Archive for the ‘Oriental Morning Post’ Category

Am catching up a bit on late posting as have been rather busy of late, so a few coming in late. Here is a piece for the 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post) about Syria. Takes a somewhat negative view which may be finally slipping into the past (and I had previously elaborated in a letter to the Financial Times and for CNN), but at the same time, it is hard to see rapid action taking place any time soon. As usual, I have posted the Chinese above, and the English I initially submitted below.

叙利亚僵局的代价

潘睿凡   英国伦敦国际激进主义化   研究中心副研究员
这是一出我们曾多次经历过的故事,而最终结局总是大家各收恶果。简单地等待其自我结束也许要很多年,而且只会令恢复期拖得更长。

叙利亚境内的冲突进入第20个月,情形完全没有任何缓和迹象。暴力愈演愈烈,已经蔓延至邻国。激进分子的武器装备不断更新,手段更加极端,双方的暴行都在继续升级。在这一国内冲突不断恶化的情况下,国际社会表面上袖手旁观,暗地里则各自支持自己的代理人,结果导致了一盘僵局,今后的几年中,整个世界将被这一问题所困。

让我们先来看看情形是如何在恶化。起初,这是一场较低层次的民间冲突,阿萨德政府试图用相对有限的武力来确保其统治地位。而如今,这已经演化成了一场双方都不断采用暴力手段的冲突。据西方媒体报道,作为惩罚反对派控制地区轰炸战略的一部分,政府军无视可能带来的平民伤亡,在城市里使用了集束炸弹,但政府军否认了这一指控。反对派中的极端分子则以牙还牙地公布了一系列录像,展示他们如何冷酷屠杀和折磨捕获的政府军俘虏,而自杀性炸弹更是成了常见手段。随着时间推移,双方都对此类手段更加习以为常,也更加适应了这种残酷环境,这进一步拉长了冲突,使得双方更为胶着。

但对于世界而言,比内部矛盾升级更为可怕的是越来越明显的区域性“溢出效应”。据称,为了报复土耳其对于反对派的支持,叙利亚政府开始扶持土耳其的库尔德工人党(PKK)。今年7月,叙利亚空军击落了一架土耳其飞机。更为清晰的证据是本月早些时候发生的叙土边境炮击事件。作为反对派进入叙利亚的一个重要补给站,土耳其也从不同方面加以回击:除了继续作为叙利亚反对派军队获取武器的通道之外,他们还截获了用以支持政府军的装备,这使叙利亚政府军和提供方俄罗斯都非常恼火。

从叙利亚自身来看,代理人之争亦在延续。伊朗力量、他们的黎巴嫩和伊拉克代理人都支持阿萨德政权。而他们的对手则是支持反对派的波斯湾阿拉伯人的财力,最近爆出的新闻称,大量旨在供给反对军的武器最终落到了圣战派手中,而圣战派的目的并不仅仅只是要让整个国家摆脱阿萨德,还要创建一个由伊斯兰教义统治的哈里发。这种意识形态推动了基地组织这类团体,正如过去阿拉伯人在经济上支援逊尼极端分子,用以对抗什叶派支持的伊朗-叙利亚联盟。

因此我们有了所有制造毒药的成分:一场带有宗教色彩(永无止境的逊尼派与什叶派之争)的宗派冲突(我们不要忘记本质上,叙利亚冲突是阿拉维少数派和被他们多年来统治的逊尼阿拉伯多数派之间的冲突),而这正在变成其他力量与其代理人之间的游戏战争。

这是我们并不陌生的悲剧:上世纪90年代,在前南斯拉夫分崩离析之时,一场由许多相同演员参与的类似游戏曾经上演。其结局是在欧洲中部创建了一个圣战派战场,滋生了许多恐怖主义细胞和一个被遗弃的国家:塞尔维亚,至今孤零零地处于欧洲大陆。

但是过快的干涉也会带来负面反弹。在英国和法国的煽动下,北约比较迅速地出兵利比亚,支持卡扎菲的反对力量。尽管最终结果是卡扎菲的下台和新政府的创建,但显然极端分子在这个国家里建立了自己的影响和力量,而转变并不像很多人期待的那样干净利落。但是希望也并非不存在,因为反对极端力量的公众之声已经开始呈现,这意味着利比亚的很多人正在抗拒极端分子。

叙利亚的问题在于,僵局拖得越长,这些极端主义团体的力量越大,不同派系之间的仇恨越深。因为暴行和杀戮越来越多,将来这个国家重新恢复的时候,要调和矛盾变得越来越困难。这导致叙利亚被“巴尔干化”,各种不同团体控制不同地区,从而在未来几十年内滋生各种问题。

目前我们还不清楚叙利亚冲突将会行至多远。任何一天都有可能发生某种巨大变化,比如阿萨德被击毙,或者政府军决定采用化学武器。但是此刻,暴力正在残酷上演,而其他国家只是在利用代理人推进自己的利益,从而导致情况进一步恶化,叙利亚人认为自己已经被国际社会抛弃。这是一出我们曾多次经历过的故事,而最终结局总是大家各收恶果。简单地等待其自我结束也许要很多年,而且只会令恢复期拖得更长。(李鸣燕 译)

Syria’s Worsening Conflict

As we enter the 20th month of fighting in Syria, it is clear the situation is only deteriorating. Violence is increasingly spilling across borders, radical groups in the country are becoming better armed and more extreme, while atrocities by both sides continue unabated. And while this internal chaos continues to worsen, the international community stands by, with everyone supporting their respective proxies under the table. The result is a stalemate that is going to incubate problems that will haunt the world for years to come.

First, let us look at how the situation is deteriorating. From a low level civil conflict in which an overbearing government was trying to hold onto power using relatively limited force, we have now degenerated into a conflict in which increasingly brutal acts are being carried out by both sides. The government has taken to using cluster bomb munitions in cities as part of a heavy airborne bombing campaign that punishes rebel held areas, regardless of the possible civilian presence. From the rebel’s perspective, extremist factions within the confusing coalition that makes up the opposition have taken to releasing videos in which they coldly execute captured government prisoners, others in which they show prisoners who have been tortured and suicide bombers are no longer a rarity. And as the fighting drags on, both sides become better at carrying out such acts and surviving in such a brutal environment, further prolonging and rendering more gruesome the conflict.

But more menacing to the world than this internal escalation is the increasing evidence of regional overspill taking place. There are stories of the Syrian government supporting PKK rebels in Turkey in revenge for Turkey’s support of rebels inside Syria. It has been reported, with apparent documentary support, that Syrian forces may have executed a captured Turkish pilot whose plane was brought down by their air defense system. More clear than either of these stories was the shooting earlier this month of a missile from Syria into Turkey, killing five Turks. Turkey, a key staging post for rebels going into Syria, has struck back in different ways. Aside from continuing to allow its territory to be a conduit for rebels and the weapons, they have also acted to intercept supplies being shipped in to support the government, something that has angered both the Syrian government and their Russian suppliers.

Within Syria itself, these proxy dynamics continue, with Iranian forces and their Lebanese and Iraqi proxies mobilizing in support of the Assad regime. Facing off against them are rebel groups supported by Gulf Arab money, with recent reports highlighting that a high proportion of the weapons being provided to the rebels were ending up in the hands of jihadist factions whose vision is less focused on simply freeing the country from Assad than the creation of a shariah governed caliphate. Exactly the sort of ideology that drives groups like al Qaeda, as the old dynamic of Gulf money supporting Sunni extremists plays against the Shiite supported Iranian-Syrian coalition.

And so we have all the ingredients necessary for a toxic swamp. A sectarian conflict (let us not forget that at heart Syria is a struggle between an Alawite minority and the Sunni Arab majority they have brutally ruled over for decades), with the religious overtones of the never-ending Sunni-Shia struggle, that has increasingly become a staging ground for other powers to play out their proxy games.
This is a sad mess we have seen before: back in the 1990s, as Yugoslavia fell apart, a very similar dynamic played itself out with many of the same actors. The result was the creation of a jihadist battlefield in the middle of Europe that produced a number of terrorist cells and the creation of a pariah state – Serbia – that sits alone in the middle of the continent to this day. Eventually the outside world did step into that conflict, but by that time it was far too late and the scars will still take years to heal.

