무기와 쟁기가 섞여 있다. 한 해를 마감하는 올해 세밑에도 세계의 ‘중국 고민’은 깊어간다. 북대서양조약기구(나토)는 창설 70주년을 맞아 마침내 새로운 ‘주적’을 지목했다. 소련과 바르샤바조약기구를 상대하기 위해 결성된 대서양 동맹은 지난 4일 런던 선언에서 중국의 부상을 ‘기회’와 ‘도전’으로 규정하고 29개 회원국들이 함께 대처할 것을 다짐했다.

 

소련처럼 명백한 적으로 규정한 것은 아니다. 중국의 군비증강에 주목하면서 중거리핵전력(INF) 협정을 비롯한 군축체제에 들어올 것을 매우 완곡하게 권했다. 옌스 스톨텐베르그 나토 사무총장은 “중국의 부상은 1차원적인 문제가 아니다”라며 경제적 공생의 필요성을 먼저 인정했다. 그러면서 나토가 향후 중국을 어떻게 합당한 군축체제에 포함시킬 수 있을지를 탐색하는 작업을 시작한 데 의미를 부여했다. 중국에 대한 경고는커녕 제스처에 가깝다.

 

미국 성조기(왼쪽)와 중국 오성홍기가 베이징의 한 호텔 입구에 나란히 걸려 있다. AFP통신은 지난 5월14일 촬영한 자료 사진을 최근 다시 내보내면서 중국은 미국과의 무역협상 타결 여부와 상관없이 가장 중요한 교역국이자 최대 위협인 미국에 대한 의존도를 낮추기 시작했다고 짚었다.         베이징AFP연합뉴스

 

중국에 미국 스스로 파기한 INF에 들어오라고 권유하는 것은 앞뒤가 바뀐 도널드 트럼프 시대의 모순이기도 하다. 회원국 중 국내총생산(GDP)의 2% 이상 동맹 분담금을 내는 8개국 정상과만 밥을 먹은 트럼프의 유치한 행동은 나토 70주년이 남긴, 그나마 기억에 남을 장면이었다.

 

전 세계에서 중국을 상대로 어르고 달랠 수 있는 국가는 미국만 남았다. 구글과 아마존과 같은 거대 IT기업을 비롯한 산업계와 학계 등 미국 민간부문은 이미 중국식 요구에 적응하고 있다. 백악관과 행정부, 연방의회만 중국에 맞서 종래의 아메리칸 파워를 휘두르고 있을 뿐이다. 중국 국방백서가 발표된 지난 7월24일부터 이틀 동안 미 해군 7함대 군함들은 보란 듯이 대만해협에서 ‘일상적인 항행’을 했다. 미국 국방부는 6월1일자 인도·태평양 전략 보고서에서 중국을 겨냥해 관계를 강화해야 할 이 지역의 민주주의 국가로 싱가포르·뉴질랜드·몽골과 함께 대만을 포함시켰다. 도널드 트럼프 미국 행정부가 지난해 1월22일 중국산 세탁기에 관세를 부과한 것을 시작으로 2년 가까이 끌고 있는 미·중 무역협상은 1단계 합의를 앞두고 있다. 하지만 트럼프 대통령 임기가 끝나더라도 계속될 가능성이 높다. 내년 11월 대선에 출사표를 던진 민주당, 공화당 예비주자들이 중국에 관한 한 한목소리를 내고 있기 때문이다. 엘리자베스 워런 상원의원(민주)은 트럼프보다 더 공격적인 대중 정책을 촉구하고 있다. 미국의 대중 전략은 중국과 함께 살아가야 하는 세계에 심대한 의미를 갖는다. 올 한해 미국 내에서 제기돼온 중국 담론을 들여다봐야 하는 까닭이다.

 

역사학자 니알 퍼거슨은 2019년을 중국과의 신냉전(New Cold War)이 시작된 원년이라고 단호하게 지적했다. 올해를 기점으로 트럼프라는 이단아의 중국관이 통념이 됐다는 판단에서다. 미국 내에서 회자되는 근거는 8월 발표된 퓨리서치센터의 여론조사 결과다. 중국에 대한 비호감 응답자가 60%로 2005년 같은 조사를 시작한 이후 가장 높게 나타났다. 트럼프가 취임한 2017년 조사에서 호감(47%)과 비호감(44%)이 근접했던 것에 비하면 엄청난 변화다. 하지만 중국 경제발전이 미국에 어떤 것이냐는 질문에는 50%가 ‘좋은 일’이라고 답했다.

