Wang Jisi: The US Trade War Aimed at Changing Chinese Behavior and Making More Money, Not Disengagement

Some interesting idea to try on for size on what is behind the US- China trade ‘war’ from a Chinese international relations scholar.  Views that are not necessarily influential in China, but intriguing discussion on world trends although the focus is narrowly on the United States since the interview is about the trade ‘war’.

The article appeared on the Chinese language website of the Financial Times, one of the more interesting fora for discussion about China and Chinese relations with other countries given the censorship of China’s domestic media.

Reader comments on the Financial Times Chinese language website (so far not blocked in China) are often as interesting as the articles although there too, the commenters are necessarily from a relatively small slice of Chinese society — the economics, business and trade oriented intellectuals.

This article was picked up by Aisixiang, one of long line of Chinese philosophical and intellectual discussion websites.  Its predecessors flourished for a time, then were closed down by the Party.  So far Aisixiang has been able to keep on.

http://www.ftchinese.com/premium/001079777?exclusive#adchannelID=5000

[also appeared on the Aisixiang website at http://www.aisixiang.com/data/112832.html]

中美贸易战

访王缉思:美国发动贸易战不是为了离开中国

Wang Jisi: Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University. (Wikipedia)
Born: 1948 (age 70 years), Guangzhou, China
Employer: Peking University
Books: China at the Crossroads: Sustainability, Economy, Security, and Critical Issues for the 21st Century

Interview with Wang Jisi: The United States Launched Trade War with China Not to Disengage But to Change China’s Behavior and Make More Money

Some however are preparing for the worst and that is dangerous

Updated on October 16, 2018 06:18

by Zhao Liangmin Written for FT中文网

Zhao Lingmin: Founder of World Sensitivity

Wang Jisi: Dean of the Institute of International Strategy, Peking University

Entering a New Stage of World Politics: The Future Harder to Predict Than Ever

Zhao Lingmin: Some time ago you wrote an article about how you believe that “world politics has entered a new stage”. You summed up the four characteristics of this new stage:

  • Convergence of nationalism and populism and simultaneous with the rise of authoritarianism;
  • Resurgence of strongmen;
  • More more intense geopolitical competition along with the danger of war; and
  • The double-edged sword of high tech innovation.

Those views aroused widespread concern. Why do you think that we seeing these changes today?

Wang Jisi: Two long-term factors are responsible for the current accentuation of differences and even splits in world politics today. The first is the further growing economic inequality worldwide both between nations and within nations. The poorest countries in the world today have a per capita GDP of 400 to 500 US dollars; the richest countries such as the United States, Switzerland, and Singapore have a per capita GDP of more than 100 times that of the poorest countries.

At the same time, in the United States, where the per capita GDP has exceeded $60,000, the gap between the rich and the poor has been widening. Among the developed countries, the economic gap between emerging countries and the developed countries is narrowing, while the gap between emerging countries and the developing countries is growing, accentuating differences within the developing countries as a group.

The world Gini coefficient has now reached 0.7 or so – higher than the widely recognized 0.6 “danger level”. Some data shows that economic inequality, both between countries and within countries, has reached an unprecedented level.

The second long-term factor aggravating the political divide both between and within countries are rapidly changing and forming social identities throughout the world brought about by the large-scale movement of populations between countries throughout the world. Today over 300 million people are settled permanently in a different country from the one in which they were born.

Moreover, many seasonal workers cross borders and everywhere there are more migrants than before. People are living in a foreign country or, at home, discovering more and more foreigners with different skin colors, cultures and beliefs in their hometowns. This brings with it more homesickness, alienation and xenophobia. Easy low cost global connectivity through the Internet, smart phones and social media has made it easier for people to find virtual communities of compatriots, fellow villagers, or like-minded “friends”. This increasingly divorces social identity from local physical communities where people actually live. This phenomenon has accentuated social identities in terms such as race, ethnicity, sects, culture, values. This has intensified political polarization in many countries.

Economic globalization brings two big problems. First is the widening gap between the rich and the poor; the second is the identity politics steadily becoming much more important. Everyone feels dissatisfied, that society is unfair, and hopes that someone come along to correct this problem. They want a strong government, a political strongman to represent them, who will voice popular dissatisfactions. Donald Trump is such a person, Rodrigo Duterte the Philippines, Recep Erdogan in Turkey, Narendra Modi in India, and Vladimir Putin of Russia are all such people.

The rise of political strongmen changes not only a country’s domestic politics but is also reflected in its values and geopolitics. In the past “political correctness” was about respect for diversity, for unity and harmony in a society which has become more diverse. Now it is “representing me and my group” to fight against an opponent. At the national policy level, “political correctness” means tightening immigration policies and trade protectionism; with respect to the military, it means strengthening national defense forces; and on territorial disputes, standing up for one’s country against foreign countries. In this way, domestic class contradictions, ethnic conflicts, and contradictions among nations in the world become ever more acute; compromises are seen as weakness and betrayal.

