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文章原始标题:America Can’t Stop China’s Rise


There’s little doubt that the American government has decided to slow China’s economic rise, most notably in the fields of technological development. To be sure, the Biden administration denies that these are its goals. Janet Yellen said on April 20, “China’s economic growth need not be incompatible with U.S. economic leadership. The United States remains the most dynamic and prosperous economy in the world. We have no reason to fear healthy economic competition with any country.” And Jake Sullivan said on April 27, “Our export controls will remain narrowly focused on technology that could tilt the military balance. We are simply ensuring that U.S. and allied technology is not used against us.”

毫无疑问,美国政府已决定减缓中国的经济崛起,尤其是在技术发展领域。当然,拜登政府否认这些是其目标。珍妮特-耶伦在 4 月 20 日说:"中国的经济增长不一定会与美国的经济领导地位相冲突。美国仍然是世界上最具活力和最繁荣的经济体。我们没有理由害怕与任何国家进行健康的经济竞争。4 月 27 日,杰克-沙利文说:"我们的出口管制仍将局限于可能影响军事平衡的技术。我们只是确保美国及其盟国的技术不被用来对付我们"。

Yet, in its deeds, the Biden administration has shown that its vision extends beyond those modest goals. It has not reversed the trade tariffs Donald Trump imposed in 2018 on China, even though presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized them in July 2019, saying: “President Trump may think he’s being tough on China. All that he’s delivered as a consequence of that is American farmers, manufacturers and consumers losing and paying more.” Instead, the Biden administration has tried to increase the pressure on China by banning the export of chips, semiconductor equipment, and selected software. It has also persuaded its allies, like the Netherlands and Japan, to follow suit. More recently, on Aug. 9, the Biden administration issued an executive order prohibiting American investments in China involving “sensitive technologies and products in the semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence sectors” which “pose a particularly acute national security threat because of their potential to significantly advance the military, intelligence, surveillance, or cyber-enabled capabilities” of China.

然而,拜登政府的所作所为表明,它的愿景超越了这些适度的目标。尽管总统候选人乔-拜登在 2019 年 7 月批评了唐纳德-特朗普在 2018 年对中国征收的贸易关税,但拜登政府并没有撤销这些关税: "特朗普总统可能认为他对中国很强硬。他所带来的后果就是美国农民、制造商和消费者蒙受损失,付出更多代价。" 相反,拜登政府试图通过禁止出口芯片、半导体设备和特定软件来增加对中国的压力。拜登政府还说服荷兰和日本等盟国效仿。最近,拜登政府于8月9日发布了一项行政命令,禁止美国在中国投资涉及 "半导体和微电子、量子信息技术和人工智能领域的敏感技术和产品",这些技术和产品 "对国家安全构成特别严重的威胁,因为它们有可能极大地推进中国的军事、情报、监视或网络能力"。

All these actions confirm that the American government is trying to stop China’s growth. Yet, the big question is whether America can succeed in this campaign—and the answer is probably not. Fortunately, it is not too late for the United States to reorient its China policy toward an approach that would better serve Americans—and the rest of the world.


America’s decision to slow China’s technological development is akin to the folly revealed by the old cliché: closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Modern China has shown many times that China’s technological development can’t be halted.


Since the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, several efforts have been made to limit China’s access to or stop its development in various critical technologies, including nuclear weapons, space, satellite communication, GPS, semiconductors, supercomputers, and artificial intelligence. The United States has also tried to curb China’s market dominance in 5G, commercial drones, and electric vehicles (EVs). Throughout history, unilateral or extraterritorial enforcement efforts to curtail China’s technological rise have failed and, in the current context, are creating irreparable damage to long-standing U.S. geopolitical partnerships. In 1993 the Clinton administration tried to restrict China’s access to satellite technology. Today, China has some 540 satellites in space and is launching a competitor to Starlink.

