Report 223 / Asia

南海翻波(一)

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执行摘要

中国各政府部门间权责相互冲突,缺乏协调,加之其中多个机构试图利用南海局势来扩张权力,扩大预算,从而对该海域的紧张局势起到了煽风点火的作用。不同机构或个人不断提议建立更集中的机制来管理南海事务,却都杳无下文。外交部是唯一授权具有协调职能的部门,却不具备管理其它各机构的权威或资源。中国海军利用海域紧张局势来推行部队现代化,而领土争端又煽起了民族主义情绪,这些因素使得问题更加错综复杂。而更可能引发冲突的当下之忧是不断增多的执法和准军事船只,它们在争议领土内日益活跃,但缺乏明确的法律框架作指导。在近期的多数事件中,包括2012年4月开始中国和菲律宾在黄岩岛的长时间对峙,都有它们的参与。若要解决任何未来的南海争端,中国政府必须制定一致政策,要求各级政府统一执行,并保证有强制实施政策的能力。

对有关管理南海所涉及到的中国各政府部门间缺乏协调的局面,中国海事政策圈用“九龙闹海”来形容。这些部门中的大多数一直以来都是内政机构,缺乏外交事务经验。其中一些部门为了争抢财政拨款互相竞争,而另一些部门(主要为地方政府)则一门心思发展经济,因此企图在争议地区扩张各自的经济活动。尽管这些动机均源自国内考量,但它们的活动造成的国际影响却愈发深远。造成紧张局势升级的还有其它因素,其中既有中国内部因素也有外部因素,但外部因素不在本报告的研究范围之内。在另一篇报告里,我们将集中讨论有关的地区动态,如军备升级、资源竞争和在其它声索国内日益上涨的民族主义情绪。

由于需要保卫的领土领海范围还未得到明确定义,各机构间的有效协调因而更加困难。中国目前尚未公开阐明所谓九段线的法律地位,在大多数中国地图上该九段线圈围着大部分南海。为了打消邻国疑虑,外交部已采取措施力图说服它们中国并未对整个南海提出声索,并曾援用《联合国海洋法公约》(UNCLOS)作为领土要求的部分依据,但对相当一部分南海地区,中国把过去在该地区有过历史活动作为声索主权的依据,在这些地区中国政府不可能轻易让步。地方政府机构在争议地区进行活动时,正是利用了这一法律不明确性。

中国政府一贯强调南海诸岛历史上为中国所有,从而刻意为该地区的领土争端渲染民族主义情绪。这一政策致使国内民众日益要求中国政府采取果断行动。虽然迄今为止当中国政府采取具体行动时都还能够约束民族主义情绪,但群情激愤的国内环境仍然制约了政府政策抉择及其应付问题的能力。

2011年中,由于海上紧张局势导致邻国寻求同美国加强军事关系,中国的态度有所缓和。虽然中国政府总体上依然强调以双边谈判来维持现状,但北京也正通过高层访问和多边接触(其中包括同东南亚国家联盟(ASEAN)签订了《南海各方行为宣言》(DOC)实施准则)来巩固地区关系。

对内,中国已经采取了措施平息民族主义情绪,并力图劝阻地方部门采取过激行动,但中国目前的行事特征仍然是数个部级机构和执法部门争相插手,同时既无有效协调机制,也无高层制定的长远政策。建立海事管理集中机制的努力屡次失败表明北京缺乏解决协调问题的政治意愿,而中国政府也可能从模棱两可的政策中看到了好处。然而,只要这一局面存在,中国政府新的和解策略将不太可能持久。中国处理南海各方关系及化解争端的能力将成为对中国和平崛起的重大考验。

北京/布鲁塞尔,2012年4月23日

Executive Summary

The conflicting mandates and lack of coordination among Chinese government agencies, many of which strive to increase their power and budget, have stoked tensions in the South China Sea. Repeated proposals to establish a more centralised mechanism have foundered while the only agency with a coordinating mandate, the foreign ministry, does not have the authority or resources to manage other actors. The Chinese navy’s use of maritime tensions to justify its modernisation, and nationalist sentiment around territorial claims, further compound the problem. But more immediate conflict risks lie in the growing number of law enforcement and paramilitary vessels playing an increasing role in disputed territories without a clear legal framework. They have been involved in most of the recent incidents, including the prolonged standoff between China and the Philippines in April 2012 in Scarborough Reef. Any future solution to the South China Sea disputes will require a consistent policy from China executed uniformly throughout the different levels of government along with the authority to enforce it.

China’s maritime policy circles use the term “Nine dragons stirring up the sea” to describe the lack of coordination among the various government agencies involved in the South China Sea. Most of them have traditionally been domestic policy actors with little experience in foreign affairs. While some agencies act aggressively to compete with one another for greater portions of the budget pie, others (primarily local governments) attempt to expand their economic activities in disputed areas due to their single-minded focus on economic growth. Yet despite the domestic nature of their motivations, the implications of their activities are increasingly international. Other factors – both internal and external to China – have also been responsible for increasing tensions, but they are beyond the scope of this study. Regional dynamics, including arms build-ups, competition for resources and increasing nationalist sentiment in other claimant countries are the subject of a separate report.

Effective coordination of actors is also hampered by a lack of clarity over precisely what is supposed to be defended. China has yet to publicly clarify the legal status of the so-called nine-dashed line that appears on most Chinese maps, encompassing most of the South China Sea. While the foreign ministry has taken steps to try to reassure its neighbours that Beijing does not claim the entire South China Sea and has at least partially justified its claims on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the government cannot easily back down from claims to significant portions of the sea that are based on historical presence in the region. Local government agencies take advantage of this lack of legal clarity when engaging in activities in disputed areas.

Beijing has deliberately imbued the South China Sea disputes with nationalist sentiment by perpetually highlighting China’s historical claims. This policy has led to a growing domestic demand for assertive action. While Beijing has been able to rein in nationalist sentiment over the South China Sea when it adopts a specific policy, this heated environment still limits its policy options and its ability to manage the issue.

In mid-2011, as tensions in the sea led to neighbouring countries seeking closer military ties with the U.S., China adopted a less assertive approach. While Beijing’s overall emphasis on maintaining the status quo still includes a preference for bilateral negotiations, it is strengthening regional relations through high-level visits and multilateral engagement by signing with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) in the South China Sea.

Internally, China has taken measures to calm nationalist sentiment and discourage aggressive actions by local agencies. However, China’s current approach remains characterised by numerous ministerial-level actors and law enforcement agencies with no effective coordinating authority and no high-level long-term policy. While repeated and failed attempts to establish a centralised mechanism on maritime management show a lack of political will to address the coordination issue, Beijing might also see benefit in ambiguity. As long as this situation exists, however, its new conciliatory approach is unlikely to be sustainable. Ultimately, the ability to manage relations in the South China Sea and resolve disputes will present a major test of China’s peaceful rise.

Beijing/Brussels, 23 April 2012

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