Zhao Lingmin: Globalization naturally benefits those powerful elites who can break the bonds of the nation-state, sell things to the whole world, spread ideas to the whole world. The whole world is their marketplace. Ordinary people don’t this capacity and these resources. They can only stay home and listen to the orders coming down to them from the heavens above. Considering this, can the problem of inequality ever be fully resolved?

Wang Jisi: In history, there are mainly three ways to change inequality:

  1. War and war makes everyone poor;
  2. Revolution. After the Russian October Revolution, China’s 1949 Revolution, Iran’s 1979 Revolution, the property of capitalists was confiscated, the lands of local tyrants were divided, the rich were eliminated or forced to emigrate overseas. Then everyone seems more equal but can not get rich;
  3. Plague and natural disasters, such as the 14th century Black Death in Europe.

Current practice regulates the redistribution of wealth in society, the government invests taxation revenues in areas such as infrastructure, public health, and education and has programs to alleviate poverty. These programs bring change only slowly. In any country or kind of society, when productivity rises quickly, some will inevitably get richer earlier. Others will not be as prosperous. That gap will get larger and larger.

If you want to quickly narrow this gap, you might embrace a program of “kill the rich and help the poor.” But this dampens the enthusiasm of those who create wealth. The poor don’t find that much is accomplished and in the end nobody is satisfied.

Therefore, I think there is no way to solve this problem. At least it is difficult to make a real change. This phenomenon may continue for a long time. I still don’t see any good solution emerging. In European countries such as Denmark and Ireland, people are more accustomed to high taxes and high welfare, but even these countries are now experiencing a widening gap between the rich and the poor, especially with the arrival of new immigrants.

Zhao Lingmin: This dilemma is very unsettling. What should be done?

Wang Jisi: The world is entering a new period of historical transition. After the end of the Cold War, we believed that the world had entered a period of peace and development. Everyone was optimistic. In recent years, it seems that we might go back to the bad old days. Trends are hard to predict. We may see all kinds of impossible-to-envisage beforehand “black swan events”.

Today I read an article about the current crisis facing liberalism. According to the article there are three major theories in the 20th century:

  • Liberalism represented by the United States ;
  • Communism/Marxism/socialism represented by the Soviet Union and China; and
  • Fascism.

The Second World War destroyed fascism, the world moved on to a struggle between socialism/communism and capitalism/liberalism. Later, the Soviet Union disintegrated and socialism retreated to a low point. Liberalism nearly became the only kind of political correctness in most parts of the world. That what Fukuyama meant by the “end of history” that he wrote about.

In recent years, liberalism has seemed ineffective. Strongman politics has made a comeback. Many countries, including the United States, are dissatisfied with their own systems and begin to reflect on them.

What is the opposite of liberalism? This is an important question. I think the opposite of liberalism is nationalism. But is nationalism an ideology? It seems not. One might think that a common ideology should lead to mutual cooperation rather than conflict. However, if all countries believe in nationalism, they will instead move towards division and conflict.

Zhao Lingmin: Nationalism can’t solve the problem. It is just an emotional outlet. Some people are dissatisfied with the status quo and believe that the elites cannot represent him. Elites issues have nothing to do with their lives. Political strongmen voice their frustrations whether or not they actually really care about doing anything for them.

Wang Jisi: Going thirty years one way and then the next thirty years going in the reverse direction doesn’t work as a model anymore. Trump will do it for a while, and maybe the American people will feel that his method doesn’t work. They may need to change their tune then.

Zhao Lingmin: That an idealization, like talking about a pendulum effect. If you can really can swing from one side to the other safely, what happens along the way?

Wang Jisi: There are many possibilities. One possibility is to return to the era of war. Historical experience shows that neither conventional war nor nuclear war creates solutions other than killing everybody. Ultimately, cooperating and coordination among governments is needed to find a model for global governance. Maybe after some time, the pendulum swings back, but it is impossible to return to where we were before.

The times have changed. The new times have brought fundamental changes: thirty years ago, the control of the government over people’s freedom was limited. New emerging technologies strengthen those in power. People can, however, also use these same technologies to bypass government control. Many kinds of once fairly effective restrictions have become less effective. Complete information control is no longer possible. Information was once scarce. People could only believe what the government said. Now there are all kinds of gaps. The Chinese can know what is going on overseas. Americans can also know what is happening in China.

Another factor is that what people think about other ethnic groups changing in subtle ways. We used to say that US imperialism was bad but the American people were good; Japanese militarism was bad but the Japanese people were good. But today, many Chinese believe that Americans are bad and not just their government. Journalists, scholars, and businessmen are also very bad. The United States has also changed its view of China. In the past, China was considered an “autocratic government.” The Chinese government was bad by the Chinese people were good.

Now many Chinese and Chinese students have been found to be doing things in the United States to help the Chinese government. So Americans are starting to get unfriendly towards people of Chinese ethnic origin (huaren 华人) and that people of Chinese ethnicity are not good. There are also religious issues. Some have a thoroughly negative view of Islam. That is going on in many parts of the world. These one-sided extreme views are simplistic giving them the advantage of being very easy to understand. There are creating vast gulfs between different ethnic groups and even different subgroups of the same ethnic group.

