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China Edging Closer To Becoming A Global Hegemon

中国正逐渐成为全球领袖



as is being pointed out by a growing number of scholars, analysts and experts amid abundant evidence, it has become a present-day reality that in the near future we are likely to live in a different kind of world, one that is driven and dominated by China.

正如越来越多的学者、分析家和专家指出的那样,有大量证据表明,在不久的将来,我们很可能生活在一个由中国驱动与主导的世界。

While the US has steadily been on the wane, China has risen up to establish itself as a new significant powerhouse on the global stage. There has been “China awareness” worldwide. TV programs and news articles on China have become commonplace.

美国一直在走下坡路,而中国已崛起,并在全球舞台上确立了自己作为一个新的重要强国的地位。世界各地都有“对中国的关注”。 关于中国的电视节目和新闻报道已经变得司空见惯。

Given the strength of its sheer size and enormous population, its dramatic economic growth and overseas direct investment, its influence on and close relationship with several key countries, and its domestic consolidated polity and strong commitment to unity, many even ascertain that China will succeed the US as the global hegemon within the next 10 or 20 years and that its reign will change the world in the most profound ways.

鉴于中国庞大的规模与人口所拥有的力量,它引人注目的经济增长和海外直接投资,它在几个与其关系密切的关键国家的影响力,以及中国国内稳定的政治和对团结的坚定承诺,许多人甚至确信,中国将在未来10到20年内取代美国,成为全球领袖,中国的统治将以最深刻的方式改变世界。

But the question is, how close are we to this becoming reality and, more important, does the arrival of China signal the end of Western universalism?

但问题是,我们离这个即将实现的现实到底有多近,更重要的是,中国登顶是否标志着西方普世价值的终结?

Hegemony defined
In general, hegemony refers to political, economic, military, social or cultural predominance of one state over others. International-relations theory explains that hegemonic status is derived from possession of: (i) great material asymmetry in favor of one state; (ii) enough military power to defeat systematically any potential contester in the system; (iii) access to raw materials, natural resources, capital and markets; (iv) competitive advantages in the production of value-added goods; (v) an accepted ideology reflecting this status quo; and (vi) ability to provide certain public goods such as security, or commercial and financial stability.

霸权的定义
通常来说,霸权是指一国的政治、经济、军事、社会或文化对其他国家的主导地位。国际关系理论解释了霸权地位源于占有:
(i) 有利于一个国家的巨大的物质不对称;
(ii)有足够的军事实力,能够有组织地击败系统中任何潜在的竞争对手;
(iii)能获得原材料、自然资源、资本和市场;
(iv)拥有生产高附加价值商品的竞争优势;
(v) 反映这种现状的公认的意识形态;
(vi) 提供安全、商业、金融稳定等公共需求的能力。

Over the last two centuries, the world has seen two global hegemons: Britain (1850-1914) and the US (1945 to the present). Britain’s hegemonic power was expressed in the form of maritime expansion, colonial empires, and the invention of the international gold-standard system.
For the US, it was derived from its airborne and naval superiority, a global network of military bases, its global dominance of the international economic system, and its currency’s dominant position in the international financial system. Possession of the world’s privileged reserve currency in particular means that the US can print money and run enormous trade deficits in a way that other countries cannot. Moreover, American multinational corporations can gain advantage from avoiding the transactional costs of currency exchange in the financing of their trade.

在过去的两个世纪里,世界见证了两个全球霸权:英国(1850-1914)和美国(1945年至今)。英国的霸权力量体现于海上扩张、殖民帝国和发明国际金本位体系。
至于美国的霸权,则体现于其空中和海军优势、全球军事基地网络、其在国际经济体系中的全球主导地位,以及其货币在国际金融体系中的主导地位。
尤其是拥有世界上享有特权的储备货币,意味着美国可以印钞票,以这种其他国家无法做到的方式经营巨额的贸易逆差。此外,美国跨国公司还有一个优势,没有货币兑换的交易成本。

However, in the past two decades, we have apparently witnessed the fading of US hegemony.

然而,在过去的二十年里,我们显然目睹了美国霸权的衰落。

America’s change of course
During the administration of president George W Bush, the US turned away from consensual multilateralism toward unilateralism that played down the need for alliances and placed a priority on military strength.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 faced widespread criticism, and the subsequent occupation of that country was perceived as a failure and became broadly unpopular. Such military intervention violated international norms and legality, undermining America’s image and credibility abroad sharply.

