中国倒逼美国对台政策走向“战略清晰”?
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Is China Forcing the U.S. Toward “Strategic Clarity” in Its Taiwan Policy?

中国倒逼美国对台政策走向“战略清晰”?

The vice-president of the National Association for Hong Kong and Macau Studies argues that Beijing has moved towards its own position of “strategic clarity” on Taiwan policy.


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From a historical perspective, August 2022 is sure to be a major turning point in Sino-U.S. relations with respect to the Taiwan issue. In August, China took two decisive actions after U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan despite angry condemnations from Beijing. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army successfully conducted an unprecedented large-scale military exercise around the entire island of Taiwan. This provided ample proof that the mainland has the ability to completely blockade Taiwan or recapture Taiwan by force, while simultaneously preventing the United States and Japan from rushing to Taiwan’s rescue with military aid. Immediately after this event, Beijing issued a white paper entitled The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era. In the white paper, Beijing reiterated its preferred policy of achieving national unity through peaceful means, which it has constantly advocated. However, Beijing also warned that it would resort to non-peaceful means if necessary. Together, the military exercises and the white paper demonstrate that reunification by any means necessary is the nation’s primary goal, and that China will unswervingly strive to bring this goal to fruition, regardless of the costs.

从历史角度来说,2022年8月肯定是中美在台湾问题上的关系的重大转折点。当月,在美国国会众议院议长南希·佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi)不顾北京的愤怒谴责而执意访问台湾之后,中国采取了两个决定性行动。中国人民解放军围绕台湾全岛成功进行了前所未有的大规模军事演习,充分证明大陆有能力对台湾进行全面封锁或者以武力夺回台湾,而且同时能够阻止美国和日本在军事上驰援台湾。紧接着,北京发表了《台湾问题与新时代中国统一事业》的白皮书。在白皮书中,北京重申其一直以来倡导的、通过和平手段达至国家统一的首选政策,但却警告如有必要,它将诉诸非和平手段。军事演习和白皮书共同表明,以任何必要手段实现统一是国家的首要目标,而不管付出何种代价,中国都将坚定不移地努力让这个目标得以最终达成。

Before these major actions, there had always been some element of “strategic ambiguity” in Beijing’s policy toward Taiwan, namely, Beijing’s refusal to state its preferred date for national reunification. Beijing simply vowed to resort to the strategy of reunification by force only if Taiwan were to declare de jure independence in addition to de facto, or in the event foreign armed forces had entered the island. The military exercises and white paper have largely done away with Beijing’s “strategic ambiguity.” Instead, by adopting a policy of “strategic clarity,” Beijing has deliberately and unequivocally declared that it will not wait indefinitely for Taiwan’s return to China. Instead, it has officially launched a national reunification plan, in the hope of accelerating the national reunification process through political negotiations between the two sides on the details of the “one country, two systems” policy. Beijing has emphatically stated that, if peaceful reunification fails, non-peaceful reunification will occur. At the same time, Beijing has left it an open question whether the favorable conditions of the “one country, two systems” policy that the mainland has previously offered to Taiwan will still apply if national reunification is achieved primarily by force.

在这些重大行动之前,北京对台政策中一直存在某些“战略模糊”的成分,即北京拒绝说明其首选的国家统一的日期,只是誓言只有在台湾不仅宣布事实上的独立,并且宣布法律上的独立,或当外国武装部队已进入该岛时才会采取武力统一的策略。军事演习和白皮书在很大程度上消除了北京的“战略模糊”。相反,北京通过采取“战略清晰”政策,故意且毫不含糊地宣布,它不会无限期地等待台湾回归中国,而是正式启动国家统一的计划,希望通过两岸就“一国两制”方针细节进行政治谈判来加快国家统一进程。北京强烈表明,如果和平统一失败,那么非和平统一就会发生。与此同时,北京留下了一个悬而未决的问题,即如果国家统一是主要通过武力实现,则过去大陆向台湾提出的“一国两制”政策中的对其有利条件是否仍然适用便是未知之数。

China’s “strategic clarity” policy has more or less altered its “passive” or “defensive” stance of the past, and China has now seized the initiative on the Taiwan issue. So far, the final model of China’s reunification, whether peaceful or non-peaceful, actually depends on the manner and intensity of the United States’ response to China’s initiatives. It cannot be denied that the final decision taken by the United States will have a decisive impact on the attitude of Taiwan residents towards national reunification.

