新闻来源：The Wire China；作者：ORVILLE SCHELL
翻译：草根文人；校对：Julia Win；Page: 拱卒
The Death of Engagement / 中美接触终止
Part VIII / 第八部
To find myself standing under Mao’s gaze on the steps of the Great Hall of the People once again, this time waiting with President Xi for President Trump to arrive, was surreal.
When Trump moved into the White House in 2017, he and his “base” were strangely reminiscent of Mao Zedong himself and his populist peasant movement occupying the imperial Zhongnanhai complex near the Forbidden City in 1949. Indeed, if Trump was a reader, he might have found some of Mao’s writings agreeable, especially his famous dictum, “Without destruction there can be no construction” (不破不立). For like Mao, Trump had an innate predilection for wanting to “overturn” (翻身) established structures.
A banquet in the Forbidden City, an honor guard, and a 21-gun salute in the Square promised all the pageantry of a big-budget film. But if the sets were grand, the performances were surprisingly flat. When he finally arrived, Trump was predictably preening and vain while Xi was characteristically supercilious and undemonstrative. Even though Trump had boasted after their Mar-a-Lago meeting that he and Xi were “great friends,” neither now evinced any more genuine sentiment than Mao’s dour Mona Lisa-like portrait hanging on Tiananmen Gate.
Trump and Xi Jinping pose for a photo ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters 2019年6月29日，川普和习近平在日本大坂的G20领导人峰会上，在他们的双边会谈前合影。 图片来源：路透社Kevin Lamarque
While Xi had been propagandizing for his “China Dream” and a “China rejuvenation” (中国复兴), Trump had been extolling his “Make America Great Again” fantasy in which one key element was “leveling the U.S.-China playing field.” Alas, Xi’s roadmap for rebirth, meanwhile, had no place for China to submissively integrate itself into the pre-existing liberal, American-led global order. Instead, he saw a muscular China now prosperous and powerful enough to act out unapologetically and unilaterally on the world stage. The more benign part of Xi’s dream envisioned Chinese influence expanding globally through an ambitious master plan of interlocking global projects such as the BRICs Bank, The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
But there was also a darker side to Xi’s grand ambitions that grew out of his paranoid fixation on the idea of “hostile foreign forces” (外国敌对势力) perennially and covertly arrayed against China. Xi’s vision was one that seemed bent on fomenting a latter-day “clash of civilizations.” He insisted that “history and reality have told us that only with socialism can we save China,” and that “the eventual demise of capitalism and the ultimate victory of socialism would be a long historical process, a struggle between our two social systems.” China, he’d begun proclaiming, was “blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization.”
“The U.S. needs to recognize that Xi Jinping’s Third Revolution presents a new model of Chinese behavior at home and adjust its expectations and policies accordingly,” warned the Council on Foreign Relation’s Elizabeth Economy.
“Not only has China become wealthier and more powerful, but less willing to hide its disdain for its critic’s views,” observed the Australian Lowy Institute China specialist Richard McGregor. “Xi has articulated a willingness to leverage Beijing’s elevated power to press the ruling communist party’s ambitions with a force and coherence that his predecessors lacked.”
But, he concluded, “Beijing cannot bully its way to superpower status without engendering a strong pushback from other countries, which is exactly what is happening.”
A relationship between China and the United States rooted in “engagement” crumbled under Trump and Xi Jinping. Credit: Shealah Craighead 植根于“接触战略”的中美关系在川普和习近平下分崩离析 图片来源：Shealah Craighead
While Trump may be a proverbial bull in a China shop, it was not him who initially and unilaterally abrogated engagement’s tacit compact. Nor was it China’s economic rise that voided it in a neo-Thucydides trap. Instead, it was Hu Jintao’s inattention to the growing imbalances in the relationship and Xi Jinping’s increasingly belligerent refusal to make any concessionary adjustments and be more reciprocal that finally over-burdened it. With Xi’s abandonment of the notion of a “peaceful rise,” his accelerated military modernization, eschewal of market reforms, and his increasingly unyielding posture in the South and East China Seas, the Taiwan Straits, and Hong Kong, the Trump administration finally acknowledged that engagement was no longer working in U.S. interests and instead declared China a “strategic competitor” and a “rival power.”
Chinese forces lined up as Trump boarded Air Force One to depart from China after his 2017 trip. After a lackluster meeting, the relationship between the United States and China continued to deteriorate. Shealah Craighead/White House 2017年访问后，中共国军队列队欢送川普登上空军一号离开中共国。在乏味的会议后，美国和中共国的关系继续恶化。 图片来源：白宫 Shealah Craighead
Then, in 2018, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a major policy speech that dramatically reset the terms of the new game: “Previous administrations made this choice [to engage China] in the hope that freedom in China would expand in all of its forms — not just economically, but politically, with a newfound respect for classical liberal principles, private property, personal liberty, religious freedom — the entire family of human rights,” said Pence. “That hope has gone unfulfilled.”
His talk led to a debate on the need to “decouple” aspects of our now intimately intertwined economies, even the close relationships that our universities and civil society organizations have forged with Chinese counterparts.
翻译：海阔天空；PR：Julia Win；Page: 拱卒
The Death of Engagement / 中美接触终止
Part IX / 第九部
If a mourner was to erect a tombstone to engagement, the epitaph might read:
Engagement: Born 1972, Died Tragically of Neglect, 2020.