 

도널드 트럼프 미국 대통령(왼쪽)과 시진핑 중국 국가주석이 지난 6월29일 일본 오사카에서 열린 주요 20개국(G20) 정상회의를 계기로 만나 정상회담 전 포즈를 취하고 있다. 양국은 작년 1월부터 시작된 무역분쟁을 종식하고 ‘1단계 합의안’ 서명을 앞두고 있다. 오사카 AP연합뉴스

 

퍼거슨은 뉴욕타임스 기고문에서 “트럼프가 미·중 무역합의에서 해빙을 시도한다고 해도 냉전은 돌이킬 수 없을 것”이라고 내다봤다. 미국 대통령이 신냉전의 촉매는 될 수 있을지언정 이를 중단할 능력은 없기 때문이다. 올해 3대 미·중 갈등으로 화웨이의 5G 네트워크를 둘러싼 기술 경쟁과 신장 위구르 인권과 이념 갈등, 위안화 환율을 둘러싼 통화전쟁을 꼽았다. 흥미로운 것은 그가 말하는 냉전의 성격이다. 그는 “이번 냉전은 더 추울 것”이라면서도 냉전시대 쿠바 미사일위기처럼 종말론적인 무력대치 가능성은 없다고 짚었다. 미·중 신냉전의 주전장은 경제적·기술적 경쟁이 될 것이라고 분석했다. 냉전이 '무기경쟁'이었다면, 신냉전은 '쟁기경쟁'이라는 말이다. 중국의 위협을 과장하는 대신 중국과의 경쟁이 오히려 엄청난 혜택을 미국에 줄 것이라고 짚은 데서 퍼거슨의 혜안이 엿보인다. 그는 1950년대와 1960년대 미국 경제의 눈부신 발전은 바로 냉전 초기, 냉전과 관련해 집중했던 기술개발 덕이었음을 상기시키면서 신냉전이 비용보다는 이득이 많을 것이라는 긍정적인 측면을 짚었다.

 

국제문제 전문가 파리드 자카리아 역시 미국이 중국이라는 도전자의 실체를 인정할 필요가 있다고 강조했다. 신냉전이라는 말 대신 ‘신중국공포(New China Scare)’란 용어를 사용했을 뿐이다. 자카리아는 이달 초 포린어페어스 기고문에서 미국 내 중국경계론이 냉전시대의 ‘적색공포(Red Scare)’에 버금가는 수준이 됐다고 진단했다. 적색공포가 매카시즘과 같이 정치적으로 활용되거나, 과도한 군사비 지출로 이어졌던 것처럼 중국 공포를 제대로 규명하지 않는다면 같은 실수를 반복할 수 있다고 경고했다.

 

미국 내 광범위한 중국경계론은 우선 미국의 대중 관여(engagement)가 중국의 내적 발전과 외적 행동을 변환시키지 못했다는 판단에서 비롯된다. 중국의 대외정책이 규칙(rule)에 토대를 둔 자유주의 세계질서를 위협하며, 그렇기에 공세적 입장을 취해야 한다는 3단계 논리다. 자카리아의 팩트체크에는 주목할 대목이 많다.

 

우선 미국은 미·중 데탕트 이후 단 한번도 대중 억지를 하지 않은 적이 없다. 관여와 억지를 조합하는 전략을 구사해왔다. 대만에 대한 무기판매를 계속하는 방식으로 중국의 잠재적 위협을 분산(헤징)해오기도 했다. 탈냉전 뒤 국방예산 및 병력 감축과 해외기지 폐쇄를 하면서도 1995년 펜타곤의 아시아·태평양전략(나이 이니셔티브)에 따라 아시아 지역 군비만은 줄이지 않았다. 지금도 아시아에 10만명의 미군이 주둔하게된 배경이다. 조지 W. 부시 행정부는 중국을 겨냥해 인도를 핵보유국으로 인정했고, 버락 오바마 행정부는 호주 및 일본과 군사적 관계를 강화했다. 오바마 행정부의 환태평양경제동반자협정(TPP)의 전략적 목적 역시 중국 견제였다. 

 

올해 6월1일자로 발간된 미국 국방부의 인도태평양전략보고서의 표지다. 보고서는 1979년 미중 관계 정상화 이후 처음으로 대만을 미국이 중국을 겨냥해 관계를 확대해야 할 '국가'로 명시했다. 

 

 

 

중국이 자유주의 세계질서를 위협한다는 가정은 동전의 한면일 뿐이다. 중국 외교정책은 주권존중·영토통합·비(非)개입을 원칙으로 한다. 2500여명의 유엔 평화유지군을 파병하고 있다. 2000년부터 2018년까지 국제법과 규범을 위반, 세계질서를 위협한 국가들에 대한 안보리 제재 결의안 190개 중 182개를 지지했다. 중국이 국제질서의 수호자가 된 것은 바로 그 국제질서가 유지돼야만 국가적 명운을 걸고 있는 경제발전이 가능하기 때문이다. 중국의 기술 절도 및 불공정 교역·비즈니스 관행도 톺아봐야 한다는 게 자카리아의 주장이다. 그는 중국 경제의 성공은 시장기반 접근·높은 저축률·생산성 제고 등 3가지 요인 덕분이었지 이러한 ‘반칙’ 때문이 아니라면서 그 근거를 제시했다.

 

자카리아는 “중국의 무역관행이 매년 미국 경제성장률의 0.1%를 갉아먹는다”는 로렌스 서머스 전 미국 상무장관 주장을 반박하지는 않았다. 그러나 기술이전 강요, 불공정 교역관행, 외국기업의 시장접근 제한, 불공평한 규제 등 미국이 근래 중국에 제기하는 모든 불만이 정확하게 1980~1990년대 일본에 제기했던 문제들이라는 점을 상기시켰다. 과거 일본 공포론은 일본 경제가 침체에 빠지고 난 뒤에야 잦아들었다. 자카리아는 최근 몇년간 중국이 국영기업을 중심으로 사회주의 경제관행으로 퇴행하고 있지만 동시에 긍정적인 변화도 있다고 소개했다. 2015년 금융기업 크레딧 스위스의 보고서를 보면 통념과 다른 결과가 나온다.

