中国国家主席习近平访美之际，“国关前沿通讯”微信号有幸邀请到美国约翰斯·霍普金斯大学高级国际问题研究院外交政策研究所主任、中国研究系副主任傅瑞珍（Carla Park Freeman）女士进行了专访。傅瑞珍主任主要研究中国国内和国际政策的联系，包括中国的环境治理和可持续发展，同时也尤其关注中美关系。她毕业于美国耶鲁大学，获历史学学士学位，并获得巴黎政治学院的政治学证书，以及美国约翰斯·霍普金斯大学高级国际问题研究院的硕士和博士学位。
Q: Hello Prof. Freeman, Thank you very much for doing this interview! I am deeply honoured to have this opportunity to learn from you. You have been working on Chinese environmental issues for a long time. Before 2014, China seemed to be reluctant to cut its emission and did not live up to western expectation. But on APEC summit held in Beijing in November 2014, China made a joint announcement on climate change together with US and was well received by the western countries. Do you think that this announcement marks a fundamental change in Beijing’s environmental policy on emission cut? If so, what (independent variables) causes the change? Identity or the interest or the domestic factors?
A: The announcement in Washington on Friday by President Xi Jinping that China will implement a cap-and-trade program is that latest in a series of steps by China to curb emissions to slow climate change. It can be seen in the context of China’s recent initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to tackling global climate change at the international level, which has included working in cooperation with the US. The US and China were long a loggerheads over the issue of responsibility for climate action, with China firmly upholding the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities for climate change by developing countries and the US insisting that all countries, regardless of their level of development, needed to commit to significant national actions in any global climate change deal. China’s joint announcement with the US on climate change last November was breakthrough in that it represented a commitment by the two countries to work collaboratively in international efforts toward a global climate change deal. A number of the pledges made by China at that time built on many of China’s existing policies and targets, but China’s pledge to peak emissions by 2030, if not before, marked a significant new commitment that has since been supported by the announcement of plans to cap coal and plans for stepped-up investments in renewable energy and clean technologies. Since the announcement in November 2014, China presented its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations in June in preparation for COP21, which reinforce its new, more aggressive stance on emissions reductions.
The new momentum in China’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions comes from a variety of sources. In filing its INDC, China’s official statement declared that its contribution reflected its “responsibility to fully engage in global governance, to forge a community of shared destiny for humankind.” As the scope of threats from climate change to human security have become increasingly clear and China’s emissions (the largest national emissions in the world) have continued to grow, China has increasingly shown that it recognizes that it needs to take an active part in reducing global emissions by mitigating its own. This is particularly true as China’s increasingly global footprint has led it to assume a greater role in other areas of global governance and it is expected by the rest of the world to assume greater international responsibility. But, along with international drivers, domestic factors are also very important. Climate change is affecting weather patterns in the country, with an expectation that severe weather events will only increase. Some estimates suggest that average annual temperatures in the country could rise by as much as 3.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century. Glacial melt is already acute, with impacts on water resources and natural disasters already visible. In addition, low emissions policies are compatible with national efforts to reduce air pollution—a serious concern in many cities across China, including famously in Beijing, where poor air quality is associated with growing health problems. There are also domestic economic opportunities in developing along a lower carbon trajectory, from new jobs creation to spurring innovation. While lower carbon growth may be challenging to implement given the country’s many energy intensive industries and the fact that many parts of the country are still at a relatively low level of economic development, China’s authorities are trying to do so through a variety of policy tools from investment incentives, new standards and regulations, and market based instruments like carbon trading. Prospects look promising that China’s international and domestic policies will reinforce each other, increasing the likelihood for progress by China toward lowering its emissions even as its economy grows.
Q: Recently, two of your interviews are published on thediplomate.com, in which you talked about the Chinese policies the next US president may take. I think besides the changing polls, there are 6 possible candidates that can be elected to be the next president: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and John Bush from the Republican, and Hillary Clinton, Joseph Robinette and Bernard Sanders from the Democrat. Compared with the Obama administration, who do you think will make Sino-US relations better if elected? Who will make it worse?
