台湾问题仍是美中对话最大障碍---China Takes Hard Line With U.S. on Taiwan

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台湾问题仍是美中对话最大障碍---China Takes Hard Line With U.S. on Taiwan

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:18 pm

美国国防部长盖茨(Robert Gates)访华的第一天,中国就断然拒绝了美国提出的要求制定一个明确的战略防务对话时间表的提议,并表示台湾问题依旧是改善中美两国这个世界上最重要双边关系的最大障碍。盖茨此次访华被推迟已久。

虽然中国国防部长梁光烈同意两国可在今年上半年的某个时间进行小范围的防务交流,但他同时也明确表示,如果美国仍向台湾出售武器,中国将再次暂停与美国的军事联系。中国视台湾为自己的一个省。

盖茨周日抵达北京,开始了为期三天的访问,目的是要加深并稳定两国的军事关系。过去十年,中国由于政治原因曾多次中断与美国的军事关系,最近的一次发生在去年1月,起因是美国对台军售。

盖茨此次访华刚好赶在下周中国国家主席胡锦涛对美国进行国事访问之前,因此他本来希望中国官员能同意为两国展开一系列高级别防务对话以及中国人民解放军总参谋长陈炳德访问华盛顿设定日期。中美双方都希望胡锦涛访美能顺利进行。

虽然美国五角大楼官员本来一直希望周一能从梁光烈那里得到更为积极的回应,但遭到拒绝对他们来说也并不意外。

一些美国官员和中国分析人士认为,中国的“文官”比“武官”更热衷于和华盛顿建立军事关系。因此,有人预计盖茨周二与胡锦涛的会见应该会明显比与梁光烈举行的新闻发布会要更友好。

但研究美中关系的中国专家说,北京方面在美国对台售武问题上很可能不会显示任何灵活性,尤其是在2012年中国共产党换届选举之前的这段时间。

盖茨请求中国军方把美国对台售武看作一个政治事件,不要让北京反对对台售武造成两国军事关系的中断。

盖茨说,我们达成的一致且坚定的想法是,为减少误传、误解和误判的几率,美中两国之间的军事关系应是稳固、一致的,不应受到政治风向转变的影响,这一点非常重要。

盖茨还建议扩大战略防务对话的范围,将两国就核武器、导弹防御、网络攻击和太空计划等政策进行深入交流纳入到对话当中。

两国一直试图阻止双方的军事摩擦影响到中美整体关系,虽然美国立法要求华盛顿帮助台湾自卫,但两国关系在过去三十年里还是得到了稳步的改善。

不过随着中国不断发展的军事力量开始向第二次世界大战结束以来美国在亚太地区享有的制海权发出挑战,军事上的紧张关系目前正对两国的决策产生越来越大的影响。

这些紧张关系体现于去年围绕多个问题而起的公开争端,包括中国强化对东海和南海的领土主张,中国与朝鲜的密切关系,以及美国在中国海岸线附近举行的联合军事演习。

中国官方媒体一直强烈批评美国在亚洲的防务政策,说它是为了遏制中国的崛起,但近几天表现得相对克制,看来是为了在胡锦涛访美之前缓和气氛。

近几个月,美国官员一直在就美国的核武政策和其他军事议题,私底下向中国官员提供深入通报,希望北京亦能报之以李。

但周一的一场记者招待会上,梁光烈只说中国正在“研究”盖茨关于展开更深入战略对话的要求,拒绝就未来防务对话的具体日期达成一致,只宣布对话将在2011年上半年举行。

相反,中国同意建立一个工作组来讨论两军关系,并修改最初于2009年10月达成的一份协议,扩大高层军事教育交流,扩大反海盗演练和救灾准备方面的合作。

梁光烈说,他认识到美方对于军事关系不受政治分歧干扰的愿望。但他着重谴责美国对台湾出售武器,则明确无误地说明将来的武器转移有可能再次威胁到两军关系。

梁光烈说,中方的立场是一贯和明确的,我们持反对态度;美国向台湾出售武器严重损害了中方的核心利益,我们不愿意再次看到这样问题的发生。

他说,我们希望美方对中方的关切引起足够重视,并采取措施逐步清除或减少不利于两军关系的障碍。

盖茨还会见了中国国家副主席习近平。习近平于10月份被任命为掌管解放军的中央军事委员会的副主席,事实上已经被选为下一任国家主席和党总书记。

一些专家提出,中国允许盖茨周三参观第二炮兵部队总部,就是在回应美方对于提高军事透明度的要求。二炮掌握着中国的核导弹和常规导弹。

但其他人指出,2005年拉姆斯菲尔德(Donald Rumsfeld)以防长身份访华时,也曾被允许参观二炮总部。

五角大楼官员认为,中国是在尝试通过采取渐进步骤来建立信任,并逐步实现盖茨一直推动展开的那种更大范围对话。中国官员周一同意的工作会谈,就是这些渐进步骤之一。

部分官员预计,如果他们能够对中国人展示出开放姿态,并成功完成一系列有关基本防务问题的对话,中国领导人终将越来越放心地参与一种超越热点话题、讨论更深层次战略问题的对话。而盖茨认为,战略问题才是至关重要的话题。

盖茨访华之前,美国官员否认此行只是在胡锦涛访美前夕的一场表演,同时也否认盖茨需要参观此前美国领导人看不到的新设施的说法。

Julian E. Barnes / Jeremy Page

China rebuffed a U.S. proposal for a clear timetable of strategic defense talks on the first day of a long-delayed visit to Beijing by Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, and indicated that Taiwan remains the single biggest obstacle to improving the world's most important bilateral relationship.