 

1990~2013년 주요국의 외국 상품에 대한 비관세장벽 숫자에서 450개로 1위를 차지한 나라는 미국이었다. 중국은 인도·러시아 등에 이어 5위였다. 피터 나바로 백악관 무역·제조업 정책국장은 대중교역의 가장 심각한 문제로 지적재산권 절도를 꼽았다. 하지만 미·중 비즈니스협의회가 최근 소속 기업들을 상대로 조사한 ‘심각한 우려’ 순위에서 지재권 문제는 2014년 2위에서 6위로 내려갔다. 기업들은 경쟁기업에 대한 국가펀딩과 제품에 대한 승인 허가 지연을 가장 중요한 장애로 꼽았다. 중국이 베이징에 설립한 지재권 특별재판소는 2015년 외국기업들이 제기한 63개 소송에서 100% 원고의 손을 들어주었다.

 

자카리아는 시진핑 주석 이후 중국이 남중국해 섬의 군사기지화와 일대일로(BRI) 프로젝트 등 공세적으로 나선 것 역시 문제시만 할 것은 아니라고 보았다. 덩샤오핑이 도광양회(韜光養晦)를 당부하던 시절 세계경제의 1%에 불과했던 중국 경제는 이제 15%로 커졌다. 역사상 미국을 포함한 모든 나라가 경제규모가 커짐에 따라 군사력을 증강해왔다. 마이크 폼페이오 국무장관은 중국이 자국 방위에 필요한 규모 이상의 군비지출을 하고 있다면서 “‘제자리’를 지켜라”고 다소 경멸적인 발언도 내놓았다. 하지만 강대국의 다른 정의는 ‘자국 방위 이상을 염려하는 나라’이다. 경제적 강대국이 된 만큼 군사력의 확대는 어느정도 자연스러운 현상이라는 분석이다. 중국의 모든 외교적·군사적 움직임을 위협이라고 규정하기 전에 서방이 인정할 수 있는 편차(톨레랑스)와 넘지 말아야 할 선을 설정하라고 권고했다.

 

미국 인디애나주 브라운스버그에서 수확한 콩이 콤바인에서 내려지고 있다. AP통신이 미-중 무역협상 타결의 관련사진으로 최근 다시 전송한 자료사진이다. 중국은 지난 12월 6일 미국산 콩과 돼지고기에 대한 관세인상을 취소한다고 발표했다.  AP/연합뉴스

 

자카리아의 주장은 미국 민주당의 전통적인 대중 '포용(engagement)전략'과 맥이 닿아 있다. 미·중 상호의존도가 높아질수록 중국을 제어할 수단을 갖게 된다는 논리다. 이를 위해선 교역을 줄일 게 아니라 오히려 늘려야 한다. 매파들이 주장하는 중국 '고립(containment)전략'은 막대한 비용이 드는 데다가 성공 가능성이 낮다는 분석에 토대를 둔다. 화웨이의 5G 기술을 제한하려는 트럼프 정책이 대표적이다. 61개국에 화웨이 금지를 요청했지만, 현재까지 58개국이 외면하고 있다. 2차대전 이후 급성장한 독일과 일본, 한국은 모두 미국의 동맹국들이다. 멀리 황화론(黃禍論)까지 갈 것도 없다. 중국은 미국의 망토 밖에서 지역 강대국으로 성장한 첫번째 국가이며, 그렇기에 미국과 서방의 중국 위협론이 끊임없이 제기되는 것인지도 모른다는 게 자카리아 분석이다. 더구나 덩샤오핑이 꿈꾼 부(富)에 강(强)을 더한 시진핑 시대 들어 더 악화되는 서방의 대중국관이다. 

 

트럼프 행정부의 대중 전략은 중국이 1949년 건국 이후 100년 동안 세계를 지배하려는 야망을 끊임없이 키워왔다는 중국 위협론에 근거한다. 중앙정보국(CIA) 요원으로 냉전시절 미·중 비밀작전에 참가했던 마이클 필스버리 허드슨연구소 중국전략센터장의 저서 <백년의 마라톤>이 지침이다. 마이크 펜스 부통령은 작년 10월 허드슨연구소 연설에서 공산주의 국가인 중국의 위협을 한껏 강조했다. 자카리아는 그러나 협상 탁자에 중국이 앉을 자리를 제공하고 중국이 적응할 여지를 주어야 한다고 주장했다. 자카리아의 제언이 트럼프 행정부에 먹힐 가능성은 거의 없다. 하지만 균형 잡힌 중국 담론에 도움이 되는 생각들이다. 

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  1. gino's gino's 2020.04.01 15:13 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    자애로운 미국, 악의에 찬 중국?
    문정인 (연세대 명예특임교수) 호수 651 승인 2020.03.15 16:21프린트

    최근 트럼프 행정부가 강조하는 중국위협론은 1920년대 ‘황화론’을 떠올리게 한다. 미국 스스로 초래한 ‘서구의 실종 상태’에 대한 해법을 황화론에서 찾으려 한다면 문명충돌로 치달을 수밖에 없다.

