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Analysis of the Biden Administration’s “Re-Ambiguation” of its Cross-Strait Policy


This article, published in the June issue of a leading Taiwan studies journal, argues that the U.S. cross-Strait policy faces a “strategic dilemma” of attempting to support Taiwan while avoiding conflict with China.

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Since taking office, Biden himself and senior officials in his administration have emphasized on several occasions that the United States will adhere to the one-China policy and maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy is based on the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués, the “Taiwan Relations Act,” and the “Six Assurances,” and is unlikely to break with the one-China principle. Most in the domestic academic community tend to believe that the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy is beginning to return to a more rational and predictable approach compared to the Trump administration’s aggressive and adventuristic style. However, Biden has inherited Trump’s strategic thinking of “controlling China with Taiwan” and has played the “Taiwan card” with undiminished intensity, differing from Trump only in terms of means and methods. Although the Biden administration claims it is not breaking the one-China principle, its actions have constantly challenged the bottom line of the one-China principle, focusing on substantially elevating U.S.-Taiwan relations. For the Biden administration, “using Taiwan to control China” has become an important element of its Indo-Pacific strategy, and serves the United States’ grand strategy of containing China. This article considers the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy as a tactical “re-ambiguation,” from which one can perceive how the Biden administration treats the “Taiwan card” and considers how to gain more benefits by playing it. This reflects the interest-oriented pragmatism in U.S. diplomacy. In order to analyze the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy, it is necessary to understand the nature, manifestations and underlying causes of the “re-ambiguation.” We must also forecast the future trends of the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy.

拜登上台后,其本人及其政府高官在多个场合强调美国将坚持一个中国政策,维护台海和平稳定。从拜登与习近平主席的视频会晤,以及布林肯、沙利文等人的讲话可发现,拜登政府的台海政策以中 美三个联合公报、“与台湾关系法”以及“六项保证”为基础,不太可能突破一个中国原则。国内学界大都倾向认为拜登政府的台海政策相比特朗普政府激进冒险的风格开始重回理性,更有预测性。然而, 拜登继承了特朗普“以台制华”的战略思维,打“台湾牌”的力度丝毫没有降低,只是在手段和方式 上与特朗普有所不同。拜登政府虽自称没有突破一个中国原则,但其行动却在不断挑战一个中国原则 的底线,注重实质性提升美台关系。“以台制华”已成为拜登政府印太战略的重要抓手,服务于美国遏制中国的大战略。本文认为拜登政府的台海政策是一种战术性的“再模糊化”,从中可以透视拜登政府如何对待“台湾牌”,以及如何通过打“台湾牌”获得更多利益的考量,这反应了美国外交中以利益为导向的实用主义理念。为分析拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化”,必须了解拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化” 的本质、表现以及成因背景,同时也要对拜登政府台海政策的未来发展趋势进行预测。

I.   Three dimensions of the Biden administration’s policy framework toward China: strategic competition, dialogue and cooperation, and managing differences


After more than a year since Biden took office, the outlines of the administration’s policy framework toward China can be traced by combing through relevant policy documents, official statements, and information from high-level meetings. These can be summarized along three dimensions: strategic competition, dialogue and cooperation, and managing differences.


First, there is the strategic competition dimension. The Interim National Security Guidance issued on March 3, 2021 shortly after Biden took office stated that “China is the only potential competitor capable of combining economic, diplomatic, military, and technological forces to pose a lasting challenge to a stable and open international system.” 1 On April 21, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. The China-related section emphasizes the need to increase research investment and infrastructure development to meet the China challenge, while re-examining commitments to allies and partners and reestablishing U.S. leadership. It indicates that the United States will mobilize all strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools to counter China in an attempt to make the U.S.-China relationship develop in the direction of outright competition and full confrontation. 2 On February 11, 2022, the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States noted that “The PRC is combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might as it pursues a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and seeks to become the world’s most influential power. China’s behavior is undermining freedom of navigation and other principles of international law, which undermines the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.”3 4 On March 28, 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense submitted a classified version of the 2022 National Defense Strategy to Congress, which for the first time examines the Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Review in a comprehensive and integrated manner. It says that China is the most important “strategic competitor” of the United States, posing a threat to the United States in multiple areas, and that the key for U.S. defense is to prioritize the Chinese challenge in the Indo-Pacific region and strengthen deterrence against China. 5 On May 26, 2022, Secretary of State Blinken delivered a lengthy speech on China policy in which he stated that the United States has extremely limited ability to directly influence China’s strategic direction, and will therefore turn to building a “strategic environment” against China, and strongly advocated building a coalition to “contain China.”6 This shows that Biden has continued Trump’s positioning of China as a “strategic competitor” and his posture of strategic competition toward China.

第一,战略竞争维度。2021 年 3 月 3 日,拜登上台不久的《国家安全战略临时指南》称,“中国是唯一有能力将经济、外交、军事和技术力量结合起来,对稳定和开放的国际体系构成持久挑战的潜在竞争对手。”2021 年 4 月 21 日,美国会通过《2021 年战略竞争法》,涉华部分强调要加大科研投入和基础设施建设以应对中国的挑战,同时重审对盟友和伙伴的承诺,重建美国的领导地位。显示美国 将动员所有战略、经济和外交工具抗衡中国,企图使中美关系朝着彻底竞争和完全对抗方向发展。2022 年2月 11 日,拜登政府《印太战略报告》指出“中国正在通过经济、外交、军事、科技等手段,扩大在印太地区的影响力,并最终要成为世界上最有影响力的国家。中国的行为破坏了航行自由等国际法 原则,破坏印太地区的稳定和繁荣。 2022 年 3 月 28 日,美国防部向国会递交机密版《2022 年国防 战略报告》,首次以全面综合的方式检视《核态势评估报告》和《导弹防御评估报告》,称中国是美国 最重要的“战略竞争对手”,在多个领域对美国构成威胁,美国防重点是优先考虑中国在印太地区的挑战,要加强对中国的威慑。2022 年 5 月 26 日,美国国务卿布林肯发表对华政策长篇演讲称,美国直接影响中国战略方向的能力极为有限,因此将转而构建一个针对中国的“战略环境”,并竭力鼓吹构建 “遏制中国”的联盟。这显示拜登延续了特朗普对华“战略竞争对手”定位和对华战略竞争态势。

The second dimension is dialog and cooperation. Since Biden took office, there have been several high-level dialogues between the United States and China, showing that Biden does not want the strategic competition between the United States and China to evolve into a full-blown vicious competition, and is trying to avoid sliding into a “new Cold War” of full-fledged confrontation between the two countries. Biden has said that the two sides should improve their understanding of each other’s intentions through open and frank dialogue to ensure that the competition between the two countries is fair and healthy and does not evolve into conflict.7 Although Biden has also positioned China as a “strategic competitor” just as Trump did, he has singled out areas of common interest and is “prepared to work with China where it is consistent with U.S. interests.8 Because the United States cannot afford full-scale competition and “decoupling” from China, the United States needs China’s cooperation in areas such as dealing with COVID-19 and climate change. During video meetings between President Xi Jinping and Biden in November 2021 and March 2022, Biden emphasized that the United States does not seek to fight a “new Cold War” with China, change China’s institutions, or oppose China by strengthening alliances; the United States does not support “Taiwan independence,” nor does it intend to create any conflict with China. The U.S. side is willing to engage in frank dialogue with China and strengthen cooperation.9 One can see that the Biden administration’s policy toward China demonstrates a considerable degree of willingness for dialogue and cooperation.