But rapid intervention can also have negative repercussions. At Britain and France’s instigation, NATO deployed relatively rapidly in Libya to support the rebellion against Colonel Gadhaffi. And while the end result was his deposition and the creation of a free government, it is clear that extremist factions have established themselves in the country and the transition will not be as clean as many hoped. There is some light at the end of this tunnel, however, as a public outcry against the groups has already started to build, suggesting that the picture remains a complex one with many in the country rejecting the extremist’s message. While it is too early to say, it is possible that the more rapid resolution of events in Libya left the nation less brutalized and prone to extremism.

The problem with Syria is that the longer the stalemate drags on, the more powerful these extremist groups become and the deeper becomes the hatred between the various factions. As more and more atrocities are committed and people killed, the harder it becomes to reconcile later when the country is being brought back together. This leads to a balkanization within the country with different areas ruled by different groups, a state of affairs that incubates problems for decades to come.

It is not clear how far along in the Syrian conflict we are at this point or how much longer it has to run. Any day a sudden shift could take place if Bashar al Assad was killed or the government chose to deploy chemical weapons. But at the moment it grinds brutally on with others advancing their interests by proxy and further worsening a situation while the people of Syria feel abandoned by the international community. This is a story we have seen played out many times before, and the end result is always further problems for everyone else down the road. Simply waiting for it to burn out can take years and will only make the recovery period longer. We have already let things run too long to avoid any subsequent negative repercussions, let us not continue to make this mistake for too much longer.

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Another EU-China piece to come out around the Summit this time for the Oriental Morning Post (东方早报) – as usual, published Chinese above, English submitted below. Am also going to follow up a bit on this subject, and am still awaiting for longer pieces I have written on this topic to see the light of day. In the meantime, the Summit takes place today and seems to be focusing on economic affairs.

中欧关系为何更有优势

“中欧关系也许没有中美关系和中国海上关系之中那些安全因素的存在,但这应当被理解为一种优势,而非缺点。”

第15次中欧峰会将在今天举行。这是中国与其最大贸易伙伴每年一次的会晤。然而现在看来,人们并不会对此有太多的关注,他们的目光更多聚集在美国和中国东面邻国的纷争上。这似乎是在提醒我们:这一在国际事务中将可能起到至关重要作用的大国关系不幸地被遗忘了,在东亚事务的全球视野中,更让人们继续沉迷的只是中国与其邻国的那些事。

中国与欧盟关系建立时间并不长。尽管欧洲各主权国曾与中国有过悠久、有时并不非常愉快的历史,但欧洲联盟与中国正式建立关系只有37年,这大约是在欧盟创立24年、新中国建国26年之后。欧盟的最早阶段是由法国、联邦德国、意大利、比利时、卢森堡和荷兰六国在“二战”后建立的“欧洲煤钢共同体”(ECSC),而欧盟最初也被视作为防止战争再次爆发的一种机制。

如今,这一梦想正在前进。欧盟正在试图建立共同外交安全认同,以这一形象进入世界。从2004年起,欧盟就成为了中国最大的贸易伙伴,中国则是欧盟的第二大贸易伙伴。双边贸易额目前已经达到了惊人的4287亿欧元,国际服务贸易也增长到了426亿欧元。中国和欧盟每年召开峰会,双方有定期的高层经济战略对话,以及超过50多个领域的对话机制,涵盖各种事务。

除了对话之外,中欧双方还经常在世界舞台上进行合作。比如中欧船只共同巡航索马里,打击海盗;今年年初,双方宣布启动灾害风险管理联合项目。除此之外,中国和欧洲民间有着非常普遍的交流。很多中国朋友告诉我他们非常喜欢去欧洲(而且不仅仅是因为欧元现在较弱的关系)。这正是我同其他30多位同事当时一起来到中国的初衷:促进两国人民的接触。之后,我们中的很多人都选择了继续留在中国。

尽管有着种种良好意愿,中欧之间的战略关系似乎总是在黑暗中徘徊不前。中美关系的高调互动和隐藏的军事敌意总让每个人都觉得一场新冷战可能开始,因此中欧关系也蒙上了阴影,不被更多人重视。

这是件不幸的事。因为事实上,欧盟和中国都是希望能够在世界舞台上发展多边行动的大国,如果没有它们,很难想象这个世界将如何来解决很多非常重大的问题。这两大力量已经携手做了很多工作,为之后打下了扎实的基础。人们普遍倾向认为,欧洲在亚洲并不是一个战略力量,因为其没有强大的军事部署,但实际上,这正能让欧盟得以跳出现在的纷争框架。在一个理想的世界里,欧盟可能扮演一个双方皆可信任的中间人角色:它同中国、日本和美国都有着紧密联系,因此可以成为潜在的“劝和者”。欧洲在亚洲没有战略安全部署这点因而应该被视为是个优势,而非牵绊。

进一步的现实是,这个世界并非完全被军事安全主导。对于人们的日常生活而言,经济关系和贸易关系要更为重要。从这方面来看,欧盟对于中国的重要性起码和美国平起平坐。中国正处于经济转型阶段中,其与欧盟之间的经济关系将随着时间推移愈发显现重要性。我们已经看到欧洲经济衰退对于中国产生了负面影响。美国市场被证明很难让中国企业轻易进入,而欧洲依然还是大门敞开。这一点可以从最近中国建设银行董事长王洪章准备在欧洲投资150亿美元的计划中看出。

我的观点是:欧洲对于中国至关重要,而本周的峰会将会进一步证明这点。最近所有人的目光都仅仅投射在中国对美和对其邻国的外交政策上,这不会为我们带来任何益处,只会创造更多矛盾。我们必须拥有更广阔的视野,更重视这一将给中国带来蓬勃发展的双边关系。中欧关系也许没有中美关系和中国海上关系之中那些安全因素的存在,但这应当被理解为一种优势,而非缺点。(李鸣燕 译)

 

Thursday marks the 15th EU-China Summit, or China’s annual meeting with its largest trading partner. And yet, it is likely that the Summit will pass without much attention with people instead focused towards America and ongoing tensions with China’s eastern neighbors. This unfortunate state of affairs highlights how a relationship with the potential to play a major role in international affairs is being left to the side while neuralgic obsessions between China and her neighbors dominate the global perception of East Asian affairs.

The EU-China relationship remains a relatively young one. While individual European member states have long and sometimes ambiguous histories with China, the European Union itself only established formal relations with China some 37 years ago, about 24 years after the foundation of a European Union and 26 years since the foundation of the People’s Republic. First established in the wake of the Second World War as a Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) between France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands the European Union was initially conceived as a way of guaranteeing that the wars that had dominated much of Europe’s history could never happen again.

Nowadays this dream has evolved further and the EU is trying to forge a common foreign and security identity to try to project itself in the world. And key amongst foreign relationships is China. Since 2004 the EU has been China’s largest trading partner and China has been the EU’s second. Currently, bilateral trade stands at a massive 428.7 billion Euros with a further 42.6 billion Euros in trade in services. The EU and China meet annually for Summit’s, have regular high level economic and strategic dialogues, and over 50 specific sectoral dialogues that meet regularly to discuss a wide variety of topics. Beyond dialogue there are a growing number of instances in which Chinese and Europeans are working together on the world stage. In the waters off Somalia, Chinese and European vessels together patrol for pirates, and earlier this year, the two announced the creation of a ‘Joint Project for Managing Disaster Risks.’ And beyond this, back and forth exchanges between European’s and Chinese are commonplace: many Chinese friends tell me of how much they enjoy going to Europe (and not just because of the weak Euro!), whilst I first came to work in China along with 30 others under the auspices of a project to improve contacts between China and Europe. And a number of us have chosen to stay on afterwards.

But for all this goodwill, the strategic relationship between China and Europe seems to constantly languish in the dark. Vastly overshadowed by the US-China relationship whose high level interactions and undertone of military hostility keep everyone imagining a new Cold War, the EU-China relationship is one that seems to slip past unobserved.

This is unfortunate, as the reality is that the EU and China are both large powers with a preference for multilateral activity on the world stage and without whom it is hard to imagine that the world will fix many of the large problems that plague it today. They do a growing amount of work together already, and the foundations are in place for more. Whilst the tendency is to dismiss Europe as a strategic power in Asia due to the absence of a large security presence, the reality is that this places it in a position where it can stand above the current tensions. In fact, in an ideal world, the EU could act as something of an honest broker between the two sides – with close links to China, Japan and the US, the EU could potentially play a role in helping calm relations. The very absence of a large European strategic security presence in Asia is something that should be seen as an asset rather than a hindrance.

