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英国脱欧给中国带来了什么?

中国领导人在计算英国脱欧给中国带来的得失时,或许会喜忧参半。

 
 
 
 

北京离伦敦足有万里之遥,但中国依然避免不了英国脱欧的冲击波。

由于中国历来奉行不干涉他国内政的外交政策,因此在6月23日的英国脱欧公投之前,中国领导人有意对这一议题保持了沉默。如今脱欧公投的结果已经板上钉钉,中国政府也不得不认真考虑英国脱欧将会给中国的经济及地缘政治利益造成哪些影响。

从经济上看,英国脱欧对中国来说是个相当糟糕的消息。中英两国2015年的双边贸易额约为785亿左右,在中国的各大贸易伙伴中,英国还排不到“第一梯队”,但英国脱欧很可能会给中国出口贸易造成远远超过其体量的长期影响。

如果说,英国脱欧作为一个历史事件,向世界传递了某种信息的话,那就是它标志了我们所知的所谓“全球化”的结束。西方国家的政客们为了迎合国内所谓的“全球化受害者”,很可能会对自由贸易进行打压。以平息那些觉得自身利益受到了全球化损害的选民的愤怒与沮丧。而中国作为全球最大的出口国和全球化最大的受益者,一旦全球自由贸易水平出现下降,并导致中国的出口引擎急剧减速,中国经济的前景自然也将陷入惨淡。

脱欧给英国经济带来的负面影响,也将促使中国重新调整其在欧洲的经贸战略。过去几年,北京携巨额投资以及一批可能利润丰厚的商机,频频向伦敦伸出橄榄枝。比如在国家主席习近平去年访英期间,习近平宣布了两国之间价值570亿美元的合作项目。英国已经成了许多中资企业最青睐的直接投资地。2015年,中资企业在英国完成了22笔大额并购。其中最大的一笔,便是中国广核集团斥资90亿美元,收购了英国欣克利角核电站33.5%的股份。

如果在脱欧之后,英国经济因为不确定性以及失去欧盟市场这一后盾而恶化,那么中国在英国的相关投资也会受到影响。更令人担忧的是,如果脱欧严重损害了伦敦作为全球主要金融中心的地位,那么中国利用伦敦作为人民币国际化桥头堡的计划当然也就泡汤了。2015年,中国政府相继出台了多项政策以实施这一重要战略。中国人民银行发行了50亿元的人民币债券,与此同时,中国农业银行在伦敦抛售了价值10亿美元的双重货币债券。而在英国脱欧之后,很多国际知名银行可能会将他们的资本市场运营搬离伦敦,如此一来,伦敦必将失去全球金融中心的光环。中国必须寻找一个替代选择。

不过,英国脱欧也会在一定程度上给中国带来一些政治上的好处,从而或多或少地抵消了经济方面的损失。首先是意识形态方面:英国脱欧对中国的宣传部门来说简直是一个天大的喜讯,他们立即不遗余力地宣传道,这是西方民主体制失灵的又一铁证。而在地缘政治方面,中国也能从英国脱欧中得益不少。大约一直到10年以前时,中国领导人还把欧洲一体化看作一件好事。因为他们认为一个强大的欧洲将能够与霸权主义的美国分庭抗礼。

然而随着经济快速发展,中国如今已经成为全球第二强大的国家,中国领导人对欧洲一体化也有了不同的看法。一个统一、强大的欧洲已经不再符合中国的利益,因为美国与欧洲有可能结成一个反华的战略同盟,正如它们也曾联手对抗过冷战时的苏联。

因此,中国的欧洲战略已经出现了微妙却又十分重要的变化。中国开始注重发展与一个个欧洲国家的关系,同时经常“发动群众斗群众”,令这些国家互相竞争起来。如今,中国的这套新战略已经取得了完全的成功。而欧盟对中国的“分化瓦解,逐个击破”战术,却还没有想出统一的破解之道。几乎每个欧洲国家都有自己的中国政策,而这些国家在与中国打交道时,往往是最注重商业利益,而将人权与安全议题摆在次要位置。明眼人都看得出,如今没有一个欧洲国家的领导人敢在自己国内的任何地方会见达赖喇嘛。更有说服力的是,去年中国宣布成立亚投行之后,以英国为首的所有欧洲主要国家立马一窝蜂地跑去报名参加,虽然这样做显然是背离了美国的意愿。

随着英国通过公投退出欧盟,英国自然将变得更加疲软,而欧盟也将江河日下。缩水版的欧盟将无法对抗中国,而它的内部龃龉也会降低它作为一个战略伙伴在美国眼中的价值。

中国领导人在计算英国脱欧给中国带来的得失时,或许会喜忧参半。不过如果他们要是能够选择的话,北京的实用主义者们毫无疑问更喜欢英国脱欧前更具确定性的世界。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

Beijing may be 5,000 miles away from London, but China cannot escape the shock waves of Brexit.

