華僑網 特稿评论 中國可以為了台灣問題將其他一切置之度外

中國可以為了台灣問題將其他一切置之度外

【導讀】 編者按:8月11日,清華大學戰略與安全研究中心研究員、中國論壇特約專家周波應邀為《南華早報》撰寫評論。他認為,中國從軍事到外交的一系列行動向全世界表明,中國可以為了台灣問題將其他一切置之度外。佩洛西竄訪台灣,不僅給了北京加大統一努力的動力和機會,也意想不到地改變了台海現狀,結果對中國有利。

歷史並非總是由勝利者撰寫,也同樣被失敗者留痕。

美國眾議院院長佩洛西對台灣的竄訪正是一個典型,它展現了一個以自我為中心的利己主義者是如何偷雞不成蝕把米的。

佩洛西是美國最高級別的立法機構領導之一,也是總統一職的第二順位繼承人,臨退休前雖努力吸引眼球,但並無太多斬獲。絕大多數人都認為她的台灣之行是不必要的挑釁。就連發表她本人的專欄文章解釋訪台原因的《華盛頓郵報》,也刊登了沒有歧義的社論,題為:“佩洛西不明智的台灣之行帶來的損害必須得到遏制。”

北京的反應縝密又異常迅猛。它沒有像一些人猜測的那樣嘗試阻撓佩洛西的飛行,但在她8月2日抵達台北後,中國宣佈在台灣島周邊的六個區域進行連續三天的海空軍事演訓行動,實際上封鎖了台灣。其中的兩個演習區域安排在台灣的所謂“領海”內,數十架戰鬥機無視台灣的所謂“領海”和台海中線,飛越台灣海峽。導彈也第一次飛越了台島上空。

中國人民解放軍東部戰區在台灣海峽實施遠程火力實彈射擊訓練(圖片來源:ICphoto)

解放軍通過這些行動證明,只要它願意,它可以協調行動,實施全面封鎖。相比1995-1996年台海危機期間進行的規模小很多的導彈發射演習—意在對台灣“總統”李登輝訪美之後發出警告—解放軍已今非昔比。當時,美國一艘航母穿越海峽,另一艘在附近演習。與1996年不同的是,這次裡根號航母小心翼翼地避開了台灣海峽的入口。

拜登政府會如何反思這一切?中美一直在為誰改變了台海現狀而相互指責。具有諷刺意味的是,這次是佩洛西改變了台海現狀,而結果對中國有利。

這次很像2012 年的情況,當時日本政府宣布,要將中國認為是其領土一部分的釣魚島國有化。被激怒的中國政府派船進入該群島的毗連區。時至今日,中國海警船不理會日本的抗議,定期在那裡巡航,以彰顯北京的主權。

未來這種圍繞台灣的演習是否會變成常態,取決於台北和華盛頓,而不是北京。即使反對與大陸統一的代價在不斷增加,以分裂主義者蔡英文為首的台灣當局也很難真正回心轉意。

真正的問題是,大陸這一史無前例的舉動會如何改變台灣人的心態,尤其是在他們的下一次選舉中。中國仍有戰略耐心,畢竟,與台灣實現和平統一符合北京的利益。但中國的耐心也不是無限的。根據其《反分裂國家法》,如果中國認為所有和平統一的可能性都已喪失,則可以採取非和平手段來實現統一。

要想在台灣海峽實現和平,關鍵在於要讓中國相信和平統一仍有可能。多年來,儘管原因不同,但北京和華盛頓的策略都是保持戰略模糊。過去,中國屢屢談及 “紅線”,但是沒有明確表示,為了捍衛它會做出什麼。現在,在解放軍為增強軍力所做的不懈努力下,北京首次以實力表明,它不僅有意願,而且有能力維護其核心利益。

當下,美國的戰略模糊—不挑明若台灣受到攻擊,它是否會協防颱灣—看起來愈發像一塊遮羞布,試圖掩蓋它在與解放軍海峽直接對抗中可能失敗的現實。畢竟,中國擁有本土作戰的所有優勢。

中美兩國都不想開戰,但無法保證雙方能避免一場戰爭。對於中國來說,美國的“一個中國”政策已被掏空。儘管兩國仍有一些建立信任的措施,但它們本質上是一些技術規則,旨在避免在南海等地發生意外。

然而,中美兩軍如果在台海發生衝突,幾乎不可能是意外。拜登政府曾談到建立“護欄”的必要性,但如果中國斷定這種護欄是美國為阻止中國把使用武力作為統一最後手段而建,那麼這種護欄從一開始就不會被建立。

8月5日,中國外交部明確表達對美方的不滿,宣布採取一系列措施,包括從取消所有防務磋商到暫停氣候變化談判等。這第二波反應表明,中國可以為了台灣問題將其他一切置之度外。

接下來,我們可能會看到一個連鎖反應:美國將加快售台武器,擴大培訓和人員交流,把台灣變成一隻 “豪豬”;而一個更有信心、更有能力的中國將做出更有力的回應;結果是,台灣的迴旋餘地進一步縮小。很難說終局在哪裡,但有兩件事是確定無疑的:台灣不可能搬走;時間在大陸這邊。

作者:周波 (清華大學戰略與安全研究中心研究員、中國論壇特約專家)

翻譯:中國論壇 程澤笠

核譯:中國論壇 許馨勻 韓樺

本文英文原文:

History is not always written by victors. It is equally written by losers. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a typical example of how a self-centred egoist has gone out for wool and come home shorn.