    주최 측은 2차 세계대전 이후 미국과 서유럽을 중심으로 구축된 자유주의 세계질서와 다자주의 전통의 쇠락에 더해 미국의 국제 리더십 결여에 대한 경각심을 고취하기 위해 이 용어를 사용했다고 설명한다. 정작 미국의 시각은 달랐다. 마이크 폼페이오 국무장관은 유럽의 지도자들에게 ‘세계를 지배하려는 중국’에 대한 경각심을 촉구하는 한편, “서구는 승리하고 있다. 우리는 집단적으로 승리하고 있다. 우리는 이를 함께 이뤄내고 있다”라고 선언하며 ‘서구 실종론’을 일축했다. 물론 그가 말한 승리는 중국에 대한 승리였을 것이다.

    미국이 말하는 네 가지 중국의 위협
    이들이 말한 중국의 위협은 크게 네 가지로 나뉜다. 첫 번째는 군사적 위협이다. 중국은 2035년까지 인민해방군 현대화를 완료하고 2049년에는 세계 최강의 군사력으로 아시아 전역을 지배해 주변국뿐 아니라 전 세계에 군사적 위협을 가할 것이라는 전망이다. 두 번째는 경제적 위협이다. 일대일로(一帶一路) 정책으로 세계 각국에 침투함으로써 이들의 대(對)중국 경제 의존을 정치·군사적으로 악용할 것이라는 시나리오다. 세 번째는 과학기술 위협론이다. 화웨이의 5G 장비 수출을 통해 서방국가들에게 사이버 안보 불안을 야기하는 한편, 인공지능(AI) 분야에서의 수월성을 활용해 서방을 향한 위협 수위를 높여갈 것이라는 우려다. 마지막은 문명적 위협이다. 정치적 자유의 제한과 억압, 소수민족 탄압, 다른 권위주의 국가들에 대한 지원으로 요약되는 중국공산당의 행태가 커다란 위협으로 등장하고 있다는 비판이다.

    이러한 시각의 저변에는 ‘자애로운(benevolent) 미국’과 ‘악의에 찬(malevolent) 중국’이라는 이분법이 깔려 있지만, 꼼꼼히 따져보면 상당 부분 과장이 섞여 있다. 하나하나 살펴보자.

    중국의 군사력이 조만간 미국을 능가해 아시아와 세계를 지배할 수 있을까. 현재 중국 군사비는 미국의 3분의 1에 지나지 않고, 트럼프 대통령 취임 이후 미국의 군사비가 대폭 증액되면서 두 나라의 군사력 격차는 더욱 커질 것이라는 전망이 지배적이다. 중국은 공식적으로 어느 나라와도 군사동맹을 맺지 않고 있는 반면, 미국은 100여 개 국가와 군사동맹 혹은 그에 준하는 협력관계를 맺고 있다.

    경제는 다를까. 막강한 경제력을 이용해 국익을 극대화하려는 중국의 행태는 비난받아 마땅하다. 5G나 AI 분야에서의 괄목할 만한 진보 역시 우려되는 바 크다. 그러나 중국이 당면하고 있는 내부적 위협과 모순을 감안하면 앞으로도 중국 경제가 순항할 것이라고 단언하기는 쉽지 않다. 굳이 ‘중진국 함정론’을 거론하지 않더라도 중국 경제는 이미 성장잠재력 둔화와 극심한 부실채권 등으로 흔들리고 있다. 코로나19의 직격탄을 맞은 중국 경제는 올해 5% 성장률 달성도 어려워 보인다.

    자유와 인권이라는 보편가치 기준에 비추어볼 때 ‘중국 특색’이라는 이름으로 진행되는 인권 탄압과 소수민족 문제는 정당화될 수 없다. 다만 중국이 개혁개방에 나선 것은 이제 겨우 40년, 본격적인 부상은 20년밖에 되지 않았다. 제아무리 빠른 압축성장 모델도 서구가 200년에 걸쳐 이룬 민주주의와 인권 가치를 따라잡기는 어려운 시간이다.

    염려스러운 사실은 최근 트럼프 행정부가 강조하는 중국위협론이 1920년대 서구에서 풍미하던 ‘황화론(黃禍論:황색인종 억압론)’을 떠올리게 한다는 점이다. 1920년대 황화론의 본질적인 한계는 인종주의적 편견을 문명의 잣대로 치환하려는 시도였다는 점일 것이다. 그 귀결은 태평양전쟁이라는 파국이었다. 미국 스스로가 초래한 ‘Westlessness’에 대한 해법을 중국위협론, 더 나아가서는 황화론에서 찾으려 한다면 21세기 세계질서는 문명충돌이라는 대립으로 치달을 수밖에 없어 보인다. 미국도 ‘중국의 부상’이라는 현실을 현명하고 신중하게 다루어나가야 할 것이다.

  2. dkfg 2021.07.28 17:52  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    INTERVIEW/ John Mearsheimer: U.S.-China rift runs real risk of escalating into a nuclear war
    By KENJI MINEMURA/ Senior Staff Writer

    August 17, 2020 at 07:00 JST
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    John Mearsheimer (Provided by John Mearsheimer)
    Is an escalation of the intensified conflict between the United States and China inevitable?

    Renowned U.S. political scientist John Mearsheimer, one of the leading theorists of “offensive realism,” thinks so.

    Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, first predicted the current conflict between the two superpowers more than two decades ago.

    In a recent videophone interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Mearsheimer offered his analysis of the rationale behind the conflict and the next likely move by the United States.

    Born in 1947, Mearsheimer graduated from West Point and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

    Excerpts of the interview follow:

    ***

    Question: Confrontation between the United States and China has intensified, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic flared. Chinese state-run media has proclaimed that the pandemic signals the end of the American century. Meanwhile, a new U.S. government report noted that Beijing clearly sees itself as engaging in ideological competition with the West. Do you think the two countries have already begun a real Cold War? If so, why?

    Answer: The real Cold War started before the coronavirus, and the coronavirus doesn't matter much. And ideology doesn't matter much. What matters is the balance of power. And the fact is, China has become so powerful over the past 20 years.

    There is a serious chance that (China) could become a regional hegemon in Asia. And the United States does not tolerate peer competitors. The idea that China is going to become a regional hegemon is unacceptable to the United States.

    So, it's this clash of interests that are generated by this fundamental change that's taking place in the balance of power. It is driving the competition. And I would note that you'll hear a lot of talk about the fact that the United States is a liberal democracy, and that China is a communist state. And, therefore, this is an ideological clash.

    Q: In “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics,” the book you published in 2001, you said there would never be a peaceful emerging of China and predicted the U.S.-China conflict. When do you think the critical turning point was for their bilateral relationship?

    A: That's a difficult question to answer, because it really started in the early 1990s when China began to grow. That's when it started.

    It was China's rise in the unipolar moment that is driving the train in this process. And there were a number of events along the way that mattered greatly. Most importantly, it was China's admission to the WTO in 2001, which really allowed the Chinese economy to accelerate, to the extent that you can pinpoint a date where the United States recognized that the rise of China was a problem and that China would have to be contained.

    Q: Some analysts in the United States and Japan have argued that since U.S.-China bilateral economic ties and political relations have grown over 14 years under the so-called engagement policy, it is not feasible for either country to instigate an open war. Do you agree?

    A: Well, there were many experts who said the same thing before World War I. They said there was a tremendous amount of economic interdependence in Europe. And nobody would dare start a war because you would end up killing the goose that lays the golden egg. But nevertheless, we had World War I. And what this tells you is that you can have economic cooperation, and at the same time, you have security competition.

    And what sometimes happens is that the security competition becomes so intense that it overwhelms the economic cooperation and you have a conflict. But I would take this a step further and say that if you look at what's happening in the world today, that economic cooperation between the United States and China is slowly beginning to disappear, and you're getting an economic competition as well as security competition.

    As you well know, the United States has its gun sights on Huawei. The United States would like to destroy Huawei.

    The United States would like to control 5G. The United States would like to remain on the cutting edge of all the modern sophisticated technologies of the day and they view the Chinese as a threat in that regard. And that tells you that not only are you getting military competition, but you are also getting economic competition.

    Q: Unlike in the Cold War era, no one knows exactly how many nuclear weapons China possesses. You have said that since Eastern Asia has no central front like Europe, the possibility that a war between the United States and China could occur over East Asia is high. Many countries surrounding China, particularly Japan, as well as other countries that do not possess a nuclear weapon, would be vulnerable to an attack from China. Do you think that we may see a war breaking out in East Asia in the future?

    A: Let me start by talking a little bit about the Cold War and then comparing the situation in East Asia and with the situation in Europe during the Cold War. During the Cold War, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union was centered on central Europe. We used to talk about the central front, where you had the Warsaw Pact on one side, and NATO on the other side.

    And when we talked about U.S.-Soviet war, it involved the central front. Now, the central front was populated by two giant sets of armies, that were armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. That meant if we had World War III in central Europe, you would have two huge sets of armies crashing into each other, with thousands of nuclear weapons.

    Not surprisingly, when we ran war games during the Cold War, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to get a war started in central Europe, because nobody in his or her right mind, would start a war given the possibility of nuclear Armageddon.

    Now, contrast that with the situation in East Asia, which is the central flash point between United States and China, the three places where you could possibly have a war involve the South China Sea, Taiwan and the East China Sea.

    Those areas are not the equivalent of the central front. And it's possible to imagine a limited conventional war breaking out in one of those three areas. It's much easier to imagine that happening, than a war on the central front during the Cold War.

    This is not to say that a war in East Asia is axiomatically going to happen. I'm not arguing that, but it is plausible that the United States and the Chinese and some allies of the United States like Japan may end up in a shooting match with the Chinese in say, the East China Sea.

    Now, if China is losing, or if the United States is losing that military engagement, there will be a serious temptation to use nuclear weapons as the United States is committed to use nuclear weapons to defend Japan if Japan is losing a conventional war. And one might say, it's unimaginable that the United States or China would use nuclear weapons.

    But I don't think that's true, because you would be using those nuclear weapons at sea. You would not be hitting the Chinese mainland in all likelihood. And, therefore, it's possible to think in terms of a "limited nuclear war," with limited nuclear use.

    So, I worry greatly that not only will we have a war between the United States and China, but also that there's a serious possibility nuclear weapons would be used. And I think in a very important way, it was much less likely that would happen during the Cold War.

