Monday, September 22, 2014
15

为何中国无法称霸

发自伦敦——中国是否即将成为下一个超级大国?眼看发达国家正身陷衰退或者近乎衰退的泥潭,而该国经济却在以每年8%的速度持续增长,这也逐渐成为一个热门问题。中国已经成为世界第二大经济体,并将在2017年爬升到世界第一。而相对其GDP增长,军费开支的增加则更快。

如果不把美国计算在内的话,这个问题就是足够合理的。在美国人心目中世界上只能有一个超级大国,因此中国的崛起自然意味着美国的削弱。事实上对许多美国人来说,中国代表着一个事关国家存亡的挑战。

这种看法显然过于夸张了。事实上,只存在单一超级大国是极为不正常的,而且只有在1991年苏联意外崩溃了之后才出现了这一状况。正常情况下应该是一种共存状态,几大势力要么和平共处,要么剑拔弩张。

以英国为例,这个经常被认为是由美国取而代之的国家在美国人的思维中从来就不是一个“超级大国”。虽然该帝国幅员辽阔,海军实力超群,但如果没有盟友从旁协助,19世纪的英国就无法赢得任何一场对法国,德国或者是俄国的胜利。由此看来英国更像是一个“世界大国”——也就是那些虽然在地理意义上坐拥巨大影响力和利益,但却并不具备相关强大势力的古老帝国

因此应该问的不是中国是否将取代美国,而是前者是否会开始具备一些世界大国所具有的特性,尤其是一种对世界秩序的责任感。

但即便是以这么一种更加中性的方式来提出,这个问题却并未提供一个清晰的答案。而首要问题就是中国的经济,外表生机勃勃,内里却危机四伏。

对此分析师罗念慈(Chi Lo)向我们有理有据地展现了一幅宏观形势大好微观却一塌糊涂的景象。2008年11月宣布的4万亿人民币(折合5860亿美元)巨额刺激计划绝大部分都通过银行直接贷款的方式注入了那些亏损国企,并以此在全球衰退之下支撑了中国的增长。而为此付出的代价则是日益严重的资本错配,一方面导致贷款坏账增加,另一方面中国家庭的过度储蓄又刺激了楼市泡沫。此外他还认为2008年的危机大大损害了中国的出口导向型增长模式,因为发达国家的需求出现了长时间的低迷。

中国目前急需通过从公共投资和出口向私人消费转型的方式来重新平衡整个经济。短期内,该国的某部分储蓄应该被投资于国外的实物资产,而不仅仅是躺在美联储的保险柜里。但长期看来,中国家庭的过量储蓄倾向必须通过社会安全网及消费者信用工具的建设来加以遏制。

此外,如果要成为一个世界经济大国,中国需要一种能吸引外国人投资的货币。这就意味着引入货币的全面自由兑换以及建立一个深厚且流动性强的金融系统,一个可供筹集资本的股票市场,还有一个市场化的贷款利率。而当中国大谈“国际化”的时候,人民币在上述方面却并未取得什么进展。“与此同时,”罗念慈写到,“美元背后依然有美国与全球大多数外汇储备大国的强大政治联系作为支撑。”日本、韩国、沙特、科威特,卡塔尔和阿联酋无不栖身于美国的军事保护伞之下。

第二个问题则与政治价值观相关。中国的进一步“上升”将取决于对公共资产所有权,人口控制以及金融管制这类经典共产主义符号的废除。但问题在于这些改革究竟能在不触及中国共产党政治独家垄断权——由1978年宪法所规定——的情况下走多远。

中国的政治系统是构建在两项重要的文化价值观之上的。首先是中国政治思想中的等级和家庭观念,中国的哲学家们承认(政治)自发性的价值,但前提是必须在一个所有人都知道自身所处地位的严格等级社会中。正如《论语》所说:“君君臣臣,父父子子。”

中国人不太相信人生命所具备的神圣性:佛教认为人和飞禽走兽草木都是一样的。对保护人权的承诺已经在2004年写入了中国宪法,但盲人政治异见分子陈光诚最近的遭遇说明这只是一纸空文。同样,私人财产的地位依然低于公有财产。

