美国是贸易修正主义国家

英国《金融时报》专栏作家 吉迪恩•拉赫曼
2019.05.15 12:00

中国和美国都不满意当前的世界秩序。它们的不满有着截然不同的性质。但这两个国家彼此冲突的野心导致了一场贸易战,这场贸易战对全球化造成了威胁。

唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)认为的问题是,世界经济体系的运作方式极大地不利于美国。这位美国总统抱怨说,“全球主义”帮助中国崛起,却以牺牲美国的利益为代价——破坏了美国的繁荣及其在全球的支配地位。正是这种观点促使特朗普上周做出戏剧性决定,将价值2000亿美元的中国输美商品的加征关税税率从10%提高至25%。

对习近平来说,当前世界秩序的问题是美国的政治和战略主导地位。习近平明确表示,他希望自己的国家取代美国成为亚太地区的主导力量。许多支持习近平的民族主义者目标更高,公开表示希望中国成为占主导地位的全球大国。习近平清楚地知道,全球化对中国过去40年来的崛起至关重要。因此他决心维持当前的贸易模式。

两位领导人对世界体系的抱怨因此互为镜像。习近平希望改变世界的战略秩序,为此,他需要维持其经济秩序。特朗普想要维护战略秩序,为此,他需要改变经济秩序。

因此,美国和中国都是修正主义国家。同时二者还都是希望维持现状的国家。美国想维持地缘政治的现状,因此它成为经济领域的修正主义国家。中国是地缘政治的修正主义力量,因此它想在贸易领域维持现状。

但北京和华盛顿的互为镜像也意味着对全球化的看法趋同。这两个国家的行动表明,他们基本上同意现行体系对中国比对美国更有利。虽然许多经济学家不同意这种观点,但现在这似乎是美国的共识政治立场。美国参议院民主党领袖查克•舒默(Chuck Schumer)发表推文,支持特朗普政府在贸易领域与中国对抗的政策。

然而,无论是在华盛顿还是在北京,希望当前贸易争端以缔结协议结束的温和派与乐见贸易关系持久破裂的激进派之间存在分歧。

特朗普政府中的保护主义激进派认为,中国的政治和经济模式从根本上不利于美国的利益。他们希望“重建”高关税壁垒背后的美国经济。对那些持这种观点的人来说,保留当前全球化的世界贸易体系本质的妥协协议将是一场失败。

在中国方面,鹰派人士认为贸易争端是让中国减少对外国技术依赖的机会。热心的民族主义者也将特朗普政府的贸易立场解读为美国衰弱的证据。他们认为,正确的回应将是北京努力创建以中国为中心的世界秩序。

美国和中国的民族主义者日益好战的态度看起来就像是“修昔底德陷阱”的一个例证。哈佛大学(Harvard)教授格雷厄姆•艾利森(Graham Allison)指出,在整个历史长河中,像中国这样的崛起大国经常与美国这样的老牌大国爆发战争。艾利森使“修昔底德陷阱”成为一个著名的概念。

但目前的美中冲突是一场贸易战,而不是军事对抗。在贸易方面,正是美国试图推翻现有体系。这让习近平面临艰难的战术选择。为了维护促进其崛起的经济体系的本质,中国是否应该做出痛苦、甚至是羞辱的让步?

中国人非常注意1985年《广场协议》(Plaza Accord)这个先例——当时在美国的强大压力下,日本同意对本国货币重新估值。许多中国人认为,回头来看,《广场协议》代表了美国阻挠日本崛起的企图得逞。

特朗普政府面临着另一种两难困境。美国是否应该施加最大压力,以便最终达成一项“大协议”来解决当前体系的缺陷?或者如果未能阻止中国的崛起,贸易战中取得的局部胜利实际上等于失败吗?

