What Could Cause a US-China War?Mar 2, 2021JOSEPH S. NYE, JR.Thucydides attributed the war that ripped apart the ancient Greek world to two causes: the rise of Athenian power, and the fear that this created in the established power, Sparta. To prevent a new cold or hot war, the US and China must avoid exaggerated fears and misperceptions about changing power relations.修昔底德把导致古希腊分裂的战争归为两个原因：雅典的兴起以及斯巴达作为守成力量对这一兴起所引发的恐惧。对中美来说，如何避免一场冷战或热战，两国必须尽力避免由于力量平衡的变化所带来过分的恐惧和误判。CAMBRIDGE – When China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, recently called for a reset of bilateral relations with the United States, a White House spokesperson replied that the US saw the relationship as one of strong competition that required a position of strength. It is clear that President Joe Biden’s administration is not simply reversing Trump’s policies.CAMBRIDGE –中国的外交部长王毅最近呼吁中美应该重置两国关系，而白宫的发言人的回应是由于两国关系是最重要的竞争关系，美国需要在这一竞争中保持一个强有力的地位。很清楚，拜登政府不会简单地推翻特朗普政府的政策。Some analysts, citing Thucydides’ attribution of the Peloponnesian War to Sparta’s fear of a rising Athens, believe the US-China relationship is entering a period of conflict pitting an established hegemon against an increasingly powerful challenger.一些学者根据修昔底德的伯罗奔尼撒战争的缘起于斯巴达对新兴起的雅典恐惧，而判定中美关系已经陷入了一个守成霸权与新兴起的竞争对手之间的冲突时期。I am not that pessimistic. In my view, economic and ecological interdependence reduces the probability of a real cold war, much less a hot one, because both countries have an incentive to cooperate in a number of areas. At the same time, miscalculation is always possible, and some see the danger of “sleepwalking” into catastrophe, as happened with World War I.我不那么悲观。据我看来，经济上的和社会上的相互依存会减少发生冷战的可能性，更不用说热战了，因为双方都有动力在很多领域进行合作。同时，误判形势总是存在的，一些人看到的是犹如一战时那样，双方稀里糊涂地走向灾难地危险。History is replete with cases of misperception about changing power balances. For example, when President Richard Nixon visited
China in 1972, he wanted to balance what he saw as a growing Soviet threat to a declining America. But what Nixon interpreted as decline was really the return to normal of America’s artificially high share of global output after World War II.历史上对由于力量平衡变化而导致的错误看法数不胜数。比如，尼克松在1972年访问中国时，他想要的是要平衡处于实力上升期的苏联对实力下降的美国所造成的威胁。但他所看到的所谓的实力下降只不过是由于二战的原因造成美国GDP在世界上虚高而回归正常的一种现象。Nixon proclaimed multipolarity, but what followed was the end of the Soviet Union and America’s unipolar moment two decades later. Today, some Chinese analysts underestimate America’s resilience and predict Chinese dominance, but this, too, could turn out to be a dangerous miscalculation.尼克松推行多边主义，二十年后的结果却是苏联的解体和美国进入单极霸权的时代。今天，一些中国学者低估了美国的韧性认为中国会成为主导力量也是一种危险的误判。It is equally dangerous for Americans to over- or underestimate Chinese power, and the US contains groups with economic and political incentives to do both. Measured in dollars, China’s economy is about two-thirds the size of the US economy, but many economists expect China to surpass the US sometime in the 2030s, depending on what one assumes about Chinese and American growth rates.同样危险的是美国过高或者过低地估计中国的实力， 而在美国确实是有些人由于经济和政治的诱因而这样做。以美元计价，中国的经济大约是美国的2/3，但是很多经济学家都估计中国会在2030年左右（取决于他们用什么样的增长速度来对中美的发展做估算）超越美国。Will American leaders acknowledge this change in a way that permits a constructive relationship, or will they succumb to fear? Will Chinese leaders take more risks, or will Chinese and Americans learn to cooperate in producing global public goods under a changing distribution of power?
