NYT: Xi May Be Souring on His ‘Best, Most Intimate Friend’

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Xi Jinping May Be Souring on His ‘Best, Most Intimate Friend’
RYAN HASS2023年7月7日

When Xi Jinping ascended to the pinnacle of Chinese power a decade ago, he saw Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who shared his hostility to the Western-dominated international system. They bonded over mutual paranoia about threats to their rule and exchanged best practices for imposing control at home and making the world more accommodating of their authoritarian impulses. Mr. Xi referred to Mr. Putin as his “best, most intimate friend.”
十年前,当习近平登上中国权力之巅,他将普京视为一位与自己一样对西方主导的国际体系怀有敌意的强势领导人。他们都对自身统治所面临的威胁风声鹤唳,并就控制国内局势、让世界容忍他们的独裁冲动的最佳手段进行交流。习近平称普京是自己“最好、最亲密的朋友”。

In the wake of the Wagner affair, Mr. Xi’s big bet on the Russian leader isn’t looking so safe.
而在瓦格纳事件之后,习近平押在这位俄罗斯领导人身上的赌注看起来不是那么稳妥了。

The disastrous Russian war effort, culminating in last month’s aborted insurrection by the Wagner group’s paramilitary chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has exposed Mr. Putin’s Russia for what it is: a weakened, unpredictable nuclear state on China’s border, with a wounded leader whose long-term hold on power is not assured.
上个月,俄罗斯灾难性的战争努力在瓦格纳集团准军事首领叶夫根尼·普里戈任发动的流产叛乱中达到高潮,暴露了普京领导下俄罗斯的本质:这是个与中国接壤、实力被削弱且局势难预测的核国家,其受挫的领导人已无法保证能够长期掌权。

Mr. Xi cannot afford to abandon Mr. Putin altogether. He has invested too much in the relationship, and Russia remains useful to China. But the bromance that has caused so much concern in the West has probably peaked.
习近平没办法彻底抛弃普京。他在这段关系上投入了太多,而且俄罗斯对中国仍然有用。但他们在西方引起如此多担忧的兄弟情可能已经到顶了。

If Mr. Xi is to achieve his strategic goal of surpassing U.S. strength around the world, he will need to rebalance his foreign policy to account for Mr. Putin’s vulnerabilities. That may mean stronger Chinese support for ending a war that has backfired so severely on the Russian leader and a potentially less confrontational Chinese approach toward the United States and Taiwan.
如果习近平想要实现在全球范围内赶超美国的战略目标,他必须考虑到普京的脆弱,重新调整自己的外交政策。这可能意味着中国会更有力地支持结束这场对普京造成严重打击的战争,并可能对美国和台湾采取对抗降级的做法。

There are signs the Xi-Putin bonhomie may already be cooling. Beijing offered only a muted response to the Wagner episode, calling it an “internal affair,” but hints of alarm over the failed mutiny have appeared in Chinese state-run media. Mr. Xi would not benefit by giving a blank check of support to Mr. Putin now. Doing so could invite questioning at home about Mr. Xi’s foreign policy judgment, which might only worsen if Mr. Putin were to suffer further setbacks.
有迹象表明,习近平与普京的友好关系可能已经降温。中方对瓦格纳事件的回应十分克制,只称之为“内部事务”,但中国官媒似乎对此次未遂兵变流露出了不安态度。现在开出一张力挺普京的空白支票对习近平来说没有好处。这种做法可能会招致国内对习近平外交政策判断力的质疑,如果普京进一步受挫,这种质疑可能只会加剧。

China may be compelled to adjust its posture on the Ukraine war. So far, while issuing halfhearted calls for peace, Beijing has lent Moscow crucial diplomatic cover by portraying the war as justified in thwarting NATO expansion or as provoked by the West. Beijing also has provided Moscow an economic lifeline, offsetting Western sanctions with a significant expansion in Sino-Russian trade.
中国可能要被迫调整其在乌克兰战争的立场。到目前为止,虽然发出了并无诚意的和平呼吁,中国依然以阻止北约扩张或西方挑衅为由,将这场战争正当化,为俄罗斯带来重要的外交掩护。中国还为俄罗斯提供经济命脉,通过显著扩大中俄贸易规模来抵消西方的制裁。

While there have long been signs that Chinese leaders are not fully supportive of Mr. Putin’s war, the conflict initially offered China hope that it would divert America’s focus away from Asia, where Beijing has sought to expand its sway. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Washington and its Asian allies have established a stronger military presence along China’s periphery since the Ukraine war began and are more united today in limiting China’s access to critical technologies.
虽然长期以来都有迹象表明,中国领导层并非完全支持普京的战争,但在冲突之初,中国希望它能将美国的注意力从亚洲带走,而中国一直寻求扩大在亚洲的影响力。然而这并没有成为现实。相反,自乌战开始以来,美国及其亚洲盟友在中国周围建立了更强大的军事存在,如今在限制中国获取关键技术方面也更加团结。