The further reality is that the world is not solely dominated by security tensions. In fact, far more important to people’s daily lives are economic relations and trade – and in this aspect, the EU is as important, if not more so, than the US to China. China is in the midst of period of economic adjustment and its large economic relationship with the EU is something that is going to play an important role in laying out how this develops over time. We can already see how the downturn in Europe is having a negative effect on China. The American market has proven to be a difficult nut for Chinese firms to crack, while Europe remains far more open – something most recently seen in China Construction Bank Chairman Wang Hongzhang’s comments about seeking to invest some $15 billion in Europe.

The point is that the EU is important to China, and this week’s Summit will be further affirmation of this. Of late there has been a tendency to focus almost exclusively in the Chinese foreign policy mindset on the United States and security tensions with neighbors. This state of affairs will lead nowhere good and merely provide fodder for further tensions. A broader vision needs to be taken and one that takes into account a relationship that has brought prosperity to China. EU-China relations may lack the emotive security tensions that characterize US-China and China’s tense naval relations, but this is something that should be interpreted as an advantage rather than weakness.

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) and an expert of the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN).

A new op-ed for the Chinese paper 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post) that I write an occasional column for. This one looks a bit at events in Syria and the growing jihadi presence and what it means. Doesn’t really focus on the Chinese lack of involvement there, but the idea is to try to explain something and its potential dangers to a Chinese audience. The published Chinese is above, with the English I submitted below.

叙利亚不仅仅是叙利亚
潘睿凡   发表于2012-08-10 04:12

叙利亚前总理里亚德·希贾卜出走转投反对派,让阿萨德政权又一次雪上加霜。

潘睿凡 英国伦敦国际激进主义化研究中心副研究员

叙利亚前总理里亚德·希贾卜出走转投反对派,让阿萨德政权又一次雪上加霜。由于国际社会对于这一危机依然采取了僵持态度,激进势力积聚力量,代理人暗战日益恶化。如果只是简单地让叙利亚战争顺势爆发,这将会带来诸多难以想象的负面影响。正如之前人们在“阿拉伯之春”运动中多次观察到的那样,乐观估计总是被现实击得粉碎。如果叙利亚因为派系之争而分崩离析,这会对中东乃至整个世界带来长期消极影响。

如今的事实是,我们正在看着叙利亚慢慢地变成一团纠缠不清的乱麻,被阿拉维少数派统治的逊尼多数派产生了强烈憎恨情绪,来自世界各地的激进组织极端分子人数在增加,逊尼派海湾国家和伊朗什叶派之间的代理人战争愈演愈烈。如果不对此加以控制影响,这样复杂的内战将会酿成全球恶果。

理解当今叙利亚混乱局势和其潜在危险的关键在于回溯到第二次海湾战争、伊朗战争和伊斯兰逊尼派与什叶派之间的长期纷争。逊尼派与什叶派是伊斯兰教派中主要的两支:从世界范围来看,逊尼派人数占多数,为全球穆斯林人口75%,什叶派占10%到20%。什叶派相信先知穆罕默德指派了自己的堂弟阿里为伊斯兰领袖。逊尼派则认为真正应该追随的是在先知逝世后获得领袖地位的穆罕默德岳父艾布·伯克尔。两派对于领袖的分裂看法自此成为全世界穆斯林信徒间最重要的派别之争。

伊拉克战争使得伊拉克变成了公开的什叶派国家,一个由什叶派占据主导的国家。萨达姆政权的倒台,意味着将国家领导权交给与伊朗关系亲密的什叶派。什叶派在伊拉克掌权也意味着什叶派(或者对于什叶派友好的领袖,比如阿萨德的阿拉维教派)如今掌控着中东的伊朗、伊拉克、叙利亚和黎巴嫩。

在“阿拉伯之春”中,这一动态在海湾国家愈发显现。在北非和埃及,权力从非宗教专制政权过渡到伊斯兰教徒手中;在海湾国家,什叶派愤怒地揭竿而起,对抗掌权的逊尼派。在沙特阿拉伯东部,什叶派开始抗议;在由逊尼派王室控制人数占国内多数的什叶派的巴林,反抗浪潮一波未平一波又起。也门也同样面临着各种危机,但目前看来,还未正面受到占据约40%人口的什叶派的公开起义威胁。

对逊尼派领导人来说,前景堪称相当险恶。约旦国王阿卜杜拉二世在提出“什叶派新月带”威胁的时候详尽地表达了他的担忧。我们在叙利亚战场上越来越多地看到,海湾地区(主要是沙特和卡塔尔)的资金和特种部队训练支持着逊尼派反对者与阿萨德政权斗争。伊朗也并没有闲着。除了利用它的代理人和全球情报服务来攻击以色列之外,伊朗也在继续为阿萨德政权提供支持。

除了这些之外,我们还能看到来自世界各地的激进组织分子越来越多地出现在叙利亚。过去这周,一位年轻的德国医学院学生在阿勒颇被杀,一对外国记者也在叙利亚被挟持为人质,据说挟持者分别来自车臣、巴基斯坦、沙特和英格兰。值得我们注意的是,在美国入侵伊拉克期间,大量曾经帮助战士进入伊拉克的激进组织经叙利亚而来。部分组织由此将注意力放回了本土,也有消息说伊拉克的“基地组织”正在重返叙利亚。与此同时,伊拉克“基地组织”也在发起一系列具有高度组织性的攻击,证明他们有能力继续在伊拉克造成更多伤亡和毁灭。这些激进组织是逊尼派,尽管外部支持者会尽其可能不直接为他们提供资金援助,但在这样复杂的内战中,要将他们与逊尼派自由叙利亚军分开,还是有相当难度。在这两派中间还有那些普通的叙利亚人,他们发现自己被卷入了一场日益残酷的内战之中,战争已经几乎延续了一年半,看不到任何停止的迹象。

这一切都已经发生,而世界却还在一旁争执着是否要制裁叙利亚。西方国家暗示他们将寻找某种途径来支援这个国家中可靠的代理人,这是一条危险道路,历史上不乏不良后果。如今是需要一个负责的领袖站出来解决问题的时候。

(李鸣燕 译)录入编辑:张珺

 

Syria is about much more than Syria

The defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab to the rebel side is the latest in a growing number of losses that the Assad regime has suffered in the past few months. As the international community remains deadlocked in what to do about the ongoing crisis, radical forces gather strength and a proxy war being played out by others continues to get worse. Simply letting the war in Syria play itself naturally out is something with repercussions that will be hard to judge. As has been shown repeatedly before in the Arab Spring, optimistic expectations are often shattered by reality. Letting Syria tear itself apart in a sectarian struggle is something that will have longer-term repercussions across the Middle East and the world.

China’s current approach to the Syrian crisis is to take shade under its famous rubric of ‘non-interference.’ In a particularly angry statement after the latest western instigated round of discussions to bring UN condemnation against the Assad regime, Long Zhou, a counselor in the Foreign Ministry, stated ‘we are opposed to intervention in domestic affairs, imposition of regime change and support for military interference.’ Furthermore, ‘the countries with such acts and remarks should rethink what role they have played and who indeed has been the obstacle in resolving the Syrian crisis.’

Such strong words may illustrate Chinese anger at being repeatedly blamed for holding up any action on Syria, but they do not particularly offer a path forwards to try to resolve the current crisis. Nor do they take account of the reality already being played out on the ground. The reality is that we are slowly watching Syria become an ever more tangled mess of sectarian fighting between a Sunni majority who always resented being ruled by the minority Alawite community, the growing presence of jihadist extremists from around the world, and a growing proxy war between the Sunni Gulf states and Shia Iran. Just the sort of complicated civil war that ends up having global repercussions if it is allowed to fester indefinitely.

The key to understanding the current Syrian chaos and its potential danger going forwards goes right back to the second Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq and the long-standing Sunni-Shia divide in Islam. Sunni and Shia are the two main branches of Islam: Sunni are the global majority (around 75% of the global Muslim population – including China’s Muslim minorities), while Shia are a minority (around 10-20%) who differentiate themselves from Sunni’s believing that on his death the prophet Mohammed designated his cousin Ali as the leader of Islam. Sunni’s in contrast believe Abu Bakr, Mohammed’s father-in-law, was the correct follower who took the reins of power as the head of Islam after the prophet’s death. This early split in leadership has been the foundation of most major divisions in the Muslim world since.

