China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 3, 2015
Executive Summary: Over the past decade the US strategic relationship with Mainland China has been a mixture of competition, struggle, cooperation, and friction. In 2005, during George W. Bush's second term, the US championed "constructive and frank relations with China". US Undersecretary of State Robert Zoellick delivered a speech entitled "Whither China", in which he said China must become a responsible stakeholder in the international community. This concept was written into the United States 2006 National Security Strategy Report. Mainland China and the US, having established goodwill, began a relationship in which cooperation trumped conflict. Obama strengthened that relationship upon taking office.
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Over the past decade the US strategic relationship with Mainland China has been a mixture of competition, struggle, cooperation, and friction. In 2005, during George W. Bush's second term, the US championed "constructive and frank relations with China". US Undersecretary of State Robert Zoellick delivered a speech entitled "Whither China", in which he said China must become a responsible stakeholder in the international community. This concept was written into the United States 2006 National Security Strategy Report. Mainland China and the US, having established goodwill, began a relationship in which cooperation trumped conflict. Obama strengthened that relationship upon taking office.
Cooperation between the two countries has yielded many rewards. They include social, economic, environmental, and regional security. They include Obama's significant relaxation of visa requirements for Chinese citizens, These increased Sino-US economic interdependence and social interaction. Last year, Mainland Chinese investment in the US grew by more than 40%, and provided important momentum for US economic recovery. In November 2014, Beijing and Washington signed an Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and Emissions Reduction. They pledged to reduce carbon emissions 25% by 2020. Nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea are a major headache for the US. The Mainland strongly supports the US on this.
Alas, these positive developments have been followed by two or three years of increased friction between the two countries. The China Threat Theory has made waves, and cast a shadow over bilateral relations. The US is suspicious about the One Belt, One Road and the AIIB. These plans signal Mainland China's rise, and provoke US anxiety. The US is unhappy about Mainland China's reclamation of islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The two sides frequently threaten each other. Some in the US even want to "punish China". They want President Obama to cancel the invitation to attend the 2016 Pacific Rim exercises. Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said that if it were up to him, he would not invite them to participate.
Such threats have even led to action. On May 20, a P8A military reconnaissance plane overflew the South China Sea. For the first time the Pentagon allowed reporters aboard a reconnaissance flight. It apparently seeks to wage a media war. The overseas edition of the Peoples Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, concluded that this "new generation escalation in China Threat Theory reveals a US determination to make trouble in the South China Sea."
These disputes have not yet led to serious regional military conflict. Nor have they amounted to what some commentators warn is a "Thucydides Trap". Nevertheless, the deterioration in the atmosphere is something the two sides should be alarmed about.
The South China Sea is a fuse that could ignited Sino-US conflict. But it is merely a superficial cause. A more fundamental cause is that those wihtin the US who know Mainland China and were friendly towards Mainland China are now less so. This has unnecessarily increased the risk of misunderstanding, misjudgment, and confrontation.
First, we must understand the big picture. In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey of the world's attitude toward Mainland China showed that only 35% of Americans viewed Mainland China favorably, whereas 55% viewed Mainland China negatively. In 2011, the center's survey showed 51% of Americans viewing Mainland China positively, and only 36% viewing it negatively. Within three short years however, private sector sentiment in the US underwent a major reversal. A similar phenomenon appeared in a 2015 survey commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce. As many as 60% of the CEOs of global corporations said they did not feel as welcome in China as before.
Orville Schell is Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society. In a special report published by the UK Financial Times, Schell said that not since former US president Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger set foot in China in 1972 to break the ice, have trust and optimism between the two countries fallen this low. Schell quoted the lament of a leading China expert, who said that oddly enough it is those closest to China who now feel the most alienated. Schell said that groups within the United States friendly toward China have ceased to exist, yet the Chinese side seems indifferent to this.
These signs suggest that within the United States, private individuals, business people, and academic have all begun to think less well of Mainland China.
Exchanges between the two countries include positive interactions. From the US perspective, the basic problem is that US political-military and economic strength have deteriorated. The US sees problems with Russia and Ukraine. It sees problems with the Islamic State in the Middle East. In such troubled times, how much energy does the United States have to engage in unnecessary wrestling and confrontation with Mainland China? From the Mainland Chinese perspective, the internationalization of the RMB and One Belt, One Road construction projects are essential. In which case, why would it casually indulge in muscle flexing?