出于个人脾性和政治利益,特朗普可能仍然站在交易者一边。他也仍然极为珍视与习近平的友谊,他最近赞扬了从习近平那里收到的一封“漂亮的信”。

然而,领导者之间关系密切并不能保证双方可以避免冲突。在1914年第一次世界大战爆发之前的七月危机中,德皇威廉(Kaiser Wilhelm)和俄国沙皇尼古拉斯(Tsar Nicholas)互通了许多友好的信件和电报。但这并没有阻止两国陷入冲突。同样,美中贸易战现在有可能升级到脱离两国领导人控制的程度。

译者/裴伴

以下为此文英文原文:America is the revisionist power on trade

Gideon Rachman

Both China and America are dissatisfied with the current world order. The nature of their unhappiness is very different. But the two countries’ rival ambitions have produced a trade war that now threatens globalisation.

The problem as conceived by Donald Trump is that the world economic system is operating hugely to America’s disadvantage. The US president complains that “globalism” has helped China to rise at America’s expense — undermining US prosperity and global pre-eminence. It is that view that underpins Mr Trump’s dramatic decision last week to raise tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese exports to America, from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

For Xi Jinping, the problem with the current world order is America’s political and strategic dominance. The Chinese president has made it clear that he wants his country to displace the US as the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region. Many Xi-supporting nationalists go further, speaking openly of their hope that China will become the dominant global power. Mr Xi is well aware that globalisation has been critical to China’s rise over the past 40 years. So he is determined to preserve the current trade model.

The two presidents’ complaints about the world system are thus mirror images of each other. Mr Xi wants to change the world’s strategic order, and to do that he needs to maintain its economic order. Mr Trump wants to preserve the strategic order, and to do that he needs to change the economic order.

America and China are therefore both revisionist powers. And they are also both status quo powers. America is the status quo power on geopolitics, so it has become the revisionist power on economics. China is the revisionist power on geopolitics, so it has become the status quo power on trade.

But the mirror-image positions of Beijing and Washington also imply a convergence of view on globalisation. The actions of both countries suggest that they basically agree that the current system works better for China than for the US. While many economists would dissent from that view, it now seems to be the consensus political position in America. Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the US Senate, has tweeted his support for the Trump administration’s confrontational policies on trade with China.

In both Washington and Beijing, however, there are divisions between moderates who want the current trade row to end with a deal and radicals who would welcome a lasting breakdown in trading relations.

Protectionist radicals in the Trump administration believe that the Chinese political and economic model is fundamentally hostile to the interests of the US. And they want to “rebuild” the American economy behind high-tariff walls. For those who hold this view, a compromise deal that preserves the essence of the current globalised world trading system would be a defeat.

On the Chinese side, the hawks see the trade dispute as a chance to make China less dependent on foreign technology. Ardent nationalists also interpret the Trump administration’s position on trade as evidence of American weakness. The correct response, they believe, would be for Beijing to forge ahead with efforts to create a China-centred world order.

The increasingly bellicose attitudes of nationalists in both the US and China look like an illustration of the “ Thucydides’s trap” made famous by Graham Allison, a Harvard professor. Prof Allison has pointed out that, throughout history, rising powers such as China have often gone to war with established powers such as the US.

But the current US-China conflict is a trade war, not a shooting war. And when it comes to trade, it is the US that is seeking to overturn the current system. That presents Mr Xi with a difficult tactical choice. Should China make concessions that are painful, and even humbling, in the interests of preserving the essence of the economic system that has facilitated its rise?

The Chinese are very mindful of the precedent of the Plaza Accord of 1985, in which, under intense US pressure, Japan agreed to revalue its currency. Many in China believe that, in retrospect, the Plaza Accord represented a successful American attempt to thwart the rise of Japan.

The Trump administration faces a variant of the same dilemma. Should America aim to exert maximum pressure, with the aim of eventually reaching a “great deal” that fixes flaws in the current system? Or would a partial victory in the trade war actually amount to a defeat if it failed to halt the rise of China?

By temperament and political interest, Mr Trump is probably still on the side of the dealmakers. He also continues to set great store by his friendship with Mr Xi, recently praising a “beautiful letter” he had received from the Chinese president.

Yet a close relationship between leaders is no guarantee that conflict can be avoided. In the July crisis that preceded the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas of Russia exchanged numerous friendly notes and telegrams. But it did not prevent their two countries sliding into conflict. In a similar way, the US-China trade war now risks escalating to a point where it escapes the control of the two countries’ leaders.

gideon.rachman@ft.com


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