第二,对话合作维度。拜登上台后中美高层已有数次对话,显示拜登并不想让中美战略竞争演变为全面恶性竞争,尽量避免滑向中美全面对抗的“新冷战”。拜登表示,中美双方应通过开诚布公和坦率对话,增进对彼此意图的了解,确保两国竞争是公平、健康的,而不会演变成为冲突。虽然跟特朗普一样,拜登也将中国定位为“战略竞争对手”,但拜登特别指出具有共同利益的领域,在“符合美国利益的条件下也准备和中国合作”。因为美国承受不起中美全面竞争及与中国全面“脱钩”的代  价,美国在诸如应对新冠肺炎、气候变化等方面需要中国的合作。习近平主席和拜登在 2021 年 11 月和 2022 年 3 月举行了两次元首视频会晤,会晤中拜登均强调美国不寻求同中国打“新冷战”,不寻求改变中国体制,不寻求通过强化同盟关系反对中国,不支持“台独”,无意同中国发生冲突。美方愿同中方坦诚对话,加强合作。可发现拜登政府的对华政策展现出相当程度的对话合作意愿。

The third dimension is that of managing differences. In the March 18, 2022 meeting between the United States and China, both Biden and President Xi Jinping talked about their differences, which shows that both the United States and China have the willingness to manage their differences and intend to search for “guardrails” in the U.S.-China relationship. The purpose of managing differences is to have a stable U.S.-China relationship. This is in line with the interests of both countries, which have mutual strategic requirements, and it is the consensus of the two countries. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused a sudden change in the international situation, and impacted the overall geopolitical landscape and relationships between the major powers. At this time, both China and the United States both believe that the relationship is important, that they should face up to and manage their differences and rivalries, and that conflict need not break out. In his May 26, 2022 speech on China policy, Blinken repeatedly emphasized that the United States hopes to avoid conflict with China and to build a so-called “open and inclusive international system.”10 As is well known, the biggest difference between China and the United States is the Taiwan issue. Looking back over the history since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, whenever the one-China policy of the United States is implemented and the U.S. side fully respect China’s core interests and China’s territorial sovereignty and integrity on the Taiwan issue, Sino-U.S. relations can develop smoothly. But when the United States assails the one-China bottom line and framework of the Taiwan issue, and when the Taiwan issue is used by the United States to play the Taiwan card, to “use Taiwan to control China,” and to elevate Taiwan’s strategic pawn status, U.S.-China relations will be turbulent.11 Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is in the interest of both countries, and China and the United States worked together to contain Chen Shui-bian’s “legal Taiwan independence” in the Taiwan Strait. Biden has told President Xi Jinping that the United States adheres to the one-China policy, and does not support “Taiwan independence.” It is willing to effectively manage competition and differences, has no intention of clashing with China, and promotes the stable development of relations between the two countries.

第三,管控分歧维度。在 2022 年 3 月 18 日中美元首会晤中,拜登和习近平主席都谈到分歧,这说明中美都有管控分歧的意愿,有意在中美关系中寻找“护栏”。管控分歧是为了有一个稳定的中美关系,这符合中美两国利益,中美双方互有战略需求,这是两国共识。俄乌冲突致使国际局势发生了突变, 冲击了地缘政治的总体格局,也冲击着大国之间的关系。在这个时候,中美双方都认为中美关系很重要, 认为要正视和管控双方的分歧、竞争,不应该爆发冲突。布林肯在 2022 年 5 月 26 日的对华政策演讲中多次强调美国希望避免与中国的冲突,要建立所谓“开放包容的国际体系”。众所周知,中美之间最大的分歧是台湾问题。回顾中美建交以来的历史,当美国的一个中国政策能够得以落实,当美国方 面能够在台湾问题上充分尊重中国的核心利益和中国的领土主权完整时,中美关系就能平稳发展。当 美国在台湾问题上冲击一个中国的底线和框架时,当台湾问题被美国拿来用作打台湾牌,“以台制华”,提升台湾的战略棋子地位时,中美关系就会横生波澜。台海的和平稳定符合中美两国利益,中美曾经在台海共同遏制过陈水扁的“法理台独”,这次拜登也向习近平主席表示,美国坚持一个中国政策,不支持“台独”,愿有效管控好竞争和分歧,无意同中国发生冲突,推动两国关系稳定发展。

II.   The Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy: a tactical “re-ambiguation”


The United States’ Taiwan Strait policy is subordinate to its China policy and is governed by the general framework of U.S.-China relations. It is clear from the previous analysis that the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy will definitely conform to the three dimensions of strategic competition, dialogue and cooperation, and managing differences within the overall framework of U.S.-China relations. First, the Biden administration will continue to play the “Taiwan card” and “use Taiwan to control China.” This conforms to the strategic competition dimension. The Biden administration will not go to extremes in playing the “Taiwan card” and will not engage in full-fledged conflict with China over Taiwan because the United States needs China’s cooperation in areas where the United States and China have common interests. This conforms to the dialogue and cooperation dimension. The Biden administration will only “re-ambiguate” its security commitments to Taiwan and will not explicitly give Taiwan any kind of security guarantees, at the same time also appropriately “browbeating” the DPP authorities for their “Taiwan independence” moves that provoke the mainland. In particular, at this sensitive time of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the United States fears that it will be “dragged under” by Taiwan to the detriment of its interests. This conforms to the managing differences dimension. On April 15, 2022, a bipartisan group of six U.S. lawmakers visited Taipei and met with Tsai Ing-wen, saying that the United States’ so-called “support” for Taiwan included two key points, namely that “the United States does not seek conflict with China” and that “Taiwan cannot provoke.”12

美国台海政策从属于美国对华政策,受到中美关系大框架制约,该判断适用于历届美国政府,分析拜登政府台海政策时也应坚持这一判断。通过之前的分析可知,拜登政府台海政策一定会符合中美关系大框架下战略竞争、对话合作、管控分歧这三个维度。首先,拜登政府会继续打“台湾牌”,“以台制华”遏制中国。这符合战略竞争维度。拜登政府不会采取极端方式打“台湾牌”,不会因台湾问题而与中国全面冲突,因为在中美具有共同利益的领域,美国需要中国的合作。这符合对话合作维度。 拜登政府只会“再模糊化”对台安全承诺,不会明确给台某种安全保证,同时也会对民进党当局挑衅 大陆的“台独”举动进行适当“敲打”,尤其在当下俄乌冲突敏感时刻,美担心会被台“拉下水”,损害美国利益。这符合管控分歧维度。2022 年 4 月 15 日,6 名美国跨党派议员窜访台北和蔡英文会面时称,美对台所谓“支持”包括两个重点,即“美国不寻求与中国冲突”和“台湾不能挑衅”。

After clarifying the overall framework of U.S.-China relations, it is easy to understand that the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy is a tactical “re-ambiguation.” That is, while adhering to the one-China policy, it keeps giving signals of “support” for Taiwan, attempting to disrupt the situation in the Taiwan Strait in order to maintain the United States’ strategic initiative there. From another perspective, this reflects the current strategic dilemma faced by the United States. First, at the global level: The United States’ declining relative national strength is no longer able to support an expansive global strategy, and the United States is unable to simultaneously invest enough resources in the key regions of Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific to maintain its strategic advantage. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the United States has been putting its strategic focus on the European region in an all-out response to the biggest geopolitical crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. This objectively requires the United States to carry out “strategic contraction” in other regions. Second, at the level of U.S.-China relations: Now that the rise of China has become a fact, the United States needs to contain China, out of a hegemonic power’s defense against rising powers. Although Biden has stressed the need to engage in “the most intense strategic competition” with China, he has also recognized that China and the United States have many common interests, and that the United States needs China’s cooperation in these areas. Without China’s help, there will be many problems that the United States will be unable to solve, ultimately harming the interests of the United States. This shows that the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy is in line with the current overall framework of U.S.-China relations and is a tactical rather than a strategic adjustment.