此外儒家学说中还有所谓“受命于天”,并以此作为政治统治的合法性依据。而今马克思主义的“受命”已经取而代之,但却依然没有任何“受命于人民”的空间。

这些政治遗产限制了中国在全球领导地位中享有的份额,还需要在中国和西方两种价值观之间达成某种程度的协调。西方声称自己的价值观是普世的,美国和欧洲也永远都不会放弃把这些价值观强加于中国身上。我们很难看到这一进程发生逆转,而中国也逐渐开始出口自己的价值观。

中国拥有一个选择:要么接受西方价值观,要么尝试建立一个东亚区域,自成一派。后者不仅可能激发与美国的冲突,还可能触及其他亚洲势力,尤其是日本和印度。而中国的最佳潜在前景因此可能取决于在接受西方规范的同时用“中国特色”来进行粉饰。

但上述两种选择都无法引发一个中国“取代”美国的情景出现。而在我看来这也不是中国想要的。因为它的目标是赢得尊重,而非统治世界。

翻译:邹痴成

Hide Comments Hide Comments Read Comments (15)

Please login or register to post a comment

  1. CommentedKeet Wong

    China won't rule because it doesn't seek to rule. It will act in its own strategic and economic interest. It will neither "rule" like a Colonial European power nor will it assume moral superiority and impose its values on the rest of the world like an American Superpower. These are completely Western constructs.

    Is China culturally different from the West? Yes. Are cultural differences a source of tension? Absolutely.

    All I'm hearing from the article and comments aren't reasons for why China won't rule, they are reasons for why you hope China doesn't rule.

  2. Commenteddan hitt

    I"m surprised that nobody has called Professor Skidelsky out on population control. As far as i know, the Chinese government is the only one on earth that has actually taken some responsible action towards population growth ---- and it has been quite successful, and is one of the reasons they are becoming so prosperous while we in the west sink further towards poverty.

    A second key to its success has been, of course, its tiny military. Despite bordering on 14 countries, some of them big, and some of them having been hostile in the past, it manages to get by on one-tenth the war budget of the US despite having 4 times as many people.

    Finally, it's not so clear that there's anything "rickety" about their economy. They seem to beat us (us being America, and more generally the west) at everything.

    My hope is that we can learn something from China, perhaps beginning with our imperial pretensions. Our founders urged us not to get involved in European problems (and presumably global ones), but we have foolishly ignored them, so we are drifting towards catastrophe.

    But i guess even if we are such dimwits that we cannot learn from China, at least human civilization does have a future, albeit a Chinese one.

  3. CommentedBakhtiyor Khujaev

    China will never become a world power in the meaning of empire that UK was and US is. There is no long lasting and effective financial/economic/industrial ideologies to share with the rest of the world. Moreover the most powerful influence China might practice simply lacks - no tools, no key people to act, no sound ideas. However, it might be sort of a try - unless China is learning how to live having a potential super world power.

    What do we do when this child graduates?

  4. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

    I basically agree that China won't rule East Asia, let alone the world. I think there are more reasons why it cannot be a number one country in Asia than why it can.

    There are weaknesses in China's politics, economy and society. As I don't want to write a long comment, I take up the renminbi in context with Chinese history and politics.

    The Chinese leaders won't loosen their tight political grip on the people, not simply because they are communists but first because political power is inseparably linked in China with aquisition of wealth. It is so in today's China and so was it in Chiang Kaishek' China, in Ching's China, in Ming's China...

    If we look at Chinese society and Western sociey, I'd like to liken society to a barrel. A barrel is made up of planks, loops and the bottom. The loops tie the planks together; without the loops, the planks do not hold together.
    In the West there is no need for loops. The planks and the bottom are all needed to make a barrel. Because the role of the loops is internalized by each plank.

    In China since the time of the first Chinese empire, Chin, Chinese society was ruled by authoritarian regimes. Chiang Kaishek's government was no exception. The Chinese communist party is no exception, either. The CCP is best understood as another Chinese dynasty.

    It needs authoritarian rule for itself. It needs authoritarianism for Chinese society, too; it is as if Chinese society knows no other way to be governed.
    Without one sort or another of authoritarianism China might go to pieces as had repeatedly happened. So there is at least some truth when the Chinese leaders say, "They cannot do away with the style of Chinese politics."