While agreeing to narrower defense exchanges some time in the first half of the year, Gates's Chinese counterpart, General Liang Guanglie, also made clear that China would suspend military ties again if the U.S. continues to sell weapons to Taiwan, the island that Beijing regards as a rebel province.

Gates arrived in Beijing Sunday on a three-day mission to deepen and stabilize military-to-military relations, which China has repeatedly suspended for political reasons over the last decade--most recently last January in response to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website, WSJ.com.)

As his trip falls just ahead of a state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao next week, which both sides hope will go well, Gates had hoped Chinese officials would agree to set dates for a series of high-level defense talks and a visit to Washington by Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army.

Although Pentagon officials had been hoping for a more enthusiastic response from Liang on Monday, the reaction was not unexpected.

Some U.S. officials and China analysts believe that China's civilian leadership is more keen on building the military-to-military relationship with Washington than the PLA. As a result, some expect Gates's meeting with President Hu on Tuesday to be visibly warmer than the news conference with Liang.

But Chinese experts on U.S.-China relations say Beijing is highly unlikely to show any flexibility on the issue of U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan--especially in the run-up to a Communist Party leadership change in 2012.

Gates asked the Chinese military to look at American arms sales to Taiwan as a political matter, and not let Beijing's objections to the transactions lead to a suspension of military ties.

'We are in strong agreement that in order to reduce the chances of miscommunication, misunderstanding, miscalculation it is important our military-to-military ties are solid, consistent and not subject to shifting political winds,' Gates said.

He also proposed establishing a broader strategic defense dialogue that would include in-depth discussions on Chinese and U.S. policies on nuclear weapons, missile defenses, cyberattacks and space.

Both countries have long tried to prevent friction between their armed forces from affecting their overall relationship, which has improved steadily over the last three decades despite U.S. legislation that obliges Washington to help Taiwan defend itself.

But tensions on the military front are having increasing impact on policy-making in Washington and Beijing as China's growing military power starts to challenge the supremacy that the U.S. has enjoyed in the Asia-Pacific region since the end of World War II.

Those tensions were evident in a series of public disputes last year over issues including China's more forceful territorial claims in the East and South China seas, Beijing's close links to North Korea, and U.S. joint military exercises near China's coast.

Chinese state media has been fiercely critical of U.S. defense policy in Asia, which it says is designed to contain a rising China, but has been relatively restrained in recent days in an apparent effort to ease the atmosphere ahead of Hu's visit to the U.S.

In recent months, U.S. officials have been offering their Chinese counterparts in-depth private briefings on U.S. nuclear policy and other military issues, in hopes of prompting Beijing to reciprocate.

But at a news conference Monday, Liang said only that China was 'studying' Gates's request for a deeper strategic dialogue, and declined to agree on specific dates for future defense talks, announcing only that they would occur in the first half of 2011.

China agreed instead to set up a working group to discuss the military relationship, as well as to renew a deal, originally struck in October 2009, to expand high-level military education exchanges and expand cooperation on counterpiracy exercises and disaster-relief preparation.

Liang said he recognized the U.S. desire for military-to-military ties that are uninterrupted by political disagreements. But his emphatic denunciation of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan made plain that future weapons transfers likely would again threaten military relations.

'China's position has been clear and consistent: We are against it,' Liang said. 'U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously damage China's core interests. And we do not want to see that happen again.'

He added: 'We hope the United States will pay sufficient attention to the concerns to the Chinese side and take measures to gradually remove or reduce the obstacles that stand in the way of our military-to-military relations.'

Gates also met Xi Jinping, China's vice president, who was effectively anointed as the country's next president and Communist Party chief in October when he was appointed a vice chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, which controls the PLA.

Some experts suggested that China was responding to U.S. demands for greater military transparency by allowing Gates to visit the headquarters of China's Second Artillery Corps, which controls its nuclear and conventional missiles, on Wednesday.

However, others pointed out that Donald Rumsfeld was also allowed to visit the same headquarters when he visited as defense secretary back in 2005.

Pentagon officials argue that they are trying to use incremental steps, such as the working-group meetings the Chinese officials agreed to Monday, to build trust and move to the kind of broader dialogue that Gates has been pushing for.

Some officials hope that if they can demonstrate openness with the Chinese, and successfully complete a series of dialogues on basic defense issues, over time Chinese leaders will grow more comfortable with a discussion that goes beyond talking points and tackles the deeper strategic issues Gates believes are critical to discuss.

Before the trip, officials rebuffed suggestions the visit was just for show ahead of Hu's visit, and they also pushed back against suggestions that Gates needed to visit any new facilities, previously off limits to American leaders.


Julian E. Barnes / Jeremy Page

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