中国的“战略清晰”政策,或多或少地已经改变了它过去“被动”或“防御”的立场,并在台湾问题上取得了主动权。至此,中国最终统一的模式,无论是和平的还是不和平的,实际上要取决于美国对中国倡议的反应方式和力度。不可否认,美国的最终决定将对台湾居民对国家统一的态度产生决定性的影响。

Following the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States in 1979, the United States adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the Taiwan issue. The rapid rise of China and its designation as a “strategic threat” by the United States have, to a considerable extent, changed the United States’ view of Taiwan’s strategic value. Henceforth, because Taiwan can become an ally of the United States in containing and weakening China’s policies, a permanently divided China is in the national interest of the United States. Even so, the United States has not made it clear that, in the event of a Chinese “invasion” of Taiwan, the United States will come to the rescue of Taiwan militarily. Instead, it has always pursued a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” leaving China uncertain as to whether the United States will start a war with China over the Taiwan issue. For the United States, the purpose of “strategic ambiguity” is that it is a less costly strategic approach to prevent China from pursuing reunification by non-peaceful means.

1979年中美建交后,美国在台湾问题上采取了“战略模糊”政策。中国的迅速崛起和它被美国列为“战略威胁”,相当程度上改变了美国对台湾的战略价值的考虑。从此以后,由于台湾可以成为美国遏制和削弱中国政策的盟友,一个永远分裂的中国遂亦符合美国的最佳国家利益。尽管如此,美国却没有明确表示,如果中国“入侵”台湾,美国将前来军事救援台湾,反而是一贯奉行“战略模糊”政策,让中国不确定美国是否会就台湾问题与中国开战。对美国来说,“战略模糊”的目的是阻止中国走上不和平的国家统一的较为廉价的战略手段。

In my opinion, one important reason for adopting the policy of “strategic ambiguity” is that, according to international law and international agreements, the United States has no moral right or legal basis to intervene in cross-strait affairs. As pointed out in the white paper, the “One China” principle has been embodied in international documents such as the Cairo Declaration in 1943, the Potsdam Declaration in 1945, and the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 in 1971. Taiwan is an indivisible part of China and the central content of the “One China” principle. This “One China” principle was also endorsed by three Sino-U.S. joint communiques in 1972, 1979, and 1982. In all these communiques, the United States expressed “acknowledgment” (承认) or “recognition” (认识到) of China’s position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. In addition, in the 1979 Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America, the United States recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China. In conclusion, all international declarations or proclamations and bilateral agreements between China and the United States clearly state that there is only one China, that this China is the People’s Republic of China, that Taiwan is an indivisible part of the People’s Republic of China, and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China. Therefore, the assertion in the white paper that “the One China principle is the general consensus of the international community and in accord with the basic norms of international relations” is correct. The white paper said that “The world only has one China, the historical and legal facts that Taiwan is a part of China cannot be doubted, and the status of Taiwan, which has never been a country but a part of China, cannot be changed” is also correct.