Whilst the invasion of Iraq was positive in that it deposed one of the world’s cruelest dictators, it had the additional effect of turning Iraq into an openly Shia nation. A Shia majority country, it was always clear that the introduction of democracy to Iraq would turn the country’s leadership over to a Shia leadership with a close affinity to Iran. And the introduction of a Shia regime in Iraq meant that Shia leaders (or Shia friendly leaders like the Alawite Assad’s) now ruled a swathe of the Middle East from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

And as the Arab Spring gathered pace this dynamic was further exacerbated in the Gulf countries. While in North Africa and Egypt, power was passed from secular authoritarian regimes to political Islamists, in the Gulf countries, mostly angry and oppressed Shia minorities or in some cases, majorities, started to rise up against the deeply Sunni kings that ruled the kingdoms. In eastern Saudi Arabia, Shia protests started to take place, and in Bahrain, where a Shia majority is ruled by a Sunni king, repeated protests have taken place led mostly by Shia’s. Yemen has faced all manner of chaos, but thus far it seems to have been saved much of an open uprising by its 40% or more Shia minority.

For Sunni leaders, this is a menacing prospect. Jordanian King Abdulla II enunciated these concerns when he spoke of the danger of a ‘Shiite crescent’ across the Middle East. And there has been pushback, something we are increasingly seeing on the ground in Syria where stories of Gulf (primarily Saudi and Qatari) funding and Special Forces training supporting the mostly Sunni rebels fighting the Assad regime. Iran has not been idle. In addition to using its proxies and intelligence services globally to attack Israeli targets (and apparently plotting to kill the Saudi Ambassador to Washington), it has continued to provide support for the Assad regime. The two sides are supporting different factions in the civil war.

Beyond these networks, we have also seen growing numbers of jihadists from around the world showing up in Syria. This past week a young German medical student was killed fighting in Aleppo, while a pair of foreign journalists who were held captive in Syria reported being held by a group of fanatics that included Chechens, Pakistanis, Saudis and Britons. It is worth remembering that many of the jihadist networks that were helping fighters get into Iraq during the peak of the American invasion flowed through Syria. Some of these networks have now started to turn their eyes back home, and there are stories of al Qaeda in Iraq forces re-directing into Syria. At the same time al Qaeda in Iraq is proving itself increasingly able to sow death and destruction in Iraq itself – launching a series of highly coordinated attacks in the past weeks. These jihadist networks are Sunni, and while it is likely that outside supporters are doing their best to not provide funding directly to them, it may be hard to separate such groups out from the Sunni Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the chaos of a civil war. Caught in the middle of the misery are average Syrians who now find themselves in the midst of an increasingly brutal civil war that has stretched on for almost a year and a half with no prospects of conclusion in sight.

All of this is already happening. And while it does, the world is sitting by arguing about condemnation of a regime that has proven itself willing to kill its own people. The west has now started to hint that it might try to find ways of providing support for approved proxies in the country, a dangerous path that has led to problems in the past, but equally, sitting on the side letting things play themselves out is only going to let the current scenario get worse and become more bitter. The world is watching as the Middle Eastern cauldron stirs itself up, and it is only a matter of time before it spills over the side. The time has come for some responsible leadership to step forwards and find a way through the current impasse. Simply letting things play themselves out may take a long time and in period tensions will be stoked that will take decades to play themselves out with uncertain outcomes for everyone.

Another new article pegged to the recent events in Beijing, this time focused on the China-Afghanistan relationship for a Chinese paper that I sometimes write for, 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post). I try to offer some tangible ideas for what China could do. I should point out that this was written prior to the events last week, so some of the ideas that I mention seem to have been part of the subsequent agreements. Not sure I can take credit, but hopefully these things will feed the general conversation in China subsequent to last week’s announcements. I have pasted the full english text below the Chinese, and would point out that the last paragraph in English didn’t make the Chinese version. I have also saved readers here of seeing the picture of me that they included in the Chinese version, to see that go to the link in the title to the article.

中国如何在阿富汗更有作为
作者 潘睿凡   发表于2012-06-12 03:05

上合组织北京峰会上周决定以观察员国的身份接纳阿富汗。
潘睿凡
上海社科院访问学者

  上合组织北京峰会上周决定以观察员国的身份接纳阿富汗,中国与该国总理卡尔扎伊在单独双边会谈中签署了战略协议,透露出中国愿意在邻国的未来中发挥更大的作用。不过,中国眼下在阿富汗并非主要玩家,这一点在我不久前遍访喀布尔,不断询问中国在阿富汗的利益及其影响力时,屡次得以显现。目前阿富汗人主要的注意力都集中在美国2014年从阿富汗的撤军,及其对于该国未来的意义。

实际上,在阿富汗很难见到中国存在的证据。当2008年阿富汗安全局势恶化以后,很多曾经充斥当地市场以及开餐馆的中国商人关门回国了。留下来的中国人如同其他当地的外国人一样保持低调,躲在高墙以及安全人员的保卫之下。但是在战略层面上,中国却十分显眼,刚赢得了艾娜克(位于喀布尔东南)铜矿的开采合同,以及在阿姆河(阿富汗北部)一处气田的开发权。

从这些大合同中,我们可以看见中国如何能够在这个国家扮演更大和更积极角色。

艾娜克铜矿位于贫穷的洛加尔省,铜矿的开采及其他相关基础设施项目建设(如铁路、公路、发电厂、煤矿坑以及学校等)将创造更多的就业和商业机会,惠及该地区。

在阿姆河天然气田项目上,由于中石油同意以十分优惠的条件与阿富汗政府一道开发,当地的分析人士认为这折射出中石油对该地区未来石油项目开发的兴趣。这被视为中国在阿富汗的长期利益。在政治层面上,将阿富汗提升至上合组织内部“观察员国”身份的决定也显示出中国推动的区域组织正在对阿富汗的未来做出积极的承诺。

不过,在和阿富汗官员、政客以及当地人交流时,他们理解的却不是这个道理。相反,他们指出了中国将大量的援助与投资投向了巴基斯坦,而非他们,并且相信中国更青睐巴基斯坦,而非阿富汗。此外,对于阿富汗开通瓦罕走廊的长期请求,因为对该项目所进行的无止境的可行性研究而被忽略,这被视为是中国的一大策略。更为明显的是,在新疆的答普塔尔(音译,Daptar,中阿边境最后一座中国的小镇),喀喇昆仑山高速路穿过这座小城,通过Kunjerab哨口连接巴基斯坦,而通往阿富汗的道路却依然是尘土飞扬。阿富汗人觉得自己错过了与中国这个经济巨人进行贸易而潜藏的巨大利益,还觉得这是被故意切断的。

在许多方面,中国的观点是容易理解的。阿富汗目前面临安全问题,开放边境可能将其问题直接引入中国。但是,问题在于,除了上文提到的几个大项目之外,似乎再没什么证据显示中国在如何对待阿富汗及如何着手应对2014年美军撤出后的局面问题上存在更长远的大战略。

喀布尔的民众不断追问中国对于阿富汗的策略是什么,大多数人的结论是,没有人在这个问题上有着清晰的思考。

这是一个问题,因为阿富汗的局势会对中亚和南亚产生直接影响。从与阿富汗接壤的杜尚别(塔吉克斯坦首都)及塔什干(乌兹别克斯坦首都)的官员和专家们的谈话中,可以感受到他们对2014年的不确定性极为担忧。而塔吉克斯坦与乌兹别克斯坦的不稳定与不确定性又会波及整个中亚地区,进而波及中国新疆,影响中国在中亚地区的投资。往南看,如果阿富汗变成一个乱摊子,巴基斯坦也会遭殃,中国在巴利益也将进一步受到直接影响,中国已经承接的通过巴基斯坦直达波斯湾海域的大型项目也难以独善其身。

喀布尔内部的期望值并不高。他们并不是期望中国会派遣军队保卫其安全,或是中国会突然到来,取代美国成为主导玩家。相反,他们期望中国可以阐释一个更为清晰的阿富汗战略:努力通过大量战略性经济投资推动当地的稳定和安全。眼下的这些投资在当地被视为有“寄生性”,而哪些努力可以实现稳定仍模糊不清。

这是世界上的一个长久以来充斥着不安全的“大锅炉”,与中国相邻,中国在那里也有着显而易见的战略利益。将阿富汗正式纳入上合组织可以看作一个良好的开始,而中阿战略协议的达成进一步释放出中国愿意参与邻国未来建设的信号。不过,现在是中国明确自己的阿富汗战略,并做出对于该国安全、繁荣与稳定的未来更加明显承诺的时候了。