美国理所当然的变化

在美国总统乔治布什政府期间,美国放弃了协商一致的多边主义,转向单边主义。单边主义淡化了结盟的必要性,并将军事力量放在优先地位。
2003对伊拉克的入侵受到了广泛的批评,随后对伊拉克的占领被认为是失败的,且普遍地不得人心。这种军事干预破坏了国际规则和合法性,严重损害了美国在国外的形象和信誉。

Then, American superpower status was shaken again by the financial crisis in 2007. The crisis emanated from flawed regulation, perverse incentives for banks to sell mortgages to poor Americans with no ability to repay, and gigantic leverage in the financial system, bringing the whole financial sector to its knees and sending shockwaves throughout the global economy.

然后,2007年的金融危机再次动摇了美国的超级大国地位。这场危机源于有缺陷的监管、银行向无力偿还贷款的美国穷人出售抵押贷款的反常动机,以及金融体系中巨大的杠杆作用,最终使整个金融业陷入瘫痪,并在全球经济中引发了海啸。

Later, thanks to China, the crisis was mitigated by Beijing’s purchase of US Treasury bonds. As a consequence, the financial meltdown set the scene for gravitational shift in economic power, from the West to East Asia and from the US to China.
Since 2000, annual growth of China’s gross domestic product has fluctuated between 6.7% and 14.2%, while that of the US peaked at 3.8% in 2004 and plunged to negative-2.8% in 2009 because of the 2007 financial crisis. (However, China’s GDP per capita is still clearly lagging behind the US because of its huge population.)

后来,多亏了中国,由中国政府购买美国国债才缓解了这场危机。其结果是,这场金融危机使得全球经济实力的重心从西方转向东亚,从美国转向中国。
自2000年以来,中国国内生产总值的年增长率在6.7%和14.2%之间波动,而美国在2004年达到3.8%的峰值,2009年因2007年金融危机而暴跌至2.8%。(然而,由于人口众多,中国的人均GDP仍明显落后于美国。)

Moreover, the Chinese government was successful in poverty reduction, as it lifted 800 million people out of poverty between 1978 and 2014, more than any other country. Now its large middle class and its government are prosperous and have massive spending power, becoming an increasingly important market for every country.

此外,中国政府在扶贫方面取得了成功,在1978年至2014年期间,它使8亿人脱离贫困,比其他任何国家都多。现在,中国庞大的中产阶级和政府繁荣起来,拥有巨大的购买力,成为每个国家日益重要的市场。

As of 2016, China was the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of merchandise goods. It also had the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, totaling US$3.52 trillion.

截至2016年,中国是世界上最大的商品出口国和第二大商品进口国。中国还拥有世界上最大的外汇储备,总计3.52万亿美元。

Interestingly, according to the annual ranking of the world’s largest banks by assets released by S&P Global Intelligence, four of the five largest banks are Chinese.
Apart from being the world’s No 1 recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), China is also among the world’s largest providers in terms of overseas investment and financial assistance, of which a big part comes in the form of development finance.

有趣的是,根据标准普尔全球情报公司公布的全球最大银行资产年度排名,全球五大银行中有四家是中国银行。
中国不仅是世界第一大外商直接投资接受国,而且在海外投资和金融援助方面也是世界上最大的提供国,其中很大一部分来自发展融资。

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has been spreading its wings globally, intending to foster closer ties with developing countries and meanwhile seeking a reliable supply of the raw materials and natural resources required for fueling its economic growth.

自二十一世纪开始,中国已经在全球范围内展开翅膀,意在与发展中国家建立更紧密的联系,同时寻求可靠的原材料和自然资源的供应,以促进其经济增长。

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to provide a $2 billion fund for investing in and assisting developing countries, which would increase to $12 billion over the next 15 years.
China’s most emphasized areas of strategic engagement are perhaps Africa and Latin America. In Africa, a continent that has been relatively neglected by the US and European countries, the evidence of growing Chinese presence is everywhere. Trade between China and Africa as well as China’s investment in the region has increased dramatically across the continent.

2015年,中国承诺提供20亿美元的资金用于投资和援助发展中国家,未来15年将增加到120亿美元。
中国最重视的战略地区或许是非洲和拉丁美洲。在美国和欧洲国家相对忽视的非洲大陆,越来越多的中国存在的迹象随处可见。中国与非洲之间的贸易以及中国对该地区的投资都有显著增长。

As for Latin America, the United States’ geo-strategic back yard, China is now the largest trading partner of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. This is especially so with Brazil, where China has a close diplomatic and political relationship through their membership of the BRICS grouping.