在我看来,采取“战略模糊”政策的重要原因之一是因为根据国际法和国际协议,美国没有道德权利或法律依据介入两岸事务。正如白皮书所指出的,“一个中国”原则已经体现在1943年的《开罗宣言》、1945年的《波茨坦公告》和1971年的联合国大会第2758号决议等国际文件之中。台湾是中国不可分割的一部分,乃“一个中国”原则的中心内容。这个“一个中国”原则也得到了1972年、1979年和1982年三份中美联合公报的认可。在所有公报中,美国都表示“承认”或者“认识到”中国的立场,即只有一个中国,台湾是中国的一部分。此外,在1979年《关于中华人民共和国和美利坚合众国关于建立外交关系的联合公报》中,美国承认中华人民共和国政府是中国的唯一合法政府。总而言之,所有国际宣言或公告和中美的双边协议都毫无疑问地表明,只有一个中国,这个中国就是中华人民共和国,台湾是中华人民共和国不可分割的一部分,中华人民共和国政府是中国唯一的合法政府。因此,白皮书断言“一个中国原则是国际社会的普遍共识,是遵守国际关系基本准则应有之义”是正确的。白皮书所说“世界上只有一个中国,台湾是中国的一部分的历史事实和法理事实不容置疑,台湾从来不是一个国家而是中国的一部分的地位不容改变”也是正确的。

However, in pursuing a strategy to permanently divide China in order to contain and weaken China, U.S. leaders and officials have opted to slyly contend that the United States has only “acknowledged” or “recognized” but has not “accepted” (接受) the position of the People’s Republic of China, namely that Taiwan is part of China. They deceitfully try to use domestic legal instruments, such as the Taiwan Relations Act of 1980 [translator’s note: correct year of this act is 1979] and the sinister “Six Assurances” to Taiwan, as the legal basis for U.S. policy toward Taiwan, placing it above international law. This hollows out the “one China” principle, denies that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, treats Taiwan as an independent political entity and a “protectorate” of the United States, and threatens China not to use force to achieve national reunification.

然而,在推行一项旨在永久分裂中国并以此来遏制和削弱中国的战略的过程中,美国领导人和官员都选择狡猾地争辩说,美国只是“承认”或者“认识到”、但从未“接受”中华人民共和国的立场,即台湾是中国的一部分,他们诡诈地试图使用国内法律文书,如1980年的《台湾关系法》和用心险恶的对台“六项保证”作为美国对台政策的法律依据,并将其凌驾于国际法律之上,从而掏空“一个中国”原则,否认台湾是中华人民共和国的一部分,把台湾视为独立的政治实体和美国的“保护国”,并威胁中国不可以使用武力来实现国家统一。

However, none of these legal tricks employed by the U.S. are widely recognized by the international community, only by its few hardcore allies. Therefore, if the United States abandons its “strategic ambiguity” policy and makes a commitment to defend Taiwan militarily, this would violate international law. The United States would be condemned by most countries for interfering in China’s internal affairs and criticized as violating the sovereignty of an independent country (China) and thereby violating the provisions of the United Nations Charter. A policy of “strategic clarity” will cause the United States to face accusations of lawlessness, hegemony, and hypocrisy from countries around the world, leaving it isolated in the international community.

然而,美国采用的所有这些法律诡计都没有得到国际社会的普遍认可,只得到它的为数不多的铁杆盟友的认同。因此,如果美国放弃“战略模糊”政策,承诺在军事上保卫台湾,就会触犯国际法,被大部分国家谴责干涉中国内政,和被批评为侵犯一个独立国家(中国)的主权,因而违背联合国宪章的规定。“战略清晰”政策将使美国面临世界各国对其无法无天、霸权主义和虚伪行为的指责,使其在国际社会中处于孤立状态。

The reason that the United States chose the policy of “strategic ambiguity” is also very likely due to the fact that, even though China was not as powerful as the United States, they could not predict how the Soviet Union would respond and the United States did not want to start a war with China that would lead to a U.S.-Soviet conflict. As China becomes more powerful militarily, it is unclear whether the United States could achieve a decisive victory at a tolerable cost in a hot war with China. Therefore, the policy of “strategic ambiguity” allows the United States to minimize the chance of war with China. Today, if the United States was to start a war with China in its own territory, the odds that the United States would be able to defeat China are becoming increasingly slim.