这一战略可以通过一系列方式得以实现:首先,中国政府可以帮助解决中冶集团(MCC)眼下在当地遇到的麻烦,并让项目进行起来。这将意味着帮助阿富汗政府解决一些官僚问题,而北京方面的集中关注可能有助于这一进程的加速。第二,中国可以更多聚焦于将阿富汗的基础设施(能源线、管道、公路和铁路)与地区网络连接起来——这将有助于阿富汗融入地区发展之中。第三,中-巴-阿三边会谈应该扩展至将除了外交官之外的更多行为体纳入其中,包括国有企业和经济部门。这将有助于把相关行为体聚集到一块儿,共同讨论发展,促进更大的地区融合。第四,中国应该引导上合组织朝着更加积极应对毒品问题的方向迈进。眼下,该组织谈得多,而做得少。在边境监控上加大力度,为阿富汗农民提供除了种植毒品作物之外的其他选择,都是中国引导下的上合组织可以聚焦的项目,这些都将有助于阿富汗逐步摆脱对毒品种植的依赖。(张娟 译)

录入编辑:李琪

China Should Develop its role in Afghanistan

This week’s decision by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to make Afghanistan an observer member and President Karzai’s separate bilateral meeting to sign a strategic agreement with China are signals that China is eager to play a greater role in Afghanistan’s future. However, while these high level actions are positive demonstrations of intent by Beijing, China needs to be sure to follow through if it is to be seen to be playing a greater role in stabilizing its neighbour after the American withdrawal in 2014. Currently, China is not a major player in Afghanistan. A fact that was repeatedly made clear as I went around Kabul asking about China’s interests and influence in the country. Afghans would clearly like to see China play a role, but from what they can see at the moment, China is instead focused on taking Afghanistan’s natural resources while others guarantee security and work to stabilize the country.

There is very little visible evidence of Chinese presence in the country. Many Chinese traders who used to populate the markets or run restaurants closed down and returned home in 2008 as the security situation deteriorated. Those that are left keep a low profile, like most foreigners in the country, reduced to hiding behind high walls and security teams. But at a strategic economic level, China is very visible, winning large contracts to mine for copper in Aynak (southeast of Kabul) and a contract to open a gas field in Amu Darya (in the north of the country).

And in these large contracts we can see how China could play a bigger and more positive role in the country. Aynak sits in Logar province, an underdeveloped region that would benefit from the jobs and opportunity the copper mine and other infrastructure (trains, roads, a power station, coal mine and local schools) that come with the project would bring. And analysts spoken to on the ground believe that the very favorable terms that CNPC agreed to develop the gas field with the Afghan government in Amu Darya are a sign of CNPC’s desire for future oil projects in the region. This is interpreted as a long-term interest in Afghanistan. And at a political level, this week’s announcements in Beijing at the SCO Summit are a sign that the regional body is paying attention to Afghanistan, while the signing of an agreement between Afghanistan and China are a show of the bilateral relationship.

But when talking to officials, politicians and locals in Afghanistan this sense is not what is being understood. Instead people point to the large amounts of aid and investment that China puts into Pakistan rather than them and believe that China prefers Pakistan over Afghanistan. Furthermore, the long-standing requests for the Wakhan Corridor to be opened have been answered with a lengthy feasibility study into whether the project can be done. This is seen as a Chinese strategy of simply sealing off Afghanistan from China and letting it resolve its security problems by itself. Something even more visible on the ground in Daptar in Xinjiang (the last border town before Afghanistan in China), where the Karakoram Highway sweeps magnificently through the village and on to the Kunjerab Pass with Pakistan while the road to Afghanistan remains a closed dusty track. Afghanistan feels it is missing out on the potential trade benefits with the Chinese economic giant and feels like it is being purposely cut off.

And in many ways this Chinese perspective is easy to understand. Afghanistan is currently a security problem and opening the border might let trouble flow directly into China. But the problem is that aside from the big projects mentioned earlier, there is little evidence of a larger Chinese strategy of what to do with Afghanistan and what to be preparing for after 2014 and the American withdrawal. In Kabul people kept asking what the Chinese strategy was for Afghanistan, with most concluding that there was no clear thinking going into this subject.

This is a problem, as what happens in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on Central and South Asia. Talking to officials and local experts in Dushanbe and Tashkent, who sit on the border with Afghanistan, there is a high level of concern about what 2014 means. And instability and uncertainty in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is something that will impact the entire Central Asian region and therefore Xinjiang, as well as Chinese investments in throughout region. Looking south: Pakistan will also suffer if Afghanistan falls into chaos, something that will further have direct impact on Chinese interests in the country, but also the great projects that China has undertaken to connect itself to the warm waters of the Gulf through Pakistan.

Expectations in Kabul are not very high. The hope is not that China will deploy forces to guarantee security or that China will suddenly come and replace America as the main player in the nation. Instead, the hope is that China will instead enunciate a clearer strategy towards the nation that ties in efforts to improve stability and security with large strategic economic investments. Currently on the ground the investments are seen as holding pieces of territory without investing in them, while what efforts towards stability are either invisible or considered irrelevant. And at a political level, while the brokering of a China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral was an interesting and positive development, it is unclear that it has changed much on the ground.

All of this in a region of the world that has long been a cauldron of insecurity and which is adjacent to China and in which China has quite obvious strategic interests. The decision to bring Afghanistan further into the SCO framework is a good start and the strategic agreement a further signal of China’s willingness to participate in the country’s future, but the time has come for China to clearly enunciate its strategy towards Afghanistan and to make a more visible commitment towards the country’s secure, prosperous and stable future.

This could come in a number of different ways: first, China could help companies like MCC resolve their current difficulties on the ground and get projects going. This would require helping the Afghan government resolve some bureaucratic issues, but focused attention from Beijing might help speed this process up. Secondly, China could focus more attention on getting Afghanistan’s infrastructure (energy lines, pipelines, roads, trains) connected to regional networks – this will help bind the country into its region and help development. Thirdly, the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral format should be expanded to bring more actors to the table beyond diplomats, like state owned companies and economic ministries. This will help bring relevant actors to the table to discuss development together and help foster greater regional integration. And fourthly, China should help steer the SCO in the direction of more active counter-narcotics work. Currently, the organization talks about the problem a lot without doing much visibly. Encouraging greater border surveillance, stopping the flows of precursor drugs into the country and offering farmers alternatives to growing drug crops are all projects that the SCO could focus on with Chinese leadership and would help Afghanistan move beyond reliance on this crop.

But the most significant move that China could make is to ensure that it makes further visible progress in its relationship on the ground with Afghanistan before the American withdrawal in 2014. It is understandable that China wants to wait to see what the environment looks like post-2014; but at the same time, whatever the scenario post-2014, Afghanistan will still be next door to China. So waiting is somewhat unnecessary and is only going to delay development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s future is clearly going to be both important and to some degree tied to China’s. China is in a position to play a very positive role in fostering a peaceful future for the nation, starting work on it now is something that will only reap dividends.

A new article in today’s 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post), a daily paper in China that I write a semi-regular column for. This was intended to come out last week talking a bit about China’s growing problems with citizens abroad and the dangerous places they are, and was meant to be pegged to the kidnapping the workers in Sudan, but it took a bit longer than expected. Consequently, there is no mention of the Syrian veto, which I might have added some comment on. Maybe a short piece later this week on that topic. But in the meantime, I have pasted the English I submitted below, and the Mandarin version below that. The title of this post is the title they ended up going with.

Why Do They Hate Us?

This has been a busy week for Chinese concerns abroad. In Egypt a group of 25 men were kidnapped and then released as part of a local dispute, while in Norway a court case was concluded in which the plotters had, amongst other targets, discussed aiming at the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, and in Sudan a group of 29 Sinohydro employees languish in custody under the “protection” of rebels. Chinese citizens and interests seem to increasingly be coming under target abroad, an unavoidable reality that offers China a moment to finally come out from its shell and become an active player in global affairs.

None of the scenarios listed above is particularly new. We have seen numerous Chinese workers and citizens toiling in foreign lands get into trouble before now. One need only look back last year to the over 30,000 Chinese workers who had to be evacuated from the chaos in Libya, and the thousands of others rescued from Egypt and Tunisia. In part this is the result of the fact that Chinese workers are increasingly finding themselves going to more dangerous parts of the world to dig for resources or build infrastructure and in part it is because there are simply so many Chinese workers now being sent all around the world. But in addition, it is because people now realize that snatching Chinese citizens is something that will guarantee getting attention.

