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特朗普想占中国的便宜?没那么容易

Clya Chandler 2017年02月09日

向中国挑衅的真正难点在于,中国与美国的经济关系比其他任何国家都更重要、更复杂。

上任总统的头两周,唐纳德·特朗普就与美国的许多贸易伙伴产生了摩擦——他谴责日本最大的汽车制造商在墨西哥建厂,恐吓没有管住“坏人”的墨西哥总统,欺侮澳大利亚总理,并任由其首席贸易顾问抨击德国操作货币——全球的权威人士都把他称作“瓷器店里的公牛”。不过这个形容也不太恰当。迄今为止,还有一个国家没有成为特朗普的攻击目标,那就是中国。

这样的克制,无论是巧合还是刻意,看起来都不会持续太久。特朗普针对中国的冗长演说——维持低价货币,疯狂出口商品,“窃取”美国工作——是他竞选时的重要砝码。然而,他自己或许也知道,中国可不好欺负。

原因之一在于中国是战略对手,而不是盟友,因此他们未必愿意原谅特朗普无礼的电话或让人恼火的推文。而且,中国的领导人就像特朗普本身一样,难以预测而且敏感,十分要“面子”。不过向中国挑衅的真正难点在于,中国与美国的经济关系比其他任何国家都更重要、更复杂。

中美合作关系之错综复杂,怎么夸张形容或许都不为过。历史学家尼尔·弗格森有过一个著名的说法:两个国家是如此的相互依存,以至于可以把他们看作一个整体,他将之称作“中美国”(Chimerica)。中国拥有1.1万亿美元的美国国债,仅次于日本,是美国第二大贷方。中国是美国的最大合作伙伴,每年商品和服务的贸易额高达6,630亿美元,也是美国的第三大出口市场。据估计,如果算上美国公司在中国子公司的销量,以及美国产品经过香港到中国再出口的销量,美国对中国的出口额将达到4,000亿美元。去年,通用汽车(General Motors)在中国卖出了390万辆汽车,比在美国本土市场还多25%以上。中国如今拥有超过1,300万iPhone用户,也是苹果(Apple)除美国之外的最大市场。

当然,论起军事实力和经济总量,美国都远超中国。不过贸易战一旦打响,就很难控制,如果全球最大的两个经济体进入了互相伤害的经济对峙状态,那么真正的问题就不再是谁GDP更多,而是谁承受伤害的能力更强。理论上,特朗普可以对中国进口的产品征收高关税。而中国政府反制的手段可能包括驱逐波音(Boeing),后者本有望接下来20年内在中国规模1万亿美元的飞机市场占据至少一半份额。中国还可以压榨福特、高通、沃尔玛和星巴克(Starbucks)等大批美国公司。针对中国的强硬政策或许无法践行他那《交易的艺术》(The Art of the Deal),而更可能变成“尖叫的艺术”(The Art of the Squeal)。

在拭目以待特朗普的中国政策期间,你可以读读一篇有趣的文章,从而更好地了解中美经济关系的复杂性。文章作者是驻中国的资深记者布鲁克·拉莫尔,他详细分析了中国对美国可能最重要的出口品:学生。美国高校每年招收的大约100万国际学生中,有30万来自中国,这也让他们成为了最大的外国群体。布鲁克的最新文章则试图搞清楚,为什么被称作“降落伞一代”的中国高中学生数量会迅速增长。相互依存,是这篇文章的核心思想之一。中国学生因为来到美国,学习英语,准备申请美国大学而受益。这些地方也因为这些空降的孩子得到好处,中国人的钱让学校有了更多资金,还产生了许多涓流效应。

不过布鲁克也发现了浪潮里的众生百态:中国学生希望逃离国内残酷的考试系统;经纪人发现了同胞的这种愿望并以此获取丰厚利益;来到美国后这些学生产生了疏离感。文章指出,许多学生并未在美国得到新的认可与欣赏,而是返回了中国,他们对美国多了一份警惕,同时对中国人的身份有了更强的认同感。对于全球化悖论,以及让国家和文化紧密结合在一起的强大力量为何最终反而让我们渐行渐远,这堪称一份经典研究。(财富中文网)

