China is swelling into a military superpower. India, Vietnam and Singapore are spending more on defense. Japan is leaning to do the same. Now Australia, backed by the United States and Britain, has catapulted the military contest with Beijing in Asia into a tense new phase.
中国正在膨胀为一个军事超级大国。印度、越南和新加坡正在增加国防开支。日本也倾向于这样做。现在,澳大利亚在美国和英国的支持下,让与中国的军事竞争在亚洲跃入了一个紧张的新阶段。
Their deal last week to equip Australia with stealthy, long-range nuclear-powered submarines better able to take on the Chinese navy could accelerate an Asian arms buildup long before the submarines enter service.
为了更好地与中国海军较量,这三个国家上周达成了为澳大利亚配备隐蔽的远程核动力潜艇的协议,这可能导致早在潜艇投入使用之前,就加速亚洲的军备集结。
In response, China may step up its military modernization, especially in technology able to stymie the submarines. And by confirming the Biden administration’s determination to take on Chinese power in Asia, the new weapons deal may tilt other big military spenders like India and Vietnam into accelerating their own weapons plans.
作为回应,中国也许会加快本国的军事现代化,尤其是在能够阻碍核动力潜艇的技术方面。新的武器协议证实了拜登政府在亚洲挑战中国实力的决心,可能会导致印度和越南等其他有大笔军事开支的国家倾向于加快自己的武器计划。
Countries trying to stay in the middle, like Indonesia, Malaysia and others, face a potentially more volatile region and growing pressure, as Australia did, to choose sides between Washington and Beijing.
那些试图保持中立的国家,比如印度尼西亚、马来西亚等国,面对的是一个可能更加动荡的地区,以及澳大利亚曾面临的那种越来越大的压力,在华盛顿与北京之间选边站。
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“The picture is one of three Anglo-Saxon countries drumming up militarily in the Indo-Pacific region. It plays to the narrative offered by China that ‘outsiders’ are not acting in line with the aspiration of regional countries,” said Dino Patti Djalal, a former Indonesian ambassador to the United States. “The worry is that this will spark an untimely arms race, which the region does not need now, nor in the future.”
“现在的情况是,三个盎格鲁—撒克逊国家在印度—太平洋地区兜揽军事生意,这符合中国的说法,即‘外部势力’以不符合区域国家意愿的方式行动,”曾任印尼驻美国大使的迪诺·帕蒂·贾拉尔(Dino Patti Djalal)说。“令人担心的是,这将引发一场不合时宜的军备竞赛,这个地区现在不需要这种竞赛,将来也不需要。”
The submarines won’t hit the water for at least a decade. But the geopolitical waves from their announcement have been instant, while giving Beijing time to marshal opposition among Asian neighbors and plot military countermoves.
这些核动力潜艇至少十年内不会下水。但三方的宣布立即引发了地缘政治的轩然大波,同时也给了北京在亚洲邻国中集结反对力量、策划军事报复行动的时间。
Japan and Taiwan, both strong United States allies, quickly endorsed the security agreement.
美国的坚定盟友日本和台湾很快就对澳英美安全协议表示公开支持
Other Asian governments have, through their remarks or silence, signified misgivings or apprehension about riling China. Many leaders in Southeast Asia want the United States to remain a security mainstay, said Ben Bland, the director of the Southeast Asia program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.
对于激怒中国的做法,其他亚洲国家的政府通过置评或沉默表示了顾虑或担忧。悉尼洛伊研究所(Lowy Institute)东南亚项目主任本·布兰德(Ben Bland)说,东南亚的许多领导人希望美国的安全支柱作用保持不变。
“But they also fear that the increasingly strident approach taken by the U.S. and allies such as Australia will push China to respond in kind,” he said, “driving a cycle of escalation that is centered on Southeast Asia but disregards Southeast Asian voices.”
“但他们也担心,美国以及像澳大利亚这样的盟友采取的日益强硬的做法,将迫使中国做出类似的回应,导致一个以东南亚为中心但无视东南亚各国声音的升级循环,”他说。
Even before the deal, some governments had deployed new ships, submarines and missiles, at least partly out of worry about China’s rapid military buildup and contentious territorial claims. China accounts for 42 percent of all military spending across Asia, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
甚至在协议宣布之前,一些国家的政府已经部署了新的舰艇、潜艇和导弹,至少部分是出于对中国快速军事建设和有争议领土主张的担忧。来自国际战略研究所(International Institute for Strategic Studies)的数据显示,中国占亚洲全部军事开支的42%。
Japanese policymakers have begun to publicly consider increasing military spending beyond 1 percent of its gross domestic product, a cap that the country has maintained since the 1970s. South Korea, focused on the threat from North Korea, has increased its defense budget by 7 percent a year on average since 2018.