明确中美关系大框架后,就容易理解拜登政府台海政策是一种战术性“再模糊化”,即在坚持一个中国政策的前提下不断释放“支持”台湾的信号,企图扰乱台海局势,以维持美国在台海的战略主动。这从另一个角度折射出美国当前所面临的战略困境。首先,在全球层面。美国相对衰落的国力已无法 支撑起扩张性的全球战略,美国无法同时在欧洲、中东、印太这些重点地区投入足够的资源以维持战 略优势。自俄乌冲突爆发以来,美国一直将战略重心放在欧洲地区,全力应对这个冷战结束以来欧洲 爆发的最大地缘政治危机,这在客观上要求美国在其他地区进行“战略收缩”。其次,在中美关系层面。当前中国崛起已成事实,出于霸权国对崛起国的防范,美国需要对中国进行遏制。拜登虽强调要与中 国进行“最激烈的战略竞争”,但也认识到中美之间存在着众多共同利益,在这些方面美国需要中国的合作,如果没有中国的帮助美国将有很多问题无法解决,最终损害的是美国的利益。由此可见拜登政 府台海政策“再模糊化”符合当前中美关系的大框架,是一种战术层面而非战略层面的调整。

In short, the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy is superficially a “fight without breaking” approach to playing the “Taiwan card,” but is essentially intended to contain China. In international relations, constructivism holds that “identity determines interests, and interests determine behavior.”13Given its identity as a world hegemonic power, the United States is destined to maintain hegemony as its core interest, and the means adopted to maintain that interest are influenced by power. The United States sees the rise of China as a challenge to U.S. hegemony, and playing the “Taiwan card” to contain China has become an important tool for the United States. At present, the power gap between China and the United States is narrowing further, and the United States is no longer able to gain an absolute power advantage in the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, the United States must pay attention to China’s position and concerns on the Taiwan issue when playing the “Taiwan card,” avoid irritating China, and avoid triggering a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait. This objectively requires that U.S. Taiwan Strait policy return to “strategic ambiguity,” which reflects a kind of American style of pragmatic diplomatic thinking.

总之,拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化”在表面上是采取一种“斗而不破”的方式打“台湾牌”,而实质上是为了遏制中国。国际关系的建构主义认为“身份决定利益,利益决定行为”。 美国作为世界霸权国的身份地位注定将维持霸权视为其核心利益,而采用什么样的方式维护利益又受到实力的影响。美国将中国崛起视为对美国霸权的挑战,而通过打“台湾牌”遏制中国成为美国的重要手段。当前中美实力差距进一步缩小,美国已经无法在台海取得绝对权力优势,因此美国在打“台湾牌”时必须重视中国在台湾问题上的立场和关切,避免刺激中国,避免引发台海军事冲突,客观上要求美国台海政策必须回归“战略模糊”,这体现了一种美式实用主义的外交思想。

III.   Manifestations of the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy


The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue in China-U.S. relations, and it is also a structural contradiction between China and the United States. The May 2021 cover article of The Economist, entitled “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth,” describes Taiwan as “the most dangerous place in the world,” saying that if the Taiwan issue is not handled properly, it may lead to the disastrous consequence of armed conflict between two nuclear powers, China and the United States.14On March 18, 2022, President Xi Jinping and Biden also pointed out during their video meeting that if the Taiwan issue is not handled properly, it will have a disruptive impact on the bilateral relationship. 15 Therefore, after carefully balancing risks and benefits, “re-ambiguation” has become the strategic choice of the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy, mainly manifested in the release of “re-ambiguation” signals, hedging on written commitments, and obvious inconsistencies between statements and actions, as Biden attempts to “fight without breaking,” fully utilize Taiwan’s containment role, and maximize U.S. interests.

台湾问题是中美关系中最重要最敏感的核心问题,也是中美结构性矛盾。英国《经济学人》2021 年 5 月的封面文章《世界上最危险的地方》以“地球上最危险的地方”形容台湾,称如果台湾问题处理不好可能导致中美两个核大国发生武装冲突的灾难性后果。2022 年 3 月 18 日,习近平主席和拜 登视频通话时也指出台湾问题如果处理不好,将会对两国关系造成颠覆性影响。因此谨慎平衡风险和收益后,“再模糊化”就成为拜登政府台海政策的战略选择,表现主要是释放“再模糊化”信号、对冲文件承诺、表态和行动明显不符等,拜登试图“斗而不破”,发挥台湾牵制作用,实现美国利益最大化。

(1) Giving multiple “re-ambiguation” signals

The United States has long pursued an ambiguous one-China policy, which ensures that the United States can achieve “dual deterrence” on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and maintain the so-called “status quo in the Taiwan Strait” while also avoiding the perception of “choosing sides,” thereby allowing the United States to achieve interest maximization in the Taiwan Strait. “Strategic ambiguity” is a typical low-cost, high-yield policy. Although U.S. Taiwan Strait policy tended to shift from “strategic ambiguity” to “strategic clarity” during the Trump era, Biden stopped this trend after taking office and “re-ambiguated” Taiwan Strait policy. While emphasizing his commitment to the one-China policy and to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Biden has repeatedly stressed that “the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid.” This contradictory stance reflects a certain degree of strategic dilemma for the United States. That is, the United States wants to maintain its relationship with China, and it cannot let a full-scale conflict with China occur due to “using Taiwan to control China,” which would harm U.S. interests. Therefore, it must play the “Taiwan card” in a “fight without breaking” manner. In early May 2022, the U.S. State Department updated the “U.S.-Taiwan relations” statement on its official website, removing two important phrases: “The United States does not support ‘Taiwan independence'” and “Taiwan is part of China.” Some mainland scholars say this is a “regression” in the U.S. position on Taiwan and proof that the United States continues to “hollow out” the one-China policy.16 Biden has also repeatedly made “defend Taiwan” statements, telling the media twice in August and October 2021 that the United States would “defend Taiwan” if the mainland “attacked” it. 17 Most recently, on May 23, 2022, during a visit to Japan, Biden told the media that “if mainland China launches an attack, the United States would take military measures to protect Taiwan.” 18 Biden’s “defend Taiwan” statement momentarily had the outside world thinking that the U.S. Taiwan Strait policy was shifting to “strategic clarity,” but then the White House rushed to “put out fires,” saying that this was a “slip of the tongue,” and that the U.S. Taiwan Strait policy had not changed. On October 27, 2021, Tsai Ing-wen admitted in an interview with CNN that there were U.S. military personnel in Taiwan. Biden did not respond to this.19 Biden belongs to the traditional American establishment, which wants to maintain a state of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” in the Taiwan Strait. 20 Only in this state can the U.S. gain the maximum benefit in the Taiwan Strait. Because of the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, the United States will merely increase risks by giving “re-ambiguation” signals. As President Xi Jinping emphasized during his video meeting with Biden, it is very dangerous for some people in the United States to send wrong signals to the “Taiwan independence” forces.21

美国长期奉行模糊的一个中国政策,既能确保美国对两岸实现“双重威慑”,维持所谓“台海现状”,又能避免被外界认为“选边站”,使得美国在台海实现利益最大化。“战略模糊”属于典型的低成本高收益政策。虽然特朗普时期美国台海政策一度有从“战略模糊”向“战略清晰”转变的倾向,但拜登 上台后止住了这一趋势,将美国台海政策“再模糊化”处理,在强调坚持一个中国政策,致力于维护台海和平稳定的同时,又多次强调“美国对台湾的承诺坚如磐石”。这种充满矛盾的表态反映了美国某种程度的战略困境,即美国既要维持与中国的关系,又不能因“以台制华”与中国发生全面冲突以损 害美国利益,因此必须以“斗而不破”方式打“台湾牌”。2022 年 5 月初,美国务院在其官网更新了“美台关系”表述,去掉“美国不支持‘台独’”、“台湾是中国一部分”两处重要内容。有大陆学者表示, 这是美国涉台立场的“倒退”,是美国不断“掏空”一个中国政策的证明。拜登还多次发出“协防台湾” 言论,2021 年 8 月和 10 月拜登两次对媒体表示,如果大陆“进攻”台湾,美国会“协防台湾”。最 近一次是 2022年5月 23 日,拜登访问日本时对媒体称,“如果中国大陆发动攻击,美国将采取军事措施保护台湾”。拜登“协防台湾”让外界一度以为美国台海政策要转变为“战略清晰”,而后都是白宫紧急“灭火”,表示这是拜登“口误”,美国台海政策没有改变。2021 年 10 月 27 日,蔡英文接受 CNN专访时承认台湾有美国军事人员,拜登对此却不做回应。拜登属于美国传统的建制派,这一派希望台海一直维持“不统、不独、不武”的状态。只有在这种状态下,美国才能在台海获得最大利益。由于台湾问题的敏感性,美国释放“再模糊化”信号只会增加风险。正如习近平主席在和拜登视频会 晤时强调的,美国一些人向“台独”势力发出错误信号,这是十分危险的。

