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《華爾街日報》『亞洲病夫』文章挑起中美新紛爭

《華爾街日報》『亞洲病夫』評論文章挑起新一輪中美紛爭。

 

【香港輕新聞】《華爾街日報》2月3日刊發美國巴德學院教授沃爾特·羅素·米德(Walter Russell Mead)的評論文章時,用了《中國是真正的『亞洲病夫』》標題,挑起了新一輪中美紛爭。

指中國金融市場或比野味市場更危險

該篇標題《中國是真正的『亞洲病夫』》的評論文章,內容指「中國的金融市場可能比其野生動物市場更危險」﹑「中國的實力雖然令人印象深刻,但仍然脆弱」,又提醒已經習慣中國崛起的人們「任何事情,即使是北京的力量,都不能被視為理所當然」。

北京指有關文章是攻擊抹黑中國

北京指斥美國《華爾街日報》發表攻擊抹黑中國的評論文章,並拒絕道歉,上周三(19日)吊銷該報章三名駐京記者的記者證,《華爾街日報》中國分社社長鄭子揚(Jonathan Cheng)表示,同為美國公民的分社副社長李肇華(Josh Chin)和記者鄧超以及澳洲籍記者溫友正(Philip Wen)已被勒令在五天內離開中國。

美國率先宣布加強監管駐美中方官媒

就在中國宣佈驅逐三名《華爾街日報》記者的前一天,美國認定五家中國官方媒體機構為「外國使團」,等同中國政府的一部分。這五家媒體機構分別為新華通訊社、中國環球電視網(CGTN)、中國國際廣播電台(CRI)、《中國日報》發行公司,以及《人民日報》發行商美國海天發展公司。

蓬佩奧譴責中方做法是限制言論自由

美國國務卿蓬佩奧回應中方吊銷《華爾街日報》三名駐京記者的記者證時,譴責中方做法,他指成熟及負責任的國家了解新聞自由報道事實及發表意見,正確的回應是提出反對意見,而並非限制言論自由。

耿爽批評該篇文章標題違反職業道德

在北京,外交部發言人耿爽反駁,指這個並非蓬佩奧所說的言論自由問題,認為《華爾街日報》文章選用有種族歧視色彩的標題,違反職業道德,遭到國際社會廣泛譴責,反問蓬佩奧如果認為《華爾街日報》有張口辱罵別人的自由,被辱罵者有沒有還擊的權利。

指文章詆毀中國政府及人民抗疫努力

外交部指《華爾街日報》日前刊登的評論文章詆毀中國政府及人民抗擊疫情的努力,報社編輯更加上「中國是真正亞洲病夫」的標題。但報社至今既未公開正式道歉,亦未查處相關責任人,決定吊銷有關記者証。

全文

China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia
(Its financial markets may be even more dangerous than its wildlife markets.)

The mighty Chinese juggernaut has been humbled this week, apparently by a species-hopping bat virus. While Chinese authorities struggle to control the epidemic and restart their economy, a world that has grown accustomed to contemplating China’s inexorable rise was reminded that nothing, not even Beijing’s power, can be taken for granted.

We do not know how dangerous the new coronavirus will be. There are signs that Chinese authorities are still trying to conceal the true scale of the problem, but at this point the virus appears to be more contagious but considerably less deadly than the pathogens behind diseases such as Ebola or SARS—though some experts say SARS and coronavirus are about equally contagious.

China’s initial response to the crisis was less than impressive. The Wuhan government was secretive and self-serving; national authorities responded vigorously but, it currently appears, ineffectively. China’s cities and factories are shutting down; the virus continues to spread. We can hope that authorities succeed in containing the epidemic and treating its victims, but the performance to date has shaken confidence in the Chinese Communist Party at home and abroad. Complaints in Beijing about the U.S. refusing entry to noncitizens who recently spent time in China cannot hide the reality that the decisions that allowed the epidemic to spread as far and as fast as it did were all made in Wuhan and Beijing.

The likeliest economic consequence of the coronavirus epidemic, forecasters expect, will be a short and sharp fall in Chinese economic growth rates during the first quarter, recovering as the disease fades. The most important longer-term outcome would appear to be a strengthening of a trend for global companies to “de-Sinicize” their supply chains. Add the continuing public health worries to the threat of new trade wars, and supply-chain diversification begins to look prudent.

Events like the coronavirus epidemic, and its predecessors—such as SARS, Ebola and MERS—test our systems and force us to think about the unthinkable. If there were a disease as deadly as Ebola and as fast-spreading as coronavirus, how should the U.S. respond? What national and international systems need to be in place to minimize the chance of catastrophe on this scale?

Epidemics also lead us to think about geopolitical and economic hypotheticals. We have seen financial markets shudder and commodity prices fall in the face of what hopefully will be a short-lived disturbance in China’s economic growth. What would happen if—perhaps in response to an epidemic, but more likely following a massive financial collapse—China’s economy were to suffer a long period of even slower growth? What would be the impact of such developments on China’s political stability, on its attitude toward the rest of the world, and to the global balance of power?

China’s financial markets are probably more dangerous in the long run than China’s wildlife markets. Given the accumulated costs of decades of state-driven lending, massive malfeasance by local officials in cahoots with local banks, a towering property bubble, and vast industrial overcapacity, China is as ripe as a country can be for a massive economic correction. Even a small initial shock could lead to a massive bonfire of the vanities as all the false values, inflated expectations and misallocated assets implode. If that comes, it is far from clear that China’s regulators and decision makers have the technical skills or the political authority to minimize the damage—especially since that would involve enormous losses to the wealth of the politically connected.

We cannot know when or even if a catastrophe of this scale will take place, but students of geopolitics and international affairs—not to mention business leaders and investors—need to bear in mind that China’s power, impressive as it is, remains brittle. A deadlier virus or a financial-market contagion could transform China’s economic and political outlook at any time.

Many now fear the coronavirus will become a global pandemic. The consequences of a Chinese economic meltdown would travel with the same sweeping inexorability. Commodity prices around the world would slump, supply chains would break down, and few financial institutions anywhere could escape the knock-on consequences. Recovery in China and elsewhere could be slow, and the social and political effects could be dramatic.

If Beijing’s geopolitical footprint shrank as a result, the global consequences might also be surprising. Some would expect a return of unipolarity if the only possible great-power rival to the U.S. were to withdraw from the game. Yet in the world of American politics, isolation rather than engagement might surge to the fore. If the China challenge fades, many Americans are likely to assume that the U.S. can safely reduce its global commitments.

So far, the 21st century has been an age of black swans. From 9/11 to President Trump’s election and Brexit, low-probability, high-impact events have reshaped the world order. That age isn’t over, and of the black swans still to arrive, the coronavirus epidemic is unlikely to be the last to materialize in China.

 

 

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