自 1949 年中华人民共和国成立以来,美国曾多次试图限制中国获得或阻止其发展各种关键技术,包括核武器、太空、卫星通信、全球定位系统、半导体、超级计算机和人工智能。美国还试图遏制中国在5G、商用无人机和电动汽车领域的市场主导地位。纵观历史,旨在遏制中国技术崛起的单边或域外执法努力均以失败告终,而在当前情况下,这些举动正在对美国长期的地缘政治伙伴关系造成无法弥补的损害。1993 年,克林顿政府试图限制中国获得卫星技术。如今,中国已在太空中拥有约 540 颗卫星,并正在发射与 "星链 "竞争的卫星。

The same principle played out with GPS. When America restricted China’s access to its geospatial data system in 1999, China simply built its own parallel BeiDou Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) system in one of the first waves of major technological decoupling. In some measures, BeiDou is today better than GPS. It is the largest GNSS in the world, with 45 satellites to GPS’s 31, and is thus able to provide more signals in most global capitals. It is supported by 120 ground stations, resulting in greater accuracy, and has more advanced signal features, such as two-way messaging. Other nations have also previously tried and failed to block China’s technical rise. In the 1950s and 1960s, when the USSR withheld nuclear weapons technology from China, China launched its own “Manhattan Project” in the early 1960s and succeeded in testing its first nuclear weapon by 1964. Russian nuclear leverage over China ended that day.

同样的原理在全球定位系统上也得到了验证。1999 年,当美国限制中国使用其地理空间数据系统时,中国干脆建立了自己的北斗全球导航卫星系统(GNSS),这是第一波重大技术脱钩。在某些方面,北斗系统如今比 GPS 更胜一筹。它是世界上最大的全球导航卫星系统,拥有 45 颗卫星,而GPS只有 31 颗,因此能够在全球大多数国家的首都提供更多的信号。它由 120 个地面站提供支持,因此精度更高,并具有更先进的信号功能,如双向信息传送。其他国家以前也曾试图阻止中国的技术崛起,但都以失败告终。上世纪五六十年代,苏联拒绝向中国提供核武器技术,中国在六十年代初启动了自己的 "曼哈顿计划",并于 1964 年成功试验了第一枚核武器。俄罗斯对中国的核优势自此终结。

Many of the measures taken by the Biden administration against China were also executed without factoring in China’s capacity to retaliate. While China does not physically construct many truly irreplaceable components of the American technology stack, they are keenly aware of the importance of their raw materials inputs (rare earths) and demand (revenue generation) in fueling the American innovation ecosystem and are now using them as leverage. In the current tit-for-tat dynamic, China will start squeezing these two critical ends of the value chain in response to American technology and capital export restrictions. China’s July ban of the gallium and germanium exports was merely an opening shot across the bow to remind America (and its aligned allies) of China’s dominance in the rare earths and critical metals space. The country has a near monopoly in the processing of magnesium, bismuth, tungsten, graphite, silicon, vanadium, fluorspar, tellurium, indium, antimony, barite, zinc, and tin. China also dominates in midstream processing for materials essential to most of America’s current and future technology aspirations such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper, which are critical for the rapidly developing EV industry globally.

拜登政府针对中国采取的许多措施也没有考虑到中国的报复能力。虽然中国并没有实际建造美国技术体系中许多真正不可替代的组件,但他们敏锐地意识到其原材料投入(稀土)和需求(创收)在推动美国创新生态系统方面的重要性,并正在利用它们作为筹码。在当前针锋相对的态势下,中国将开始挤压价值链的这两个关键端,以应对美国的技术和资本出口限制。中国 7 月对镓和锗出口的禁令只是一个开局,目的是提醒美国(及其盟友)中国在稀土和关键金属领域的主导地位。中国几乎垄断了镁、铋、钨、石墨、硅、钒、萤石、碲、铟、锑、重晶石、锌和锡的加工。中国还在中游材料加工领域占据主导地位,这些材料对美国当前和未来的大多数技术愿望都至关重要,如锂、钴、镍和铜,它们对全球快速发展的电动汽车行业至关重要。

While America and other neutral countries have mineral reserves of many of these materials, it would be naïve to believe that one can simply flip a switch on mining and production. It will take at least three to five years just to build the requisite extraction and processing infrastructure. This is to say nothing for recruiting and training skilled labor, or receiving requisite operational and environmental permits for such activities. Both could prove impossible. The processing of rare earths is a highly toxic and environmentally destructive endeavor. It’s unlikely such approvals will be granted. If Arizona is struggling to find qualified workers for its TSMC fabrication facility, and to address domestic union opposition to importing foreign skilled labor, it’s unlikely that America can develop similar capabilities for material processing. Along the way, China gets to play kingmaker in how it doles out access to its processed materials, likely restricting supply to American technology and defense giants. The failure to factor in China’s retaliatory capacities indicates that the United States doesn’t have a well-thought-out and comprehensive approach to dealing with China.