作者:Clya Chandler

译者:严匡正

In first two weeks as president, Donald Trump locked horns with so many U.S. trade partners—denouncing Japan's biggest car maker for building factories in Mexico, hectoring Mexico’s president for failing to stand up to "bad hombres," browbeating Australian prime minister and allowing his top trade advisor to slam Germany as a currency manipulator—that pundits the world over are calling him a "bull in the china shop." But the cliché is inapt. So far, the one country President Trump has avoided charging at is China.

Such forbearance, whether by accident or design, seems unlikely to last. Trump's screeds against China—for cheapening its currency, stoking its export machine and "stealing" American jobs—were a centerpiece of his campaign. And yet, as Trump himself probably knows, China won't be easy to bully.

That is so partly because China is a strategic rival, not an ally, and thus less willing forgive a rude phone call or testy Tweet, and because China's leaders, like Trump himself, are unpredictable, thin-skinned and obsessed with matters of "face." But the real difficulty in taking on China lies in the fact that China’s economic relationship with the U.S. is at once more important and more complicated than that of any other nation.

It's hard to overstate how tangled the U.S.–China partnership has become. Historian Niall Ferguson has famously suggested the two countries are so inter-dependent that they should be thought of as a single creature; he calls it "Chimerica." China owns $1.1 trillion of U.S. government debt, ranking just behind Japan as America's largest foreign creditor. China is America's largest trading partner, with annual trade in goods and services worth $663 billion, and its third-largest export market. By one estimate, if sales by U.S. foreign affiliates in China and re-exports of U.S. products through Hong Kong to China are factored in, U.S. exports to China total $400 billion. Last year General Motors sold 3.9 million vehicles in China, more than 25% more than it sold in the U.S. China now has more than 130 million iPhone users, making it larger market for Apple than the United States.

The U.S. far outweighs China in military firepower and economic output, of course. But trade wars, once begun, aren't easily controlled and if the world's two largest economies get into a mutually destructive economic confrontation, the real question won't be who has the biggest GDP, but which country has the highest threshold for pain. In theory, Trump could slap high taxes on Chinese imports. Beijing's countermoves could include shutting out Boeing, which is hoping to claim at least half of China's estimated $1 trillion market for airplanes over the next 20 years. China could put the squeeze on host of other U.S. companies including Ford, Qualcomm, Walmart, Starbucks. The risk for Trump is that, with China, his get-tough approach could start to look less like The Art of the Deal and more like "The Art of the Squeal."

As we wait for Trump's China policy to take shape, you can get a good idea of the complexities of the U.S.–China economic relationship by reading this fascinating article by veteran China correspondent Brook Larmar, who takes a detailed look at what may be China's most important U.S. export: students. Chinese students now account for about 300,000 of the roughly 1 million foreign students enrolled in American colleges, making them by far the biggest foreign group. Brook's latest piece tries to understand why the number of Chinese high school students, part of what some call the "parachute generation," has also grown so rapidly. Interdependence is one of the article's main themes. The Chinese students benefit from coming to America, learning English and preparing for U.S. universities. But the communities into which these kids parachute benefit too, from Chinese money that funds schools and has many trickle-down benefits.

But Brook captures the many human dynamics of the surge: the yearning of Chinese students to escape the rigors of their own brutal examination system; the Chinese brokers who exploit the desires of their countrymen for hefty profit; and the sense of alienation students feel after coming to America. The piece notes that ultimately, rather than gaining a new understanding and appreciation for the United States, many students who come to America to study return with a new wariness of America, and stronger sense of identity as Chinese. It's a classic study in the paradox in globalization, and how sweeping forces that should be bring us countries and cultures together often wind up just pushing us all apart.

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