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阎学通:中国的乌克兰难题
2022年05月05日 15:08 来源:中国社会科学网 作者:阎学通 字号
2022年05月05日 15:08
来源:中国社会科学网 作者:阎学通

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  编者按:2022年5月出版的美国《外交事务》杂志发表了清华大学文科资深教授、国际关系研究院院长阎学通的英文文章《中国的乌克兰难题:为什么要在俄乌冲突中采取平衡策略》。现将全文转载如下并提供中文大意。本文不代表本网和本平台观点。

《外交事务》杂志 2022年五六月号封面

  ?俄乌冲突给中国造成了战略困境。一方面,这场冲突扰乱了价值数十亿美元的中国贸易,加剧了东亚的紧张局势,中国网民分化成亲俄和反俄阵营更加深了内部在政治上的两极分化。另一方面,中国指责美国支持北约扩张激怒俄罗斯,担忧华盛顿将延长俄乌冲突以拖垮俄罗斯。北京认为,与部分国际社会一道谴责莫斯科并无益处。

  不管中国对俄罗斯总统普京对乌开战的决策作何反应,美国都不太可能软化其对华遏制战略。作为中国最大、军事实力最强的邻国,俄罗斯是北京不希望与之对抗的大国。因此,中国决策者试图避免不必要地激怒相关大国——在联合国大会上弃权谴责俄罗斯,并对关于战争的官方声明慎之又慎。

  这种平衡策略也有其成本。拒绝谴责俄罗斯使中国与部分邻国关系紧张,导致北京与许多反对俄向乌克兰开战的发展中国家有所疏远。中国还因俄乌冲突付出了经济代价,而这场战争可能会持续很长时间。尽管如此,为最大限度减少战略损失,中国很可能会继续中间路线,直到俄乌冲突结束。有一件事可能会改变北京的考量,并倒向俄罗斯,那就是美国是否会为台湾宣布法理“独立”提供军事支持。除此之外,因为美国对中国的遏制政策使北京在俄乌冲突中很难站在美国一边,北京可能会继续其平衡战术。

  两难困境

  自冲突开始,西方多国就指责中国放任甚至积极支持俄罗斯在乌克兰的军事行动。例如,《纽约时报》3月的一篇报道就采用了未经证实的消息,称俄在开战前向中国通知了其战争计划。但正如中国驻美国大使秦刚3月15日在《华盛顿邮报》的一篇专栏文章中指出的,中国在俄罗斯的行动中也蒙受了损失:“乌克兰有6000多名中国公民生活学习,中国是俄、乌最大贸易伙伴国,也是世界上最大的原油和天然气进口国。俄乌发生冲突,于中方没有半点好处。中方不可能在知情情况下不予劝阻。”

  事实上,秦大使仅指出战争对中国负面影响的一小部分。俄乌冲突冲击了大宗商品市场,扰乱了供应链,导致中国企业损失数十亿美元。例如,战争爆发导致镍价大幅飙升,中国镍业巨头青山控股集团(Tsingshan Holding Group)在此期间的交易中损失了80亿美元。战争造成的破坏还导致中国出口订单的大规模取消,削弱了中国的工业生产率。根据国家统计局的数据,中国制造业采购经理人指数(追踪制造业经济活动的指数)在3月份下降了0.7%,比市场分析人士预测的表现要差得多,是2021年8月以来的第一次月度收缩。

  这场战争还加剧了中国与部分邻国之间的紧张关系。随着中美竞争加剧,不少东亚国家采取了对冲策略来平衡与这两个大国的关系。但乌克兰战争促使其中一些国家更加倾向于美国。此外,俄乌冲突使华盛顿有理由批准向台湾提供额外的9500万美元军援。这是美国总统乔·拜登(Joe Biden)上任以来,台湾收到的第三批美制武器。不仅是中国与邻国的关系受到了影响:3月份,三分之二的联合国成员国在联合国大会的两项决议中投票谴责俄罗斯,只有5个国家投了反对票,35个国家投了弃权票。许多中小国家,特别是发展中国家,将记住中国投下的弃权票。

