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China: Put the E back in APEC

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum came to a harmonious enough end this Sunday with all twenty-one member nations agreeing to renew calls for North Korea to put an end to its nuclear plans and key player China putting its weight behind the pledge. Chinese bloggers, however, seem to have assumed a broader focus.

Perhaps anticipating a debate on (re)distribution of regional representation, Phoenix Television blogger Distant Horizon sets the tone [zh] for discussion on China's increasingly heavy and faceted presence in the region:

亚太经合组织(APEC)首脑会议11月18日在越南首都河内举行,美国总统布什和中国国家主席胡锦涛的高峰会晤已倍受国际媒体关注。而将陪同布什一起参加高峰会晤的美国国务卿赖斯11月17日在接受采访时,却对中国的崛起发表了一番不太多见的”忧心忡忡”的评论。

The APEC leadership conference was underway this weekend in the Vietnamese capitol Hanoi and American President Bush and Chinese Chairman Hu Jintao‘s summit has received international media attention. American Secretary of State Rice, accompanying Bush in attending the conference, in interviews given on November 17, made a seldom-seen comment regarding ‘deep worries’ over China's rise.

赖斯在访谈中首先谈到了中国的军事”扩张”,称其规模可能有些太”过分”了。赖斯说,美国对中国的军事集结很是担心,”对中国的地区角色而言,它有时似乎是特别大的。”

Rice, in the interview, first made mention of the Chinese military's ‘expansion’, calling it perhaps ‘excessive’ in scale. China's military buildup is very worrying for America, Rice said: ‘speaking of China's regional role, it sometimes seems especially large.’

美联社、法新社、路透社和其它西方媒体都对赖斯就中国的崛起,所发表的最新”担忧”进行了报导,同时也对中国的军事规模进行了介绍和评论。美国媒体在谈到赖斯发表这番评论时称,近年来北京在军备上已花费巨资,增添了潜艇、导弹、战机和其它高科技武器,来扩大其拥有230万人的军队。

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and other Western media all reported on Rice's ‘worries’ regarding China's rise, at the same time providing introductions and commentary on the scale of China's military. American media, in mentioning Rice's comments, said that in recent years Beijing has been spending huge amounts on weaponry, adding submarines, cruise missiles, figher planes and other high-tech weapons in enlarging its 2.3 million strong army.

不过,中国官方公开的军费开支显示,中国今年的军费增长为14%,达到353亿美元。但外界估计,中国军费的真实开支可能是其公布的数字的三倍。

However, China's officially-released military expenditure shows an increase in spending this year of fourteen percent, at a total of USD 35.3 million. Outside estimates, however, put China's actual military spending at three times higher than the figures released.

Yes, times have changed in China and containment of North Korea is a role China must now fulfill, says military affairs columnist Return of the King in ‘China's APEC Triple-jump‘ [zh], but that's only two-thirds of it, expecting concrete economic initiatives with a very sinocentric focus:

17年前的APEC成立大会,并未邀请中国参加。在分析家看来,17年间,从APEC会议旁观的看客到最核心的成员,中国完成了漂亮的”三级跳”。”中国目前尚不具备加入条件。”在APEC成立之初,曾有人这样评价中国。当时,美国与澳大利亚等发达国家并未向中国表示积极姿态。1989年,当时的澳大利亚总理霍克提出APEC主张后,中国也曾表示”愿意参与亚太地区的经济合作”。但由于众所周知的原因,中国并未受邀参加第一次高官会议和部长会议。澳大利亚堪培拉,APEC第一次部长级会议会场外,未见中国的五星红旗。

China wasn't invited to APEC's founding meeting seventeen years ago, but as analysts see it, in these seventeen years, China has executed a beautiful ‘hop, skip and jump’ to move from a spectator watching APEC from the sidelines to a central member. ‘China at present has yet to fulfill the entry requirements.’ In APEC's early years, people once thus judged China. At the time, America and Australia and other developed countries did not have a positive stance on China. In 1989, following Australian Prime Minister Hawke‘s mention of his APEC stance, China expressed “willingness to take part in APEC”. But due to reasons known to all, China was not invited to attend the first senior official and ministerial meetings and China's five-starred red flag was not seen outside the venue for the first APEC ministerial meeting held in Canberra, Australia.

缺憾很快被公开提出。在第二次部长级会议上,各方发现,缺少中国,亚太经济合作组织实在名不副实。印尼、韩国等APEC成员多次提出:中国毕竟是大国,市场广阔,因此不应缺少中国。1991年,”经过9个月复杂而艰苦”的谈判,中国加入APEC,完成了第一跳。

The disappointment was quickly made known. At the second ministerial meeting, everyone felt that with China's absence, APEC in reality didn't live up to the name. Indonesia, Korea and other APEC members made the point many times: China after all is a big power, its market is vast, this is why China shouldn't be left out. In 1991, following “nine months of complicated and difficult” negotiations, China entered APEC, landing its first jump.