“I am disillusioned with the United States”

Zhao Lingmin: Everyone said that the reason why Trump was elected was very important because he was supported by the “rust zone” of the Midwestern United States. Has this judgment been widely accepted?

Wang Jisi: I think it is generally accepted. Whether it is the “rust zone” or something else, some people in the American society have always felt that they are being exploited and deprived of opportunity by an unfair society. One cause is the industrial shift caused by globalization and rising insecurity caused by the arrival of new immigrants. These groups are found in big cities such as New York and Chicago. Many are disgusted with globalization and its beneficiaries, and Trump has voiced their dissatisfactions. But in any case, that the United States chose Trump gave me a great and unimaginable sense of loss.

Zhao Lingmin: Do you think this was accidental or inevitable? Of course, now that it has happened, you may find many reasons to prove that it is inevitable.

Wang Jisi: I think there must be some accidental factors but it is an inevitable that people like Trump can get a lot of support. The split in American society is an objective fact. Trump’s problem is that he not only needs to use social division to maximize his own interests, but that he spares no effort to deepen this split. This is a terrible place to be in.

Liberal criticism of Trump often turns into personal attacks. They say that he is worthless. He also attacks the liberals saying that they are worthless. This cause more confrontation, dislike and hate in society. I feel very disillusioned with the United States. When I first went to the United States in 1984, the political struggle in the United States was fairly rational and civilized. Now it is just cursing and nastiness wherever you turn.

Zhao Lingmin: When did you think the divisions in American society arose? Most people noticed this change when Trump was elected. It feels very sudden, but there must be a development process behind it. It couldn’t have happened all at once.

Wang Jisi: The divisions in American society appeared many years ago, but people didn’t pay too much attention to it. There was a racial riot in Los Angeles in 1992 but it wasn’t between blacks and whites, but between blacks and Korean immigrants. Now the gap among the American ethnic groups is getting deeper as is xenophobia.

On the one hand, many blacks and women represented by Obama and Hillary, people who have had the experience of being oppressed have a need to establish the political correctness of multiculturalism. Some are just the opposite. Some are even naked white racists. These two processes are occurring at the same time. We tend to notice multiculturalism despise the rebound of right-wing nationalism and racism. When I was teaching in the United States in 1991, I was very careful not to violate “political correctness” and not to discriminate against blacks and women. In fact, the opposite tendency also exists. For example, a white girl said to me privately, “A black girl in the same class as me is no worse than me. I don’t work as hard as I am, but she enjoys a scholarship. It’s too unfair!” She was very disgusted about this. This is reverse racial discrimination. This means both sides of American feel discriminated against. The contradiction between the two has not been fully noticed.

Emotion probably has a more profound effect on politics than reason. Trump and his hardcore are emotional in that way – no matter whether he does this or that, he is still our man. The more you attack him, the more I support him. This is what disappoints me about the United States. In the past, I have overestimated the rationality, political consciousness, and level of knowledge of the American people.

Zhao Lingmin: Trump’s first cabinet meeting after taking office, most of the cabinet members including Vice President Pence are vying to show his loyalty to him. That is very feminine. This is very surprising: Can things happen in the United States?

Wang Jisi: Humanity is similar in every place, regardless of party and people. Trump also likes to use obedient, loyal people who want to keep their power and vote for it.

Zhao Lingmin: How do your peers in the United States, professors of Sino-US relations universities, view the current state of relations between China and the United States?

Wang Jisi: Some of them think that Trump has screwed things up, but when I ask, “If Clinton had been elected, would Sino-US relations be better than now,” they can’t give me an answer. Those who support the Democratic Party are very frustrated with the Trump phenomenon. Republicans do not accept Trump emotionally, but they have no choice; they have to give priority to party interests. At the same time, both parties have nationalist feelings. They believe that no matter what Trump is like, we Americans can criticize him but not you foreigners.

Zhao Lingmin: After the Sino-US trade war broke out, the general view was that the American elite’s understanding of China was completely reversed. Before they that China could be influenced by the United States. Now they see that China’s path is taking it further and further away from the United States. So they gave up their illusions and began to find ways to deal with China. In the future, even if the United States changes presidents, the current confrontation will continue. Do you agree?

Wang Jisi: I basically agree. However, there are still some American elites who believe that China may change. They can’t speak out in the current political atmosphere. If they say something about China, they will be regarded as a “panda hugger”. People will think that they have sold out to the Chinese. That wouldn’t be good for them so they prefer not to say anything. There are also some think tanks get some government funding. If they take a different position from that of the government, and speak up for China, that may affect their access to government funding. At present, the atmosphere of the United States is described by more than one person as a kind of “McCarthyism.”

Zhao Lingmin: How representative are Peter Navarro’s views?

Wang Jisi: Not many people agree but his views are very powerful because they mesh well with the current trend towards nationalism and populism. Navarro’s view can be refuted by citing facts, but his views have a kind of political correctness based on an emotion so refuting him and debating with him is difficult in the same way that debating with someone whether you Trump or not is difficult.

Why is the United States launching a trade war?