  更糟糕的是,这场战争使中国与美国及其盟国之间的关系进一步紧张。澳大利亚、加拿大、日本和英国都表示将与美国一道,对继续与俄罗斯开展贸易的中国公司实施二级制裁。

  最后,乌克兰战争加深了中国国内的政治两极分化。在微信等社交媒体平台上,中国网民形成了对抗的阵营,一方支持俄罗斯,另一方反对俄罗斯。冲突开始后不久,一些反俄的中国网民开始重提1858年签订的不平等条约《瑷珲条约》,该条约将约23万平方英里的中国领土割让给了沙俄。过去,此历史事件的政治敏感性曾使北京对支持俄罗斯领土扩张的行为保持谨慎。然而,在这种情况下,北京必须认真考虑部分中国网民的反俄情绪。

  “火上浇油”

  尽管战争对中国有负面影响,但北京并不接受华盛顿处理俄乌冲突采取的手段。自战争开始以来,中国政府一直认为是美国推动北约东扩激怒了俄罗斯。现在,中国认为华盛顿在故意使战争升级以持续战争的影响,从而削弱俄罗斯和中国。在3月5日的线上通话中,中国外交部长王毅告诉美国国务卿安东尼·布林肯,中国反对在乌克兰采取任何“火上浇油”的行动。此后,中国领导人和记者多次引用这句话,强调了北京对华盛顿意图的不信任。例如,《人民日报》3月30日发表社论,认为美国“火上浇油”,“是在为政治解决危机制造更大障碍。”

  美国未能以严厉的经济制裁威胁阻吓俄罗斯对乌开战,因此将目标从结束冲突转向延长冲突。拜登3月26日在波兰的演讲中说:“这场战斗也不会在几天或几个月内取得胜利。我们需要为未来的长期战斗做好准备”。从北京的角度看,这就是明示白宫的目标不再是结束战争,而是延长战争以削弱和击溃俄罗斯。在接下来的一周里,俄罗斯和乌克兰的谈判代表似乎在达成初步和平计划方面取得了进展,而美国高级官员则对俄罗斯能否减少对基辅和切尔尼希夫的军事行动表示怀疑。关于所谓的进展,拜登表示,“在看到(俄罗斯)的行动之前,我不会做出任何解读”。第二天,他告诉乌克兰总统泽连斯基,美国计划从直接预算中向乌提供额外的5亿美元援助。在北京看来,华盛顿正增加对乌军事援助,以抽走俄罗斯撤军的外交台阶。美国国防部长劳埃德·奥斯汀(Lloyd Austin)上周发表评论说,“我们希望看到俄罗斯被削弱到不能再做出类似入侵乌克兰行动的程度”,这只会强化中国的认知,即美国的首要任务是削弱俄罗斯,而不是迅速结束战争。

  中国也不认为在乌克兰战争问题上与华盛顿寻求共同立场,会有助于改善更广泛的中美关系。即使北京加入部分国际社会对俄罗斯的谴责,美国也不会软化对中国的遏制政策。自战争开始以来,一些东亚国家公开质疑华盛顿是否会在欧洲陷入危机时继续关注“印太”地区。作为回应,拜登政府迅速向他们施以保证。3月28日,国防部副部长凯瑟琳·希克斯(Kathleen Hicks)告诉记者:“即使我们面对俄罗斯的敌对活动,国防战略也明确了国防部将如何紧急行动以维持和加强威慑,而中国是我们最重要的战略竞争对手与挑战”。第二天,拜登告诉新加坡总理李显龙,尽管美国将重点放在乌克兰,但“对采取切实行动实施‘印太’战略持强烈支持态度”。

  中国领导人认为,即使北京与莫斯科保持距离,也没有理由相信华盛顿会以某种方式改变上述事项的优先级。在他们看来,公开谴责俄罗斯并站在对其实施制裁的一方,只会为美国对中国本身实施二级制裁打开大门。美国已经威胁要惩罚与俄罗斯做生意的中国公司。2月3日,美国国务院发言人内德·普赖斯(Ned Price)对记者说:“如果我们看到包括中国在内的外国公司抵制美国的出口管制,逃避出口管制,绕过出口管制,我们可以使用一系列政策工具。”