至于拉丁美洲,美国的地缘战略后院,中国现在是阿根廷、巴西、智利和秘鲁的最大贸易伙伴。这一点在巴西尤其如此,中国通过金砖国家集团身份,与巴西有着密切的外交和政治关系。

China’s presence in developing countries means much more than mutual economic benefit to both parties. First, China’s arrival signals an alternative source of assistance as they are no longer reliant on the West, or on multilateral lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. While Western aid is often patronizing and has strings attached concerning political conditions such as democracy and human rights, Chinese aid has far fewer, based on the notion that it is wrong to impose political and economic conditionality in exchange for assistance.

中国在发展中国家的存在,对双方来说都是经济互利的。首先,中国的到来标志着另一种援助来源,因为它们可以不再依赖西方,也不再依赖国际货币基金组织和世界银行等多边贷款机构。而西方的援助往往自命为恩人,而且有一连串的附加条件如民主和人权等,中国的援助条件却少得多,它基于这样一种观念,即把政治和经济条件强加于人以换取援助是错误的。

Former Chinese president Hu Jintao said, “China steadfastly supports the wish of the African countries to safeguard their independence and sovereignty and choose their road of development according to their national conditions.”
Second, a contrasting approach toward developing countries paves the way for projecting a new distinctive model of global development to the world. It is characterized by state-led investment focusing on infrastructure and support services that are less tied to the donor’s economic interests, less ideological, but more pragmatic and experimental.

前中国说:“中国坚定支持非洲国家维护国家独立自主、根据国情选择发展道路的愿望。”
首先,对发展中国家采取截然不同的做法,向世界展示了一种新的独特的全球发展模式。它的特点是由国家主导的投资集中在基础设施和后勤保障上,而这些服务与捐助国的经济利益无关,意识形态更少,但更务实和更具实验性。

Also, China’s impressive economic growth and poverty reduction have attracted a lot of attention and can be a model for other nations to consider and learn from.
Third, for developing countries, China’s unconditional economic assistance is considered more favorable, friendly and businesslike. This has been the most instrumental in enhancing the prospects of building long-term alliances, support and credibility at the international level.

其次,中国令人印象深刻的经济增长和减贫也吸引了许多国家的注意,并可以成为其他国家思考和学习的榜样。
第三,对发展中国家而言,中国无附加条件的经济援助对于发展中国家更有利、友好且有效率。这对加强在国际层面中建立长期联盟、支持和信誉的前景是最有帮助的。

These factors perhaps can explain why there has been a significant shift of sentiment among developing countries away from the US and toward China.
Leaving aside economic and military concerns, one thing that makes US hegemony increasingly unpopular in the world is its notion of soft power that puts too much emphasis on the importance of democracy within nation-states without realizing that all countries are not the same, all government systems function differently, all cultures cannot be blanketed with the same designated set of standards and protocols.

这些因素或许可以解释为什么发展中国家的态度发生了重大转变,开始远离美国亲近中国。
撇开经济和军事方面的担忧不谈,美国霸权在世界上越来越不受欢迎的一个原因是,它的软实力概念过分强调了国家内部民主的重要性,而没有意识到所有国家都不一样,所有政府体系运作不同,所有文化都不可能被同一套由别人指定的标准和协议所覆盖。

China seems to have realized this and seeks to offer a development package that emphasizes no-strings-attached aid and infrastructural assistance, respect for sovereignty, importance of a strong state, opposition to superpower domination, and support for a level playing field.
In this connection, if China succeeds in becoming a global hegemon, these emphases together with ethical elements rooted in Confucianism, a philosophy embraced by the Communist Party of China and currently being promoted worldwide as the ideology and culture of today’s China, are likely to be featured in the new order.

中国似乎已经意识到这一点,它所提供的发展方案,强调不附带任何条件的援助、基础设施帮助、强政府的重要性、尊重主权、反对超级大国的统治,以及支持公平的竞争环境。
在这方面,如果中国成功地成为一个全球领袖, 这些根植于儒家思想中的强调以及道德因素,作为当今中国的思想文化、一种被中国TG接受并正在全球推广的哲学思想,很可能会出现在新秩序中。

Another important determinant of becoming a global hegemon is political leadership. Since Donald Trump assumed the US presidency in January 2017, there has been a lot of discussion questioning his leadership and often drawing comparisons with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump’s presidency has been widely criticized and is unpopular overseas, deteriorating the global image and credibility of the US. A survey by Pew Research Center conducted in 37 countries showed US favorability ratings in the rest of the world dropping to 49% from 64% at the end of Barack Obama’s administration; in many countries the figure was lower than for either Russian President Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping, and even below that of George W Bush in 2004 after the Iraq invasion.