日本的决策者已开始公开考虑将军费开支提高到国内生产总值的1%以上,自20世纪70年代以来,日本的军费开支一直保持在这个上限之下。韩国的注意力集中在来自朝鲜的威胁上,自2018年以来,韩国的国防预算平均每年增加7%。
周一,澳大利亚总理斯科特·莫里森乘坐澳大利亚皇家空军的飞机自悉尼飞往美国与拜登总统会晤。
周一,澳大利亚总理斯科特·莫里森乘坐澳大利亚皇家空军的飞机自悉尼飞往美国与拜登总统会晤。 Joel Carrett/Australian Associated Press, via Associated Press
India has ratcheted up military spending as tensions with China have risen, though the economic hit from the coronavirus may slow that trend.
随着与中国的紧张关系加剧,印度已增加了军事开支,但新冠病毒给经济造成的打击可能会让增长的趋势放慢。
Indian plans to acquire another 350 locally assembled military aircraft in the next two decades, its air force chief said this month. Japan is working on hypersonic missiles that could threaten Chinese naval ships in a conflict. Taiwan, the self-governed island that China regards as its own territory, has proposed a $16.8 billion military budget for next year, including $1.4 billion for more jet fighters.
印度空军司令本月说,印度计划在未来20年内再采购350架本地组装的军用飞机。日本正在研发极超音速导弹,这种导弹能在冲突中对中国海军舰艇构成威胁。被中国视为领土的自治岛屿台湾,提出了明年168亿美元的军事预算,包括14亿美元用于购买更多喷气式战斗机。
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The Biden administration promises to help Asian nations counter China’s military buildup, something the new agreement with Australia highlights. That agenda is likely to be discussed in the White House this week when President Biden hosts other leaders from the “Quad,” the grouping that includes Australia, Japan and India.
拜登政府承诺帮助亚洲国家对抗中国的军事增长,与澳大利亚签署的新协议强调了这一点。拜登总统本周在白宫与“四方安全对话”机制的其他领导人见面时,可能会讨论这个议程,该机制包括澳大利亚、日本和印度。
“China is the pacing threat that we have to be concerned about, not only today, but also in the near term and in the long term,” General John E. Hyten, the vice chairman of the United States’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at an event for the Brookings Institution last week.
“中国是我们必须担心的步步逼近的威胁,不仅是现在,也从近期和长期来看,”美国参谋长联席会议副主席、空军上将约翰·E·海顿(John E. Hyten)上周在布鲁金斯学会的一个活动上说。
But many governments across Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, hope to avoid having to make the same choice that Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, made last week in declaring a “forever partnership” with the United States.
但亚洲许多国家的政府,尤其是东南亚国家的政府,希望避免不得不做出澳大利亚总理斯科特·莫里森(Scott Morrison)上周做出的选择,即宣布与美国的“永久伙伴关系”
中国水手在新型导弹驱逐舰“南昌号”的甲板上,摄于2019年山东青岛附近。
中国水手在新型导弹驱逐舰“南昌号”的甲板上,摄于2019年山东青岛附近。 Pool by Mark Schiefelbein
India, which has veered between border clashes with China and efforts to patch up ties with its neighbor, has been muted about the agreement. So has South Korea, which wants to keep steady relations with Beijing while it focuses on potential conflict with North Korea.
与中国发生边界冲突和努力修补与邻国关系之间变化不定的印度尚未对澳英美协议表态。韩国也是如此,该国希望把注意力集中在与朝鲜的潜在冲突上,同时与北京保持稳定的关系。
Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race.” Malaysia has voiced worry.
印尼外交部说,该国“对持续的军备竞赛深感关切”。马来西亚也表示担忧
Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, a city-state with good ties to both Beijing and Washington, diplomatically told Mr. Morrison that he hoped “the partnership would contribute constructively to the peace and stability of the region,” the Straits Times reported.
据《海峡时报》(Straits Times)报道,新加坡总理李显龙用外交辞令对莫里森说,他希望“这一伙伴关系将为该地区的和平与稳定做出建设性的贡献”。新加坡是个城邦国家,与北京和华盛顿都保持良好的关系。
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Outwardly, Australia’s plan to eventually build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines might seem to make little difference to China’s calculus. With about 360 vessels, the Chinese navy is the biggest in the world by number, and has around a dozen nuclear-powered submarines. Its nuclear submarine fleet is likely to grow to 21 by 2030, according to the United States’ Office of Naval Intelligence.
从表面上看,澳大利亚最终建造至少八艘核动力潜艇的计划似乎对中国的算盘没有什么影响。从数量来看,中国海军规模是世界上最大的,拥有约360艘军舰以及约12艘核动力潜艇。据美国海军部情报局(Office of Naval Intelligence)的信息,到2030年时,中国核动力潜艇舰队可能会增加到21艘。
The United States’ Navy has about 300 vessels, including 68 submarines, all of them nuclear. Even if Australia is relatively swift and efficient — not traits that have marked its submarine acquisitions over the decades — its first nuclear-powered submarines may not be commissioned until later in the 2030s.