A: Since you first sent your interview questions to me, the crowd of contenders for the US presidency has thinned. Some of the candidates you have listed are unlikely to get the broad support they will need to win the election and there may be others, such as Joe Biden, who may also enter the race. So, the question you ask is difficult to answer since we still don’t know who will be on the national ballot in November 2016. What is clear is that throughout the presidential campaign we are likely to hear a fair amount of “China bashing,” as candidates grandstand against China to sound tough—we have already seen candidates making statements about everything from China’s currency appreciation to the South China Sea. While a lot of this is familiar campaign ritual, given the number of tensions in the US-China relationship today, the risks are that this often inflammatory rhetoric will only exacerbate mutual suspicions.
It is difficult to predict how president Obama’s successor will affect the relationship. I worry that a new president who starts his or her time in office off with deep suspicions about engaging with China and adopts a confrontational approach to interacting with China to assert American capabilities risks escalating existing tensions into conflict. A president that sees the world and even the Asia-Pacific as a region big enough for both the US and China and thinks in terms of mutually beneficial economic growth may seek to pursue a policy that aims to negotiate differences in values and tensions over particular issues. Even for a president with a strong commitment to this vision of an expanding economic pie through deepening trade and investment, taking this approach will be different due to the nature of Congressional and interest group politics in the US. It is also difficult because the complexity of interactions between US and China can only be expected to grow as China’s international interests expand. And, there is always the worry that a president with this kind of vision would be seen as weak by the Chinese side, which could lead to miscalculation. A president who comes into office with a clearly articulated set of strategic goals for the US and clarity about what the US sees as its interests, accompanied by the willingness and ability to communicate with China over areas of consonance and disagreement, ideally through established mechanisms such as we’ve seen beginning to emerge in the US-China relationship even in the cyber security area, seems the best hope for constructive, positive US-China relations. I think there are prospective candidates from both parties who have the potential to approach China policy that way; but this will also require a commitment to dialogue and problem-solving through bilateral mechanisms on the part of Beijing.
Q: You have written an article on North Korean’s nuclear issue on 38north.org. Recently, Choe Ryong-hae, Vice Marshal of North Korean was not received by the Chinese leaders when he visited China. Meanwhile, North Korea stopped disabling its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon again. Is that a move to express North Korea’s dissatisfaction to China? Will Beijing continue to defend North Korea if the latter continues its troublemaking? It is reported that now DPRK government recently has jailed or even killed 1000 Chinese people, do you think this marks the break-up between the allies?
A: It is unclear why North Korea has resumed activity at its nuclear facility and test site. It could indicate preparations for a fourth nuclear test on October 10, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers Party (KWP), as some analysts have suggested, or the observed activities could be simply routine maintenance. Beijing has made it clear that it strongly opposes a new nuclear test by Pyongyang and would react to one harshly. However, I am not convinced that if such a test were conducted that it would be driven by a desire by Pyongyang to express its dissatisfaction with Beijing’s policies. In fact, while the decision by Kim Jong-un not to attend China’s recent military parade can be interpreted as a sign of a continued strain in relations between the two countries, his absence also may perhaps be better interpreted as a reflection of Pyongyang’s unwillingness to negotiate on its nuclear program or engage in a multilateral setting on other issues related to security on the Korean peninsula. The presence of South Korea’s president in Beijing carried a symbolism that Kim Jong-un could not endorse—indeed Kim had indicated he would travel to Beijing only if China rescinded its invitation to South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Under these circumstances, the decision to send Choe Ryong-hae to the festivities despite Park’s presence can be seen as a sign of positive momentum in the China-North Korea relationship. Choe is a top ranking official within North Korea’s inner leadership circle and his presence can be seen as an gesture from Pyongyang to convey the value it assigns to its relations with Beijing and its attendant support, without going so far as to appear prepared to open new dialogue with Seoul.