(2) Using “one Act and six assurances” to hedge the “Three Communiqués”

The three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués are important historical documents guiding U.S.-China relations and the Taiwan issue, the core of which is the one-China principle. However, since coming to power, Biden has intentionally highlighted the importance of the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the so-called “six assurances” to the Taiwan authorities, elevating the “one act and six assurances” to the same level as the Three Communiqués or even higher. In a video meeting with President Xi Jinping on November 16, 2021, Biden emphasized the United States’ continued commitment to the one-China policy, guided by the “Taiwan Relations Act,” the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués, and the six assurances. 22 The statement released by the White House places the “Taiwan Relations Act,” a domestic law of the United States, ahead of the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués. On February 11, 2022, the Biden administration released its first Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which made several references to Taiwan, but placed the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués after the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the six assurances, despite emphasizing that the United States will adhere to the one-China policy. The State Department recently listed on its official website that the United States will “develop its relationship with Taiwan based on the longstanding one-China policy of the “Taiwan Relations Act,” the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués, and the six assurances.” 23 One can see that the Biden administration has prioritized the “Taiwan Relations Act” for guiding the Taiwan issue, indicating that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is higher than the U.S. commitment to the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués.24 On one hand, this reflects the greater importance the United States attaches to domestic politics than to international politics, and on the other hand, it shows the Biden administration’s bias in favor of Taiwan. Biden is well aware of the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue in U.S.-China relations, and therefore intends to hedge the “Three Communiqués” with the “one act and six assurances.” This is an attempt to throw off the shackles of the one-China principle and provide room in which to play the “Taiwan card” in a “fighting without breaking” fashion.

中美三个联合公报是指导中美关系以及台湾问题的重要历史文件,最核心的是一个中国原则,历 届美国政府均强调遵守一个中国原则和三个公报的规定,这是中美关系的政治基础。然而,拜登上台 后有意突出“与台湾关系法”和美国对台湾当局所谓“六项保证”的重要性,将“一法和六保证”提 升至和三公报相同甚至更高的高度。2021 年 11 月 16 日,拜登在和习近平主席的视频会晤中强调美国将继续致力于以“与台湾关系法”、中美三个联合公报和“六项保证”为指导的一个中国政策。在白宫发布的声明中将属于美国国内法的“与台湾关系法”置于中美三个联合公报之前。2022 年2 月11 日, 拜登政府发布了首部《印太战略报告》,多次提到台湾,尽管强调美国将坚持一个中国政策,但将中美三个联合公报放在“与台湾关系法”和“六项保证”之后。最近美国国务院又在官网上列出美国将“基于‘与台湾关系法’、中美三个联合公报、‘六项保证’的长期一中政策发展与台湾的关系。” 可见拜登政府已将“与台湾关系法”放在指导台湾问题的优先位置,显示美国对台湾的承诺高于美国在中美 三个联合公报中的承诺。这一方面反映出美国对国内政治的重视高于国际政治,另一方面显示拜登政府对台湾的偏重。拜登深知台湾问题在中美关系中的敏感性,因此有意以“一法六保证”对冲“三 公报”,试图摆脱一个中国原则的束缚,为以“斗而不破”方式打“台湾牌”留下操作空间。

(3) Statements and actions are clearly inconsistent

When the United States adheres to the one-China policy, there are safety “guardrails” to a certain extent on the competition and differences between China and the United States. But once the U.S. side does not adhere to the one-China policy, the “guardrail” edges will be breached, making it difficult to have a stable Sino-U.S. relationship. 25 Hence, while the Biden administration has many times verbally emphasized adherence to the one-China policy, such statements are more about symbolism. In terms of actions, Biden has been the same as Trump in pursuing a kind of hollowed-out one-China policy, that is, elevating the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. Since Biden came into office, statements on the Taiwan issue have generally led the outside world to believe that Biden is more rational and predictable than Trump, and the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait has fallen. However, Biden has positioned China as “the most serious competitor,”26 and in this context, Biden has played the “Taiwan card” to “use Taiwan to control China” with a forcefulness which has even surpassed Trump. On January 20, 2021, Taiwan’s “Representative to the United States,” Bi-khim Hsiao, was invited to Biden’s inauguration, breaking more than 40 years of practice in normalizing Sino-U.S. relations. Tsai Ing-wen claimed that “this fully demonstrated the improvement in Taiwan-U.S. relations.” In February 2021, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Sun Yong Kim met with Bi-khim Hsiao at the U.S. State Department, which also broke the “taboo” against Taiwanese officials entering the State Department, instead only operating outside the State Department.27 In June 2021, three U.S. Senators arrived in Taiwan aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane to donate vaccines to the Taiwanese authorities on behalf of the U.S. government. In November 2021, four U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives again arrived on a U.S. Navy C-40A to meet with Tsai Ing-wen and entered Taiwan’s Department of Defense for the first time, strengthening U.S.-Taiwan military exchanges. In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Biden has repeatedly sent delegations to Taiwan to demonstrate his so-called “support” for Taiwan. In addition, Biden approved three arms sales to Taiwan in August 2021, February 2022, and March 2022, worth $750 million, $100 million, and $250 million, respectively, for a total of more than $1 billion. On a fourth occasion in June 2022, Biden again approved $120 million in arms sales to Taiwan. This indicates that the Biden administration is stepping up the arming of Taiwan. The above actions by the Biden administration clearly violate its commitment to abide by the one-China principle, and they send the wrong signal to the Taiwan authorities. On March 15, 2022, Yang Jiechi, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission General Office, met with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Rome, where Yang Jiechi emphasized that the U.S. side clearly has recognized that there is only one China in all three Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqués. The one-China principle was the prerequisite for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, and it is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations. On the Taiwan issue, the current U.S. administration has made a commitment to uphold the one-China policy and to not support “Taiwan independence,” but its actions are clearly inconsistent with its statements. 28