Zhao Lingmin: Why does Trump want to launch a trade war against China? Is it to hurt China?

Wang Jisi: My understanding is that American entrepreneurs still do not want to withdraw from China. They think they can make a lot of money in China. After all, the Chinese market is big, and in the past 30 or 40 years, some very strong path dependencies have been created – how can such a big and complex supply chain simply move somewhere else? There are not many places to choose from. For the present, these enterprises are opportunistic. They say that they want to exert pressure on China on the US government. On the other hand, they say to China that if you give me preferential policies, I will not leave. I think there are still many American companies see things that way. They have a wait-and-see attitude.

Their feelings about China are complex. On the one hand, they are very dissatisfied with various restrictive policies. On the other hand, they also realize that China is not the only country with these restrictions. Many many developing countries have similar restrictions. If you move your company to Egypt, don’t you think that the Egyptian government will regulate you? When they think about it, China is still good a good place to be. They can make money here. Therefore, they think that they should exert pressure on the Chinese government to continue with reform and open up some more industrial sectors to foreign investment.

Therefore, the reason the United States launched a trade war against China was not to pull out of China or to completely “decouple” from China, but to change China’s behavior so that it can make more money. This conclusion I have drawn from decades of involvement in Sino-US economic and trade relations. Some people in the US government and others in some American companies, however, are also preparing for the worst: decoupling of many of the economic links between China and the United States. This is dangerous.

Zhao Lingmin: Eliminate some things that are not to the advantage of the United States so that their companies will enjoy a better investment climate when they come to invest in China. After all, there are not many better places in the world worth investing.

Wang Jisi: Right. In the past, because of China’s low cost of manufacturing in China, US manufacturing was gradually attracted to and moved to China. Although the United States has been unhappy about this process of manufacturing moving to China, Sino-US economic and trade relations have continued to get stronger. As China has gotten stronger and now that it has been developing its own high tech industries, and is able to compete with the United States, the US has gotten worried.

Zhao Lingmin: In addition to the trade imbalance, what other causes of US dissatisfaction in the US – China relationship?

Wang Jisi: The US military is unhappy. The military is a big interest group. A few year ago, it did not believe that China was strong enough to pose a threat to the United States, and that China did not mean to truly exclude the United States from the Asia-Pacific region. During the past two years, China has taken a very firm position on the South China Sea issue. The United States has begun to feel that that the Chinese military is much stronger than before. They feel that if the US does not exert pressure on China, it will not have a foothold in the Western Pacific. The military, including the military-industrial complex, are hardliners on China policy. Formerly, when terrorism was the top concern, there was a lot of military spending and a great many companies and others forming a huge chain of interests linked to the manufacture and sale of weapons. Now, by pointing to China, contradictions with China on military security issues can be used to argue for more military spending.

In addition, the Confucius Institutes in the United States have made Americans feel that China’s values are different from those of the United States. China’s promotion of Chinese values in the United States is very difficult for Americans to accept. The ideological contradictions between China and the United States are also reflected their attitudes towards Chinese students and scholars studying in the United States.

Zhao Lingmin: What does the United States want? Do they really need to overthrow the Chinese system?

Wang Jisi: Some people say that if China does not make fundamental changes in its political system, good relations with the United States will be impossible. I do not agree with this. There are indeed people in the United States who want to change China’s fundamental political system, but the government and the political mainstream know that this is unrealistic and cannot be accomplished. However, the Americans do have demands in some specific areas. For example, the want China to become more required to be more internationalized and market-oriented, increase transparency in various fields, reduce government subsidies to state-owned enterprises, reduce the requirements for transfer of the proprietary technology transfer of foreign enterprises, and to make changes in the “Made in China 2025″ program and other policies. If these change, the United States will still be hopeful that they are at least making progress. Sino-US relations have been like this for a long time. The US asking price has always been very high. We have never accepted it in full. The two sides are always bargaining.

Zhao Lingmin: Some say that the pressure that the United States has put on China was to a great extent the cause of the firm line of Chinese foreign policy over the past several years.

Wang Jisi: I am not here to make political and moral judgments. If we are looking for the cause, it was the change in Chinese policy that led to adjustments in US policy towards China. In recent years, China’s strength has been increasing rapidly along with its international influence. China has increased its operations maintain protect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights. China has put increased pressure on “Taiwan independence” and other splittist forces. China has strengthened the leadership of the Communist Party. The United States has become increasingly uncomfortable with China’s actions and has begun to react strongly. We can expect that these US reactions to Chinese actions will become ever more intense. The US may switch from the defensive to the the offensive.

The cause-and-effect relationship we see today also applies to 1949 and 1979. In those two years, changes in Chinese internal affairs led to big changes in Sino-US relations. Changes in US internal affairs have always had relatively little impact on Sino-US relations despite the many different presidents since then and many different political currents swept the US during those decades. The financial crisis broke out in 2008. That was major event for the United States. Did it cause a major change in Sino-US relations? Not at all.

I very much agree with my colleague Professor Tao Wenzhao that for over 200 years, the United States has never changed its strategic goals for its relationship with China:

  • Free flow of goods and capital, and
  • Free free flow of information and values.