    They cannot afford people's free economic activities without risking social disintegration. Controlling money or the financial secter is decisively important for regulating economic activities as the source of the leaders money and as the means of holding down the people and the society at large.

  5. CommentedMatteo Sestito

    I agree that China won't be a "superpower" in the American sense. Indeed a stand-alone "superpower" never existed: even US during the last 20 years has not unilaterally ruled the world and before that US had to coexist with its opponents (firstly Soviet Union).

    However, it isn't so hard to imagine a situation in which China influence becomes so large that it exports its own values.
    I agree with your point that China is currently "accepting Western norms while trying to flavor them with Chinese characteristics". History repeats itself over time: a rising civilization takes some values from previous rulers and blends them with its own values. Europe did so with Islam a few centuries ago.

    So if China's growth (in both economic and military terms) will continue, why can't we imagine that the West will look with admiration the new Sinic world power and that it will start to take certain characteristics of China? West claims its principles are universal ones, but also others over the past centuries claimed that.

  6. CommentedPUNDALIK Kamath

    Um; These are the professor's own words."Buddhism holds that there is no difference between humans and animals and plants.." Really!

    I suggest the retired professor read few good books on Buddhism in his retirement days with lots of time, before he jots down his colomn written from his coffe table perch.

    No Buddhist myself, I would say Buddhism is much more complex and profound than that, Professor.!
    Kamath

  7. Commentedpeter fairley

    Buddhism? sees no difference between animals and humans & plants? Please consult some Buddhists on this.LOL. Even if that is true, I think better to blame Marxism and general anti-religious sentiment in Chinese rulers for their peculiarities... It seems economic success more than pure western values buys various political powers. China certainly has some weaknesses but relative to structural problems in EU and USA who is holding the best cards?... The simple Confucian understanding of the need to share enough with the people below to stay in power may work fine for China for many years. Could not many British authors have written a similar article about USA in the early 20th century?

  8. CommentedByung Gook Han

    I agree with most of his points other than his reference to Buddhism and Confucian as a limitation to Chinese value. When Buddha equated animals and plants to humans, he obviously meant to say that animals and plants deserves similar respect as a living creatures to those of humans.

    Regarding Confucius' teaching, let me quote a paragraph from Kim Dae Jung's article titled "the myth of Asia's antidemocratic value" appeared in Foreign Affairs in 1994, which quote Meng-tsu, another great Confucian after Confucius.

    "But almost two millennia before Locke, Chinese philosopher Meng-tzu preached similar ideas. According to his "Politics of Royal Ways," the king is the "Son of Heaven," and heaven bestowed on its son a mandate to provide good government, that is, to provide good for the people. If he did not govern righteously, the people had the right to rise up and overthrow his government in the name of heaven. Meng-tzu even justified regicide, saying that once a king loses the mandate of heaven he is no longer worthy of his subjects' loyalty. "

    Obviously, "mandate of heaven" is not legitimized regardless of the nature of regime. The great scholar of Keynes needs to better understand true Asian value before simply denouncing it.

  9. CommentedRob Ferrin

    This is a very unfortunate misunderstanding of Buddhism and the sanctity of life. Buddha clearly teaches a distinction between humans, animals, and plants. For starters, only humans can practice the dharma. Humans, being accorded six sense faculties, have far more karmic responsibility than any other life forms. Plants, having only one sense faculty are not human equivalents. Nor are animals. This does not mean all sentient life shouldn't be extended compassion and equanimity, but Buddhism has not held back Human Right's movements in China.

  10. CommentedFrank O'Callaghan

    The unique factors with China are scale and history. It is bigger and older than most conceivable competitors. this will determine much of it's relations with the world.

    The internal relation between population and rulers is also subject to these factors. Bigger groups tend to have relatively less value per individual.

  11. CommentedDennis Argall

    I tend to share views with Keshav and Andres.

    The 'choice' you posit is itself part of a 'western' wish for sustenance of western perspectives and power through paradigms probably of declining relevance. We have to open our minds to the evolution of international power in as yet unknown ways in the next several decades. Whether this contains threats or opportunities we do not add to security or exploit opportunities by sticking with old thinking.