  俄罗斯军队越过边境进入乌克兰后,美国加大了对中国的外交压力。3月中旬,在美国国家安全顾问杰克·沙利文(Jake Sullivan)会见中共中央政治局委员、中央外事工作委员会办公室主任杨洁篪之前,沙利文对媒体说:“我们正在私下直接与北京沟通,大规模逃避制裁或支持俄罗斯抵制制裁绝对会有后果。”

  中庸之道

  这不是中国第一次夹在两股敌对势力之间。1958年至1971年,中华人民共和国面临着新中国成立不久后最为恶劣的国际环境。此间,中国不得不同时面对来自美国和苏联的战略威胁。作为回应,中国政府将其所有的经济资源用于准备针对两个大国之一的全面战争。为了更好地保护工业基地免受攻击,中国将许多工厂从东部较发达的地区迁往西部欠发达的山区,将后者藏在人工洞穴中。这场大规模的工业重组使中国陷入了严重的经济困境,造成了严重的商品短缺和大规模贫困。

  对这段可怕历史的记忆为中国对乌克兰战争的反应提供了线索,强化了中国避免再次被夹在华盛顿与莫斯科之间的决心。因此,中国官方声明经过了精心调整,以避免激怒俄罗斯。例如,在3月份的一次采访中,秦刚明确表示,北京寻求与莫斯科建立合作关系,但不支持其在乌克兰的战争。他说:“中俄之间没有合作的禁区,但也有一条底线,那就是《联合国宪章》确立的宗旨和原则”。在4月1日的新闻发布会上,外交部欧洲司司长王鲁彤也做过类似表达:“我们没有故意规避美欧对俄罗斯实施的制裁”,并补充说“中国在乌克兰危机上不是相关方”。

  在乌克兰问题上选择中间路线后,中国没有向莫斯科提供军事援助,但与俄罗斯保持着正常的商业关系,这也是其他国家做出的决定。例如美国的战略伙伴印度也采取了类似立场,对军事和经济事务做出了区分。甚至一些北约国家也在继续购买俄罗斯天然气,为居民家庭供暖过冬。如果乌克兰战争持续,更多国家可能会开始模仿中国的平衡策略,以减少战争造成的经济损失。

  作为全球第二大经济强国,中国打算在塑造全球经济规范方面发挥重要作用。但中国没有在全球安全事务中发挥主导作用的野心,特别是在战争问题上,因为其与美国之间存在巨大的军事差距。营造有利于中国经济发展的和平环境仍然是重要的外交目标。只要美国不为台湾宣布法理“独立”提供军事支持,中国就不可能偏离这条和平发展的道路。

  

  China’s Ukraine Conundrum

  Why the War Necessitates a Balancing Act

  Russia’s war in Ukraine has produced a strategic predicament for China. On the one hand, the conflict has disrupted billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese trade, heightened tensions in East Asia, and deepened political polarization within China by dividing people into pro- and anti-Russia camps. On the other, China blames the United States for provoking Russia with its support for NATO expansion and worries that Washington will seek to prolong the conflict in Ukraine in order to bog down Russia. Beijing sees little to gain from joining the international chorus condemning Moscow.

  Regardless of what China says or does in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to wage war in Ukraine, Washington is unlikely to soften its strategy of containment toward Beijing. And as China’s largest and most militarily capable neighbor, Russia is not a power that Beijing wishes to antagonize. Chinese policymakers have therefore sought to avoid unnecessarily provoking either rival power—abstaining from votes to condemn Russia in the UN General Assembly and carefully selecting its official statements about the war.

  Regardless of what China says or does in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to wage war in Ukraine, Washington is unlikely to soften its strategy of containment toward Beijing. And as China’s largest and most militarily capable neighbor, Russia is not a power that Beijing wishes to antagonize. Chinese policymakers have therefore sought to avoid unnecessarily provoking either rival power—abstaining from votes to condemn Russia in the UN General Assembly and carefully selecting its official statements about the war.

