美國務院太親中(The State Department Is Tilting Dangerously Toward China) 前白宮官員示警 ◎中央社+Foreign Policy 2017-08-26

Share

2017/08/26

(中央社記者鄭崇生華盛頓25日專電)前白宮官員瑞特納表示,美國總統川普政府主政下的國務院須停止「危險傾中」,允許北京霸凌台灣、包括巴拿馬與台灣斷交時刻意不批中,讓人關切美國對區域承諾的可信度。瑞特納(Ely Ratner)是前副總統拜登的副國安顧問,他目前擔任外交關係協會(CFR)資深研究員,過去也曾任職於國務院中國與蒙古事務科。他24日於「外交政策」(Foreign Policy)雜誌撰文,細數川普上任後、國務院與北京交手的表現是「危險傾中」,包括為北京霸凌台灣、壓制香港和控制南海的行為「開綠燈」,都必須停止。

瑞特納以巴拿馬與台灣斷交為例指出,國務院發言人諾爾特(Heather Nauert)當時無意義的外交語言刻意不批評中國,沒聲援台灣,沒有呼籲中國大陸停止造成不穩定的行為,反引導「譴責台灣」的觀點。

諾爾特當時在鏡頭前指出,美國敦促所有相關方,以富有成果的對話,避免緊張情勢升高及破壞穩定的行為;美國在兩岸關係的穩定上有深遠利益,美國相信,透過對話,造就兩岸近幾年來的和平與穩定。隨後,國務院東亞暨太平洋事務局發言人崔葛瑞斯(Grace Choi )才以書面補充表示,「美國持續反對兩岸任何一方片面改變台海現狀的舉動」。

另外,包括國務卿提勒森首次訪中,採用中國描述「美中關係」的詞彙,就算那是新手上路的「菜鳥錯誤」,但在處理北韓問題及貿易議題上,國務院這個夏天一直「令人費解的」尊重中國。

他還提到,包括國務院6月初公布「香港重要發展評估」報告,對北京的用詞顯得膽怯、無意說實話;在南海問題上,美中外交與安全對話後提勒森僅行禮如儀的談話,國務院為了穩定積極的美中關係,忽略美國利益。

瑞特納說,國務院的做法,已讓區域嚴重關切美國對亞洲承諾的可信度及是反制強勢中國的意願。

他說,這似乎是一批沒有中國經驗的資深官員和川普的「交易主義」主導造成,另外還包括白宮資深顧問、川普的女婿庫許納和中國駐美大使崔天凱的關係。

為扭轉這一趨勢,他認為,制定外交政策須其他相關方介入;國務院對待中國的方式不代表白宮國安會、國防部等部會的觀點,而白宮國安顧問麥馬斯特、國防部長馬提斯的角色就更重要。

此外,他還說,司法部也應調查川普政府官員和中國大陸是否有私下商業交易、諮詢關係和秘密管道。

文章最後說,從北韓到貿易,美國多個議題接連向中國低頭,只會讓北京加深川普政府可收買的印象,而非堅定、有原則地維護美國利益 ;缺少亞洲經驗的美國總統和內閣團隊,將讓中國一再取勝。

The State Department Is Tilting Dangerously Toward China

The first time it happened was bewildering. Rex Tillerson, on his maiden voyage to Beijing as secretary of state, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his side, parroted a series of Communist Party slogans that are well-known shorthand for U.S. accommodation to China. Less than two months into the Trump zdministration, this could have been forgiven as a rookie mistake, rather than an intentional decision by the State Department to be submissive toward Beijing.

But then it happened again. And again. And again. Away from the limelight of North Korea and trade policy, the State Department has persisted throughout the summer with inexplicable deference to China.

On June 7, the department released its “Review of Key Developments in Hong Kong,” offering an obvious opportunity to raise concerns about Beijing’s ever-tightening authoritarian grip on the city. After praising the government for its economic management, the statement went on to note, “certain other actions by the Central Government appear to be inconsistent with its stated commitments to Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.” This is language you use — “appear to be inconsistent with” — when you’re either too afraid or just not that interested in speaking truth to power.