    Q: High-ranking Chinese officials once suggested to the United States that the two superpowers should split the Pacific and each enjoy a sphere of influence. Do you think the United States would ever accept such an idea?

    A: No, the United States will not accept sharing power. Sharing power as you described it, means allowing China to become a regional hegemon in Asia, and the United States will not tolerate that. The United States will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from becoming a peer competitor.

    You want to remember the United States in the 20th century put four potential peer competitors on the scrap heap of history: Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union.

    If China becomes a regional hegemon in Asia, it will have no threats in Asia to worry about, and it will be free to roll into the Western Hemisphere and form military alliances with countries like Cuba and Venezuela. This is why the United States goes to great lengths to prevent China from dominating Asia.

    Q: Your 2014 essay titled “Say Goodbye to Taiwan” stirred debate. Do you think the United States would abandon Taiwan if China intervenes?

    A: I believe the United States will fight to defend Taiwan if China invades Taiwan. In my opinion, it's unthinkable that the United States would stand by and allow China to conquer Taiwan. If we didn't defend Taiwan, it would have devastating consequences for our relationship with Japan, South Korea and our other allies in East Asia.

    I would say however, and this was why the editors at The National Interest had used the title “Goodbye Taiwan,” you can imagine a possible situation in 30 or 40 years where China has grown so powerful that the United States simply cannot defend Taiwan because of the geographical location.

    Q: China has strengthened its strategy to effectively deter U.S. aircraft carriers from approaching the Taiwan Strait. Could the United States deploy its military forces in Asia in a crisis?

    A: I don't think aircraft carriers are going to be very helpful. I think we're rapidly reaching the point where aircraft carriers are sitting ducks. I think we're going to have to rely instead on other kinds of military force. Tactical aircraft coming off land-based airfields, ballistic missiles, submarines, and so on.

    Q: How do you evaluate the Trump administration's China policy?

    A: I think that Trump has wisely understood that it's important for the United States to contain China, not only militarily, but economically.

    Q: But the administration has failed to get a result.

    A: I think the problem with the Trump administration is that it has done a bad job dealing with allies like Japan and South Korea and the Philippines and Australia and Vietnam and so forth and so on. What we need here is American leadership to put together a cohesive Alliance structure that can contain China. And the Trump administration has treated America's allies with contempt.

    Q: If President Trump fails to be re-elected and Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, becomes president, do you think the United States can restore its relationship with its key allies like Japan, South Korea and Germany? What do you think is the most effective way for the Biden administration to contain China?

    A: I think that if Joe Biden gets elected president, the Democrats come to power, and the Democrats will go back to treating our allies in Europe and East Asia much the same way we treated them up until Trump took office.

    Trump is an anomaly. Trump is hostile in very important ways. Trump is hostile to America's allies because he thinks that America's allies have taken advantage of the United States. He thinks this is especially true for Germany. These countries in his mind are free riders. They're free riding on the United States. And he's very angry about that. And this has led him to treat virtually all of America's allies quite badly.

    I don't believe that will be the case if Biden is president and the Democrats come back. I think we'll have much better relations between Japan and the United States. And Japan won't have to spend endless hours trying to figure out exactly what Trump's policies are and what he's doing from minute to minute. We'll have more regularity in our foreign policy.

    And I think that will all be for the good. But I would say that I believe that the Democrats will be as committed to containment as Trump has been. I don't think that there'll be any lessening of America's containment policy if the Democrats beat Trump in November.

    I was in China for 17 days in October 2019. And I talked to all sorts of Chinese foreign policy leaders. Almost everybody I talked to believes that it doesn't matter whether Trump wins or loses in 2020 for U.S.-China relations. The Chinese believe that the Americans have their gun sight on China, and nothing is going to change that. I think they are correct.

    Q: What approach do you think Japan should take against China’s recent strengthening of its military forces?

    A: I think there is no question that the Chinese have been building up their military capabilities vis-a-vis Japan. It is especially clear that the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) threat has been growing. Of course, some of those missiles are not nuclear. They are conventional, but intermediate-range missiles aimed at Japan have grown in large numbers.

    I think a number of things have to happen here. First of all, the Japanese are going to have to spend much more money on defense. Secondly, they're going to have to work much more closely with the United States. It's actually very important that the two sides work together. And I think the Japanese are going to have to deploy INF or intermediate-range missiles of their own, not nuclear. I think at this point in time, the Japanese can rely on the United States for nuclear deterrence.

    Q: The Senkaku Islands are one of the most dangerous flash points between China and Japan. Would the United States deploy its military forces against China to protect the uninhabited islands?

    A: The United States has made it somewhat clear they would help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands. I think what needs to be done here is the United States needs to make it perfectly clear that it will help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands, and both the United States and Japan have to develop the military capabilities to defend the Senkaku Islands. And they have to work together to create a formidable deterrent force that will keep the Chinese from invading those small islands.

    ***

    Kenji Minemura, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, worked as the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent in Washington, D.C., and was previously a correspondent in Beijing. He is also a researcher at Hokkaido University Public Policy School.

  3. dkfg 2021.07.28 17:52  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    INTERVIEW/ John Mearsheimer: U.S.-China rift runs real risk of escalating into a nuclear war
    By KENJI MINEMURA/ Senior Staff Writer

    August 17, 2020 at 07:00 JST
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    John Mearsheimer (Provided by John Mearsheimer)
    Is an escalation of the intensified conflict between the United States and China inevitable?