1997年,亚洲金融危机爆发,东南亚经济上演”惊天大逆转”,由”龙腾虎跃”到”灰飞烟灭”。各国纷纷埋头自顾,忙于自保之时,中国却宣布人民币不贬值。”中国的行动乃是患难见真情”,前APEC高官王蒙生对记者介绍,”慷慨义举”让困境中的APEC成员刮目相看,提升了中国在APEC中的声望,完成了一次”软实力的飞跃”,成就了”第二跳”。

In the Asian financial crisis of 1997, Southeast Asia went through a ‘groundbreaking turnaround’, from ‘soaring dragons and leaping tigers’ to ‘flying ash and flickering smoke’. When one-by-one each country put their heads down, busy taking care of themselves, China announced that the Renminbi had not devalued. “China remains a friend in time of need,” as former APEC official Wang Mengsheng said to reporters, whose generosity led the troubled APEC members to take notice, raising China's reputation in APEC and by way of ‘soft power’, landing the country's second leap.

2005年,美联社援引前APEC执行主任威廉·博德所言:”刚刚加入APEC时,中国还只是一个重要国家成员,'9·11'之后,美国注意力无法集中在亚洲贸易上,中国凭借迅速发展的经济,得以扮演越来越关键的角色。”目前,与美国利益息息相关的热点问题,诸如朝核问题、伊朗问题,在亚太地区的任何重大问题上,都不能缺少中国的合作。分析人士认为,此言实际表明中国已经完成了”第三跳”。

In 2005, Associated Press quoted former APEC executive director William Bodde as saying, “When it first entered APEC, China was still only a major country member. After 911, America couldn't keep its attention focused on Asian economics and China, due to speeded-up economic development, came to play an increasingly key role.” At present, issues closely affecting American interests such as the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons, the Iran problem, and any major problem in the Asia-Pacific region, all require China's cooperation. Analysts see this as evidence that China has landed its third leap.

中国在APEC中的角色不断变化的同时,APEC的性质与承载的内容也在经历变迁,趋势日渐明朗,两种变化相伴相生,如影随形。本次APEC会议的一个重要议题就是推动亚太地区贸易自由化。前中国APEC高官王蒙生指出,美国将很有可能在这次会议上更进一步,提出建立亚太自由贸易区。以往在APEC,美国对贸易自由化态度虽不消极,也未”热情洋溢”,而这次一反常态,大张旗鼓。在对亚太贸易自由”前倨后恭”背后,意图隐隐浮现。

While China's role in APEC is constantly changing, the nature of APEC itself and the loads it bears are also undergoing changes, with a trend increasingly clear, the two kinds of changes inseparable and interdependent. An important theme to this APEC meeting is pushing for freer trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Former Chinese APEC officer Wang Mengsheng points out that America will very likely suggest the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Free Trade zone at this meeting. Although America's attitude toward free trade in APEC in the past was never either passive nor enthusiastic, it has changed its mind this time, and quite radically. With this background of playing devil's advocate to free trade in the Asia-Pacific, their intentions appear faint.

从美国的报章、杂志和网络论坛来看,美国政府受东亚大国经济持续增长的刺激,颇有些危机感。美国寄望借助此次APEC会议,奠定在亚太地区贸易发展中的地位。否则,在美国看来,东亚与东南亚的财富的蛋糕就将被”新兴势力”迅速瓜分,而美国在未来东亚将”处境尴尬”。美国媒体纷纷撰文,认为”美国在亚太地区的领导权正在受到强有力的挑战”,学界也议论纷纷,警告政府”必须妥善应对新崛起的势力所带来的新情况”。

Judging from America's newspapers, magazines and internet forums, the American government is on the receiving end of East Asian powers’ ever-increasing discontent, feeling a lot like a crisis. America looks to benefit from this APEC meeting by establishing itself in the Asia-Pacific region's economic expansion. Or else, as America sees it, the cake of East and Southeast Asia wealth will be quickly divided up by ‘up and coming powers’, and America's future in East Asia will be ‘an awkward situation’. One-by-one, American media are writing articles about ‘strong challenges to American hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region’, and the academic world is beginning to discuss, urging the government to ‘properly deal with all the new circumstances brought about by newly rising powers.’