Chinese have always had reservations or imposed boycotts to oppose two goals. We should criticize and have reason to criticize the United States but we should realize that China’s own actions have changed Sino-US relations and US perceptions of China.

Zhao Lingmin: Since the outbreak of the trade war, we have always insisted that we do not want to fight but are not afraid to fight. We accuse the United States of ruining our bilateral relations. We believe that we have institutional advantages that makes us less vulnerable to the fallout of a trade conflict than is the United States.

Wang Jisi: The trade war is an omen and a manifestation of the deterioration of Sino-US relations. It is not the cause. The Trump administration’s trade war is a tactic for mobilizing public support along a desire to make certain demands to further US interests. However continuing with the trade war serves the interests of neither country. It will solve nothing. As to which country could hold out better during a trade war, that is a strategic game between the two governments and an economic calculation of corporate interests. In the end, the government must calculate the gains and losses of their various interests and then rationally reach some compromises in order to stabilize the relationship. We need to cut our losses and to prevent trade wars or local disagreements from expanding into other areas that might lead to an overall direct confrontation between China and the United States.

Once emotions have won out over reason, there is the danger of a direct confrontation. That is something we need to be psychologically prepared for.

(I only represent the author’s point of view, editor: Yan Man.yan@ftchinese.com)

 


http://www.aisixiang.com/data/112832.html

赵灵敏:世界灵敏度创始人

王缉思:北京大学国际战略研究院院长

世界政治进入新阶段,未来难以预料

赵灵敏:前一段时间您有一篇文章认为“世界政治进入新阶段”,并总结出这个新阶段的四个特征:民族主义和民粹主义合流并同时上升,威权主义和强人政治回潮,地缘政治竞争加剧、战争危险冒头,技术创新是双刃剑,这些观点引发了广泛的关注。您认为产生这些变化的根本原因是什么?

王缉思:目前世界政治中的分化和分裂,是由两方面的长期因素造成的。第一个因素是经济不平等在全球范围的进一步扩大。当今世界上最贫穷的若干非洲国家,其人均国内生产总值为400至500美元;最富裕的国家如美国、瑞士、新加坡等,其人均国内生产总值是最贫穷国家的100多倍。同时,在人均国内生产总值已经超过60000美元的美国,近年来内部的贫富差距也在日益扩大。而在发展中国家内部,新兴大国同发达国家的经济差距在缩小,但新兴国家同后进的发展中国家之间的差距却在拉大,造成发展中国家内部的分化。

据有关统计,现在世界基尼系数已经达到0.7左右,超过了公认的0.6“危险线”。一些资料显示,无论是国与国之间,还是国家内部,现阶段全球范围的经济不平等,达到了世界近现代历史上前所未有的程度。

加剧世界各国政治分化、分裂的第二个长期因素,是全球范围人口流动所带来的社会认同的重新组合。当今世界上有3亿以上人口长年生活在出生地以外的国家,另外还有很多跨越国界的季节性劳工,各国国内的流动人口就更多了。人们生活在异国他乡,或者在自己生活的地域发现越来越多的肤色、文化、信仰不同的外来人口,会带来更大程度的乡恋、疏离感和排外情绪。网络、智能手机和社交媒体的广泛应用,方便了人们找到同胞、同乡,或者结成价值观上志同道合的“知音”和“朋友圈”。这种现象,实际上割裂了种族、族群、教派、文化、价值观等方面的社会认同,加剧了许多国家政治的极化。

可以看出,经济全球化主要带来两个问题,一是贫富差距拉大,二是认同政治突出。大家觉得不满意、不平等,希望有人来纠正这些情况,那就需要有强政府,需要有政治强人来代表,说出民众心里不满意的地方——特朗普就是这样的人,菲律宾的杜特尔特、土耳其的埃尔多安、印度的莫迪、俄罗斯的普京等,都是这样的人。政治强人的崛起不仅改变了一国的国内政治,也会反映在价值观、地缘政治等层面。过去的“政治正确性”是多元化趋势下的团结、和谐,现在则是“代表我和我的群体”去强硬地打击对立面。在国家政策层面,“政治正确”是收紧移民政策、贸易保护主义;在军事方面就要增强国防力量;领土方面是代表国家与外国寸土必争。这样一来,国内的阶级矛盾、族群矛盾,世界上的国家间矛盾,都越来越尖锐,妥协则被视为软弱和背叛。

赵灵敏:全球化进程天然有利于那些能力高强的精英,他们可以突破民族国家的界限,把东西卖到全世界,把思想传播到全世界,全世界都是他们的市场;而普通人不掌握这方面的能力和资源,只能蜗居在原来的地方听天由命。从这个角度看,不平等的问题是否是很难得到根本纠正?