Prior to the June 23 referendum in the United Kingdom, Chinese leaders had maintained a studious silence on the issue because of their long-standing policy of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs. Now that the British voters have spoken, Beijing has to take a serious look at how Brexit will affect its economic and geopolitical interests.

Economically, Brexit is terrible news for China. Even though the UK, which had $78.5 billion in bilateral trade with China in 2015, is not among China’s top trading partners, Brexit could have an outsize impact on China’s future export performance.

If there is one message broadcast to the world by Brexit, it is the end of globalization as we know it. Political leaders in Western countries will likely roll back free trade in response to the anger and frustrations of their voters who have felt threatened, if not victimized, by globalization. As the greatest beneficiary of globalization and the world’s largest exporter, Beijing could see its future economic prospects dim as the world retreats from free trade and China’s export engine sputters.

The anticipated adverse consequences of Brexit for the UK economy will also force China to readjust its commercial strategy in Europe. In the last few years, Beijing has been wooing London with investments and potentially lucrative commercial opportunities. In his visit to the UK last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced deals worth $57 billion. Many Chinese companies have made the UK one of their favorite destinations of direct investment. In 2015, Chinese companies completed 22 major acquisitions in the UK. The biggest was the $9 billion purchase of a 33.5% stake by China’s General Nuclear Power Corporation in Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

If the UK economy deteriorates because of the uncertainty and loss of access to the EU market following Brexit, the value of Chinese investments will be impaired. Even more worrying is that should Brexit fatally damage London as a premier global financial center, China will have to shelf its plan to use London as a linchpin for the “internationalization” of the Chinese currency, therenminbi. In 2015, Beijing took several initial steps to execute this strategy. The People’s Bank of China floated 5 billion yuan-denominated bonds while the Agricultural Bank of China, a major state-owned bank, sold $1 billion in dual currency bonds in London. In the aftermath of Brexit, many major global banks may move their capital market operations out of London, which will lose its luster as a global financial hub. China needs to look for an alternative.

Nevertheless, China’s potential economic losses could be offset by some political gains from Brexit. Ideologically, Brexit is a godsend for China’s propagandists, who have lost no time in portraying the event as a convincing example of the dysfunction of democracy. Geopolitically, China could also benefit handsomely from the aftershocks of Brexit. Until roughly a decade ago, Chinese leaders viewed European integration positively since they believed that a strong Europe would be a counter-weight to American hegemony.

However, as rapid economic development has made China the world’s second-most powerful country, Chinese leaders have rethought European integration. A united and strong Europe is no longer in China’s interest because of the risk that the United States and Europe could form a strategic alliance to gang up on Beijing in the same way they contained the Soviet Union.

Subsequently, China’s European strategy has undergone a subtle but important change. It has shifted to cultivating ties with individual European countries and often pitting them against each other. So far, Beijing’s new strategy has been a resounding success. And the EU has not developed a unified response to Beijing’s “divide and conquer” tactics. Nearly every European country has its own China policy, which subordinates human rights concerns and security issues to commercial interests. It is instructive that these days no European leaders dare to meet the Dalai Lama anywhere in their countries. It is even more revealing that when China announced the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) last year, all the major European countries, led by the UK, rushed to join, apparently against the wishes of the United States.

Now with British voters opting to exit the EU, the UK will be weaker, and the EU will be even weaker. A diminished EU will not be able to stand up to China, and its internal woes will reduce its value as a strategic partner of the U.S.

As Chinese leaders tally up the potential losses and gains from Brexit, they likely have mixed feelings. If they could choose, Beijing’s pragmatists would undoubtedly prefer the certainty of the pre-Brexit world.

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