美国坚持一个中国政策,中美之间的竞争和分歧某种程度上就有安全“护栏”。一旦美方不坚持一个中国政策,安全“护栏”的边际就会被突破,中美就难以有稳定的关系。因此,拜登政府多次在口头上强调坚持一个中国政策,但这种表态更多的是象征意义,行动上拜登则跟特朗普一样,执行的 是一种空洞化的一中政策,即实质性提升美台关系。拜登上台后在台湾问题上的表态让外界普遍认为 拜登比特朗普更加理性和具有可预测性,台海冲突风险有所降低,然而拜登对中国的定位是“最严峻 的战略竞争对手”,在这个背景下,拜登打“台湾牌”“以台制华”的力度甚至超过了特朗普。2021年 1 月 20 日,台“驻美代表”萧美琴被邀请参加拜登就职典礼,打破中美关系正常化四十多年来的惯例。蔡英文宣称,“这充分彰显了台美关系的提升”。2021 年 2 月,美国国务院亚太事务助理国务卿金圣与萧美琴在美国国务院会晤,也打破以往台湾官员不能进入美国国务院而只能在国务院以外活动的“禁忌”。2021 年 6 月,3 名美国参议员搭乘美国空军的 C-17 运输机抵达台湾,代表美国政府向台湾当局捐赠疫苗。2021 年 11 月,4 名美国参议员和 2 名美国众议员再次搭乘美国海军 C-40A 专机抵达台湾与蔡英文会晤,并首度进入台“国防部”,强化美台军事交流。俄乌冲突发生后,拜登多次派代表团访问台湾,展示所谓对台“支持”。此外,2021 年 8 月、2022 年 2 月和 3 月拜登三次分别批准了对台价值 7.5 美元、1 亿美元、2.5 亿美元的军售,总共超过 10 亿美元。2022 年 6 月,拜登又第四次批准对台 1.2 亿美元的军售。这表明拜登政府正在加紧武装台湾。拜登政府的上述举动明显违背了其遵守一个中国原则的承诺,给台湾当局释放错误信号。2022 年 3 月 15 日,中央外事工作委员会办公室主任杨洁篪同美国国家安全事务助理沙利文在罗马会晤,杨洁篪强调美方在中美三个联合公报中都明确承认只有一个中国。一个中国原则是中美建立外交关系的前提 , 也是中美关系的政治基础。本届美国政府在台湾问题上作出坚持一个中国政策、不支持“台独”承诺 , 但行动与表态明显不符。

IV.   Underlying causes of the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy


The underlying causes of the “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy are mainly the domestic political situation, the “strategic value” of Taiwan, the pressure on U.S. hegemony, and the practical need for cooperation between the United States and China.


(1) The domestic political situation in the United States

Against the background of the intensified strategic game between China and the United States, a consensus on the Taiwan issue has formed between the two U.S. political parties regarding “using Taiwan to control China,” but there are differences between the two parties in terms of how to implement “using Taiwan to control China” and thereby achieve U.S. interests. Under Trump, the United States took a simple and truculent approach to containing China, such as launching trade and technology wars against China and suddenly announcing the closure of Chinese consulates. On the Taiwan issue, Trump went from a phone call with Tsai Ing-wen right after he was elected, questioning the one-China principle, to announcing “the lifting of all restrictions on dealings with Taiwan” before he left office. On one hand, this stemmed from Trump’s character trait of personal recklessness; on the other hand, it reflects the Republican Party’s unilateralism and conservatism. However, this series of actions by the Trump administration had little effect and did not bring China to its knees, which prompted the United States to change its strategy and seek a more pragmatic policy toward China and the Taiwan Strait. Biden came to power as a Democratic president, and his foreign policy has distinctly Democratic undertones, namely its emphasis on values, ideology, and multilateralism. Biden has repeatedly expressed his intention to “deepen relations with ‘democratic Taiwan,'” and has clearly favored Taiwan in the chain of logic on high-level issues such as democratic values and “international rules.” 29 In addition, Biden is also facing pressure from the 2022 midterm elections, and playing the “Taiwan card” has always been an important means for both U.S. parties to boost their popularity during elections. On March 1, 2022, Biden sent a so-called “high-powered delegation” consisting of five former top military and national security officials to Taiwan to allay the uneasiness of the DPP authorities in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on one hand, and more importantly, to show “support for Taiwan” to domestic voters in the United States. The nuance here is that former Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Republican, also visited Taiwan later, showing that the two U.S. parties are competing in the election to play the “Taiwan card” in order to reap political benefits.

在中美战略博弈加剧背景下,美国两党在台湾问题上形成“以台制华”共识,但具体以何种方式 实施“以台制华”从而实现美国利益,两党则存在不同。特朗普时期美国采取简单粗暴方式遏制中国, 比如对中国发动贸易战、科技战,突然宣布关闭中国领事馆等。在台湾问题上,特朗普从刚当选时与 蔡英文通电话,质疑一个中国原则,到离任前宣布“解除与台湾一切交往限制”。这一方面源于特朗普 个人鲁莽的性格特质,另一方面反映了共和党单边主义和保守主义色彩。然而特朗普政府的这一系列 操作收效甚微,并没有让中国屈服,这促使美国改变策略,寻求一种更实用的对华政策和台海政策。 拜登作为民主党总统上台,其对外政策带有明显的民主党色彩,即重视价值观、意识形态和多边主义。拜登多次表示要“深化与‘民主台湾’的关系”并且在民主价值、“国际规则”等高议题逻辑链条上明 显偏向于台湾方面。此外,拜登还面临 2022 年中期选举的压力,打“台湾牌”一向是美国两党在选举时拉升支持率的重要手段之一。2022 年 3 月 1 日,拜登派出由 5 名前军方和国安高官组成的所谓“重量级代表团”访问台湾,一方面是安抚在俄乌冲突下民进党当局的不安情绪,更重要的是向美国国内选民展示“挺台”姿态,试图拉升民主党支持率。微妙的是,前特朗普政府国务卿共和党人蓬佩奥 也在随后访问台湾,展现美国两党在选举时竞相打“台湾牌”捞取政治利益的伎俩。

(2) The “strategic opportunities” presented by playing the “Taiwan card”

From the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, one can see that the Taiwan Strait is the key direction of the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. The Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy provides a “helping hand” and an “implementation opportunity” for the United States to contain China in the Indo-Pacific region. In recent testimony before Congress, a senior Biden administration official described Taiwan as a “strategic asset” for the United States that is “critically important to defending U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific.” Moreover, the U.S. Congress increasingly agrees with this view. 30 The sensitivity of the Taiwan issue dictates that the United States must calculate the risks and benefits cautiously when formulating its Taiwan Strait policy. As former U.S. Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy has said, there is a real risk of a nuclear war between the United States and China over the Taiwan issue, and the U.S. government should handle the Taiwan issue cautiously to prevent a slide into disorder and war. 31 When formulating Taiwan Strait policy, the United States wants to avoid conflict on one hand and maximize its benefits on the other, so “strategic ambiguity” has become the guiding principle of the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy. Biden is well aware of the important role of the “Taiwan card” in containing China, and the “Taiwan card” is the least costly and most strategically beneficial “card” the United States has for containing China. Therefore, Biden must seize the “strategic opportunities” presented by the “Taiwan card,” and play the “Taiwan card” in various practical ways to contain China. The Taiwan Strait is a core interest of China, a matter of Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and without a solution to the Taiwan issue, one cannot talk of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Taiwan Strait does not constitute a core interest of the United States, and in the Taiwan Strait, the strategic pressure on the United States to “use Taiwan to control China” is much less than China’s strategic pressure. Relatively speaking, the United States is in a detached position in the Taiwan Strait, and by putting the “Taiwan card” to good use, the United States guarantees its strategic interests and strategic advantages. The United States can use the “Taiwan card” to restrain China’s development, deplete China’s strategic resources, and contain China’s rise.