  CAUGHT IN A BIND

  Since the beginning of the conflict, Western powers have accused China of passively or even actively supporting Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. In March, for instance, The New York Times reported unverified claims that Russia shared its war plans with China ahead of the conflict. But as Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the United States, pointed out in a March 15 op-ed in The Washington Post, China had much to lose from Russia’s actions: “There were more than 6,000 Chinese citizens in Ukraine. China is the biggest trading partner of both Russia and Ukraine, and the largest importer of crude oil and natural gas in the world. Conflict between Russia and Ukraine does no good for China. Had China known about the imminent crisis, we would have tried our best to prevent it.”

  In reality, Qin understated the war’s negative impact on China. The conflict has roiled commodities markets and disrupted supply chains, resulting in billions of dollars of losses for Chinese firms. The Chinese nickel titan Tsingshan Holding Group, for instance, lost $8 billion on ill-timed trades after the war dramatically caused the price of nickel to spike. War-related disruptions have also resulted in large-scale cancellations of Chinese export orders and weakened Chinese industrial productivity. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index—which tracks economic activity in the manufacturing sector—declined by 0.7 percent in March, a much worse performance than market analysts had forecast and the first monthly contraction since August 2021.

  The war has also heightened tensions between China and some of its neighbors. As the rivalry between Washington and Beijing has intensified, many East Asian nations have adopted hedging strategies to balance ties to both powers. But the conflict in Ukraine has driven some of these countries to lean more heavily toward the United States. In addition, the conflict has given Washington an excuse to approve another $95 million in military aid to Taiwan—the third U.S. arms package that Taipei has received since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. And it is not just China’s relations with its neighbors that have suffered: in March, two-thirds of UN member states voted to condemn Russia in a pair of resolutions at the UN General Assembly while only five voted not to and 35 abstained. China’s presence in the latter group will be remembered by many small and midsized countries, especially in the developing world.

  To make matters worse, the war has further strained relations between China and the United States and its allies. Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom have all said they will join the United States in imposing secondary sanctions on Chinese companies that continue to do business as usual with Russia.

  Finally, the war in Ukraine has deepened political polarization within China itself. On WeChat and other social media platforms, Chinese citizens have coalesced into opposing camps, one for Russia and the other against. Soon after the conflict began, some anti-Russia Chinese netizens began rehashing the unfairness of the 1858 Treaty of Aigun, which ceded roughly 230,000 square miles of Chinese territory to Russia. The political sensitivity of this historical event has in the past made Beijing wary of supporting any Russian efforts at territorial expansion. In this case, however, Beijing must give sincere consideration to the anti-Russian sentiment among some Chinese citizens.

  “FUEL TO THE FLAMES”

  Despite the war’s negative impacts on China, however, Beijing is not prepared to accept Washington’s approach toward the conflict. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Chinese government has argued that the United States provoked Russia by pushing for NATO’s eastward expansion. It now sees Washington as deliberately escalating the war in order to perpetuate it, thereby weakening both Russia and China. In a virtual call on March 5, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China opposes any moves that "add fuel to the flames" in Ukraine. Chinese leaders and journalists have since repeated the phrase, underscoring Beijing’s distrust of Washington’s intentions. On March 30, for instance, the state-run People’s Daily published an editorial arguing that by “adding fuel to the flames” the United States “is creating larger obstacles to a political solution of this crisis.”

  Having failed to deter Russia from waging war in Ukraine with threats of severe economic sanctions, the United States has shifted its goal from ending the conflict to prolonging it. In a speech in Poland on March 26, Biden said, “This battle will not be won in days or months either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.” To Beijing, this read as an admission that the White House no longer aims to end the war but rather to prolong it in order to weaken and defeat Russia. When the following week Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to make progress toward a tentative peace plan, top U.S. officials expressed skepticism about Russia’s desire to curtail its military assault on the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv. Of the supposed progress, Biden said, “I don’t read anything into it until I see what [Russia’s] actions are.” The next day, he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the United States planned to provide Ukraine with an additional $500 million in direct budgetary aid. As Beijing sees it, Washington is scaling up military aid to Ukraine in order to deny Russia a diplomatic off ramp for troop withdrawal. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comment last week that “we want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine” has only deepened China’s conviction that the United States’ priority is to weaken Russia, not to seek a swift end to the war.