American measures to deprive China access to the most advanced chips could even damage America’s large chip-making companies more than it hurts China. China is the largest consumer of semiconductors in the world. Over the past ten years, China has been importing massive amounts of chips from American companies. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, China-based firms imported $70.5 billion worth of semiconductors from American firms in 2019, representing approximately 37 percent of these companies’ global sales. Some American companies, like Qorvo, Texas Instruments, and Broadcom, derive about half of their revenues from China. 60 percent of Qualcomm’s revenues, a quarter of Intel’s revenues, and a fifth of Nvidia’s sales are from the Chinese market. It’s no wonder that the CEOs of these three companies recently went to Washington to warn that U.S. industry leadership could be harmed by the export controls. American firms will also be hurt by retaliatory actions from China, such as China’s May ban on chips from US-based Micron Technology. China accounts for over 25 percent of Micron’s sales.

美国采取措施剥夺中国获得最先进芯片的机会,对美国大型芯片制造公司的损害甚至可能超过对中国的损害。中国是世界上最大的半导体消费国。过去十年来,中国从美国公司进口了大量芯片。根据美国商会的数据,2019 年,中国企业从美国公司进口了价值 705 亿美元的半导体,约占这些公司全球销售额的 37%。一些美国公司,如 Qorvo、德州仪器和博通,约有一半的收入来自中国。高通公司 60% 的收入、英特尔公司四分之一的收入和 Nvidia 公司五分之一的销售额都来自中国市场。难怪这三家公司的首席执行官最近前往华盛顿警告说,出口管制可能会损害美国的行业领导地位。美国公司也会因中国的报复行动而受到伤害,比如中国五月份对美国美光科技公司芯片的禁令。中国占美光公司销售额的 25% 以上。

The massive revenue surpluses generated by these sales to China were ploughed into R&D efforts which, in turn, kept American chip companies ahead of the game. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that if the United States were to ban semiconductor sales to China completely, U.S. companies would lose $83 billion in annual revenues and would have to cut 124,000 jobs. They would also have to cut their annual R&D budgets by at least $12 billion, and their capital spending by $13 billion. This would make it even more difficult for them to remain competitive on the global scale in the long run. American semiconductor firms are painfully aware that U.S. actions against China in the chips arena will harm their interests more than Chinese interests. The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association released a statement on July 17, saying that Washington’s repeated steps “to impose overly broad, ambiguous, and at times unilateral restrictions risk diminishing the U.S. semiconductor industry’s competitiveness, disrupting supply chains, causing significant market uncertainty, and prompting continued escalatory retaliation by China,” and called on the Biden administration not to implement further restrictions without more extensive engagement with semiconductor industry representatives and experts.

这些对华销售产生的巨额收入盈余被投入到研发工作中,反过来又使美国芯片公司保持领先地位。据美国商会估计,如果美国完全禁止向中国销售半导体,美国公司将损失 830 亿美元的年收入,并不得不裁减 124,000 个工作岗位。它们还将不得不削减至少 120 亿美元的年度研发预算和 130 亿美元的资本支出。从长远来看,这将使它们更加难以在全球范围内保持竞争力。美国半导体公司痛苦地意识到,美国在芯片领域对中国采取的行动将损害他们的利益,而不是中国的利益。美国半导体行业协会于7月17日发表声明称,华盛顿一再 "实施过于宽泛、含糊不清、有时甚至是单方面的限制措施,有可能削弱美国半导体行业的竞争力,扰乱供应链,造成严重的市场不确定性,并引发中国持续升级的报复行为",并呼吁拜登政府在没有与半导体行业代表和专家进行更广泛接触的情况下,不要实施进一步的限制措施。

The Chips Act cannot subsidize the American semiconductor industry indefinitely, and there is no other global demand base to replace China. Other chip producing nations will inevitably break ranks and sell to China (as they have historically) and the American actions will be for naught. And, in banning the export of chips and other core inputs to China, America handed China its war plan years ahead of the battle. China is being goaded into building self-sufficiency far earlier than they would have otherwise. Prior to the ZTE and Huawei components bans, China was content to continue purchasing American chips and focusing on the front-end hardware. Peter Wennink, the CEO of ASML, stated that China is already leading in key applications and demand for semiconductors. Wennink wrote, “The roll-out of the telecommunication infrastructure, battery technology, that’s the sweet spot of mid-critical and mature semiconductors, and that’s where China without any exception is leading.”

