fears, through relevant party Leading Groups. Domestic concerns already influence PRC policy toward the USA and may do so even more in the future.  

SECURITY 

Yuan Peng and Nina Hachigian discuss the two countries’ “Global roles and responsibilities” (chapter five). Yuan Peng argues that China will not quickly become the superpower that some expect, but is already playing international roles appropriate to its actual status as a still developing country. He worries that America will not accept China’s rise and will not respect China’s “core interests” (such as Taiwan), thereby preventing China from cooperating with America on common problems. He worries that China will not assume enough responsibility along with America. 

Hachigian replies that, in such a now interdependent world, all countries have to compromise their core interests. Meanwhile countries must work together on genuinely crucial common problems (such as Iran). She agrees that China has already become a “responsible stakeholder” by peacefully integrating into the international system, particularly in policy domains such as peacekeeping. However, she worries that by now China is not just a stakeholder but a major power. In its own interest, China should accept more responsibilities in domains such as nonproliferation, human rights, climate, and economic growth.

Wu Xinbo and Michael Green debate “Regional security roles and challenges” (chapter ten). Wu argues that the PRC’s basic regional interest is a peaceful environment for its own development. The USA and PRC have many common interests in the Asia-Pacific region. However, to achieve them, the two countries need to negotiate a new regional security architecture, replacing the current one that is left over from the Cold War and assumes USA leadership. The new architecture should embrace more equal relations and eschew power politics such as “containing” China. 

Green argues that the USA’s basic regional interest is an “open and liberal” international order. He denies that the USA is attempting to “contain” China, among other reasons because within the USA there would not be majority political support for such a policy. Regional balancing against China is far from the main priority of the USA, which faces many global challenges on which it needs PRC help. Meanwhile, the USA welcomes a constructive PRC role in maintaining regional security.           

In this regional context, Christopher P. Twomey and Xu Hui debate “Military developments” (chapter eight). As Twomey remarks, they make a grim pair, agreeing on almost nothing and instead pointedly challenging each other. Twomey argues that the USA and PRC display all the signs of a “security dilemma.” Each side might prefer de-escalation but has no way to know the true intentions of the other side. Each fears losing an arms race and so interprets any military strengthening by the other side as offensive not defensive. Each side responds by increasing its own military capabilities. 

Xu both denies any such spiral and claims that it is the fault of the USA, which has failed to adopt the “new model of great power relations” proposed by PRC leaders. Meanwhile, by its unprecedentedly restrained behavior, China already exemplifies that new model. Twomey replies that China’s recent assertion of rights over extensive areas off its shore is viewed by most countries as the opposite of restraint. Xu replies that the other countries upset a longstanding and peaceful status quo by recently taking aggressive actions – instigated by the USA!    

 

ECONOMY 

Elizabeth Economy and Zha Daojiong discuss “Global development and investment” (chapter seven).  Economy argues that, given how large and influential America and China are, they have both a responsibility and an opportunity to shape global development by adopting “best practices” in matters such as national good governance and local corporate responsibility. Neither country is perfect but China has further to go, and may soon find that lax standards are counter-productive.

Zha agrees in principle but suggests reasons why Chinese practices diverge from American practices. China is simply acquiring the resources it needs, like Western countries before it. (But, Economy rejoins, on an unprecedentedly huge scale.) As a late developer, China has “little choice” but to seek these resources in problematic places. (Perhaps a few decades ago, Economy rejoins, but not now.) Host local governments should protect host local interests, as Chinese companies have learned to expect at home. (On the contrary, Economy rejoins, what Chinese companies learned at home is that they can do whatever they want!)  China’s processing of world resources benefits the whole world, not just China. A way forward is for American and Chinese companies to work together.      

Kelly Sims Gallagher and Qi Ye discuss “Climate and clean energy”  (chapter six).  Rather amicably, they stress opportunities for practical joint action between the two countries by various actors at various levels.

Gallagher worries that global emissions continue to rise and that neither the USA nor the PRC are doing as much as needed.  In the USA, the problem is largely political, obstruction from congressional Republicans. In the PRC the problem is largely practical, China’s still heavy dependence on coal. Having decided it can’t wait for America to act, China is proceeding with green technologies. Meanwhile, the PRC insists on negotiating with the USA through a UN framework that requires formal congressional agreement, which is unlikely. China should switch to less formal channels through which more can be accomplished.     

Qi argues that the 1990s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” remains fundamental for achieving justice – and therefore agreement – between countries. It is true that some big new economies have emerged, but those economies are large mostly because their populations are large, not because of any high level of development. In 2007, for policy making, China established a climate Leading Group and, for policy implementation, a climate Responsibility System. [These are institutions that China brings to bear when it becomes serious about achieving some goal.]  In 2010 China even promulgated new principles of “ecological civilization” for itself. 