This is the darker side of becoming a global power. Becoming the world’s second largest nation by GDP is something to be proud of, but it is also going to attract a certain amount of unwanted attention. This comes from people who are angry and feel they are missing out, people who are looking for a quick buck and see that China is now flush with money (and therefore see Chinese workers as rich pickings), but also people who have causes that they want global attention for. It used to be that if you wanted to get headlines for your cause, you had to snatch a group of westerners (look at the unknown numbers of Europeans being held by al Qaeda linked groups and criminal networks in North Africa) – nowadays, it is clear that Chinese workers will guarantee you the same sort of attention.

In something of a self-propagating cycle, this increased attention comes in part as a result of increased Chinese government efforts to go in and save citizens that have gotten into trouble in dark corners of the globe. Since the workers were snatched in Sudan the story has been front-page news in China, forcing pressure on the Chinese government to go and do something about it. Teams have been dispatched by Beijing while news outlets churn out news and Weibo is full of people discussing the fate of the group and evaluating the government’s response. All of which is having the effect of bringing attention to the group in Sudan who had kidnapped the Sinohydro workers, which is exactly what they wanted.

The Chinese officials that have been sent out to resolve this issue will find themselves being involved in a local conversation that China has been part of for a while. For selfish reasons of investment protection, China has long played a constructive role in trying to bring resolution to Sudan’s problems, and these previously nurtured contacts will no doubt help bring this latest situation to a close. And this reality highlights the very shifting nature of China’s role in the world and the long cherished “non interference principle.” Clearly the time has not come for China to start to gallop around the world asserting itself, but the time is happening that China is being forced to play a role in world affairs if only to protect its increasingly broad and diverse interests.

China is now seen as a global power. This reality has two results that come with it: a domestic audience who increasingly feel as though their government should be doing more to advance and protect their interests in the world, and a certain amount of antagonism globally, as China becomes part of the “resented face of globalization” as one American academic put it a couple of years ago. All of which requires China to be actively engaged in international affairs to ensure that their interests and people can be protected globally.

None of this is to call for China to start actively interfering in others affairs, but clearly a deeper understanding and engagement of the world is important. Rapid response teams need to be developed that are attuned to local issues that can be deployed to help citizens in distress and local embassies need to ensure that they have a good sense of how many citizens are actually in their area. One problem to have emerged from the Arab Spring last year was a sense that Chinese ministries had no clear idea of how many citizens were actually working in some of these countries – getting a grasp on this is important in figuring out how to prepare. In addition, China needs to build on its already positive forward posture taken with the anti-piracy missions off Somalia and its activity in peacekeeping operations globally to establish a more cooperative approach to its involvement in international missions to address global problems. China clearly benefits from aspects of the security umbrella that the United States and other western powers project, contributing more to these efforts is something that would be in everyone’s interests.

But there is a deeper psychological aspect to this question. Not the argument that China should do more in the world (the debate that China is a “global free-rider is an old one), but the fact that Chinese citizens are now starting to find themselves edging around the incomprehensible global dilemma “why do they hate us?” In the wake of September 11, 2001, American’s woke up to this and realized that there were people in the world who deeply resented the path their nation was taking. This was a shock to a country that had always viewed its role in international affairs as essentially benign and positive. And in China now we are starting to see the contours of this same debate. As China ascends, no matter how hard it tries to remain a benign force, it will find itself taking sides and those on the other side will resent China as a result. This will have a knock-on effect that can be very hard to predict, but will leave some Chinese citizens wondering what it is they have done to deserve this. Unfortunately, this is a reality of the world that we live in where there are winners and losers and those on the bottom will use any means they can to get at those at the top.

潘睿凡 2012-02-08 03:24
随着中国的崛起,无论它怎样努力地保持低姿态,它还是会发现,总有人站在其对立面。
潘睿凡  国际激进主义研究  中心研究员

随着中国的崛起,无论它怎样努力地保持低姿态,它还是会发现,总有人站在其对立面。

过去的一周对中国而言是充满海外担忧的一周。25名中国人在埃及无辜被绑架,只是因为当地人之间的一场争端。与此同时,挪威一地方法院对策划袭击中国驻奥斯陆大使馆一案进行了结案审理。在苏丹,29名中国水电公司工人被当地反政府武装绑架。中国公民和利益似乎逐渐成为海外袭击目标,这种不可避免的现实趋势使得中国不得不反省是否应跳出约束,在全球事务中表现更积极的一面。

上述事件并非新事。我们目睹过多次中国工人和公民在海外陷入这样的麻烦,在去年中国政府成功解救回国的3万多名中国工人中,大部分身陷利比亚国内动乱,还有数千名其他中国工人在埃及和突尼斯骚乱中获救。背后的事实是,一方面,大量的中国工人因为中国“走出去”战略而被派赴海外,另一方面,有人意识到,绑架中国公民肯定会引起更多关注。

这是成长为全球大国的黑暗一面。GDP增长为世界第二大经济体是值得骄傲的事情,但这同时也会招致“额外”的关注。这些“额外”关注可能来自于那些生气的、感到被遗忘的人,那些想通过劫持有钱的中国公民而一举发财的人,也可能来自于那些想获得全球关注的人。在过去,激进组织如果想成为国际头条,他们会绑架西方人(比如与基地有关的组织和南非犯罪网络曾经绑架过不明数量的欧洲人)。而现在,显然绑架中国工人铁定能获取这种关注。

这种效应是中国政府救援本国海外公民努力的一个副产品。问题在于,救援力度越大,绑架中国公民引起关注的可能性就越大。当中国工人在苏丹被绑架,消息上了中国报纸的头条,这会施压政府去采取一些行动。北京派出了工作组,而新闻和微博平台充满人们对被绑工人命运和政府回应的讨论。这对绑架者来说,正是他们想要的。

被派去解决问题的中国官员将会发现自己置身于关于当地事务的对话中。出于保护投资的原因,中国长久以来在苏丹的问题中扮演一个致力于带来解决方案的建设性角色,先前中国与苏丹的那些合同毫无疑问可让绑架事件告一段落。这个事实显示了中国在世界上作用的实质在发生变化。中国显然还未到四处“展示肌肉”的时候,但如果只是为了保护其日益增长多样化的海外利益,中国已经到了不得不在全球事务中发挥作用的时候。

中国目前已经被视为一个全球性的大国。这将引起两方面的反应:一方面,国内有更多的呼声,要求政府进一步保障和发展中国的海外利益;另一方面,则是在国际上,树大招风,中国可能被当作“全球化中令人讨厌的面孔”(某位美国学者在几年前的评价),激发国际上某种程度的敌对态度。为应对这些情况,中国需要更加积极地投身于国际事务之中,从而保证它的利益,保护其国民在世界各地不受侵犯。

但是,在开始积极行动之前,中国必须要对当前世界有更深入的了解,需要设立一些“快速反应小组”以协调地方事务,而地方官员也要实事求是深入了解本地实情。在“阿拉伯之春”系列事件中暴露出的一个问题是:当时中国有关部门无法在第一时间精确统计在那些中东国家中工作的中国工人数目——而这对于应急预案的提前制定具有重要意义。另外,中国应该进一步发挥它在国际维和以及打击索马里海盗等行动中的积极态度,从而能够在解决全球问题方面进行更广泛的合作,发挥更具建设性的作用。在目前美国等西方国家所主导的国际安全体系下,中国已经成为某种程度上的受益者,如果它能更多地做出一些贡献,那必将更有益。

但这个问题也另外有着深刻的心理因素。且不提“在世界上发挥更多的作用”这类话题(“中国在全球搭顺风车”,这已经是老生常谈),而现在的实际情况就是,中国人发现他们正逐渐陷入这样一种难以理解的窘境——“他们为什么不喜欢我们?” 回头看看2001年的美国,到9月11日那天他们才恍然发现,原来这世上竟有人是如此地憎恨其“美式道路”。这令一个一直自豪于自己善意积极之国际角色的国家大为震惊。而在中国,我们已经依稀看到了相似的问题轮廓。随着中国的崛起,无论它怎样努力地保持低姿态,它还是会发现,总有人站在其对立面。这将引发哪些间接后果,也许现在还难以预料,但这肯定会让一些中国人心生疑惑——我们哪里做错了?而这个世界的残酷现实就是:这世上,有人输、有人赢,那些最底下的人势必会用尽一切手段来找你的麻烦。(白澜 译)

A new article for 东房早报 (the Oriental Morning Post) the Chinese newspaper I sometimes contribute to about what China faces with regards the Middle East and the fall-out from the so-called Arab Spring of last year. I have also been doing a few media appearances, including being quoted in an article for Voice of America about recent troubles in Xinjiang and Chinese cultural influence in Kyrgyzstan for Eurasianet. Also, my recent piece for HSToday about Lone Wolves has been reproduced in a few places, including this digested version of it for a specialist site.