Mr. Putin marches to his own tune. But China is now aware that a prolonged war in Ukraine could further threaten its Russian partner and compromise its own foreign policy agenda. It has a motive to move beyond vague expressions of principle regarding the war and to exercise its unique leverage over Moscow to urge an end to the fighting.
普京一意孤行。但中国现在意识到,乌克兰的持久战可能进一步威胁俄罗斯这个伙伴国,并损害中国自身的外交政策议程。中国有理由在此前对战争原则的模糊表述上更进一步,利用自己对俄罗斯独特的影响力,敦促实现停战。

One key reason for this is Europe, where China’s image has been battered by its support of Russia. European business sentiment toward China has soured, foreign direct investment has slowed, and trans-Atlantic coordination on China has tightened.
造成这种局面的一个关键原因是欧洲,中国在那里的形象因支持俄罗斯而受损。欧洲商界对中国的看法恶化,外国直接投资放缓,大西洋两岸在对华立场上的协调有所加强。

Mr. Xi is determined to undercut American efforts to constrain Beijing. A hostile Europe will make that difficult. Russia’s isolation puts pressure on China to seek better relations with Europe to prevent its lining up with the United States against China. One of the best ways for China to achieve that would be to more strongly reposition itself as peacemaker in a conflict on Europe’s doorstep.
习近平要坚决削弱美国遏制中国的努力。一个敌对的欧洲会让他面临重重困难。俄罗斯的孤立给中国带来压力,让其必须改善对欧关系,以防止欧洲与美国联合起来对抗中国。中国实现该目标的最佳途径之一,就是在这场欧洲家门口的冲突中找到更明确的重新定位,扮演和平缔造者的角色。

The problems in Russia also complicate Mr. Xi’s calculations regarding Taiwan. The Ukraine war has made two things clear: Pure military strength does not ensure battlefield success; and anything short of victory may invite leadership challenges. In that light, triggering a war in the Taiwan Strait through increasingly bellicose actions could be disastrous for the Chinese leader.
俄罗斯的问题也让习近平在台湾问题上的谋划变得复杂。乌克兰战争表明了两件事:只靠军事力量不能保证打胜仗;而打不了胜仗就可能招致领导层权力受到挑战。面对此等情形,通过愈发好战的举动引发台海战争,对习近平来说下场可能是灾难性的。

The self-ruled island will hold a presidential election in January to choose a successor to Tsai Ing-wen, who has angered Beijing by cultivating closer relations with the United States. China has a range of tools that it is suspected of having used before against Taiwan to apply economic pressure or sow misinformation in support of candidates who prioritize improved relations with Beijing.
台湾这个自治岛屿将于明年1月举行总统大选,选出蔡英文的继任者,蔡英文因为与美国越走越近令北京火冒三丈。中国据信曾动用一系列手段对台湾施加经济压力,或散播错误信息来支持优先考虑改善与北京关系的候选人。

But aggressive Chinese rhetoric and threatening military exercises around Taiwan could undercut that goal by boosting candidates who oppose accommodation with China, not to mention provoking stronger and more visible American and international support for Taiwan. For Mr. Xi, the sweet spot will be to appear strong and determined while not triggering an escalatory spiral.
但中方咄咄逼人的说辞和在台湾周边进行军事演习的威胁都可能适得其反,不但让反对迎合中国的候选人声势更强,更会激起美国与国际社会对台湾更强烈且明确的支持。对习近平来说,最佳平衡点就是在不引发局势持续升级的同时展示出强硬和坚定的立场。

Given these changed dynamics, leaders in Beijing probably also now realize that they must lower the temperature in relations with the United States. The deep chill cast over China-U.S. relations by the spy balloon incident in February has recently shown signs of thawing, with last month’s trip to Beijing by Secretary of State Antony Blinken — which included an audience with Mr. Xi — and this week’s visit by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
鉴于这些变化,中国领导人现在可能也意识到必须缓和对美紧张关系。由于2月的间谍气球事件而深陷僵局的中美关系近来出现解冻迹象,上个月国务卿布林肯访问北京,行程包括与习近平会晤,而本周财长耶伦也开启了访华之旅。

The Chinese president still needs his “intimate friend.” Russia remains the only other country in the world with the means and motivation to partner with China in diluting the role of human rights and democratic governance in the international system. Steady relations also ensure stability along their long land border and keep China supplied with discounted Russian energy, as well as imports of food and military equipment. Both sides can be expected to maintain the appearance of business as usual.
中国国家主席仍需要他的“亲密朋友”。若论淡化人权及民主治理在国际体系中的作用,俄罗斯仍是唯一一个有能力和动机在此问题上与中国合作的国家。稳定的关系也将确保两国漫长陆地边界的稳定,并让中国以优惠价格获取俄罗斯能源、进口食品和军事装备。预计两国将会维持一切如常的表象。

But Mr. Xi has little to gain from doubling down on Mr. Putin, whose troubles are not helpful for China’s grand plans.
但继续大力支持普京对习近平已经无甚益处,普京的麻烦对中国的雄图伟业没有帮助。

Many unresolved questions about the impact of Mr. Putin’s weakening grip in Russia remain. How well Mr. Xi can navigate the fallout, with his partner now diminished, is one of them.
关于普京对俄罗斯正在衰减的控制力会带来怎样的影响,仍有许多悬而未决之处。其中之一就是,习近平该如何应对他的伙伴式微所产生的后果。
 

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