王缉思:历史上主要通过三种方式来改变不平等:第一种是战争,战争之后大家都穷;第二种是革命,在俄国十月革命、中国1949年革命、伊朗1979年革命之后,没收资本家财产,打土豪分田地,富人被消灭了,或者被迫移居海外,然后大家似乎比较平等,都富不起来,;第三种是瘟疫和天灾,例如欧洲14世纪的黑死病(鼠疫)。

现在通常的做法是,通过调节社会再分配,政府将税收投入到基础设施、公共卫生、教育等领域,通过扶贫让穷人生活好起来。这种方式的见效过程是比较慢的。在任何国家、任何社会形态下,只要发展生产力,就必然是一部分人先富起来,另一部分人富裕程度比较低,差距会越来越大;想要迅速缩小这种差距,就得“杀富济贫”,这会挫伤创造财富者的积极性,穷人往往还觉得得到的帮助不够多,最终大家都不满意。

所以这个问题,我觉得是没有办法根本纠正的,至少是很难纠正的,这个现象可能会持续很长时间,目前还不想不出什么好的解决办法。丹麦、爱尔兰等欧洲国家,人们比较习惯于高税收、高福利,但连这些国家现在也出现了贫富差距拉大的趋势,特别是在移民增加之后。

赵灵敏:这个无解状态让人很担心,不知道该么办?

王缉思:世界现在正处于一个新的历史转换期。冷战结束后的很长时间里,我们认为世界进入到和平与发展时期,大家都比较乐观,最近几年感觉有可能开倒车,未来走势难以预测,可能有各种各样的黑天鹅事件出来。

今天我看了一篇文章,谈目前自由主义面临的危机:20世纪有三大主义,一是以美国为代表的自由主义,二是以苏联中国为代表的共产主义/马克思主义/社会主义,三是法西斯主义。二战把法西斯主义灭掉,世界演变为社会主义/共产主义和资本主义/自由主义之间的争夺,后来苏联解体,社会主义退到低潮,自由主义在世界大部分地区几乎变成唯一的政治正确,即福山所说的“历史的终结”。而近几年,自由主义又似乎不灵了,强人政治开始回潮,包括美国在内的很多国家,都对自己的制度有所不满,开始进行反思。

自由主义的对立面是什么?这是一个很大的问题。我觉得自由主义现在的对立面是民族主义。但民族主义是一个意识形态吗?好像又不是。共同的意识形态应该会导致相互合作而不是冲突,但如果各国都信奉民族主义,就会走向分裂和相互冲突的。

赵灵敏:民族主义也解决不了问题,只是给大家宣泄的出口,有些人对现状不满,认为现在的精英不能代表他,精英所关心的问题也和他们没有关系,只要政治强人说出了他们的心声就可以,至于管不管用再说。

王缉思:三十年河东三十年河西,原来那套模式现在不管用了。特朗普再做一段时间,可能美国民众又会觉得他的方法不管用,到时候可能又需要改弦更张。

赵灵敏:这是比较理想的情况,类似于钟摆效应,如果可以比较平安地从一边摆到另一边也就罢了,但这个过程中会发生什么事?

王缉思:所以有很多种可能,有一种可能是回到战争的时代,但是过去那种常规战争或核战争除了导致大家都死亡之外,解决不了问题。最终还是需要政府之间的合作和协调,在全球治理中找出一个模式来。也许再过一段时间,钟摆又摆回来了,但不可能真正回归原点。这里面要考虑的因素包括:30年前政府对人们自由的控制还是比较有限的,近年来涌现的新技术更有利于掌权者,但与此同时,民众也在通过新技术千方百计绕过政府强加的各种限制,完完全全的信息控制已经不可能了。过去信息匮乏,人们只能相信政府说的那一套,现在有了各种各样的缺口,中国人可以知道海外发生的事情,美国人也可以知道中国国内发生了什么。

另外一个因素是,各个族群彼此之间的认识正在发生微妙的变化。以往我们说美帝国主义坏,美国人民是好的;日本军国主义坏,日本人民是好的。但现在,很多中国人认为美国人就是坏的,不光政府坏,记者、学者、商人也很坏。美国对中国的看法也变了,过去认为中国是“专制政府”,政府不好老百姓好,现在发现很多华人和中国留学生在美国帮中国政府做事,于是对华人也开始不友好,认为这个民族的人都不是好人。另外还有宗教的问题,比如对伊斯兰教彻底负面的评价,这在全世界很多地方都很盛行。这些一边倒的看法,从认识层面是简单了,却在各个族群之间甚至同一族群的不同组成部分之间埋下了巨大的鸿沟。

“我对美国感到幻灭”

赵灵敏:大家都说特朗普能当选很重要的原因是得到美国中西部“铁锈地带”人们的支持,这个判断成立吗?