    Renowned U.S. political scientist John Mearsheimer, one of the leading theorists of “offensive realism,” thinks so.

    Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, first predicted the current conflict between the two superpowers more than two decades ago.

    In a recent videophone interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Mearsheimer offered his analysis of the rationale behind the conflict and the next likely move by the United States.

    Born in 1947, Mearsheimer graduated from West Point and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

    Excerpts of the interview follow:

    ***

    Question: Confrontation between the United States and China has intensified, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic flared. Chinese state-run media has proclaimed that the pandemic signals the end of the American century. Meanwhile, a new U.S. government report noted that Beijing clearly sees itself as engaging in ideological competition with the West. Do you think the two countries have already begun a real Cold War? If so, why?

    Answer: The real Cold War started before the coronavirus, and the coronavirus doesn't matter much. And ideology doesn't matter much. What matters is the balance of power. And the fact is, China has become so powerful over the past 20 years.

    There is a serious chance that (China) could become a regional hegemon in Asia. And the United States does not tolerate peer competitors. The idea that China is going to become a regional hegemon is unacceptable to the United States.

    So, it's this clash of interests that are generated by this fundamental change that's taking place in the balance of power. It is driving the competition. And I would note that you'll hear a lot of talk about the fact that the United States is a liberal democracy, and that China is a communist state. And, therefore, this is an ideological clash.

    Q: In “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics,” the book you published in 2001, you said there would never be a peaceful emerging of China and predicted the U.S.-China conflict. When do you think the critical turning point was for their bilateral relationship?

    A: That's a difficult question to answer, because it really started in the early 1990s when China began to grow. That's when it started.

    It was China's rise in the unipolar moment that is driving the train in this process. And there were a number of events along the way that mattered greatly. Most importantly, it was China's admission to the WTO in 2001, which really allowed the Chinese economy to accelerate, to the extent that you can pinpoint a date where the United States recognized that the rise of China was a problem and that China would have to be contained.

    Q: Some analysts in the United States and Japan have argued that since U.S.-China bilateral economic ties and political relations have grown over 14 years under the so-called engagement policy, it is not feasible for either country to instigate an open war. Do you agree?

    A: Well, there were many experts who said the same thing before World War I. They said there was a tremendous amount of economic interdependence in Europe. And nobody would dare start a war because you would end up killing the goose that lays the golden egg. But nevertheless, we had World War I. And what this tells you is that you can have economic cooperation, and at the same time, you have security competition.

    And what sometimes happens is that the security competition becomes so intense that it overwhelms the economic cooperation and you have a conflict. But I would take this a step further and say that if you look at what's happening in the world today, that economic cooperation between the United States and China is slowly beginning to disappear, and you're getting an economic competition as well as security competition.

    As you well know, the United States has its gun sights on Huawei. The United States would like to destroy Huawei.

    The United States would like to control 5G. The United States would like to remain on the cutting edge of all the modern sophisticated technologies of the day and they view the Chinese as a threat in that regard. And that tells you that not only are you getting military competition, but you are also getting economic competition.

    Q: Unlike in the Cold War era, no one knows exactly how many nuclear weapons China possesses. You have said that since Eastern Asia has no central front like Europe, the possibility that a war between the United States and China could occur over East Asia is high. Many countries surrounding China, particularly Japan, as well as other countries that do not possess a nuclear weapon, would be vulnerable to an attack from China. Do you think that we may see a war breaking out in East Asia in the future?

    A: Let me start by talking a little bit about the Cold War and then comparing the situation in East Asia and with the situation in Europe during the Cold War. During the Cold War, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union was centered on central Europe. We used to talk about the central front, where you had the Warsaw Pact on one side, and NATO on the other side.

    And when we talked about U.S.-Soviet war, it involved the central front. Now, the central front was populated by two giant sets of armies, that were armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. That meant if we had World War III in central Europe, you would have two huge sets of armies crashing into each other, with thousands of nuclear weapons.

    Not surprisingly, when we ran war games during the Cold War, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to get a war started in central Europe, because nobody in his or her right mind, would start a war given the possibility of nuclear Armageddon.

    Now, contrast that with the situation in East Asia, which is the central flash point between United States and China, the three places where you could possibly have a war involve the South China Sea, Taiwan and the East China Sea.

    Those areas are not the equivalent of the central front. And it's possible to imagine a limited conventional war breaking out in one of those three areas. It's much easier to imagine that happening, than a war on the central front during the Cold War.

    This is not to say that a war in East Asia is axiomatically going to happen. I'm not arguing that, but it is plausible that the United States and the Chinese and some allies of the United States like Japan may end up in a shooting match with the Chinese in say, the East China Sea.

    Now, if China is losing, or if the United States is losing that military engagement, there will be a serious temptation to use nuclear weapons as the United States is committed to use nuclear weapons to defend Japan if Japan is losing a conventional war. And one might say, it's unimaginable that the United States or China would use nuclear weapons.

    But I don't think that's true, because you would be using those nuclear weapons at sea. You would not be hitting the Chinese mainland in all likelihood. And, therefore, it's possible to think in terms of a "limited nuclear war," with limited nuclear use.