The following week, the department’s spokesperson was asked whether the United States had any concerns about China’s renewed diplomatic offensive to further isolate Taiwan, having just convinced Panama City to sever ties with Taipei. In response, spokesperson Heather Nauert reached into the vault of meaningless diplomacy speak and pulled out this: “We, the United States, urge all concerned parties to engage in productive dialogue and avoid escalatory and destabilizing moves.” Compare “urge all concerned parties” to a bipartisan letter that eight leading senators sent to President Donald Trump on June 23 expressing concerns that “China has intensified its economic coercion and military intimidation tactics” against Taiwan.

Not to be outdone by his spokesperson, Tillerson was back to aping Chinese talking points on June 21, in his official statement following the inaugural U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. After offering boilerplate remarks about U.S. policy in the South China Sea, Tillerson concluded by saying, without further comment or amendment: “With that said, China has committed to resolve their disputes peacefully and in accordance with recognized principles of international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.” Of course, China isn’t resolving its disputes peacefully, and Beijing has explicitly rejected the landmark ruling of an arbitral tribunal under the convention in question. But why spoil the mood?

In early July, there were hopeful signs that the administration’s accommodation of China was coming to an end. Trump took to Twitter to declare his disappointment with Chinese President Xi Jinping on North Korea: “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” This came after a busy week of actions aimed at bolstering U.S. policy in Asia, including the administration’s announcement of its first arms sales package to Taiwan, a new set of sanctions against Chinese entities illicitly doing business with North Korea, and a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea.

But despite this flurry of activity, the State Department has stuck to its pro-China tendencies. Case in point: On August 18, the department had exactly nothing to say at an official press briefing the day after 20-year old Joshua Wong and his pro-democracy colleagues were sentenced as political prisoners in Hong Kong. Astonishingly, a week has gone by and all the State Department has managed to muster is a tepid quote from a spokesperson for the U.S. consulate general in Hong Kong: “We are concerned by the decision of the Hong Kong authorities to seek a tougher sentence. We hope Hong Kong’s law enforcement continues to reflect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and remains apolitical.” If I’m in Beijing, I read that as a free pass.

This pattern of capitulation is deeply troubling because things like statements by the secretary (or lack thereof) and official press guidance result from a clearance process in the State Department where all of the relevant offices should have the opportunity to offer edits and suggestions. What we have seen over the last several months is not just a series of random, off the cuff remarks, but instead a State Department deliberately unwilling to criticize China. This was the case with Nauert’s dreadful June 13 Taiwan statement. Despite urgings at the working-level to voice support for Taiwan and call out China’s destabilizing actions, a “blame Taiwan” view ultimately prevailed, which held instead that the real, underlying problem aggravating cross-Strait relations is that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has not sufficiently kowtowed to Beijing.

This has to stop. It has to stop because the State Department is giving Beijing a green light to bully Taiwan, further suppress Hong Kong, and push toward its goal of controlling the South China Sea. It has to stop because the State Department is generating serious concerns throughout the region about the credibility of America’s commitment to Asia and its willingness to push back on Chinese assertiveness.

Meanwhile, it isn’t totally clear where this accommodationist impulse is coming from. It appears to be some noxious combination of senior officials with no China expertise, Trump’s own transactionalism and willingness to trade U.S. interests for the right price, the romancing and capture of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, by Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, and risk-averse elements within the State Department that would rather see a stable, positive U.S.-China relationship regardless of whether a more competitive approach would better serve U.S. interests. (Notable exceptions can be found in the department’s various annual reports, for example those on trafficking in persons and religious freedom, which are prepared by subject-matter experts in functional bureaus.)

To reverse this damaging trend, other parts of the foreign policy establishment will have to step in. The State Department’s approach to China does not reflect majority views at the National Security Council or the Defense Department (Or the Treasury Department, Commerce Department, and Justice Department — or Congress, for that matter.) As a result, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will have to weigh in more actively on China issues. Congress also has a critical oversight role in demanding hearings and accountability for this torrent of feckless statements. To rule out more malicious motives, the Justice Department should ensure that investigations into Russian interference in U.S. politics also examine private business deals, consulting relationships, and secret channels that involve China and Trump administration officials.

Finally, the point should be made repeatedly that this is exactly the wrong way to achieve America’s goals on North Korea, trade, or whatever else the administration decides is the focus of the day in Asia. Bowing to China on issue after issue has only reinforced the impression in Beijing that the Trump administration — rather than being firm and principled in defending U.S. interests — can be bought or bent with little effort. And that’s a game China will win time and again against a president and cabinet with so little experience on Asia.

Share

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.