芯片法案不可能无限期地补贴美国半导体产业,而且全球也没有其他需求基础可以取代中国。其他芯片生产国将不可避免地打破规则,向中国出售芯片(就像历史上一样),美国的行动将付诸东流。此外,美国禁止向中国出口芯片和其他核心产品,相当于提前数年向中国提交了作战计划。中国正被激励着比其他国家更早地实现自给自足。在中兴和华为零部件禁令之前,中国满足于继续购买美国芯片,专注于前端硬件。ASML 首席执行官皮特·温尼克表示,中国在半导体的关键应用和需求方面已经处于领先地位。温尼克写道:"电信基础设施和电池技术的推出,是中等关键和成熟半导体的最佳时机,而这正是中国毫无例外地领先的地方。”

A sleeping giant was awoken by short-sighted American protectionist policies. America now faces the short-term threat of loss of critical revenue that fueled the R&D that made it an innovation leader and the long-term inevitability that China will build its own full scale semiconductor ecosystem. The ability of Huawei to launch the Mate 60 Pro, a new smartphone powered by a domestically produced 5G chip and operating system, despite severe American sanctions on the firm illustrates how unwise American policies have been in trying to stop China’s technological growth and development.

美国短视的保护主义政策唤醒了一个沉睡的巨人。美国现在面临着失去关键收入的短期威胁,而这些收入正是美国成为创新领导者的研发动力;从长远来看,中国将不可避免地建立起自己的全面半导体生态系统。尽管美国对华为实施了严厉制裁,但华为仍能推出搭载国产 5G 芯片和操作系统的新款智能手机 Mate 60 Pro,这说明美国试图阻止中国技术增长和发展的政策有多么不明智。

Since America is unlikely to stop China’s technological growth and development (and, indeed, is unlikely to stop China’s emergence as a peer global power), there is a more enlightened approach to engagement. It is best illustrated by Aesop’s fable, “The North Wind and the Sun.” In the story, the North Wind blows hard and fails to remove the traveler’s cloak. It is, rather, the warm rays of the sun persuade the traveler to remove his cloak.


It’s now widely held among American policymakers that America’s five-decade-long policy of engagement with China has failed. As Kurt Campbell and Ely Ratner candidly state in their recent Foreign Affairs article, “Nearly half a century since Nixon’s first steps toward rapprochement, the record is increasingly clear that Washington once again put too much faith in its power to shape China’s trajectory. . .China has instead pursued its own course, belying a range of American expectations in the process.”

现在,美国决策者普遍认为,美国长达五十年的对华接触政策已经失败。库尔特-坎贝尔和伊利-拉特纳在最近的《外交事务》一文中坦率地指出:"自尼克松迈出和解的第一步以来,将近半个世纪的记录越来越清楚地表明,华盛顿又一次过分相信它有能力塑造中国的轨迹... 相反,中国走上了自己的道路,在此过程中违背了美国的一系列期望。”

Certainly, if the policy of engagement was intended to transform China’s internal system of governance, it has failed. Yet, if this was the goal, it was an act of remarkable hubris for a 250-year-old Republic (with one-quarter of China’s population) to believe that it could transform a 5,000-year-old civilization to its liking. However, if the goal of American policy was to encourage the emergence of China as a “responsible stakeholder” (to use the words of Robert Zoellick), the policy may well have succeeded. A comprehensive study done by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), the American Friends Service Committee, and four independent researchers has documented that China’s behavior was altered by various policies of engagement, particularly as it pertains to reducing climate change, improving public health, and global financial stability. Former State Department official Susan Thornton, who oversaw the study as director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at NCAFP, said: “This audit of U.S.-China diplomacy shows that we can make progress through negotiations and that China follows through on its commitments. The notion that engagement with China did not benefit the U.S. is just not accurate.” Indeed, the record shows that there is wisdom contained in the moral of Aesop’s “The North Wind and the Sun”: “Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.”