Barry Naughton and Yao Yang debate “The economic relationship”  (chapter two). Naughton observes that both America and China have benefitted hugely from global free trade, particularly China. Yet China now is not playing by necessary rules. It is not protecting intellectual property rights. It is not pursuing balanced growth in which a flexible exchange rate helps balance global economic transactions. Recently China has been increasing its reliance on state-owned enterprises, causing inefficiency and corruption.

Yao agrees about intellectual property rights and state-owned enterprises. He agrees that China’s exchange rate is too rigid, but sees the costs as mostly internal not external. Global imbalances result not from PRC policy but from “structural factors” within long-run global development. Meanwhile, Yao is concerned about a failure of American economists to face up to structural problems within America’s “winner takes all” version of “high capitalism.” Its too flexible labor market creates job insecurity and helps out-source jobs to China. Its too-large financial sector caused the global 2008 crisis and still contributes to global economic imbalances. Its failing education system cultivates excellence at the expense of equality.        

Naughton personally accepts many of Yao’s criticism of American capitalism. However, he argues that currently the problem is less economic system and more political polarization that prevents the adoption if good economic policies.     

IDENTITY 

In debating “Political systems, rights, and values,”  Zhou Qi and Andrew Nathan nominally agree on the desirability of democracy and human rights, but disagreed on what those values should mean in practice in China. 

Qi begins by noting that, over the past half century, interests have been more important than values in steering US-China relations. Turning to values, Qi complains that Americans don’t realize how ideological they are. In particular, they are committed to the idea of “American exceptionalism” (the USA as model and leader for the world). Meanwhile, Americans don’t realize that PRC foreign policy, highly ideological under Mao, is now less ideological than current USA foreign policy. As regards human rights, Westerners hold a Western concept of them that emphasizes procedural civil and political rights over substantive economic and social rights. Westerners are trying to impose that version on China. Chinese have their own values and priorities. 

Nathan argues that China participated in drafting international human rights conventions, agreed to them, and now should implement them more rigorously. Affirming the importance civil and political rights, Nathan cites cases in which the PRC has prosecuted citizens for trying to exercise rights that the PRC government itself has urged them to exercise, such as exposing local abuses. Objecting to such abuses is not just a Western value but rather a universal value, which Chinese people share. Actually, most top American policy makers reject the idea of “American exceptionalism” in favor of universal principles with which all countries should comply, including America. 

Wang Shuo and Susan Shirk discuss “The media”  (chapter four). As a professional journalist in China (with Caixin!), Wang is concerned about government restriction of reporting. He sketches China’s media, from the official media at the center (which self-regulate) to news outlets affiliated with that media, to independent professional media (which the government attempts to regulate). Surrounding all these are the new informal social media, which focus on livelihoods, democracy, and nationalism. In China, the public may increasingly turn to social media for their news, because government regulation compromises the integrity all the other media, even the independent media. It would be better if the independent media could “anchor” the social media, whose nationalism tends to make PRC foreign policy more populist. Wang notes processes that tend to amplify popular Chinese nationalism, leaving independent media only marginally able to combat it.    

Shirk agrees with Wang’s analysis, except to congratulate him and other independent journalists for their accomplishments. She notes that competition from commercial media and the internet has forced the official media to become more timely, reliable, and critical [and, one might add, lively].  Unfortunately, the information revolution has increased the role of the propaganda bureaucracies, even though their too-obvious efforts at censorship are ultimately self-defeating. Social media have temporarily achieved much independence and influence. However, they are quite useful to the government as well, for venting discontent and identifying dissidents. Ultimately the government has many levers for controlling them too. Meanwhile, the official media promote nationalism to an alarming extent.

Jia Qingguo and Alan D. Romberg agree that “Taiwan and Tibet” are still something to worry about (particularly Taiwan).  However, basically they repeat opposed positions of the PRC and USA that are longstanding. Jia is adamant that Taiwan and Tibet are subnational issues [within “one China,” as I have placed them here]. Romberg concedes that any issues about Tibet are largely internal to China, but maintains that Taiwan is, to some extent, a distinctive “nation” that might deserve some sovereignty of its own.

I personally am concerned that the two could not agree even on basic facts. Historically, was Taiwan “integrated” into China (as Jia claims) because it was settled by people from Fujian who were culturally Chinese? Or was it not much “integrated” (as Romberg claims) because the imperial government began actually to administer Taiwan only at the end of the 1800s, not long before it ceded the territory to Japan? Recently (1982) did the USA promise to withdraw military support from Taiwan unconditionally (as Jia claims), or did it promise to do so only if the PRC does not threaten Taiwan militarily (as Romberg claims)? Currently, do most people on Taiwan favor eventual “unification”with the mainland (as Jia claims)? Or does a large majority emphatically reject unification (as Romberg claims, citing numerous surveys)? 

 

推荐 1