The article can be found here, and below is the English I submitted and under that is the text in Chinese for those able to read it and compare the differences.

China and the Arab Spring

This has been the year of great drama in the Arab world. Old certainties were pushed aside as Hosni Mubarak was reduced from Pharaoh to an old man being wheeled into a courtroom on a bed and the defiant Muammar Gadaffi was stripped and shot while hiding in a sewer. A new world order is being shaped, but what remains unclear is what exactly China’s role in this order will be.

At a conference in May this year, a Chinese friend angrily berated the government for being so slow to respond to events in Libya. While he was impressed by the rapidity with which they had been able to evacuate the 35,000 or so Chinese workers in the country, he was distinctly unimpressed by how long it had taken the government to reach out and make contact with the rebels.

And even once China did make contact with rebels, stories were also to emerge that China was maintaining contact with the old Gadhafi regime. In one widely reported case that was subsequently admitted by the government, documents obtained by the press showed that Chinese arms manufacturers were holding discussions with the Gadhafi regime as late as July 16, 2011 to provide supplies for the Colonel’s forces. This taking place a month after Beijing had hosted NTC leader Mahmoud Jibril to discuss China’s interests in Libya.

On the one hand, being friendly with both sides is something that is a strategically safe bet. By keeping everyone happy, you are able to theoretically focus on your interests and not become involved in local rivalries. But on the other hand, this can leave you in a situation where you are seen to be supporting an unpopular regime. Something highlighted when a friend from Beirut reported in response to a question about how China was perceived by the “Arab street” during this time, that China was not seen in a very positive light. Protesters taking up against regimes like Mubarak’s or Gadhafi’s were noticing that the regime had received weapons and equipment from China. They also did not appreciate the sense that it was a result of Chinese foot-dragging that the United Nations did not become involved sooner.

All of which illustrates quite tidily the problem that China faces when looking at how to react to the Arab Spring. The long-standing non-interference principle dictates that China cannot take an active role in getting involved in other nation’s internal problems. But this is a stand that will protect it from becoming entangled in situations like Iraq, but at the same time, it means that when an unhappy populace rises up against its leadership, it is equally likely that China will find itself backing the wrong side in the local public mind.

The problem for China with the non-interference principle is that sometimes in not choosing, China has made a decision or can be interpreted as making a choice. So when China chooses to avoid supporting sanctions through an abstention, it is in fact tacitly agreeing with the sanctions and therefore supporting the side that would want the sanctions. But it is doing this in a grudging fashion that suggests that in fact it disagrees with the idea of imposing the sanctions. Currently this is most visible in Iran and Syria where the Chinese government’s ongoing refusal to support strengthened sanctions against either country is something that is blocking the west from advancing sanctions themselves. The problem for China is that while at the moment this can seem a safe bet given the fact that it is not only China that is blocking sanctions, in the longer run it could leave China in an awkward situation should the regime be replaced.

Let us look for example at Syria, the off-shoot of the Arab Spring that is most likely to dominate news cycles in the next year. After a refusal to support UN resolutions condemning Bashar al-Assad’s regime, China ended the year by supporting a Russian proposal that in equal measure apportioned blame for the current trouble on the rebels and government. Earlier shifts only came after the Arab League had moved to condemn the regime in Damascus – theoretically reflecting a broader regional condemnation and therefore a regional consensus that China could agree with and therefore be seen as part of the mainstream.

This is a careful approach that is designed to give the appearance of not supporting oppression while at the same time not advocating regime change. Instead, the desire is to project a vision of China that is supportive of whomever is in charge, irrespective of their political leanings. The logic is that once the dust settles, China can sweep in with its deep pockets and focus on its interests and avoid having to choose sides. And certainly for some in Libya this is the case: as Abdul Rahman Busin, a spokesman for the NTC put it, “we all need to remember that China is a superpower. We all rely on products that come from China. We would have hoped they would have been on our side….but if it is the interests of the Libyan people to deal with China, then we will deal with China. It is very expensive and time consuming trying to settle old scores.”

But what does this say of China as a global power? Part of the reason why European forces engaged in Libya was a recognition that they had until then been supporting an oppressive regime and that it was a stain on Europe’s character. Once Gadhafi started to talk about going from house to house wiping out dissidents, it became clear that Europe was on the wrong side and leaders moved swiftly to get UN authorization to protect Misrata and Benghazi. While the decision to impose a no-fly zone was one that was contentious within Europe – Germany chose to abstain from the resolution – the end result was that the no-fly zone was voted for and imposed. This led to subsequent events and Gadhafi’s toppling.

China’s decision to sit, with Germany and others, in the abstention box, was ultimately neither here nor there. By refusing to take a position, China ultimately did take a position since it did nothing to try to stop the no-fly zone from being imposed. As a result, China ended up supporting what took place in Libya without accruing any of the international credibility that accompanied the vote. Instead, China was seen as being uncertain whether it really was a good idea to save the floundering rebellion and unaware of the consequences of its decision-making in the UNSC.

The question that China needs to confront in this coming year is what kind of an international player it is going to be. In this past year, it has shown that it is an international player – operations off Somalia show a capacity to conduct operations within an international framework (something already shown in the many peacekeeping operations China participates in), voting on sanctions against Libya shows it can choose sides when it wants to, the 10th year anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) show that it can create a regional security framework, and its work in Sudan helped ensure that the partion of the country was a largely peaceful event. The world knows that China has deep pockets and impressive capabilities to develop infrastructure, but the question is what sort of a leadership role is China going to take in the new world order.

Nowhere will this test become clearer in this coming year than in Iran and Syria – two countries long at odds with the western world and ruled by regimes of dubious legitimacy. This year it seems possible that we will finally reach a climax on both. For Iran, the signals that it is nearing capability to build nuclear devices are becoming ever clearer, while for Syria it seems likely that the Assad regime will eventually succumb to pressure and either crack-down more heavily and violently in a way that the international community cannot deny or simply collapse. And these late echoes of this past year’s Arab Spring will have a direct impact on China’s interests, something that China would do well to try to get ahead of rather than subsequently follow.

Up until now, China has been able to sit back and watch world events happen while it hedges by making friends with both sides. This is something that has been made possible by the willingness of western powers to step in and take leadership roles to make situations develop in positive directions. But in the coming year, austerity and domestic elections will become the priority concerns, meaning that China might find that its previous cover is blown. 2012 marks a new leadership direction in Beijing – let us hope that this leadership includes a more proactive stance in international affairs. The world is crying out for greater Chinese leadership; let the next generation of leaders be those to take China onto the world stage.

2012年中国面临的中东挑战

过去的一年是阿拉伯世界经历大变局的一年:穆巴拉克从“法老”变成了躺在床上被推进法庭的老头;从来不可一世的卡扎菲躲进了下水道,并在毙命前被羞辱……过去的一套法则被颠覆,新的世界秩序正被重塑,但中国在这一秩序中究竟将扮演怎样的角色还远不清楚。

比如,尽管中国政府从利比亚撤离35000多人的速度和能力令世人印象深刻,不过,中国政府向利比亚反对派伸出橄榄枝的步伐却没那么快。

一方面,“两头不得罪”在战略上是安全的。从理论上讲,让所有人都高兴,可以让人能够专注于自身利益,而不必卷入地区冲突之中。但另一方面,这种做法可能置人于一种不利的境地。

以上这些都非常清楚地展现了中国在思考如何应对“阿拉伯之春”的问题时所面临的困扰。长期秉持的“不干涉原则”限定了中国不可能积极地介入其他国家的内部问题。

“不干涉原则”给中国带来的问题还在于,“不选择”有时候也表明中国已经做出了决定,或可能被认为是做出了选择。所以,当中国选择通过弃权来避免支持对某国进行制裁时,表示它心照不宣地对制裁采取了赞成的立场,由此事实上也就支持了想要推行制裁的一方。而以不情愿的方式采取行动,则暗示其不赞成采取制裁。眼下,这一点最显著地体现在伊朗和叙利亚事件上,中国政府拒绝支持对任何一国实施进一步的制裁,这阻碍了西方推进制裁的脚步。