In making my own genuflection before such a monument to the policy that had been the North Star of my life as a China watcher, I’d rue engagement’s loss as a completely unnecessary tragedy. I also wonder: What possessed Chinese Party leaders, and then Trump, to so recklessly kill a policy that had not only kept the peace for five decades, but allowed China to undergo just the kind of economic development and national rejuvenation that its people have dreamed of for decades? Xi’s muscular approach may be propitiating certain ultra-nationalists at home, but it was also pulling down the keystone of the global archway that upheld China’s integration into the world and antagonizing so many once collaborative foreign partners. Was this really in China’s future interest? In short, what compelling Chinese national interest was served by undermining engagement?
In the end, engagement’s end could not be blamed on any lack of American commitment or effort. It seems to me that the U.S. has shown unprecedented creativity, first by entertaining a vision of peaceful transformation of a once militant, Marxists-Leninist state and then by showing remarkable diplomatic leadership — and patience — in shepherding that vision through so many presidential administrations. As Kissinger recently put it, “our hope was that the values of the two sides would come closer together.”
To many, it had become evident that the relationship between the United States and China was unbalanced. Credit: Pete Souza/White House 对许多人来说，中美关系的不平衡已经很明显。（来源:Pete Souza/White House）
Such a hope may now seem almost naïve. However, the alternative in 1972 was an on-going Cold War, perhaps even a hot war. Engagement was a chance worth taking and there were many inflection points during its twisted progress when things might have worked out very differently. (One thinks of 1989.) That they didn’t was not due to a lack of U.S. strategic thinking, diplomatic effort, or willingness to be flexible. Engagement failed because of the CCP’s deep ambivalence about the way engaging in a truly meaningful way might lead to demands for more reform and change and its ultimate demise.
Without political reform and the promise of China transitioning to become more soluble in the existing world order, engagement no longer has a logic for the U.S. Beijing’s inability to reform, evolve, and make the bilateral relationship more reciprocal, open and level finally rendered the policy inoperable. Because Xi Jinping viewed just such changes threatening his one-party rule, there came to be an irreconcilable contradiction at the heart of engagement that killed it.
So, what happens now? Is it too late to arrest our slide and devise a new post-engagement policy of engagement to guide ourselves out of the present downward spiral that Kissinger has described as putting us in “the foothills” of a new Cold War, with consequences that are potentially more disastrous than World War I?”
The two presidents should declare a state of urgency, appoint trusted high-level plenipotentiaries and mandate them to form teams of specialists from business, policy, and academia to formulate a set of possible scenarios for lowering the temperature in each of the most important realms of the bi-lateral relationship. Once both national teams have designed their own roadmaps for getting out of our present impasse, they should convene jointly to hammer out several mutually acceptable possibilities, and present them to their respective presidents. The presidents should then convene an emergency special summit dedicated to finding an off-ramp.
Whether the two current presidents are up to such a challenge is far from certain, because the leadership skills required — creativity, flexibility, reciprocity, openness, transparency, and boldness — are precisely those they lack. The CCP’s rigid commitment to a one-party system and fear that flexibility will be perceived as weakness makes it allergic to exactly the kind of give-and-take necessary to bridge such a wide divide. And even though Trump has not misjudged China’s intentions, he is so erratic, uninformed and thin-skinned it is hard to imagine him being able to bring about a breakthrough between our two countries that are no longer divided just by trade issues, but by a far wider set of discontinuities and contradictions that are made more irreconcilable by our two opposing political systems and value sets.
But for those tempted to wait for a new administration, it is worth pointing out that neither Trump nor Xi have yet attacked the other in an ad hominem way, thus leaving the door still ajar for a one-on-one interaction. But because antagonisms are escalating rapidly, time is very short. For such a plan to be successful, Washington would have to be ready to acknowledge it will not be able to resolve the most fundamental systemic issues dividing Beijing from Washington and forgo regime change as an end game. Beijing would have to be willing to set its paranoia and victimization narrative aside and then temper its global belligerence to focus on areas where common interest still prevails. Right now, the kind of grand hopes of convergence that once animated earlier iterations of engagement are unrealistic. We must settle instead for a far more minimalist agenda, one that would allow us to pragmatically work together on those issues — public health, trade, climate change, and nuclear proliferation — where the mutual interest is obvious and urgent.
Nixon told the world that his trip to China “demonstrated that nations with deep and fundamental differences can learn to discuss those differences calmly, rationally and frankly without compromising their principles.” Credit: Oliver F. Atkins 尼克松告诉全世界，他的中共国之行表明，“有深刻和根本分歧的国家可以学会冷静、理性和坦率地讨论这些分歧，而不妥协自己的原则。” 来源:奥利弗·f·阿特金斯
Finally, both sides would have to recognize that even in times of deep division there are still issues of critical common interest that can be jointly addressed. It is helpful to remind ourselves that the U.S. and China have squared this circle before, and it is here that the Nixon-Kissinger breakthrough in 1972 is worth re-studying. As Nixon then observed to Premier Zhou, “we have common interests that transcend those differences” and “while we cannot close the gulf between us, we can try and bridge it so that we may be able to talk across it.”
Such a meager vision is enough to make one nostalgic for the grandness of scale and optimism, if naiveté, of our old engagement dream. But perhaps the best we can now hope for, is to find enough common ground to keep tension in “the foothills” rather than allowing them to escalate and ascend into the alpine peaks of a new cold war.
编辑：【喜马拉雅战鹰团】Edited by：【Himalaya Hawk Squad】