中国成为全球领袖的另一个重要决定因素是政治领导能力。自唐纳德特朗普在2017年1月就任美国总统以来,有很多人在质疑他的领导能力,并经常拿他与中国进行比较。
特朗普的管理受到了广泛批评,在海外不受欢迎,恶化了美国的全球形象和信誉。皮尤研究中心在37个国家开展的一项调查显示,美国在世界范围的支持率为49%,而奥巴马政府任期结束时为64%;在许多国家,这一数字低于俄罗斯总统普京或中国,甚至低于2004年伊拉克入侵后的乔治布什。

Aside from Trump’s unfavorable character, many of his key policies under the “America First” slogan have been broadly controversial and opposed, such as building a wall between the US and Mexico, withdrawing the US from major trade and climate-change partnerships, banning people from some Muslim-majority countries entering the US, weakening health care, the “shithole” remark, the planned shift of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and the more recent proposal of 25% tariffs on some Chinese imports. These acts of protectionism and isolationism are signs of abdication of its global leadership role to China.

除了特朗普那令人不快的性格, 他在“美国优先”口号下的许多关键政策都引起广泛争议和反对, 比如在美国和墨西哥之间建墙, 从主要的贸易、气候变化伙伴协议中撤出,禁止一些穆斯林占多数的国家的人民进入美国,削减医疗保险,“屎坑”言论,美国驻耶路撒冷大使馆搬迁计划,以及最近对部分中国进口商品征收25%关税的提议。
这些保护主义和孤立主义行为标志着它将全球领导地位让给中国。

When speaking about hegemony, it should not be considered solely in economic terms but in terms of politics and culture too. In economic terms, considering the heavy military burden borne by the US, its colossal amount of debt based on an addiction to spending and imports, and its dependence on China to finance its budget deficits, this underlines the fragility of American prosperity, and the speculation that China will overtake the US to undertake a position of global hegemony in the near future seems to be a sure thing.

在谈到霸权时,不应只考虑经济方面,还应考虑政治和文化。在经济方面,考虑到美国承受沉重的军事负担、其基于消费和进口的巨大债务、以及依赖中国为其预算赤字提供资金,这些都突显了美国繁荣的脆弱性, 中国在不久的将来取代美国成为全球领袖似乎是一件必然的事情。

But for a country to be accepted or welcomed, hegemony requires something more. American political scientist Joseph Nye once stated that China was far from America’s equal in soft power because of its lack of cultural industries or non-governmental organizations such as those in the US. However, China is now working hard to promote its culture and increase its own soft power around the world, for example establishing government-funded Confucius Institutes worldwide and sponsoring Lunar New Year celebrations around the world.

但是,对于一个被接受或受欢迎的国家来说,霸权需要更多的东西。美国政治学家约瑟夫•奈曾经说过,由于缺乏文化产业和类似美国的非政府组织,中国在软实力方面远远落后于美国。
然而,中国现在正在努力促进其文化的发展,并在世界范围内增加自己的软实力,例如在全世界建立政府资助的孔子学院,并在世界各地资助农历新年的庆祝活动。

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), for the most part seen as a strategy to engineer China’s economic expansion and diplomatic influence overseas, will also serve well as a platform backing this.

“一带一路”倡议,在很大程度上被视为中国经济扩张和增强海外外交影响力的战略,也将成为支持其软实力发展的平台。

Within the next decade, China order will begin to take shape and, as Martin Jacques wrote in his renowned book When China Rules the World, it is likely to exercise power in new and distinctive ways that are congruent with its history and culture. It will reconfigure the world on its terms far more fundamentally than any other past hegemon.

在接下来的十年里,中国的秩序将开始成形,正如马丁•雅克在他的著名著作《当中国统治世界》【When China Rules the World】中所写的那样,它很可能以新的、独特的方式行使权力,这与中国的历史和文化是一致的。相比于过去的其他霸权,中国将更加根本的改变世界。

Sit back, relax and be prepared for the change.

坐下来,放松,为变革做好准备。

Dr Pattharapong Rattanasevee is a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science and Law, Burapha University, Thailand. His academic interests focus on international relations, regionalism and Southeast Asia.

本文作者是泰国东方大学政治科学与法律学院的讲师。他的学术兴趣集中在国际关系、地区主义和东南亚。