周波:对“四个警察”来说,印度洋和太平洋太大了

2021-04-04 09:00     观察者网

【文/观察者网专栏作者 周波】

围绕美国、日本、澳大利亚和印度组成的"四方安全对话"(简称Quad)最大的问题是:它到底是什么?

该对话机制由日本前首相安倍晋三于2007年发起,但在协调印度-太平洋地区的政策方面几乎没有起到什么作用。这就是为什么在3月12日,美国总统拜登召集日本首相菅义伟,印度总理莫迪和澳大利亚总理莫里森举行首次"四方安全对话"视频峰会,特别是宣布为东南亚提供10亿剂新冠疫苗的"Quad疫苗伙伴关系"计划,理所当然引起了世界关注。

美日印澳领导人3月12日举行了四方对话。图片来源:路透社

然而,这场峰会并不一定是成功的跳板。似乎是为了表明这是"民主大同盟","四方安全对话"的口号是"自由开放的印太地区"。但是,印太地区什么时候不是开放和自由的呢?包括海盗、恐怖主义、领土主张、非法捕捞和非法贩运等在内的各种安全挑战并不是新的挑战,也并非印太地区所独有。

自2008年以来,影响该地区国际海上航道安全最突出的问题是非洲之角附近海域的海盗活动。但在联合国安理会授权之后,经过约25个国家的海军共同努力,这个问题已基本上得到解决。

尽管峰会没有明确提到中国,但"四方安全对话"实质上就是关于中国的。问题是:如果它是针对中国的,那么维系这个团体的粘合剂远远不够牢固;如果它不是针对中国的,那么建立"四方安全对话"则根本没有必要。

让我们从可能最糟糕的情境开始设想一下:如果中美在中国南海或台湾海峡发生冲突,日本和澳大利亚一定会绞尽脑汁,冥思苦想如何能在不引火烧身的情况下,履行作为美国盟友的义务。

印度却完全不会考虑站在美国一边。印度军事介入中国周边地区中美冲突的可能性,就像美国出兵卷入中印边境冲突一样渺茫。

诚然,去年6月发生在加勒万河谷的斗殴事件令人震惊,它导致了20名印度士兵和4名中国士兵的死亡,以至于印度外交部长苏杰生表示,印度对中国的信任"深深动摇"。但事实上,双方军队选择石器时代的方式--用拳头和木棒斗殴,表明他们知道在任何情况下都不应该互相开火。

自从中国和印度军队撤离,并建立了事实上的缓冲区后,局势逐步缓和。希望这场致命的斗殴能为两国政府提供有益的教训,并帮助两国政府找到新的方式增强互信。例如,建立"热线"电话。

印度是"四方安全对话"的核心,因为其他三个国家已是盟友。尽管印度将印度洋视为自己的"后院",不愿意看到中国海军在印度洋存在,但没有证据表明双方存在利益冲突。

中国海军仅在吉布提有一个基地,且中国海军编队只进行反海盗行动。2011年5月,中印两国海军曾与北约合作,营救了被索马里海盗劫持的中国"富城"号商船。

如果印度选择投入美国的怀抱,将招致两个其无法承受的后果。首先,它将威胁到印度的战略自主性和在大国间的回旋余地。这一点很重要,因为印度是不结盟运动的创始国之一。

其次,它将导致印俄关系下滑。印度是世界上第二大武器进口国,而俄罗斯则是其最大的武器供应国,占据了印度一半的市场份额。新德里对于华盛顿的任何举动都会引起莫斯科的警觉。同北京一样,莫斯科也被华盛顿视为战略竞争对手之一。

无论"四方安全对话"如何发展,它都不太可能成为一个针对中国的"亚洲北约"。这并非因为各方都曾一度否认该团体的任何防卫角色,而是因为"四方安全对话"中的每个成员国都与中国有着牢固的经济关系。

中国不仅是美国最大的贸易伙伴之一,也是日本、澳大利亚和印度最大的贸易伙伴。他们中没有一方愿意牺牲自己与中国的经济联系,更不用说为了其他三国的利益牺牲自己。

同样,韩国、越南和新西兰等"四方安全对话+"国家是否愿意作为正式成员加入也令人怀疑,因为它们都害怕被北京视为"反华俱乐部"的成员。他们未来仍有可能参与一些多边的海上军演,例如"马拉巴尔"演习,但也仅此而已。

尽管四国大肆渲染在气候变化和应对新冠肺炎疫情方面的合作,但是这种合作不会牢靠。因为这些都是全球性挑战,只有世界各国共同应对才能解决。如果"四方安全对话"的未来如大多数人认同的那样,是海上安全合作,它能达到的效果也是有限的。

印度洋和太平洋对"四个警察"来说太大了。此外,合作应对诸如海上恐怖主义、人口贩运、人道主义援助和赈灾等问题,是东盟区域论坛和东盟防长扩大会议等区域组织的工作重点。这些区域组织目前已经包括了中国、美国、日本、澳大利亚和印度等主要地区参与国。

除非"四方安全对话"以该地区共同的战略问题为驱动,并证明自己是包容的而并非排他的,否则这个小集团的未来并不光明。它可能存活,但不可能壮大。

(翻译:中国论坛 董思)

(原文如下)

Why US-led, anti-China Quad is either meaningless or doomed to failure

The largest question hovering over the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, grouping of the United States, Japan, Australia and India is what exactly it is.

Initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the forum did little to coordinate policy in the Indo-Pacific. This is why when US President Joe Biden hosted the first virtual Quad summit on March 12 with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, it caught the world's attention, especially the announcement of a "Quad Vaccine Partnership" that committed to providing at least 1 billion doses of vaccine to Southeast Asia.

However, this summit is not necessarily a springboard to success. As if to indicate that it is a 'concert of democracy', the Quad's catchphrase is a "free and open Indo-Pacific". But when has the Indo-Pacific not been open and free? Security challenges, including piracy, terrorism, territorial claims, illegal fishing and criminal trafficking, are not new, and they are not exclusive to the Indo-Pacific.

Since 2008, the most outstanding problem affecting the security of the international sea lanes in the region has been piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa. This problem has been largely resolved thanks to the joint efforts of some 25 international navies in line with UN Security Council mandates.

The Quad is really about China, even if China was not explicitly mentioned in the summit. The problem is that if the Quad is against China, the glue that binds the group is not strong enough. If it is not, then there is no need to establish the Quad at all.

Let us start with the worst possible scenario. Should a conflict arise between China and the US in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, Japan and Australia would struggle to figure out how to fulfil their obligations as American allies without burning their own hands.

India would not give a damn about taking America's side at all. The likelihood of India getting involved militarily in a China-US conflict in China's periphery is as remote as the US' military involvement in a China-India conflict along the Sino-Indian border.

Admittedly, the brawl resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley last June was shocking, to the extent that Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said India's trust in China was "profoundly disturbed".

But the fact the troops chose to use fists and wooden clubs to fight in a stone-age manner showed they knew they should not shoot at each other under any circumstances.

Since the Chinese and Indian troops have withdrawn and a de facto buffer zone was established, the situation has de-escalated. Hopefully, the deadly brawl will provide useful lessons for the two governments in finding new ways to enhance confidence-building, such as setting up hotlines.

India is central to the Quad as the other three countries are already allies. Although India is not happy with the presence of China's navy in the Indian Ocean, which it considers its own backyard, there is no evidence of conflicting interests.

The Chinese navy only has a base in Djibouti, and Chinese flotillas only conduct counter-piracy operations. In May 2011, the Chinese and Indian navies cooperated with Nato in rescuing the Chinese merchant ship Full City that had been hijacked by Somalian pirates.

If India chooses to embrace the United States, it will invite two consequences it cannot afford. First, it risks India's strategic autonomy and manoeuvrability among major powers. This matters as India is one of the founders of the non-aligned movement.

Second, it risks a decline in India-Russia relations. India is the world's second-biggest arms importer with Russia as its top supplier, garnering half of the Indian market. Any move by New Delhi towards Washington will only alarm Moscow, one of Washington's strategic competitors alongside Beijing.

However the Quad might evolve, it is unlikely to become an "Asian Nato" targeting China. This is not because all parties have disclaimed any defence role for the grouping at one point or another, but rather that each Quad member has a strong economic relationship with China.

China is one of the US' top trading partners and the largest trading partner of Japan, Australia and India. None of them would wish to sacrifice their own economic ties with China, let alone for the sake of the other three countries.

Likewise, it is doubtful "Quad Plus" countries such as South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand would wish to join the Quad as full members for fear of Beijing seeing them as members of an "anti-China club". They might still participate in a few multilateral naval exercises such as the Malabar Exercise in the future, though.

What holds Quad members together will not be the much-touted partnership on climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. These are global challenges that can only be addressed through a collective global response. If the Quad's future is maritime security cooperation, as most people would agree, there is also a limit as to what it can achieve.

The Indian and Pacific Oceans are too vast for four policemen. Besides, cooperation on addressing maritime issues such as terrorism, human trafficking, humanitarian aid and disaster relief is the purview of regional institutions such as the Asean Regional Forum and Asean Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. Those groupings already include major regional players such as China, the US, Japan, Australia and India.

Unless the Quad takes common strategic issues in the region as driving forces and proves itself to be inclusive rather than exclusive, the future of the small group is not bright. It can survive, but it will not thrive.

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