There is no question that Beijing is increasingly frustrated by North Korea’s policies; clearly, the Chinese public is more and more frustrated by their difficult neighbor’s behavior as well. There has been considerable debate over how China should pursue its relationship with Pyongyang inside and outside government circles in China. As yet, however, it appears that Beijing has decided that its best policy option is to stay the course, preserving its commitment to Pyongyang’s security. Beijing will sustain a basic level of support for Pyongyang, hoping that the regime will behave rationally and choose to negotiate a way forward out of its international isolation, which would mean agreeing to a process of denuclearization. In my view, for Pyongyang to get there may require both stepped-up international sanctions to pressure North Korea, and also bold incentives from the US and allies to persuade Pyongyang that denuclearization would be a benefit to its security, not a loss. Something along the lines of the 1994 Agreed Framework with normalization of relations between Washington and Pyongyang as the objective would have to be in order. Perhaps the Iran deal offers a model, but since North Korea already has nuclear weapons, reaching an agreement along those lines with Pyongyang will be even more difficult. I will be watching closely to see if there are new initiatives to help induce Pyongyang back to the negotiating table that come out of president Xi’s state visit to the US.
Q: President Xi Jinping will visit US soon and the Americans may be interested in two main topics: South China Sea and cyber security. Do you expect the release of a new substantial agreement or consensus on these two issues between China and US? Will Obama successfully press Xi to listen to the US? If Obama agrees to repatriate Ling Wancheng and Guo Wengui to China, do you think Xi will agree with Obama to fight against the hacker? Do you have any unique points on the topic?
A: You asked about a potential deal on cyber between the US and China during President Xi’s visit. There were no new breakthroughs from the US perspective on the South China Sea. Xi took the opportunity during his visit to the US to underscore that his government stood firm in asserting its right to uphold China’s territorial sovereignty, while rejecting criticisms that China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea was aimed at building new military bastions. However, the two countries did complete an understanding on rules of behavior that should reduce the risk of collisions between military aircraft in the region. A significant step forward was announced, however, on the cyber issue, with the two sides the two sides agreeing to establish a joint dialogue on cybercrime at a high level as well as a hotline to exchange concerns about developing problems aimed at averting crises.
Addressing your last question: the agreement to extradite Yang Jinjun ahead of president Xi’s visit may show willingness by the US to cooperate on extradition when it deems there is adequate evidence; however, I do not know if the two countries are making progress on a joint extradition treaty, nor do I have any new information about the status of Ling Wancheng and Guo Wengui.
Q: Many US scholars are pessimistic about Sino-US relations. The feeling is echoed by some Chinese scholars, for instance Yan Xuetong, who thinks that Sino-US relations will deteriorate by the end of this year. Do you think that is true? If the bilateral relations do deteriorate, what could be the main cause (South China Sea disputes or other issues like hacking)? Is there anything about the Chinese government that you want to criticize?
A: You are correct that many of the habitually most sanguine scholars in the US have expressed pessimism about the US China relationship, with concerns amid growing tensions and uncertainties about Chinese intentions behind some of its initiatives and activities that the bilateral relationship is at some sort of inflection point. As was the focus of a recent article in the New York Times, one challenge for American China watchers is a feeling that it is increasingly difficult to exchange views with Chinese officials, making it far more challenging to gauge how Chinese leaders perceive the bilateral relationship and hope it will develop. One result, frankly, is that there really is no constituency among China experts in the US that feels it can confidently provide deeper context or informed nuance where questions about the drivers, motives or strategic implications of China’s foreign and security policies are concerned. Without a sense of knowing a little bit about the thinking of officials involved in decision making through exchanges with officials, given the many real sources of tension between the US and China, American experts are more likely to react with suspicion and apprehension, thus reinforcing suspicions among Chinese scholars in turn. This is an unhealthy cycle to say the least. American China experts who work on foreign and security policy not only interpret Chinese policy for the American public, they may also be important sources of information and advice to American policymakers. Reopening channels for non-officials to directly engage in discussions with high level Chinese officials could contribute to mitigating the growing sense among US China watchers that friendly ties between the two countries are unlikely in the future while also reopening additional unofficial channels for discussions on issues that may be sources of mutual tension and mistrust. Currently there is a perception, for example, that China’s most influential foreign and security policy advisors are relatively hardliners, unfriendly to the US.
I hope you will report my responses as I've written them and that this proves of some interest to your readers.
All the best.