从拜登政府发布的《印太战略报告》可看出台海是拜登政府印太战略的重点方向,拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化”为美国在印太地区遏制中国提供了“助力”和“落实机遇”。拜登政府一名高级官员最近在国会作证时将台湾描述为美国的“战略资产”,“对捍卫美国印太利益至关重要”。而美国国会也越来越赞同这一观点。台湾问题的敏感性决定了美国在制定台海政策时必须小心谨慎地计算风险和收益,美国前驻华大使芮效俭(J. Stapleton Roy)就表示,中美之间的确存在因为台湾问题爆发核战争的巨大风险,美国政府应该谨慎处理台湾问题,防止滑向无序和战争。美国在制定台海政策时,一方面要避免引起冲突,另一方面又要获得最大化的利益,因此“战略模糊”就成为拜登政府制定台海政策的指导原则。拜登深知美国打“台湾牌”对于遏制中国的重要作用,“台湾牌”是美国遏制中国成本最低而战略收益极大的“一张牌”,因此拜登必须抓住“台湾牌”带来的“战略机遇”,通过各种实用的方式打“台湾牌”遏制中国。台海是中国的核心利益,事关中国主权和领土完整,台湾问题不解决就谈不上中华民族的伟大复兴。但台海并不属于美国核心利益,美国在台海“以台制华”所承受的战略压力比中国小得多,相对来说,美国在台海处于超然位置,利用好“台湾牌”,美国战略利益和战略优势就有了保证。美国可以利用“台湾牌”牵制中国发展,消耗中国战略资源,遏制中国崛起。

(3) Pressures facing U.S. hegemony

Since the beginning of the 21st century, faced with the fact of China’s continuous rise, the United States has felt profoundly ill at ease, fearing that a rising China will challenge U.S. hegemony. In 2021, China’s economy will exceed 110 trillion yuan, 32 representing about 75% of the U.S. economy. This is the first time in history that any country’s economy has reached such a high proportion of the U.S. economy. The power gap between China and the United States is further narrowing. The power shift theory maintains that when a rising power reaches 80% of the dominant power, a “power parity” stage is entered in which a war for hegemony is most likely to occur, bringing a shift in power.33 China’s economy is moving steadily forward and is rapidly approaching the 80 percent mark, and this has heightened the anxiety of the U.S. strategic community, which has long held a realist view of power politics. How to handle relations with China, and what ways should be used to preserve the U.S. hegemonic position, have become a focus of discussion within the United States. A report released by the RAND Corporation on January 21, 2021—Implementing Restraint: Changes in U.S. Regional Security Policies to Operationalize a Realist Grand Strategy of Restraint— argues that China’s growing power and uncertain future intentions make it a major challenge to U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific. The current U.S. domestic and foreign environment has changed. The United States is not strong enough to support a global expansion strategy and needs to engage in “strategic contraction,” and maintain U.S. hegemony using a less costly strategy of restraint from the perspectives of realism and pragmatism.34 The “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy exactly meets the requirements of the U.S. restraint strategy, which emphasizes the role of Taiwan as a “pawn” on the condition of “maintaining the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, so while the United States is helping Taiwan to improve its military capabilities, at the same time it is blurring its security commitments to Taiwan to avoid irritating China. The “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy is a pragmatic way of “using Taiwan to control China” that helps ease the pressure on the United States to maintain hegemony.

21 世纪以来面对中国不断崛起的事实,美国深感不安,担心崛起的中国会挑战美国霸权。2021 年中国经济总量突破 110 万亿元,约占美国的 75%,这是历史上首次有国家经济规模达到美国如此高的比例,中美实力差距进一步缩小,权力转移理论认为当崛起国的实力达到主导国 80% 的时候,就进入一个“实力持平”阶段,这个阶段最有可能发生争霸战争,带来权力转移。当前中国经济正稳步向前,正在快速接近 80% 这个指标,这加剧了一直以来信奉现实主义权力政治观的美国战略界的焦虑。如何处理与中国的关系,以什么样的方式维护美国的霸权地位成为美国国内讨论的焦点。2021 年 1 月21 日,美国兰德公司发表《实施克制——美国地区安全政策的变化,走向实施现实主义的克制大战略》报告,该报告认为中国实力不断增强而且未来的意图不明确,因此中国成为美国在亚太利益的主要挑战。当前美国的国内外环境已发生变化,美国国力不足以支持全球性扩张战略,需要进行“战略收缩”,应从现实主义和实用主义角度出发,以成本更低的克制战略维持美国的霸权地位。而“再模糊化”的台海政策正好符合美国克制战略的要求,强调在台海“维持现状”的条件下尽量发挥台湾作为“棋子” 的牵制作用,美国帮助台湾提高军事能力,同时模糊对台安全承诺,避免刺激中国。“再模糊化”的台海政策是一种实用型的“以台制华”,有助于缓解美国维持霸权的压力。

(4) Practical need for China-U.S. cooperation

Although the Biden administration has continued the Trump administration’s approach of strategic competition with China, at the same time Biden has not ruled out the possibility of China-U.S. cooperation. In fact, there are many areas in which China and the United States have common interests, such as dealing with COVID-19, climate change, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation. In the current U.S.-China climate, cooperation is just what the Biden administration urgently needs to promote. Addressing climate change was one of Biden’s priorities when he took office, and Biden has called climate change an “existential threat” to human civilization. He said during his campaign that he would “rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on the administration’s first day,” and would “make large-scale, urgent investments domestically to put the United States on track to having a clean energy economy—achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China and the United States together accounted for more than 40 percent of global carbon emissions in 2019. 35 For addressing climate change, China is a natural partner for the United States. The Chinese government has also proposed peak carbon and carbon neutrality targets. China is now a world leader in clean energy development, and is strong in green energy technologies such as solar panels. To reduce carbon emissions, the United States must quickly shift to clean energy sources such as solar power, and the cheapest place to get solar cells is China. If Biden really believes that climate change is an “existential threat” and that the United States “must lead the world,” he should turn his attention to China and seek China’s help. He should stop the slide toward a “new Cold War” with China, and instead accelerate the transition to a green energy economy focused on ensuring global compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. 36 The two visits to China in April and September 2021 by Biden’s Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, are evidence of the Biden administration’s efforts to promote U.S.-China climate cooperation.

虽然拜登政府延续了特朗普政府对华战略竞争的方针,但同时拜登也没有排除中美合作的可能性。其实中美具有共同利益的领域有很多,如应对新冠肺炎、气候变化、恐怖主义、核扩散等,当前中美 气候合作就是拜登政府急需推动的。应对气候变化曾是拜登上任时的优先选项之一,拜登曾称气候变 化是危及人类文明的“生存威胁”,他在竞选时就表示“执政的第一天就重新加入巴黎气候协定”,“在国内进行大规模、紧急的投资,使美国走上拥有清洁能源经济的正轨——到 2050 年实现温室气体的零排放”。根据国际能源署(IEA)的数据,2019 年中国和美国合计占全球碳排放量的 40% 以上。在应对气候变化方面,中国是美国的天然伙伴。中国政府也提出了碳达峰和碳中和目标。当前中国的清 洁能源发展已经走在世界前列,中国在太阳能电池板等绿色能源技术领域具备优势。为减少碳排放, 美国必须迅速转向太阳能等清洁能源。而获得太阳能电池最便宜的地方是中国。如果拜登真的相信气 候变化是一种“生存威胁”,并且美国“必须领导世界”,拜登就要把目光转向中国,寻求中国的帮助,停止滑向与中国的“新冷战”,以加快过渡到一个专注于确保全球遵守巴黎气候协定的绿色能源经济。2021 年 4 月和 9 月拜登的气候问题特使克里两次访华,这是拜登政府努力推动中美气候合作的证明。

V.   Trends in the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy


First, the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy will continue to oscillate between “ambiguity” and “clarity. Biden’s previous “slip of the tongue” incident with regard to “defending Taiwan” reflects the subtlety of U.S. Taiwan Strait policy. It is foreseeable that the Biden administration’s Taiwan Strait policy will continue to be “ambiguous” and oscillate further between “ambiguity” and “clarity.” One cannot rule out that Biden will give similar signals on “defending Taiwan” in the future, to deliberately make the situation in the Taiwan Strait more confusing, and thereby maximize benefits for the United States. The Biden administration’s current team of senior officials has not achieved complete unanimity on China policy. Treasury Secretary Yellen, Commerce Secretary Raimondo, Trade Representative Tai, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry can be regarded as the cooperation faction, advocating, from a pragmatic view of long-term interests, for a cooperative attitude in relations with China. Secretary of State Blinken, National Security Adviser Sullivan, and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Campbell belong to the containment faction, which advocates a hardline containment policy toward China. From a long-term perspective, there are clear differences in the China policies of the two factions. In September 2021, U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo said “it makes no sense to talk about decoupling the United States and China,” and as a result was attacked in an article by Republican Senator Tom Cotton for “appeasement” of China and being “hooked on Chinese capital and cheap labor.” In February 2021, Biden was accused by American conservatives of “surrendering to China” when he expressed some goodwill toward China in an interview. So Biden’s “defending Taiwan ” statement in a sense comes from a balancing of internal political considerations.