Pelosi, one of the US’ highest-ranking legislators and second in line to the presidency, has gained little more than some limelight before her retirement. Her Taiwan visit was widely considered unnecessarily provocative. Even The Washington Post, which published her op-ed explaining why she would make the trip, published an editorial that can hardly be misunderstood: “The damage from Pelosi’s unwise Taiwan visit must be contained”.

Beijing’s response was carefully calibrated yet exceptionally strong. It didn’t attempt to obstruct Pelosi’s flight, as some had speculated, but in the wake of her arrival in Taipei on August 2, Beijing announced that it would conduct air and sea drills in six areas around the island that would effectively seal off Taiwan for three consecutive days.

Two target zones were placed inside Taiwan’s “territorial waters” and dozens of fighter planes were flown across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, as a show of disregard for that boundary. For the first time, missiles were fired over the island.

With these measures, the People’s Liberation Army has proven it could coordinate operations to impose a full blockade should it ever choose to. It has progressed from the much smaller missile firing exercises conducted during the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis. Those exercises were meant to send a warning to then Taiwanese “president” Lee Teng-hui after his visit to the US.

But, unlike in 1996 when one American aircraft carrier sailed through the strait and another manoeuvred close by, this time, the USS Ronald Reagan cautiously kept away from the entrance to the Taiwan Strait.

How might the Biden administration reflect on all this? China and the US have been pointing fingers at each other for changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. This time, Pelosi has changed the status quo, ironically, in China’s favour.

This is very much like the situation in 2012 when the Japanese government announced that it was going to nationalise the Diaoyu Islands  which China claims as part of its territory. A furious Chinese government sent vessels into the archipelago’s contiguous zone. Today, Chinese coastguard ships sail regularly there, despite Japan’s protests, to demonstrate Beijing’s sovereign claim.

Whether such exercises around Taiwan become more common in the future depends on Taipei and Washington, not Beijing. Taiwan’s authorities, led by the separatist Tsai Ing-wen, can hardly have a real change of heart, even as the cost of their opposition to reunification with the mainland continues to grow.

The real question is how this unprecedented move by the mainland might change the mentality of the Taiwanese people, especially in their next election. China still has strategic patience. After all, it is in Beijing’s interests to achieve peaceful reunification with Taiwan. But China’s patience is not infinite. According to its Anti-Secession Law, it may resort to non-peaceful means to achieve reunification if it concludes that all possibilities for peaceful reunification have been completely exhausted.

For peace to prevail in the Taiwan Strait, then, the key is to let China believe peaceful reunification is still possible. Over the years, both Beijing and Washington have maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity, albeit for different reasons. China talked about its “red line”, but didn’t explain what it would do explicitly to safeguard it. Now, thanks to the unremitting efforts of the PLA to build its strength, Beijing has been able to show for the first time that it has not only the will but the capability to protect its core interests.

Today, America’s strategic ambiguity – not clarifying explicitly if it would come to Taiwan’s defence if the island was attacked – looks more like a fig leaf to hide the reality that it might lose in a direct confrontation with the PLA in the strait, where China has all the advantages of fighting on its home turf.

Neither China nor the US wants a war, but there is no guarantee they can avoid one. For China, America’s one-China policy is already hollowed out. Although the two countries have a few confidence-building mechanisms, they are essentially a litany of technical rules aiming to avoid an accident, say, in the South China Sea.

The problem is, a clash between Chinese and US militaries in the Taiwan Strait can hardly be accidental. The Biden administration has talked about the need to establish “guardrails”, but if China concludes that such guardrails are America’s way of preventing its use of force as a last resort for reunification, they won’t be established in the first place.

On August 5, China’s Foreign Ministry made clear its displeasure at the US with a series of measures ranging from the cancellation of all defence consultations to the suspension of climate change talks. This second-wave response shows that, for Beijing, everything can come to a stop for the Taiwan issue.

Looking down the road, we will probably see a chain reaction: the United States will speed up arms sales and expand training and personnel exchanges to turn Taiwan into a “porcupine”; a more confident and capable China will then respond more forcefully. As a result, Taiwan’s room to manoeuvre will shrink further. It is hard to tell where the endgame is, but two things are sure: Taiwan cannot move away and time is on the side of mainland China.

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo (ret) is a senior fellow of the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University and a China Forum expert

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