让我们以叙利亚为例。在新的一年里,这一场“阿拉伯之春”的独幕戏最有可能占据新闻头条。中国拒绝支持谴责大马士革阿萨德政权的相关决议,并在2011年年底前对俄罗斯的提议——将叙利亚出现乱局的责任分摊到反对派和政府身上,各打五十大板——表达了支持。这是一种谨慎的处理方式,表明中国一方面不支持压迫人民的做法,与此同时,也不主张政权更替。当然,对于利比亚的某些人而言,这的确如此,如同利比亚全国过渡委员会发言人Abdul-Rahman Busin所言:“我们都需要记住,中国是一个超级大国。我们都依赖来自中国的产品。我们希望他们能够站在我们一边……但如果与中国打交道符合利比亚人民的利益,我们将和中国打交道。力图解决过去的矛盾既耗费资本,又浪费时间。”

过去的一年,中国已经展现了国际大国的形象:索马里海域的巡航行动显示了中国具有在国际框架下执行(军事)任务的能力(这在中国参与的多项维和行动中同样得以展示);在利比亚制裁决议上投赞成票表明必要时中国能够“选边站”;上合组织成立十周年展示了中国具有创建地区安全框架的能力;在苏丹开展的外交工作确保了该国的分而治之得以和平进行……全世界都知道了中国拥有巨大的财富和惊人的基建能力,但问题是新世界秩序之下,中国将扮演怎样的领导角色。

新的一年里,没有什么比伊朗和叙利亚事件更能明晰地考验中国在国际角色扮演上的选择。这一年里,两起事件似乎都可能达到顶点。就伊朗而言,越发逼近制造核武器能力的信号已然清晰;而在叙利亚,阿萨德政权可能将最终迫于压力,或发起更大程度和更为暴力的镇压行动,或轰然倒台。刚刚过去的2011年“阿拉伯之春”的回响对中国外交将产生直接的影响,中国会竭力提前采取行动,而不是在事后再跟着形势走。

直至目前,通过与两边交朋友,中国得以能够“袖手旁观”且静观世界风云变幻。但这种局面得以可能的前提是西方强国愿意介入和发挥领导作用以推动局势向积极方向发展的情况之下。

在新的一年里,经济拮据和国内选举将成为各主要强国的首要关切,这意味着,中国可能发现这些之前的掩护已经不复存在。

2012年对于中国而言,将开启新的篇章,全世界迫切需要中国发挥更大的领导作用,期待中国在国际事务中采取更加积极的立场。

(张娟 译)

“全世界都知道了中国拥有巨大的财富和惊人的基建能力,但问题是新世界秩序之下,中国将扮演怎样的领导角色。

2012年对于中国而言,将开启新的篇章,全世界迫切需要中国发挥更大的领导作用,期待中国在国际事务中采取更加积极的立场。”

Had a pause in short article writing of late as have been bogged down with larger commitments. However, in the meantime, wrote a couple of short op-eds for what is becoming a regular column for 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post) touching upon the riots in the UK and the taking of Tripoli last week (with retrospect there are aspects of the UK one that I am less happy about). The English I submitted is below, and before it a link to the Chinese. More longer pieces in the pipeline on terrorism and China.

Lessons from Libya (In Chinese)

This week’s take-over of Tripoli by the rebel forces opposed to General Gadaffi has stirred a mixture of emotions. In the first place, there is a certain gratefulness that events in Libya are moving towards some sort of resolution. But while some in Europe are proud of the role that they played in ousting him from his position in power, there is an underlying sense of concern about what happens next. Nevertheless, it now seems clear that his time in charge of Libya is up and there are some lessons that can be usefully drawn from the experience of ousting him.

First of all, NATO, the EU and the US should be careful to celebrate this victory as their own. While it seems doubtful that the rebels would have done so well without their support, the fact remains that NATO was running out of ammunition and there is a growing uncertainty in Europe about what they are doing in Libya. There is also still no clear sense that Europe went into Libya with any sort of a clear strategy. All of this is a reflection of weakness rather than success.

Secondly, success in intervening here does not mean NATO now has to (or wants to) intervene in Syria. This is not hypocritical or evidence of double standards. The reality is that you can only become involved where you can make a difference and where you have support. No one liked Gadaffi so support was easy to find, and support came in the form of low-risk airstrikes in support of rebels that shielded NATO from too many casualties on the ground. All easily manageable. Syria, however, would be a very different proposition – quite aside from having a different capacity to respond (Syria is a longtime supporter of militant groups outside its borders), there is nowhere near the consensus in the international community. And of course there is the reality that NATO forces are now stretched over two battlefields (and subsidiary operations in Cote d’Ivoire and Iraq).

The point is that the reality on the ground is different. To call this hypocritical is simplistic and somehow assumes that we live in a world where absolute and universal rules apply. The world is complex and requires different responses that are often dictated by capacity. A one-size fits all policy in international relations is a recipe for disaster.

Thirdly, UN sanctions and resolutions do not equal armed intervention. In this case, it now seems clear that NATO, the EU and the US decided to take the initial sanctions against Gadaffi to their furthest possible point. This meant in the first place to protect Misrata and the other parts of the country Gadaffi had said he was going to crush, and secondly to support a rebellion to oust a leader who had mismanaged his country for four decades. This is a specific set of reactions to a specific situation. In other instances where sanctions have been imposed nothing has followed – for example, Iran, where the EU and US continue to push sanctions – there has been no subsequent military intervention. This means that we need not fear that sanctions against the Syrian regime would necessarily lead to conflict on the ground.

Chinese friends I have spoken to express a great sense of confusion over what the EU and US think they are doing in Libya. They see vast amounts of money being spent with no clear outcome. They worry precedents are being set in international policy that may lead to other problems down the line. While some of these concerns are well placed (going in with no apparent plan as NATO did is certainly not sound policy), the overarching point that they are missing is that a bad dictator has been removed from power and is no longer destroying his own country. In time a new democratically elected government will emerge that will mean that Libya is finally able to interact with the world on its own terms. This is an outcome that is in everyone’s favor. What this does not mean is that this is going to be the strategy that will be pursued in every situation.

Anarchy in Europe (In Chinese)

Britain ablaze, Greece on strike, and lunatics planting bombs and shooting people in Oslo – Europe seems an increasingly dangerous and chaotic place. But what is behind this growing anarchy, and why it is suddenly expressing itself with such fury now?

There are a number of reasons: from social disaffection and anger, to economic hardship and disenfranchisement, to a general anger at elites that it is no longer felt represent the public. It is not, as some have suggested, all a cause and effect from the economic crisis, but rather it is a complex set of issues that all feed off each other to create a multiplier effect that explodes in the violence that we can still see on London’s streets today.

To start with my hometown, London: the trouble there started off as a peaceful public protest in a community with tense relations between police and locals after police shot and killed a young man. This event appears to have been hijacked by local youths and petty criminals who used this as a pretext to launch a violent assault on city centers taking advantage of the opportunity to loot and steal as much as they could. This in turn inspired other communities to launch copycat efforts around the country and the end result has been chaos in major British cities.

It is far too early to say exactly why this has all taken place, but a part of it is clearly anger is directed at ruling elites that are perceived have no connection to the community. Similar, but much less violent expressions of displeasure were seen last year during protests linked to the government decision to charge for university places. This group has moved beyond an expression of political anger to wanton destruction. But nonetheless one of the direct causes of the current trouble are local tensions between police and the community.

This anger at elites is further reflected in the current protests and strikes across Europe, including the months long sit-ins taking place in Spain and the repeated stoppages in Greece and Italy. In all these nations, the publics are tired of listening to politicians that they do not feel represent them. Many young feel that they simply do not have a place in society or cannot get good jobs and end up migrating elsewhere to seek their fortunes. In an ironic twist, in Belgium, the situation has gotten so bad that the nation has not had an elected government for over a year – instead a technocratic administration has managed the nation. In the capital where the EU has its bureaucratic heart, the local government has very little credibility with its domestic audience.

On the more dangerous end of the scale are individuals like Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian self-styled crusader who was so angered at his government’s allowing of Muslim immigrants into the nation that he decided to punish the ruling party. Using a massive car bomb in the city center followed by a shooting of a group of young aspirant politicians, Breivik’s act was in retaliation for what he sees as the conquering of Europe by Muslims and the fact that no-one in Europe is doing anything about it. He particularly blamed the ruling Labor Party in Norway for letting this happen, and consequently targeted them for punishment in late July of this year.

The running thread through all of this is mistrust in government – something that is going to be further accentuated as economies collapse and debt numbers go through the roof. European publics have already stopped voting in elections in ever increasing numbers, now they are turning to other ways of expressing their distaste in their governments. There are clear lessons here for government’s about the importance of finding ways to connect with their publics.