  Nor does China believe that seeking common ground with Washington on the war in Ukraine will meaningfully improve broader Sino-U.S. relations. Even if Beijing were to join in the international condemnation of Russia, the United States would not soften its containment policy against China. Since the start of the war, some East Asian countries have publicly questioned whether Washington will sustain its focus on the Indo-Pacific while Europe is in crisis. In response, the Biden administration has been quick to reassure them. On March 28, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told reporters: “Even as we confront Russia’s malignant activities, the defense strategy describes how the department will act urgently to sustain and strengthen deterrence with the PRC as our most consequential strategic competitor and pacing challenge.” The next day, Biden told Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that even though the United States is focused on Ukraine, it is “strongly supportive of moving rapidly to implement the Indo-Pacific strategy.”

  Chinese leaders see no reason to believe that Washington would somehow shift these priorities even if Beijing distanced itself from Moscow. In their eyes, condemning Russia publicly and siding with those enforcing sanctions against it would only open the door for the United States to impose secondary sanctions on China itself. The United States has already threatened to punish Chinese companies that do business with Russia. On February 3, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters: “We have an array of tools that we can deploy if we see foreign companies, including those in China, doing their best to backfill U.S. export control actions, to evade them, to get around them.”

  After Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine, the United States dialed up the diplomatic pressure on China. In mid-March, before U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Yang Jiechi, the director of China’s Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Sullivan told the media: “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”

  THE MIDDLE PATH

  This is not the first time Beijing has found itself caught between major rival powers. Between 1958 and 1971, the People’s Republic of China faced the most hostile international environment in its brief history. During this period, it had to confront strategic threats from the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously. In response, the Chinese government devoted all its economic resources to preparing for a full-scale war against one of the two powers. To better shield its industrial base from attack, it moved many factories from more developed areas in eastern China to underdeveloped and mountainous western areas, hiding them in artificial caves. This large-scale industrial reorganization plunged China into a significant economic hardship, causing severe commodity shortages and widespread poverty.

  The memory of this awful history has informed China’s response to the war in Ukraine and hardened its commitment to avoid getting sandwiched between Washington and Moscow once again. Official Chinese statements have thus been finely calibrated to avoid provoking Russia. In an interview in March, for instance, Qin made clear that Beijing seeks a cooperative relationship with Moscow but does not support its war in Ukraine. “There is no forbidden zone for cooperation between China and Russia, but there is also a bottom line, which is the tenets and principles established in the UN Charter,” he said. In a press briefing on April 1, Wang Lutong, director-general of European affairs at China’s Foreign Ministry, sought to walk a similarly fine line: “We are not doing anything deliberately to circumvent the sanctions against Russia imposed by the US and the Europeans,” he said, adding that “China is not a related party to the crisis in Ukraine.”

  In choosing a middle path on Ukraine, China has refrained from providing military aid to Moscow but maintained normal business relations with Russia, a decision that other countries have also made. For example, India—a strategic partner of the United States—has adopted a similar stance, drawing a clear distinction between military and economic affairs. Even some NATO countries have continued to buy Russian gas to heat homes through the winter. If the war in Ukraine drags on, more countries may start mimicking China’s balancing policy to minimize their own economic losses caused by the war.

  As the world’s second-largest economic power, China intends to play an important role in shaping global economic norms. But it has no ambition to play a leading role in global security affairs, especially in matters of war, because of the huge military disparity between it and the United States. Shaping a peaceful environment favorable to China’s economic development remains an important diplomatic goal. As long as the United States does not offer military support for a Taiwanese declaration of de jure independence, China is unlikely to deviate from this path of peaceful development.

 

 

作者简介

姓名:阎学通 工作单位:

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