    So, I worry greatly that not only will we have a war between the United States and China, but also that there's a serious possibility nuclear weapons would be used. And I think in a very important way, it was much less likely that would happen during the Cold War.

    Q: High-ranking Chinese officials once suggested to the United States that the two superpowers should split the Pacific and each enjoy a sphere of influence. Do you think the United States would ever accept such an idea?

    A: No, the United States will not accept sharing power. Sharing power as you described it, means allowing China to become a regional hegemon in Asia, and the United States will not tolerate that. The United States will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from becoming a peer competitor.

    You want to remember the United States in the 20th century put four potential peer competitors on the scrap heap of history: Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union.

    If China becomes a regional hegemon in Asia, it will have no threats in Asia to worry about, and it will be free to roll into the Western Hemisphere and form military alliances with countries like Cuba and Venezuela. This is why the United States goes to great lengths to prevent China from dominating Asia.

    Q: Your 2014 essay titled “Say Goodbye to Taiwan” stirred debate. Do you think the United States would abandon Taiwan if China intervenes?

    A: I believe the United States will fight to defend Taiwan if China invades Taiwan. In my opinion, it's unthinkable that the United States would stand by and allow China to conquer Taiwan. If we didn't defend Taiwan, it would have devastating consequences for our relationship with Japan, South Korea and our other allies in East Asia.

    I would say however, and this was why the editors at The National Interest had used the title “Goodbye Taiwan,” you can imagine a possible situation in 30 or 40 years where China has grown so powerful that the United States simply cannot defend Taiwan because of the geographical location.

    Q: China has strengthened its strategy to effectively deter U.S. aircraft carriers from approaching the Taiwan Strait. Could the United States deploy its military forces in Asia in a crisis?

    A: I don't think aircraft carriers are going to be very helpful. I think we're rapidly reaching the point where aircraft carriers are sitting ducks. I think we're going to have to rely instead on other kinds of military force. Tactical aircraft coming off land-based airfields, ballistic missiles, submarines, and so on.

    Q: How do you evaluate the Trump administration's China policy?

    A: I think that Trump has wisely understood that it's important for the United States to contain China, not only militarily, but economically.

    Q: But the administration has failed to get a result.

    A: I think the problem with the Trump administration is that it has done a bad job dealing with allies like Japan and South Korea and the Philippines and Australia and Vietnam and so forth and so on. What we need here is American leadership to put together a cohesive Alliance structure that can contain China. And the Trump administration has treated America's allies with contempt.

    Q: If President Trump fails to be re-elected and Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, becomes president, do you think the United States can restore its relationship with its key allies like Japan, South Korea and Germany? What do you think is the most effective way for the Biden administration to contain China?

    A: I think that if Joe Biden gets elected president, the Democrats come to power, and the Democrats will go back to treating our allies in Europe and East Asia much the same way we treated them up until Trump took office.

    Trump is an anomaly. Trump is hostile in very important ways. Trump is hostile to America's allies because he thinks that America's allies have taken advantage of the United States. He thinks this is especially true for Germany. These countries in his mind are free riders. They're free riding on the United States. And he's very angry about that. And this has led him to treat virtually all of America's allies quite badly.

    I don't believe that will be the case if Biden is president and the Democrats come back. I think we'll have much better relations between Japan and the United States. And Japan won't have to spend endless hours trying to figure out exactly what Trump's policies are and what he's doing from minute to minute. We'll have more regularity in our foreign policy.

    And I think that will all be for the good. But I would say that I believe that the Democrats will be as committed to containment as Trump has been. I don't think that there'll be any lessening of America's containment policy if the Democrats beat Trump in November.

    I was in China for 17 days in October 2019. And I talked to all sorts of Chinese foreign policy leaders. Almost everybody I talked to believes that it doesn't matter whether Trump wins or loses in 2020 for U.S.-China relations. The Chinese believe that the Americans have their gun sight on China, and nothing is going to change that. I think they are correct.

    Q: What approach do you think Japan should take against China’s recent strengthening of its military forces?

    A: I think there is no question that the Chinese have been building up their military capabilities vis-a-vis Japan. It is especially clear that the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) threat has been growing. Of course, some of those missiles are not nuclear. They are conventional, but intermediate-range missiles aimed at Japan have grown in large numbers.

    I think a number of things have to happen here. First of all, the Japanese are going to have to spend much more money on defense. Secondly, they're going to have to work much more closely with the United States. It's actually very important that the two sides work together. And I think the Japanese are going to have to deploy INF or intermediate-range missiles of their own, not nuclear. I think at this point in time, the Japanese can rely on the United States for nuclear deterrence.

    Q: The Senkaku Islands are one of the most dangerous flash points between China and Japan. Would the United States deploy its military forces against China to protect the uninhabited islands?

    A: The United States has made it somewhat clear they would help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands. I think what needs to be done here is the United States needs to make it perfectly clear that it will help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands, and both the United States and Japan have to develop the military capabilities to defend the Senkaku Islands. And they have to work together to create a formidable deterrent force that will keep the Chinese from invading those small islands.

    ***

    Kenji Minemura, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, worked as the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent in Washington, D.C., and was previously a correspondent in Beijing. He is also a researcher at Hokkaido University Public Policy School.