美国海军大约有300艘军舰,包括68艘潜艇,都是核动力。即使澳大利亚的行动相对迅速和高效——这并非该国过去几十年来购置潜艇的特点——其第一艘核动力潜艇大概也要到本世纪30年代晚些时候才能投入使用。
今年4月,中国最高领导人习近平在海南三亚把中国人民解放军军旗授予海军艇长。
今年4月,中国最高领导人习近平在海南三亚把中国人民解放军军旗授予海军艇长。 Li Gang/Xinhua, via Associated Press
Positioning the hard-to-track submarines closer to seas near China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula could be a powerful deterrent against China’s military, said Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official responsible for relations with China.
将这些难以追踪的潜艇部署在靠近中国、日本和朝鲜半岛的海域,可能对中国军方构成一种有力的威慑,前五角大楼负责中国事务的官员唐安竹(Drew Thompson)说。
“The Middle East wars have ended,” said Mr. Thompson, now a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore. “We are in an interwar period, and the next one will be a high-end, high-intensity conflict with a near-peer competitor, probably involving China, and most likely in northeast Asia.”
“中东战争已经结束,”唐安竹说道,他现在是新加坡国立大学的高级客座研究员。“我们正处于战争的间歇期,下场战争将是一次与我们实力相当的竞争对手高端、高强度冲突,很可能涉及中国,而且最有可能发生在东北亚。”
After condemning the submarine agreement last week, the Chinese government has said little else. But China’s leaders and military planners are sure to consider military and diplomatic countermoves, including new ways to punish Australian exports, already hit by bans and punitive tariffs as relations soured in the past few years.
中国政府在上周对潜艇协议表示谴责,之后几乎没有发表其他言论。但中国领导人和军事规划者肯定会考虑军事和外交上的报复行动,包括用新方法惩罚澳大利亚的对华出口。随着两国关系的恶化,澳大利亚的对华出口已在过去几年里遭受了禁令和惩罚性关税的打击
Beijing can also accelerate efforts to develop technologies for finding and destroying nuclear-powered submarines well before Australia receives them. Most experts said a technological race was more likely than a generalized arms race. China’s output of new naval ships and fighter planes is already rapid. Its anti-submarine technology is less advanced.
中国也可能在澳大利亚的核动力潜艇远未到货之前,就加快研发找到和摧毁核动力潜艇的技术。大多数专家说,技术竞赛比全面的军备竞赛更有可能发生。中国的新型海军舰艇和战斗机的产量已在迅速增长。中国的反潜技术还不太先进。
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Nearer term, Chinese officials may step up efforts to marshal regional opposition to the submarine plan and the new security grouping, called AUKUS, for Australia, United Kingdom and United States.
近期内,中国官员也许会加紧努力,动员该地区国家反对潜艇协议,以及名为AUKUS的澳大利亚、英国和美国的新安全集团。
“If you’re China, this also makes you think, ‘Well, I better get ahead of this,’” said Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Trump administration. He said: “If Australia takes this big step, then Japan could take a half step, and Taiwan takes a half step, and then India and then maybe Vietnam.”
“如果你是中国,这也会让你想,‘好吧,我最好要先下手为强,’”曾在特朗普政府担任国防部副助理部长的埃尔布里奇·科尔比(Elbridge Colby)说。他表示:“如果澳大利亚迈出这么一大步,那么日本可能会迈出半步,台湾可能会迈出半步,然后是印度,可能还有越南。”
法国总统埃马纽埃尔·马克龙和时任澳大利亚总理的马尔科姆·特恩布尔站在澳大利亚皇家海军的柴电混合动力潜艇“沃勒号”甲板上,图片摄于2018年,澳大利亚悉尼加登岛。
法国总统埃马纽埃尔·马克龙和时任澳大利亚总理的马尔科姆·特恩布尔站在澳大利亚皇家海军的柴电混合动力潜艇“沃勒号”甲板上,图片摄于2018年,澳大利亚悉尼加登岛。 Pool by Brendan Esposito
But Beijing has created its own high barriers to winning support from neighbors. China’s expansive, uncompromising claims to waters and islands across the South China Sea have angered Southeast Asian countries. Beijing is also locked in territorial disputes with Japan, India and other countries.
但北京已为自己设置了赢得邻国支持的高度障碍。中国对南海多个水域和岛屿的主权有广泛、毫不妥协的主张,已激怒了东南亚国家。中国还与日本、印度和其他国家存在领土争端。
“This AUKUS agreement very vividly shows that East Asia has become the focus of United States global security strategy,” said Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University in east China. “It’s a reminder to China that if we can’t ease tensions with neighbors over the South China Sea and East China Sea, the U.S. will continue trying to take advantage of this tension.”
“AUKUS协议非常生动地表明,东亚已成为美国全球安全战略的焦点,”南京大学国际关系教授朱锋说。“这提醒中国,如果我们不能缓解与邻国在南海和东海的紧张关系的话,美国将继续试图利用这种紧张关系。”