北京大学国际关系学院副院长贾庆国认为,中国的发展对于美国而言,”并不是彼长此消的零和游戏,而是存在互惠互利的合作空间”。王蒙生也觉得美国的主张有些多虑,仿佛”冷战思维”的产物。对于自由贸易区的设想,由于对各成员之间的巨大发展差距估计不足,因此有些”操之过急”。但是,各国通过APEC的协商,亚太地区的贸易与投资的进一步自由化已是大势所趋。

Assistant Dean of Peking University‘s School of International Relations Jia Qingguo feels that China's development, in terms of America, is not a mutually-exclusive zero-sum game, but the existence of a mutually-benefitting space for cooperation. Wang Mengsheng also feels America's stance is a bit worrying, almost like a product of ‘cold war mentality’. As for the free trade region plan, due to an underestimation of the massive developmental gaps between each members, there's a bit of a ‘haste in operations’. But, with every country having consulted with APEC, increased liberalization for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region is just a sign of the times.

Ostensibly, at least, for major Chinese trading partner Canada who seems to have lost the chance to engage Chairman Hu in serious discussion on issues such as trade, investment and human rights—Huseyincan Celil, for starters—following Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s confusion over whether or not the leaders of the two countries were slated to meet. More background on the Canadian side from Sina blogger Little Leaf [zh]:

加拿大保守党今年1月执政后,有几件事据称曾惹得中国不快。其中之一是,总理机要秘书肯尼今年稍早曾与来访的达赖喇嘛会面。此外,保守党执政至今,尚未派高级官员赴中国访问。加拿大外交部长麦基6日才第一次与中国驻加大使会面。

Since the Conservative Party of Canada‘s coming into office in January this year, there have been a few incidents purported to have made China unhappy. One of those is the Prime Ministers’ parliamentary secretary Jason Kenney‘s meeting earlier this year with the Dalai Lama. Other than this, until now the Conservative Party has yet to send a high-level official to visit China. Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay only met with the Chinese ambassador to Canada on the 6th [this month].

加拿大商业界也对保守党政府未与中国积极交往抱怨不断。商业界担心,两国经济关系可能会因此蒙受不良影响。

Canada's business community has also been complaining nonstop about the Conservative Party's lack of an active attempt to associate with China. The business community worries that economic relations between the two countries might be negatively affected as a result.

最近,保守党政府官员承认,国会党团正在辩论是否仍须每年与中国进行人权对话。加拿大保守党国会党团对中国人权及中国对台湾的立场经常持批评态度。

Conservative Party officials have admitted recently that parliament is currently debating whether or not it's still necessary to enter into human rights discussions with China annually. Canada's Conservative Party and parliament often maintain a critical attitude towards China's state of human rights and stance on Taiwan.

夏巴今年曾与胡锦涛在俄罗斯举行的八国高峰会议中短暂会晤。今年10月,夏巴在温哥华接受《星岛日报》访问时表示,他希望在亚太经合会期间,能与胡锦涛有更长时间的私下会晤。

Harper did meet with Hu Jintao during the G8 meeting held in Russia this year. In an interview with Sing Tao Daily in Vancouver, Harper expressed hope to meet privately with Hu Jintao for as long as possible during the APEC summit.

一名加拿大消息人士表示,夏巴与胡锦涛最终虽可能会晤,但两人的会谈不会有什么重要性。这位消息人士说,目前加拿大和中国的关系可说是在一种观望状态。夏巴目前领导的是一个少数党政府,一切都不稳定。中国较愿与一个稳定的政府发展长远的关系。’

One informed source in Canada says although Harper and Hu Jintao might in the end meet, there won't be much importance to their discussion. This informed source says that relations between Canada and China are in a sort of wait-and-see state. The current Harper leadership is a minority government and everything is unstable. China particularly hopes to establish longterm relations with a stable government.

Fabulous photos from Hanoi at BBS website Daqi.

2 comments

  • Hi John, I’m working at City Weekend as the e publisher and managing editor. I’m sorry to contact through this comment posting, but I couldn’t find your email address via the site. Recently, our CEO Tim Murray, ran into a mutual contact of yours (her name was Rebecca. I don’t have her last name off hand.) She recommended that you and I get in touch about the blogging communitty in China. When you’re free, please drop me a line. We can speak over the phone or via email. Best, Collin

  • […] Speaking strictly by percentage, rabid nationalistic discourse tends to dominate online discussion in China, but the reason so little of this is reflected here at Global Voices Online is that one hopes to engage in balanced conversation, but in the Celil incident, this week at least, all the bloggage this blogger was able to find leans heavily in the Chinese government’s favor. For example, random comments on blogs found in the first two pages of results in the search described above: […]

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