第一,拜登政府的台海政策将继续在“模糊”和“清晰”之间摇摆。之前拜登“协防台湾”的“口误” 事件反映了美国台海政策的微妙。可预见,拜登政府的台海政策将会继续“模糊”下去,进一步在“模糊”和“清晰”之间摇摆,未来不排除拜登继续释放类似“协防台湾”信号,故意使台海局势扑朔迷离,从而实现美国利益最大化。当前拜登政府团队高官在对华政策上并未取得完全一致,财政部长耶伦、商务部长雷蒙多、贸易代表戴琪、气候特使克里等可视为对华合作派,主张从长远利益考虑,从实用 主义出发在对华关系上采取合作态度。国务卿布林肯、国家安全顾问沙利文、印太事务协调员坎贝尔 等则属对华遏制派,主张对中国实施强硬的遏制政策。长期看这两派对华政策存在明显分歧。2021 年9 月,美国商务部长雷蒙多说“谈论中美脱钩没有意义”,结果被共和党参议员汤姆·科顿写文章抨击说“对中国‘绥靖’,沉迷于中国的金钱和廉价劳动力 ”。2021 年 2 月,拜登在采访中对中国释放一些善意,就被美国保守派指责“向中国投降”。因此拜登“协防台湾”的表态某种意义上也是出于平衡内部政治考虑。

Second, Biden will adhere to a pragmatic approach to the “Taiwan card.” The Trump administration saw Taiwan as a “bargaining chip” in the strategic game between China and the United States, an obvious deal, and Trump hoped that playing the “Taiwan card” would force China into making concessions in areas such as trade and exchange rates, allowing the United States to reap benefits. Trump has said that “everything is under negotiation, including one China,” and that “the United States will not necessarily pursue a one-China policy, unless China makes concessions on currency and trade issues.” 37 Trump’s questioning of the one-China principle shook the foundations of U.S.-China relations, sparking great concern. Biden is representative of the traditional U.S. political elite, and he understands the sensitivity and importance of the one-China principle in U.S.-China relations. The Biden administration has already shifted from “extreme competition” during the Trump years to seeking “guardrails” for U.S.-China relations, and Biden does not approve of Trump’s anti-establishment, transactional approach to the “Taiwan card.” But Biden also sees Taiwan as an important U.S. “strategic asset,” the value of which will be “extracted” as much as possible without crossing red lines. Therefore, Biden will adhere to a pragmatic approach to the “Taiwan card” and rationally calculate the costs and benefits.

第二,拜登将会坚持以实用主义态度对待“台湾牌”。特朗普政府将台湾视为中美战略博弈“筹码”,交易性明显,特朗普希望通过打“台湾牌”迫使中国在贸易、汇率等领域让步,让美国获得利益。特 朗普曾表示“一切都在谈判之列,包括一个中国”,“除非中国在汇率和贸易问题上有所让步,否则美国不一定奉行一个中国政策。”特朗普对一个中国原则的质疑甚至动摇了中美关系根基,引发外界巨大担忧。拜登作为美国传统政治精英代表,深知一个中国原则在中美关系中的敏感性和重要性,拜 登政府已经从特朗普时期的“极端竞争”转变为在中美关系中寻求“护栏”,拜登对特朗普反建制、交易式打“台湾牌”方式并不认可,但拜登也视台湾为美国重要的“战略资产”,将在不越过红线的前提下最大限度地“榨取”其价值,因此拜登将会坚持以实用主义的态度对待“台湾牌”,理性计算成本和收益。

Third, Biden will step up his efforts to “internationalize” the Taiwan issue. The Taiwan issue is ultimately a U.S. factor. The United States has now realized that, as China and the United States grow closer in strength, it is becoming clear that the United States does not have strength desired to face China alone in the Taiwan Strait. This, coupled with Biden’s foreign policy preference for multilateralism, has prompted the Biden administration to step up its efforts to “internationalize” the Taiwan issue. In March 2022, the Biden administration signed into law the “FY 2022 Omnibus Spending Act,” which stipulates that “any map produced, procured, or displayed at the expense of the United States Government shall not treat the island of Taiwan as a territory of mainland China, and shall not use the same color to designate the island of Taiwan and mainland China.”38 This is intended to deliberately separate the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, to create the illusion of “separation” between Taiwan and China among the American public and the international community, and to create an “internationalization” of the Taiwan issue. In addition, the Biden administration has spared no effort to support Taiwan’s expansion of its so-called “international space.” Besides trying to “stabilize” Taiwan’s “diplomatic relations,” the United States has mentioned Taiwan in several joint statements with the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the G7, expressing “concern for peace in the Taiwan Strait.” At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 11, 2022, U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin emphasized that the United States will strengthen its relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including its traditional alliances with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and the Philippines, as well as its relationships with ASEAN members and members of the Quadripartite Security Dialogue.39 The implication is that the United States will bring these nations together to intervene in the Taiwan Strait. Blinken even issued a statement supporting Taiwan’s “active and meaningful participation in the United Nations system.” 40 This is an attempt to make the Taiwan issue more international and to manufacture obstacles to China’s reunification.

第三,拜登将会加紧推动台湾问题“国际化”。台湾问题说到底是美国因素。当前美国已经意识到随着中美实力的接近,美国在台海单独面对中国时逐渐显得力不从心,加上拜登在对外政策方面偏向 多边主义,这两点正促使拜登政府加紧推动台湾问题“国际化”。2022 年 3 月,拜登政府通过的“2022 财政年度综合支出法案”中规定“任何美国政府出资制作、采购、展示的地图中不得将台湾岛视为中 国大陆的领土,不能用相同颜色来标注台湾岛与中国大陆”。此举旨在刻意区隔两岸,在美国民众和国际社会当中营造台湾与中国“分隔”的假象,造成台湾问题“国际化”。此外,拜登政府还不遗余力地支持台湾扩展所谓的“国际空间”,除了设法“稳住”台湾的“邦交国”之外,还在美国与欧盟、日本、韩国以及 G7 等多个联合声明中提到台湾问题,表达“对台海和平的关切”。2022 年 6 月 11 日, 美国国防部长奥斯汀在新加坡香格里拉对话上强调美国将强化与印太地区盟友和伙伴的关系,包括与 日本、澳大利亚、新西兰、韩国和菲律宾的传统盟友关系,以及与东盟成员国、“四方安全对话”成员国的关系。 暗示美国将拉拢这些国家一起干预台海。布林肯甚至还发表声明支持台湾“积极、有意义地参与联合国系统”。企图使得台湾问题掺杂进更多的国际因素,为中国统一制造障碍。

Fourth, Biden will continue to strengthen Taiwan’s role in the “alliance of democracies” strategy. Biden’s foreign policy has a strong ideological and values-based overtones, dividing the world into the so-called “democracy” and “dictatorship” camps. Biden, who waves the “freedom and democracy” banner, believes that Taiwan is a like-minded “democratic partner” and always been viewed by the United States as a “beacon of democracy” in Asia, on the front lines of the fight against “autocracy and authoritarianism.” In the Biden administration’s “alliance of democracies” strategy, Taiwan can be compared to traditional U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. The DPP authorities also claim to be “a member of the democratic world,” attempting to use a so-called “values identity” to join the United States-led “democratic camp” and “rely on the United States to seek independence,” so as to oppose the mainland. In December 2021, the Biden administration organized a so-called “democracy summit” with the participation of 110 countries, to which the DPP authorities were also invited. Biden is openly “setting the stage” in the international arena for the “Taiwan independence” forces. Another reason for Biden to play the “liberal democracy card” in the Taiwan Strait is that, by strengthening ties with Taiwan in soft ways such as ideology and values, Taiwan’s “strategic value” can be brought fully into play without bumping up against the red line of the one-China principle. In the future, the Biden administration will certainly continue “making a fuss” over “freedom and democracy” to promote U.S.-Taiwan collusion and contain China.