美国之所以选择“战略模糊”政策,也很有可能是因为即使中国国力不如美国,但苏联的反应却深不可测,美国因而不想因为与中国开战而引发美苏的冲突。随着中国在军事上变得越来越强大,美国在与中国的热战中能否以可容忍的代价取得决定性胜利乃未知之数。“战略模糊”的政策从而让使美国能够尽可能避免与中国的战争。今天,在中国自己的地盘上与中国开战,美国能够战胜中国的机率变得越来越渺茫。

In recent years, faced with China’s constantly growing military influence and strength, the voices in the United States calling for the United States to change to a policy of “strategic clarity” are growing louder and louder. Writing in the 2020 issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard Haass and David Sacks say, “To defend its achievement and continue to deter Chinese adventurism, the United States should adopt a position of strategic clarity, making explicit that it would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan. Such a policy would lower the chances of Chinese miscalculation, which is the likeliest catalyst for war in the Taiwan Strait.” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is one of two sponsors of the provocative Taiwan Policy Act of 2022. The bill explicitly recognizes Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally.” In August, the senator wrote in The New York Times that “the United States needs less ambiguity to guide our approach to Taiwan. In today’s world — with Mr. Xi’s China — a robust and credible deterrence to preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait requires clarity in word and deed.”

近年来,面对中国不断增强的军事影响力和实力,美国国内要求美国改行“战略清晰”政策的声音越来越响亮。理查德·哈斯(Richard Haass)和戴维·萨克斯(David Sacks)在2020年的《外交事务》(Foreign Affairs)杂志上撰文称,“为了捍卫其已有的成就并继续威慑中国的冒险主义,美国应该采取战略清晰的立场,明确表示将会对中国对台湾使用武力作出回应。这样的政策将能降低中国误判的可能性,而中国的误判则是导致台湾海峡战争最有可能的催化剂。”美国参议员鲍勃·梅嫩德斯(Bob Menendez)是极具挑衅性的《2022年台湾政策法案》(Taiwan Policy Act of 2022)的两名倡议者之一。该法案明确承认台湾是“主要的非北约盟友”,他在八月份出版的《纽约时报》上写道,“美国需要减少模棱两可的立场来指导我们对台湾的态度。在当今世界——在习近平主政的中国下——维护台湾海峡和平与稳定需要有以言行清晰为基础的强大而可信的威慑。”

Since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, he has repeatedly said inadvertently that, if Taiwan is “invaded” by China’s military, the United States will send troops to defend Taiwan. However, after each time Biden speaks, his officials rush to reiterate that the United States’ “One China” policy has not changed. It should be said that the United States has continued to maintain its position of “strategic ambiguity” to date. However, in recent years, the United States has continued to provoke China on the Taiwan issue, so it seems to intend to gradually do away with its position of “strategic ambiguity.”

美国总统拜登上台后,曾多次不经意地表示如果台湾被中国军事“入侵”,美国将会出兵保卫台湾。然而,每次拜登讲话后,他的官员便忙不迭重申美国的“一个中国”的政策没有改变。应该说,迄今为止美国仍然维持其“战略模糊”的立场,不过美国近年来在台湾问题上不断挑衅中国,却似有逐步摆脱“战略模糊”立场的意图。

Today, China has taken the initiative in Taiwan affairs and adopted a policy of “strategic clarity.” With the ball now in the U.S. court, China’s bold and decisive actions have surprised and shocked the United States, putting it in a dilemma and a painful situation. In this new situation, the policy of “strategic ambiguity” is no longer tenable. Its continuation will shake and worry the United States, its allies, and its partners, especially those allies and partners in the so-called “Indo-Pacific” region. They will see the United States as weak, wavering, and untrustworthy. Residents of Taiwan will feel that the United States is an unreliable “protector” and will therefore be less resistant to the “one country, two systems” model that would facilitate China’s peaceful reunification of the country. On the other hand, if the U.S. adopts a policy of “strategic clarity” and vows to take military action against China if it attempts to seize Taiwan by force, this would not only plunge the United States into a war between great powers that it would be difficult to win and would exact a heavy toll, but it will also cause the United States to discover that the allies and partners in the international network it leads are reluctant to endorse and follow its dangerous policies toward China. Even more seriously, a Sino-U.S. war could evolve into a nuclear war and a world war.

