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黄向墨在《澳大利亚金融评论报》撰文:
澳大利亚在南中国海问题上应三思而后行

   澳大利亚明智地选择了抵制来自美国的压力,迄今没有加入在中国和菲律宾有领土争议的岛屿附近海域进行巡航。

  2016年2月和3月间,两名美国海军将领强烈示意澳支持美国,加入其在南中国海进行的所谓“航行自由”任务,在中国和菲律宾有争议的两个岛屿附近巡航。澳大利亚如果这么做了,这一姿态确实是对美的一种支持,但肯定会引起澳最大贸易伙伴中国的强烈反应。

  如果参与航行,澳将会成为唯一采取此行动的美国盟友。迄今没有任何一个其他国家掉入此陷阱,英国、新加坡和印度没有,新西兰以及加拿大也都没有这么做。

  虽然菲律宾一直以来都是美国海军在西太平洋地区活动的中心,但菲政局最近也发生了一些列变化。澳如果飘着自己的国旗、高调地参与南海巡航,现在肯定后悔莫及。

  菲立场已然改变。民意甚高的候任总统杜特蒂不仅曾声称会骑着摩托艇冲到有争议的岛屿,也说过会和中国就共同开发争议岛屿进行谈判。这样一来,搁置主权纠纷,务实地经济考虑就有可能摆上台面。

  新局势印证了澳不介入中菲主权纠纷,不参与美国巡航是一个正确的决定。澳如果当时鲁莽地沿着美国的路线进行了巡航,情况将不堪回首。

  特恩布尔政府坚持了明智的外交渠道,外长毕晓普在2月17日的声明中说:“在南中国海的海域的领土主张上我们不会选择站边... 我们敦促各方克制,并以和平的方式解决分歧。”  

  “澳尊重各方协商或仲裁的权力。在仲裁问题上,菲希望裁定人造岛屿是否能获得领海权...澄清相关国际法。他们并非寻求就各方的海域主权主张进行裁定。”

  工党该怎么办?

  如果澳大利亚介入纠纷,高调支持菲律宾,菲的态度转变会让澳在东南亚地区邻国面前丢尽脸面。幸运的是我们没有这样,审慎而行是明智之举。

  澳是一个主要的贸易国家,有维护海上贸易航线的合法权益。澳自上世纪八十年代开始,就在南海进行例行空中飞行,但这和美国所做的探试中国领土主张的巡航是两回事,完全不具有挑衅意味。

  最近的这些情况对反对党工党领袖薛顿应该可以成为宝贵的一课。工党的影子国防部长康莱曾在一月份暗示,他可能会考虑美国建议的参加具有挑衅意味的美国式巡航。菲律宾总统的更替应该引起工党在这个问题上更多的冷静思考。

  澳大利亚的国家利益必须是基于经济上和安全战略两个层面考量上精密而审慎的平衡。与美国的关系是非常重要的,同时与中国的不断加深的关系也是极为重要的。最近签署的澳中自贸协议以及阿博特政府不顾奥巴马总统的建议决定加入亚投行可以看出这个关系的重要性。

  澳大利亚目前在南海问题上采取谨慎作法是明智的。不假思索的膝跳反应只能使澳后悔莫及。

  注: 原文为英文 刊载于2016年6月8日《澳大利亚金融评论报》

South China Sea: Australia would be rash to confront China
Australian Financial Review, 8 June 2016 

Australia was wise to resist the subtle American pressure to join its patrols in the South China Sea near islands disputed by China and the Philippines.

In February and March, two American admirals were sending strong hints that this is what Australia should do in support of the United States in so-called freedom of navigation operations. Had Australia followed this course, what would have amounted to a mere gesture of support for the US, would have been very harshly viewed by China, Australia's biggest trading partner.

Had Australia got involved it would have been the only friend or ally of the US to have done so. Nobody else – not Britain, Singapore, India, New Zealand or Canada – has been tempted.

Had Australia signed up to a South China Sea "flag-flying" exercise, the recent shift in the Philippines – a traditional centre for American naval positioning in the region – would have highlighted our folly.

The Philippines position has moved. Populist president-elect Rodrigo Duterte is talking about not only riding a jet-ski to the disputed territory but of actually negotiating with China about the prospect of jointly developing the islands.

Duterte has placed on the agenda the prospect of pragmatically elevating economic considerations above the constant tensions of disputes over sovereignty.

Given this new dynamic, Australia did the right thing in not being part of America's freedom of navigation patrols, which took in territory disputed by China and the Philippines. It would have been even worse had Australia mounted its own patrols along the US routes.

Sensibly, the Turnbull government employed diplomacy as confirmed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in her statement of February 17:

"We do not take sides on the competing maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea … We urge restraint and we urge that all parties settle their differences peacefully."

Labor should take note

Australia respects the right of parties to negotiate, or indeed arbitrate. In the case of the Philippines' arbitration, it is seeking a ruling on whether reclaimed islands generate maritime zones … a clarification of international law. It is not seeking a determination on the merits of the respective maritime claims.

To have gone down the other path, Australia would have antagonised China in a very high-profile fashion in support of Philippines policy that is now being recast.

Australia would have looked foolish and rash to our friends and neighbours in South-east Asia. Thankfully this has been avoided. Caution proved the wiser response.

Australia, as a strong trading nation with a very legitimate interest in the maintenance of open maritime trading routes, still conducts aerial patrols in the South China Sea. It has done so since the 1980s. Notably, these don't mimic the US practice of testing Chinese claims. They are not provocative.

Recent events should also serve as a valuable lesson to Opposition leader Bill Shorten. Labor's Defence spokesman Stephen Conroy hinted in January that he might be open to the suggestion of US-style patrols. The change of president in the Philippines should give Labor's leader cause for more sober reflection.

Australia's national interests are very delicately poised between economic and broader strategic considerations. The relationship with the US will always be important but so too is the deepening relationship with China, as emphasised by the recently struck China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Abbott government's decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank against the advice of President Barack Obama.

In the dynamics of the South China Sea, the more cautious approach so far adopted by Australia is working. It is preferable to any knee-jerk reactions Australia may end up regretting.

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