    China, with long established foreign policy principles, does not know now how these principles will need adaptation, development and change as its power grows.

    Having been in Beijing in the beginning of the reform period, I am very conscious of the way the best Chinese leaders constantly search for new ways of thinking about issues and resolving them - much more than 'the west' does, where freedom to think in new ways is so limited in government, academia and elsewhere. This Chinese freedom seems not understood, not brought into the equation by western political, academic and media observers.

    Looking back on the evolution of China in the past 35 years, it is important to see that there have been no overall models for them in the former USSR, the USA, India or elsewhere, though there have been myriad borrowings at relatively micro levels. My observation is that the west, in those 35 years, has begun a downward spiral in the quality of its governance, its management of economies, its ways of dealing with externals other than by violence... Why would China aspire to them?

    That's why China has to figure it out in its own way. Much advice, gratuitously tendered, even when greeted with smiles, tells Chinese leaders more about the advisors than about running China. Running very large countries is very difficult, it's not just a linear scale. The revolution in China in the past 35 years is without question the fastest and most profound in human history. And it's far from finished, it has both a 'forward' momentum and internal contradictions to work themselves out or be levered about.

    We do not serve ourselves well in the 'west', intellectually or politically, to try to pin the fish scales of western notions of the nation state or its international behaviour onto the imagined skin of this emerging phenomenon. To do so is simply to put scales over our own eyes.

  12. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    In this uncertain world many Pundits have been proven wrong, and specially with China, it is almost impossible to predict anything. The case in point is the book, 'Competitive Advantage of Nations', published in 1994, by Michael Porter, who completely missed to mention the word 'China', in the entire 800 pages, where chapters were devoted to the more competitive nations at that point of time.

    More than competitiveness, what has come out in the article is the might of values and what values really would count in the future. I think China would tend to be still more inward focussed stemming from the need to spur domestic demand in the wake of the current crisis. There is no other pressing need at the moment; the world would be better of if this happens.

    Procyon Mukherjee

  13. CommentedKeshav Prasad Bhattarai

    I think China does have no ambition to rule the World .Its goal is prosperity for its people and the respect for its national identity- that was ignored and humiliated for long. Also I think that it has no aim to replace USA and put it in that position, what it wants is the assured security of its continued journey to prosperity and a sizable army and military capability to protect its economic interest.
    Similarly, China has both territorial and maritime disputes with almost all country in East and South East Asia including with India - another great Asian power.
    Moreover, rising economies like Indonesia, India and Vietnam along with established economic power like Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all are making strong demand with U.S. to remain in their region and play crucial strategic role to meet the challenge posed by China both ideologically and strategically.
    I never think American power emanates from its military and money, but from the values of freedom and democracy that American people love and have made it their identity. What the great might of its education, technological innovation followed by research and development and the sense of responsibility to protect freedom of people to freedom of navigation from one corner of the World to the other, cannot be replaced by any other country so soon.
    American values, American goods, American education and look at Microsoft, Apple, Google, face book, twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo to Gillette and Coke or Pepsi - all American, so when will China be able to compete with all these and prepared to replace America? With its size, level of innovation, and a single country in the World – that stands equal to all its people than any other country in the World is the greatest reserve of power of America and so has become a dream destination of all the young and meritious people around the World.
    Besides, American fight against Malaria, AIDS, and food aids to millions and lifting more than 4 billion people from poverty across the World along with its rise, has given America a new and unique power – that is far stronger than its military has offered to it.
    So to win American power in all these respects in foreseeable future is next to impossible.
    But it does not mean that America is a perfect society, it is not and cannot be a perfect society. All the major problems the World faces today from terrorism to environmental degradation and existing poverty to large extent are “Made in America or Made by America” in this that country and this may pose a greater challenge to America than China.

  14. CommentedAndrés Arellano Báez

    The western values are unreal. There is no real democracy in our societies (there are governments who protects the interests of the powerfull) and there is no real capitalism or free market (there are socialism for the richest and the banks). Those are concepts with no real apllication in our lives, here in the west. So, why China needs to change and insert these unreal values in his nation?
    In the west, we are no living in democracies. We are living in oligarchies.

Featured