第四,拜登将会继续强化台湾在“民主联盟”战略中的作用。拜登对外政策带有强烈意识形态和 价值观色彩,将世界划分为所谓“民主”和“专制”两大阵营,高举“自由民主”大旗的拜登认为台 湾是一个志同道合的“民主伙伴”,台湾一直被美国视为亚洲“民主灯塔”,处在对抗“专制、威权”前线。在拜登政府“民主联盟”战略中,台湾可与美国传统盟友日本和韩国相提并论。民进党当局也 自诩“民主世界的一员”,企图以所谓“价值观认同”加入美国主导的“民主阵营”,“倚美谋独”,对抗大陆。2021 年 12 月,拜登政府组织召开了有 110 个国家参加的所谓“民主峰会”,民进党当局也被邀请参加,拜登公然在国际上为“台独”势力“搭台”。拜登在台海打“自由民主牌”还有一个原因是以意识形态和价值观这样软性方式加强与台湾联系,既不会触碰一个中国原则红线,又能发挥台湾“战略价值”。未来拜登政府一定会继续在“自由民主”上“做文章”,推动美台勾连,遏制中国。

Fifth, the United States will raise its alertness in the Taiwan Strait due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and may increase its intervention efforts. On May 23, 2022, Biden said in Japan that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made the responsibility of defending Taiwan “even more significant” and that mainland China “taking Taiwan by force” would “dislocate” the entire region, warning that the PLA military aircraft flying around Taiwan were “playing with fire.” This was one of the strongest public statements of U.S. support for Taiwan in the last decade.41 In his China policy speech, Blinken mentioned that the United States considers Russia’s military actions in Ukraine to be “the most serious and immediate threat to international stability,” but the United States still sees China as “a greater threat.” 42 At the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Secretary of Defense Austin said the Indo-Pacific region is a priority for the U.S. military, which has more than 300,000 troops stationed there, implying that the United States has not changed its strategic focus on account of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 43

第五,俄乌冲突让美提升在台海的警觉度,可能会加大干预力度。2022 年 5 月 23 日,拜登在日本表示,俄乌冲突让保卫台湾责任“更加重大”,并称中国大陆“武力犯台”将导致整个区域“陷入混乱”,并警告解放军军机绕台是“正在玩火”。这是近十年来,美国支持台湾最有力的公开声明之一。布林肯在对华政策演讲中提到,美国认为俄罗斯在乌克兰的军事行为是“对国际稳定最严重、最直接的威胁”,但美仍视中国为“更大的威胁”。 最近美国防部长奥斯汀在新加坡香格里拉对话会上称印太地区是美军优先方向,美军在印太驻扎超过 30 万,暗示美并未因俄乌冲突而改变其战略重心。

U.S. strategic interests in the Taiwan Strait are far greater than those in Ukraine, and the United States has not neglected the Taiwan Strait because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. First of all, the United States wants to avoid as much as possible responding simultaneously to two major geopolitical crises that could occur in Europe and the Taiwan Strait. Second, the United States also wants to focus on preventing China from taking similar actions in the Taiwan Strait, and has consequently increased its intervention in the Taiwan Strait. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Biden has sent one delegation after the other to Taiwan in a short period of time, and even U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to visit Taiwan, but later failed to do so due to a positive COVID-19 test. Jacob Stokes, a researcher with the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, pointed out that his U.S. delegation was visiting Taiwan “to demonstrate our continued robust support for Taiwan” and that at a time of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, “the United States has not lost focus on the Indo-Pacific region, and China should not think or act like Russia.” 44 Stokes added that “maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is of the utmost importance to the United States and its regional allies and partners. And any use of coercion or force that seeks to upend the status quo would pose a major threat to U.S. interests and values.” 45 The clear increase in the frequency of U.S. warship and military aircraft activity around Taiwan recently could be interpreted as a kind of “warning” to China.

美国在台海的战略利益远大于在乌克兰的战略利益,美国并没有因为俄乌冲突而忽视台海。首先, 美国要尽量避免同时应对欧洲和台海可能发生的两场重大地缘政治危机。其次,美国也要重点防止中 国在台海采取类似行动,因此加大了干预台海的力度。自俄乌冲突爆发后,拜登短时间内接连派出代 表团访台,甚至美众议院议长佩洛西也要访台,后因新冠病毒检测阳性而未成行。新美国安全中心印 太安全项目研究员雅各布·斯托克斯(Jacob Stokes)就指出,美国代表团访台是“展示对台湾持续有力的支持”,“在俄乌冲突之际,美国并没有失去对印太地区的关注,中国不应该有俄罗斯那样的想法和行动”,“维护台海的和平与稳定对美国以及地区盟友和伙伴来说至关重要。任何试图颠覆现状的胁迫或武力使用都会对美国的利益和价值观构成重大威胁。”近期美国明显加大了军舰军机在台湾周边活动的频率,可以解读为某种对中国的“警告”。



The current framework of U.S.-China relations dictates that the Biden administration will not abandon its strategic thinking of playing the “Taiwan card” and “using Taiwan to control China.” Since Biden took office, he has used nominal adherence to the one-China policy to undermine the one-China principle in order to achieve U.S. strategic interests, reflecting consideration of a pragmatism of sorts. The core goal of the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy is to use the United States’ relatively superior geopolitical advantage in the Taiwan Strait to counterbalance China, in order to slow down China’s rise and maintain U.S. hegemony. Although the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made the United States more vigilant in the Taiwan Strait, and the United States has taken measures to increase its intervention there, such as sending delegations to Taiwan and warships across the Taiwan Strait, the United States still has not breached the bounds of “strategic ambiguity” in general. The U.S. Taiwan Strait policy has not changed from “strategic ambiguity” to “strategic clarity,” but has only seen a tactical “re-ambiguation.” While the Biden administration’s “re-ambiguation” of Taiwan Strait policy appears to be “shrewd,” in fact it seriously undermines China’s security interests and sovereignty claims, leaving hidden dangers for future conflicts in the Taiwan Strait. As the United States and China grows closer in strength, Taiwan will gradually change from a strategic “asset” to a “liability” for the United States. 46 At present, the mainland has firmly grasped leadership and the initiative in cross-strait relations, and the U.S. policy of Taiwan Strait “re-ambiguation” is becoming increasingly ineffective.

当前中美关系的大框架决定了拜登政府不会放弃打“台湾牌”“以台制华”的战略思维。拜登上台以来,以坚持一中政策之名,行破坏一中原则之实,从而实现美国的战略利益,反映了一种实用主义 的考量。拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化”的核心目标是利用美国在台海相对超然的地缘优势制衡中国, 以延缓中国崛起进程,维持美国霸权地位。虽然俄乌冲突让美国提升了在台海的警觉度,采取了诸如 派代表团访台、军舰穿越台湾海峡等加大干预台海的措施,但总体上仍没有突破“战略模糊”边际, 美国台海政策并没有从“战略模糊”转变为“战略清晰”,而只是一种战术性“再模糊化”。拜登政府台海政策“再模糊化”看似“精明”实则严重损害中国的安全利益和主权要求,为未来的台海冲突留 下隐患。随着中美实力的进一步接近,台湾将逐渐从美国的战略“资产”,转变为“负债”。当前大陆已经牢牢掌握了两岸关系的主导权和主动权,美国“再模糊化”的台海政策越来越难以奏效。

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Cite This Page

夏昂 (Xia Ang), 谢郁 (Xie Yu). "Analysis of the Biden Administration's "Re-Ambiguation" of its Cross-Strait Policy [拜登政府台海政策的“再模糊化”辨析]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Taiwan Studies [台湾研究], June 20, 2022

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