王缉思:我觉得大体上成立。不管是“铁锈地带”还是别的什么,美国社会一直有一些人感觉自己被剥夺了,在社会上吃不开了。产生这种现象的一个重要原因是全球化引发的产业转移,以及新移民的到来让人产生的不安全感。这些群体在纽约、芝加哥等大城市也都有,他们对全球化及其受益者感到反感,特朗普则说出了他们的心声。但无论如何,美国选出特朗普让我产生很大的失落感,无法想象。

赵灵敏:您觉得这个事情是偶然还是必然?当然现在它已经发生了,大家可能会找很多理由来证明它是必然的。

王缉思:我觉得肯定有一定的偶然性,但像特朗普这样的人能得到很多支持是一个必然现象,因为美国社会的分裂是已经存在的事实。特朗普的问题是,他不仅要借助社会分裂实现自己利益的最大化,而且还在不遗余力地加深这种分裂,这是比较可怕的地方。

自由主义者对特朗普的指责往往变成人身攻击,把他说得一文不值,他也把反对派骂得一文不值,这个社会就开始出现对立、厌恶和仇恨。我对美国的幻灭感很强,我在1984年第一次去美国时,美国政治斗争是相对理性、文明的,不是现在这样子动不动就破口大骂。

赵灵敏:您觉得美国社会的分化是什么时候发生的?大部分人因为特朗普当选才注意到这一变化,觉得很突然,但肯定有一个发展过程,不是一下子就这样了。

王缉思:美国社会的分化,其实很多年前就出现了,只是人们没有太注意。1992年美国洛杉矶就发生过一起种族骚乱,而且不是在黑人和白人之间,而是在黑人和韩国移民之间。现在美国族群的隔阂是逐渐加深的,排外情绪亦然。

一方面是奥巴马和希拉里所代表的许多黑人和妇女,这些曾经受过压迫的人要树立多元文化主义的政治正确性;另外一些人则正好完全相反,有人甚至是赤裸裸的白人种族主义者。这两个进程是同时发生的,我们往往注意到的是多元文化主义,而轻视了右翼民族主义、种族主义的反弹。1991年我在美国教课时,很注意不要违背“政治正确”,不能对黑人和妇女有歧视性的言论。其实,相反的倾向也同时存在。比如有一个白人女生私下跟我说,“和我同班的一个黑人女孩并不比我穷,也不像我这样勤工俭学,但她却享受优惠奖学金,这太不公平了!”她很反感这种“反向种族歧视”的情况。在此之下,仿佛有两个美国社会,都感到自己受歧视。这两者之间的矛盾,我们一直没有充分注意到。

对政治影响最深的东西可能不是理性而是情感,特朗普及其铁杆支持者就更多地代表了一种情感——他再这样不好那样不好,也还是我们的人,你们越攻击,我就越支持。我对美国的失望也在这里,过去多少高估了美国人民的理性、政治觉悟或者知识水平。

赵灵敏:特朗普上任后的第一次开内阁会议,包括副总统彭斯在内的大部分阁员都争相向他表忠心,极尽谄媚之能事,这让人非常惊讶:这样的事居然能发生在美国?

王缉思:人性在每个地方都差不多,不分党派和人群。特朗普本来也喜欢用听话、忠诚度高的人,这些人为了保住权位,也就投其所好。

赵灵敏:您在美国的同行,大学里研究中美关系的教授,他们怎么看待中美之间的现状?

王缉思:其中有些人认为是特朗普把事情搞砸了,但当我反问,“如果是希拉里•克林顿当选,中美关系会不会比现在好”,他们也回答不出来。支持民主党的人对特朗普现象非常沮丧;共和党人感情上不接受特朗普,但也无可奈何,党派利益优先。同时两党都有一种民族主义情感,认为再怎么样特朗普也是我们美国人的总统,我可以去骂,你去骂就不行。

赵灵敏:中美贸易战爆发后,普遍的看法是美国精英阶层对中国的认识发生了逆转,以前他们认为中国是可以被影响的,现在发现中国所走的道路离美国期待的越来越远,所以放弃了幻想,开始想方设法对付中国,将来即使美国换了总统,也会继续目前这一套对抗的做法。您同意这些看法吗?

王缉思:我基本同意。但还是有一些美国精英认为中国还是有改变的希望的,只是在当下的政治气氛之下,他们不能出来说话,因为一出来说中国好话就会被认为是“熊猫拥抱者”,被怀疑是否收了中国人的钱,这样对自己没有好处,所以宁愿不吭声。还有一些智库是拿政府资金的,如果现在和政府立场不同,替中国说话,会影响它们从政府那里获得资助。当下美国的氛围,不止一个人用“麦卡锡主义”来形容。

赵灵敏:纳瓦罗的观点,到底有多少代表性?

王缉思:不多,但很强有力。因为这种观点迎合了民族主义和民粹主义的风向,真的要从道理上反驳他并不难,但他的观点是基于一种政治正确性,基于一种情绪,去反驳他就和去辩论是否喜欢特朗普一样困难,因为情绪已经形成,正确与否反而不是那么重要了。

美国为什么要发动贸易战?

赵灵敏:特朗普为什么要对中国发动贸易战?是为了打垮中国吗?