美国的领导人会不会认识到这种变化仍然是可能给双方带来建设性关系的呢？抑或陷入恐惧？同时中国的领导人会不会采取更冒险的步骤？或者中美会在这种力量平衡发生变化的情况下，尝试相互合作来为全球提供公共产品？Recall that Thucydides attributed the war that ripped apart the ancient Greek world to two causes: the rise of a new power, and the fear
that this created in the established power. The second cause is as important as the first. The US and China must avoid exaggerated fears that could create a new cold or hot war.回顾一下，修昔底德把导致古希腊分裂的战争归为两个原因：新兴力量的兴起以及守成力量对这一兴起所引发的恐惧。 第二个原因同第一个一样重要。中国和美国必须要避免这种夸张的恐惧从而引发一场新的冷战或热战。Even if China surpasses the US to become the world’s largest economy, national income is not the only measure of geopolitical power. China ranks well behind the US in soft power, and US military expenditure is nearly four times that of China. While Chinese military capabilities have been increasing in recent years, analysts who look carefully at the military balance conclude that China will not, say, be able to exclude the US from the Western Pacific.即使中国超越美国成为世界上最大的经济体，但是一个国家的经济收入仅仅是衡量地缘政治的一个方面。中国的软实力远远落后于美国，而且美国的军事开支几乎是中国的四倍。虽然中国的军事实力最近几年得到发展，但经过对军事实力平衡的仔细的分析，学者们认为一般来说中国没有能力把美国从西太平洋排挤出去。On the other hand, the US was once the world’s largest trading economy and its largest bilateral lender. Today, nearly 100 countries
count China as their largest trading partner, compared to 57 for the US. China plans to lend more than $1 trillion for infrastructure projects with its Belt and Road Initiative over the next decade, while the US has cut back aid. China will gain economic power from the sheer size of its market as well as its overseas investments and development assistance. China’s overall power relative to the US is likely to increase.另外一方面，美国曾经是世界上最大的贸易体，也是最大的债权国。而今天，大约有100个国家把中国当作最大的贸易伙伴，美国只有57个。在下个十年，中国打算通过一带一路发放1万多亿美元的贷款，与此同时，美国已经在减少援助。中国能从其巨大的市场及海外投资和发展援助中获得经济实力。今后中国的整体实力同美国相比很可能会增加。Nonetheless, balances of power are hard to judge. The US will retain some long-term power advantages that contrast with areas of Chinese vulnerability.
尽管如此，力量平衡是很难判断的。美国拥有一些长期的优势，这些优势恰恰是中国的劣势。One is geography. The US is surrounded by oceans and neighbors that are likely to remain friendly. China has borders with 14 countries, and territorial disputes with India, Japan, and Vietnam set limits on its hard and soft power.其中一个是地理位置。美国周边要么是大洋要么是友好的邻国。而中国同14个国家接壤，同印度，日本和越南有领土纠纷，所以限制了其硬实力和软实力。Energy is another area where America has an advantage. A decade ago, the US was dependent on imported energy, but the shale revolution transformed North America from an energy importer to exporter. At the same time, China became more dependent on energy imports from the Middle East, which it must transport along sea routes that highlight its problematic relations with India.能源是另一个美国具有优势的领域。十年前，美国依赖于进口能源，但随着页岩技术的突破性的进展北美已从石油进口国变成了出口国。与此同时，中国变得越来越依赖从中东进口能源，其运油的海洋通道在同印度的复杂的关系中显得尤为重要。The US also has demographic advantages. It is the only major developed country that is projected to hold its global ranking (third) in terms of population. While the rate of US population growth has slowed in recent years, it will not turn negative, as in Russia, Europe, and Japan. China, meanwhile, rightly fears “growing old before it grows rich.” India will soon overtake it as the most populous country, and its labor force peaked in 2015.美国也具有人口优势。她是唯一的能保持人口第三的发达国家。虽然，近几年美国的人口增长率变慢了，但她并没有像俄罗斯，欧洲，日本一样变成负增长。中国倒确确实实地担心“未富先老”的情况。印度将成为人口最多的国家，它的劳动力在2015年达到了高峰。America also remains at the forefront in key technologies (bio, nano, information) that are central to twenty-first-century economic
growth. China is investing heavily in research and development, and competes well in some fields. But 15 of the world’s top 20 research universities are in the US; none is in China.美国同时也是关键技术（生物，纳米，信息）的先行者，这些技术是二十一世纪经济发展的中心。中国正在研发上投入重金，在有些领域确实也竞争得不错。但是，在全世界20个最好的研究性大学中，美国占有15个，中国一个没有。Those who proclaim Pax Sinica and American decline fail to take account of the full range of power resources. American hubris is always a danger, but so is exaggerated fear, which can lead to overreaction. Equally dangerous is rising Chinese nationalism, which, combined with a belief in American decline, leads China to take greater risks. Both sides must beware miscalculation. After all, more often than not, the greatest risk we face is our own capacity for error.那些宣称中国崛起和美国衰退的人并没有考虑所有的力量组成成分。美国的傲慢是一种危险，但过分夸大恐惧而导致反应过度也是一样的危险。同样地，中国的民族主义加上美国衰落一说，也会增大中国采取鲁莽行动危险。双方必须都清楚误判的情形。总体来说，更多的时候我们面对的最大的危险是我们自己犯错。
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