Given such adverse conditions, the US and Mainland China must be wise. Regional security requires controlling and elminating this negative atmosphere. Only then can the US and Mainland China reduce the chance of accidental conflict on regional issues, including the South China Sea. Even more importantly they must cooperate on global governance. Mankind faces more and more economic, military, food, environment, climate, and energy challenges. Mainland China, the United States, and other major powers may not be able to overcome these problems. But if they squander their energy fighting each other, they will only make them worse.
Mainland China and the US must take this waning friendship as a warning. An adverse atmosphere is infectious. It will affect attitudes within China towards the United States. That is something both countries must avoid.
有摩擦。特別是在2005年，小布希總統的第二任期主張「 以建設性和坦誠的方式與中國接觸」，美國副國務卿佐利克並在「 中國向何處去」演講中提出「中國應成為國際社會中負責任的『 利益相關者』」。此一概念被寫入美國2006年《 國家安全戰略報告》，此後，中美在善意的基調上， 開啟了合作大於鬥爭的關係。歐巴馬上任後更強化這個趨勢。
經濟、環境與區域安全。 包括歐巴馬宣布大幅放寬中國公民赴美簽證， 以強化中美的社會交往與經濟互賴；去年， 中國對美投資的成長超過了40%，提供美國經濟復甦的重要動能； 2014年11月兩國簽署《環保與減排合作協定》，承諾到202 0年彼此努力降低碳排放25%；此外， 在伊朗核武與北韓核武這二大令美國頭痛萬分的問題上， 大陸也強力支持美國的立場。
並在中國威脅論的推波下，蒙上了陰影。除了對一帶一路、 亞投行等標示中國崛起的大計畫，美國存有疑慮外， 美國對中國在南海島礁填海造地不滿，雙方頻頻叫陣， 美國內部更出現「懲罰中國」的論調， 呼籲歐巴馬總統取消邀請中國參加2016年的環太平洋軍演， 參議院軍事委員會主席，也是前共和黨總統候選人約翰‧ 麥肯即表示：「如果是我，我不會邀請他們參加演習。」
越南海，五角大廈第一次讓媒體記者隨行偵察， 顯然是想藉以打媒體戰，對此，中共黨委機關報《人民日報》 海外版撰文認為這是「中國威脅論的手法升級換代」、「 鐵了心想在南海鬧事」。
但這只是表層的原因，更深層原因之一則是，美國內部知中、 和中與友中力量消弱， 增加雙方因誤會誤判而不必要地升高對立的風險，值得注意。
首先，要先從大氛圍理解起，2014年皮尤研究中心（Pew Research Center）有一項關於全世界對中國態度的調查顯示，只有35
%的美國人對中國持正面看法，負面高達55%。然而，在2011 年，該中心的調查中，美國人對中國持正面看法的高達51%， 負面只有36%。短短三年，美國民間氛圍即有極大的反轉。 類似的現象，也顯示在2014年美國商會的調查中，60%的全球 企業CEO表示，他們在中國感覺不像過去那樣受到歡迎了。
中文網的專題報導上撰稿表示：「 自從美國前總統尼克森和國家安全顧問季辛吉于1972年踏上對華 破冰之旅以來，兩國間的互信和樂觀情緒鮮有降到如此低谷之時。」 他並引述一家知名的研究中國的學術機構負責人的感嘆：「 很奇怪的是，正是那些對中國最親近的人，現在感到最受疏遠。」 夏偉的文章直指美國國內「對中國持友善態度的核心利益群體」 已經不復存在，而中方對此卻似乎無動於衷。
一個最簡單的問題是，美國不管政治軍事和經濟國力均大不如前， 俄羅斯與烏克蘭問題、中東有伊斯蘭國問題，在此多事之秋， 美國有多少力氣與中國進行不必要的角力對抗？從中國角度看， 人民幣國際化與一帶一路大建設是必走的道路，既然如此， 豈可輕易對外展現肌肉？
如何控管與消弭這樣的負氛圍， 才能減少在包括南海在內的區域問題上擦搶走火的機會。 更重要的是如何共同全球治理的挑戰。人類集體不管在經濟、軍事、 糧食、環境、氣候、能源，都面臨著愈來愈嚴峻的挑戰， 中美等大國攜手都不一定能解決，還把力量放在內耗上， 不啻是讓各方齊至的總體危機雪上加霜。