如今,中国在台湾事务上取得了主动权,采取了“战略清晰”的政策。现在球在美国的球场上,中国大胆果断的行动令美国感到惊讶和震动,使其陷入两难和痛苦的境地。在新形势下,“战略模糊”政策已站不住脚,它的继续将会让美国其盟友和伙伴震惊和担忧,特别是那些位处所谓“印度太平洋”地区的盟国和伙伴,它们将把美国视为软弱、摇摆不定和不值得信任的国家。台湾居民会觉得美国是一个不可靠的“保护者”,因此将会减少抗拒那个有利于中国以和平方式达至国家统一的“一国两制”模式。另一方面,如果美国采取“战略清晰”的政策,誓言如果中国企图以武力夺取台湾,将对中国采取军事行动,这样做不仅会令美国陷入一场它难以取胜的大国之间的战争,付出沉重的代价,而且还会让美国发现其领导的国际网络中的盟友和伙伴,不愿意认可和追随其对中国的危险政策。更严重的是,中美大战有可能演化为核子战争和世界大战。

In the final analysis, although Taiwan is indisputably a huge strategic asset for the United States, it is not among the core interests of the United States, so Americans will not be willing to shed a great deal of blood to defend Taiwan. However, on the other side, Taiwan is tied to national sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, prestige, dignity, and honor in the eyes of the Chinese people. For the Chinese people, trampled down by Western and Japanese imperialism for more than a century, Taiwan is a highly emotional issue. As the white paper passionately exclaims: “Solving the Taiwan issue and realizing the complete reunification of the motherland is the common will of all Chinese sons and daughters, an inevitable requirement for realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and the unswerving historical task of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people have made long-term and unremitting efforts to this end.”

归根结底,虽然台湾无可争辩乃美国巨大的战略资产,但它仍然不属于美国的核心利益,美国人不会愿意为保卫台湾而流很多血。然而,在另方面,在中国人民眼中,台湾关系到国家主权、安全、领土完整、威信、尊严和荣誉。对于在一个多世纪以来饱受西方和日本帝国主义蹂躏的中国人民来说,台湾是一个高度情绪化的问题。正如白皮书激昂疾呼:“解决台湾问题,实现祖国完全统一,是全体中华儿女的共同愿望,是实现中华民族伟大复兴的必然要求,是中国共产党矢志不渝的历史任务。中国共产党、中国政府和中国人民为此进行了长期不懈的努力。”

Strong Chinese action will force the United States to clarify its intentions and plans with regard to Taiwan. World peace and the long-term relationship between the Chinese and American peoples will depend on the decisions made by the United States. We hoped that the United States can come up with a set of “strategic clarity” policies that respect the historical aspirations of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people, allow our two peoples to live in friendship from generation to generation, and are conducive to the maintenance of world peace. The actions taken by the United States in the days ahead, especially its handling of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, will provide a good indication of the United States’ intentions toward the reunification of China and world peace.

中国强有力的行动,将要迫使美国澄清其对台湾的意图和计划。世界和平和中美两国人民的长久关系将取决于美国的决定。希望美方能够拿出一套尊重14亿多中国人民的历史渴望、让两国人民能够世世代代友好相处、和对维护世界和平有利的“战略清晰”政策。美国未来一段时间的行动,特别是《2022年台湾政策法案》将如何处理,将会很好地显示美国对中国统一和世界和平的意向。

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Cite This Page

刘兆佳 (Liu Zhaojia) (2022). "Is China Forcing the U.S. Toward “Strategic Clarity” in Its Taiwan Policy? [中国倒逼美国对台政策走向“战略清晰”?]". Interpret: China, Original work published August 15, 2022, https://interpret.csis.org/translations/is-china-forcing-the-u-s-toward-strategic-clarity-in-its-taiwan-policy/

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