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Editorial : A new challenge facing the Beijing authorities

【明報專訊】THIS year marks the 40th anniversary of both the beginning of the Reform and Opening Up policy and the publication of the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. However, as can be seen from the ongoing trade war and the strongly worded speech made by US Vice President Mike Pence last week, the relationship between China and the US is facing its biggest challenge since the establishment of relations 40 years ago. There will be a new, monumental challenge facing the leaders of the national government in Beijing when China furthers the Reform and Opening Up policy against this backdrop.

In the early 1970s, Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon opened the door to the establishment of Sino-US relations primarily out of consideration for security. The decision to go down the path of Reform and Opening up provided a new way of thinking for the establishment of Sino-US relations. Under such a new line of thinking, the top priority was to create an international environment conducive to Reform and Opening Up, and national security was not as emphasised as before. The establishment of Sino-US relations began to transcend the area of strategic security and became an important criterion for the success of Reform and Opening Up.

The establishment of relations between China and the US helped China to open up. With the help of external influences, China's modernisation sped up. Deng Xiaoping once emphasised that the cooperation with the US was strategic rather than tactical or temporary. He described the establishment of Sino-US relations as "an aspect of great importance indeed". The development of Sino-US relations was closely related to Reform and Opening Up in an unprecedented way. Reform and Opening Up was a big system, to which Sino-US relations were subordinate.

The US once pinned high hopes on China's Reform and Opening Up. It hoped to influence the political direction of China and change its political system and ideology by way of full economic, cultural and social interactions. However, 40 years on, it is obvious that the US is hugely disappointed. Not only does a stronger China fail to resemble the US, but it is also stepping further and further away from the US model. It is mounting a full-on challenge to the US in areas like the economy, science and technology and even politics. The US might have hoped that China would become a country like Germany or Japan after the Second World War. It did not understand that contemporary Germany and Japan are not the result of internal development. They are the result of war. Even Russia has not developed in a way the US has wished since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. To put it simply, the peaceful rise of China is a completely new model, and the US does not have a way to deal with that.

With the US pressing forward steadily with brinkmanship, it is highly likely that China is facing a new Cold War situation. Still, it should adhere to the strategy of "focusing on economic development as long as there is not a full-scale invasion". Given China's power today, it is completely capable of staving off any invasion. Its market size and economic power mean that it cannot possibly be completely isolated or contained unless it closes its own doors. After renewed accommodation and adjustment, the two countries are expected to find new ways to get along with each other. It is not inevitable that they will fall into the Thucydides Trap.

明報社評2018.10.08:中美交惡下改革開放 是對北京的全新考驗

今年是改革開放40周年,也是中美發表建交公報40周年。但從貿易戰到美國副總統彭斯上周措辭強硬的演講顯示,中美關係現正面臨建交40年來最大的挑戰,中國要在這一背景下進一步改革開放,對北京領導人來說,是全新的嚴峻考驗。

1970年代之初,毛澤東和尼克遜打開中美關係的大門,主要是基於安全因素的考慮。改革開放路線的確定,為中美關係發展提供了新的思路。這個新思路,把為改革開放創造良好的國際環境放在首要地位,而不像過往般突出地強調國家安全。中美建交開始超越戰略安全範疇,成為事關改革開放成效的重要條件。

中美建交有助於實現對外開放,借助外力加速中國現代化進程。正如鄧小平曾特別強調與美國合作是戰略性的,而非策略性和臨時性的。他形容中美建交「確實是個大局」。中美關係的發展,前所未有地和國內的改革開放路線緊密聯繫。改革開放是一個大的系統,中美關係是服務於這個系統的。

對於中國的改革開放,美方一直寄予很高期望,寄望通過經濟、文化和社會的全面接觸,影響中國的政治方向,改變中國的政治制度和意識形態。但經過40年的發展,美國顯然大失所望,更加強大的中國不僅未有變得更像美國,還與美國模式漸行漸遠,不僅在經濟上,而且在科技、經濟甚至政治上,全面挑戰美國。美國原來可能希望看到中國變成戰後的德國或日本,殊不知今日之德日,並非靠內部演進而來,而是戰爭的結果,即使蘇聯解體後,今日之俄羅斯也未變成如美國所願。一言以蔽之,中國的和平崛起是一種全新的模式,而美國缺乏應對這種模式的辦法。

在美國實行步步進逼的戰爭邊緣政策下,中國很可能面臨新的冷戰環境,但應該堅守「只要不發生大規模外敵入侵,就必須以經濟建設為中心」這一戰略定力,以中國現在的國力,完全有能力制止針對自身的侵略戰爭;以中國的市場規模和經濟能力,只要自己不關上國門,也不可能被完全孤立封鎖。中美兩國在經過新的磨合、調整之後,想必會找到新的相處之道,不會必然跌落修昔底德陷阱。

■Glossary

further : to help sth to develop or be successful

open the door to sth : to provide the means of getting or reaching sth

conducive : making it easy, possible or likely for sth to happen

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