王缉思:我所知道的情况是,美国企业家目前还是不想撤出中国,觉得在中国还是可以赚不少钱的。毕竟中国市场大,过去三四十年也已经产生某种路径依赖,况且这么庞大的产业链能转去哪里?可选择的地方并不多。目前这些企业是机会主义的做法,一边对美国政府说要对中国施加压力,另一方面对中国说如果你给了什么优惠政策我就不走了,我觉得还是有很多美国企业是这样的心态,想再等等看。

他们对中国的心情是复杂的,一方面对各种限制政策很不满意,另一方面他们也意识到,这些限制不是只有中国有,很多发展中国家也有类似的限制。你把企业转移到埃及,难道埃及政府就不管你了?想来想去,中国还是不错的,是能赚到钱的,所以要向中国政府施加压力,要求进行改革,开放一些行业允许外资进入。

因此,美国之所以发动贸易战打击中国,并不是想彻底离开中国,完全跟中国“脱钩”,而是想要改变中国的行为,从而赚更多的钱。这是几十年来我观察中美经贸关系得出的结论。不过,美国政府中一些人和一些美国企业,也在做中美脱钩的最坏准备,这是危险的。

赵灵敏:消除一些对美国不利的东西,方便他们更有利地进来,毕竟世界上也没有多少更好的地方值得投资。

王缉思:对。过去因为中国成本低,慢慢把美国的制造业吸引过来了,尽管在这个过程中美国有很多不满,但中美经贸关系还是在不断加强。等到中国积累了经济实力,要发展高技术产业、和美国正面竞争时,美国人才急了。

赵灵敏:除了贸易不平衡之外,美国对中国还有什么不满?

王缉思:还有美国军方的不满。军方是很大的利益集团,前些年它认为中国的军事力量还不足以对美国造成威胁,而且中国也没有想要真正把美国排挤出亚太地区。这两年中国在南海问题上态度很强势,美国开始感觉中国军队的力量已经比以前大了很多,再不对中国施加压力,美国在西太平洋就没有立足点,这部分人是对华政策强硬的重要推手,其中也包括军工利益集团。过去拿恐怖主义说事可以拿到很多军费,还有武器制造和销售的巨大利益链条,现在矛头指向中国之后,安全问题上的矛盾都可以拿来当借口。

此外,在美国的孔子学院使美国人感觉到,中国的价值观和美国不一样,中国在美国宣传中国的价值观,美国人很难接受。中美意识形态矛盾,也表现在中国留美学生、学者身上。

赵灵敏:那美国到底想要什么?是要颠覆中国的制度吗?

王缉思:有人说,中国不进行根本的政治体制改造就不能和美国搞好关系,我不同意这种说法。美国确实有人想要改变中国的根本政治制度,但它的政府和政治主流知道这不现实,做不到。但在一些具体领域,美国人是有诉求的,比如要求中国更加国际化、市场化,增加各个领域的透明度,减少政府对国有企业的补贴,降低对外企技术转让的要求,改变诸如“中国制造2025”等项政策。如果这些方面有所改变的话,美国还是会感觉有希望,至少在朝它希望的方向走。其实中美关系长期以来就是这样,美国要价一直是很高的,我们从来不会全盘接受,双方是要讨价还价的。

赵灵敏:所以有一种说法认为,美国对中国的打压跟我们这几年强势的外交政策有很大关系。

王缉思:我在这里先不做政治道德判断。如果只从因果关系来说,主要是中国的变化引起了美国对华政策的调整。这些年中国实力迅速增强,国际影响拓展很快,强化了领土和海洋上的维权行动,加强了对“台独”等分裂势力的打压,国内加强了共产党的领导。美国对中国的所作所为感到越来越不适应,开始做出强烈的反应。可以预料,美国的反应会越来越激烈,可能由守势转向攻势。

这个因果关系可以往前延伸到1949年和1979年。在这两个时间点,都是中国内政的变化导致了中美关系的巨变。而美国内政的变化向来对中美关系的影响相对比较小。美国换了那么多届总统,国内有那么多次政治风潮,2008年爆发了金融危机,这都是美国的大事,中美关系因此有重大变化吗?并没有。

我十分同意我的同事陶文钊教授的说法,即200多年来,美国对中国的战略目标从来没有变过:一个是商品与资本的自由流动,另一个是信息与价值观的自由流动。中国对这两个目标一直是有保留或者抵制的。我们应该、也有理由批评美国,制约美国,但应当认识到,中国所做的事情改变了中美关系,改变了美国对中国的看法。

赵灵敏:贸易战爆发至今,我们一直说不想战不怕战,指责美国破坏了两国关系,认为我们有体制上的优势,比美国更能扛得住。

王缉思:贸易战是中美关系恶化的征兆和表现,而不是原因。特朗普政府打贸易战是取得民意支持的一种手段,也有一些利益诉求,但是接着打下去对双方都是没有前途的,解决不了什么问题。至于谁更能扛得住,是两国政府间的战略博弈问题,企业算的是经济账。政府最终要是要计算利益得失,用理性方式使双方达成一些妥协,把关系稳定下来。当务之急是止损,防止贸易战或局部矛盾扩大到其他领域,造成中美全面对抗。一旦情感压住了理性,就会出现全面对抗的危险,对此要有心理准备。

进入 王缉思 的专栏     进入专题: 中美贸易战   中美关系

本文责编:川先生
发信站:爱思想(http://www.aisixiang.com),栏目:天益学术 > 国际关系 > 国际关系时评
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文章来源:FT中文网

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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