当然,如果接触政策的目的是改造中国的内部治理体系,那么它已经失败了。然而,如果这是目标的话,一个拥有 250 年历史的共和国(人口仅为中国的四分之一)竟然认为自己可以按照自己的意愿改造一个拥有 5000 年历史的文明,这无疑是一种非常狂妄的行为。然而,如果美国政策的目标是鼓励中国成为 "负责任的利益攸关方"(用罗伯特-佐利克的话说),那么这项政策很可能已经成功了。美国外交政策全国委员会、美国公谊会服务委员会和四位独立研究人员所做的一项综合研究表明,中国的行为受到了各种接触政策的影响,尤其是在减少气候变化、改善公共卫生和全球金融稳定方面。美国国务院前官员苏珊-桑顿在担任 NCAFP 亚太安全论坛主任期间负责监督这项研究,她说: "对美中外交的审计表明,我们可以通过谈判取得进展,而中国也会履行其承诺。认为与中国接触对美国没有好处的说法是不准确的。”事实上,记录表明,伊索的《北风和太阳》寓意中蕴含着智慧: "在武力和虚张声势无法奏效的地方,温柔和善意的劝说会取得胜利"。

One fundamental problem is that domestic politics in America are forcing American policymakers to take strident stands against China instead of pragmatic positions. For instance, sanctions preventing the Chinese Defense Minister, Li Shangfu, from traveling to the United States are standing in the way of U.S.-China defense dialogues to prevent military accidents. Yet, the hands of the U.S. government are tied. It cannot lift sanctions, even if they have proved to be ineffective at securing American policy goals.


This is why the time has come for America to do a major reevaluation of the methods it uses to secure foreign policy goals. Its go-to tactic of imposing sanctions has failed to either halt China’s technological development or influence China’s behavior in any significant way, and most countries do not find that it is in their interests to go along with them. Are there more effective alternatives to sanctions?


In a statement explaining the Biden administration’s approach to China, Anthony Blinken said in May 2022: “we’ll compete with confidence; we’ll cooperate wherever we can; we’ll contest where we must.” We agree with this approach. Rather than undermining its own interests and fortifying a geopolitical and economic competitor, America should practice a more enlightened technology policy. The focus must be placed on initiatives that sustainably support and extend America’s innovation leadership, while surgically removing specific national security threats.

2022 年 5 月,安东尼-布林肯在一份解释拜登政府对华态度的声明中说:"我们将满怀信心地竞争;我们将尽可能地合作;我们将在必要的地方较量。”我们同意这种做法。美国不应损害自身利益,强化地缘政治和经济竞争对手,而应奉行更加开明的技术政策。重点必须放在可持续地支持和扩大美国创新领导力的举措上,同时通过外科手术消除具体的国家安全威胁。

In lieu of a zero-sum framing of the U.S.-China technology competition, a sustainable structure for collaboration is beneficial to both countries and humanity. Most Western emissions reductions targets cannot be met without participation from China, who hold many of the patents and core inputs for solar, wind, and electric battery power. Joint research programs, clinical trials and data sets are critical for solving chronic global health issues like cancer. Decoupled technology ecosystems not only impede advancement, but also create other endemic risks resulting from parallel development and unilateral regulation. Unchecked growth in potential doomsday technologies like artificial intelligence or nuclear immediately comes to mind. Continuing to welcome scientific talent from China to study, work and settle down in the United States is beneficial for the scientific progress of both countries as well. These scientists can act as a bridge towards scientific collaboration between the United States and China.


The American government should also consider rebooting in full all the high-level dialogues that had been initiated by the Bush administration, continued by the Obama administration, and ended by the Trump administration. A resumption of high-level dialogues, together with the establishment of a high-level science and technology dialogue bringing together the top scientists from both countries, could well result in more positive outcomes for American long-term national interests.


Initially, this great power collaboration could be focused on areas where both sides have common long-term interests (like climate change, pandemic preparedness, global economic stability, education). When basic levels of trust are established, dialogue and cooperation can be expanded step by step. None of these moves will result in a diminution of American power and standing in the world. Indeed, America’s prestige and standing could well rise as the rest of the world sees America pursuing reasonable policies that are serving both American and global interests. America will remain the most admired country in the world, if it pursues a wiser course with China.


This essay is published in cooperation with the Asian Peace Programme at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute.