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2015年3月8日星期日

华尔街日报:中共即将分崩离析的五大理由(沈大卫)

David Shambaugh (沈大卫)
来源: 华尔街日报

欧阳剑

David Shambaugh

周四,全国人大会议在北京召开,这已经成为了一个熟悉的年度仪式。来自全国各地的3000多名‌‌‌‌"当选‌‌‌‌"代表们,从衣着绚丽的少数民族到都市亿万富豪,参加这个为时一周的会议,在政治参与的幌子下,‌‌‌‌"商讨国家大事‌‌‌‌"。

一些人认为,这威风的聚会是中国政治制度力量的标志,但是它掩盖了其严重的弱点。中国的政治总是戴着一个戏剧性的贴面,像人大会议这样的活动只是要展示中国共产党(CCP)的强大和稳定。官员们和老百姓都知道,他们应该符合这些仪式,兴高采烈的参与,鹦鹉学舌般的重复官方口号。这种行为在中文叫做‌‌‌‌"表态‌‌‌‌",但是只是象征性的服从而已。

尽管表面光鲜,中国的政治制度是严重支离破碎的,共产党本身比任何人都更清楚这一点。中国的强人领袖习近平,希望对异见人士的打压和反腐可以巩固党的统治。他决心避免成为中国的戈尔巴乔夫,主导党的解体。不过,尽管他做的与戈尔巴乔夫的相反,习近平却很可能面临同样的结果。他的专制严重的加大了中国的制度和社会的压力,并把它们带到了一个面临崩溃的边缘。

预测独裁政权的灭亡是有风险的。没有几个西方专家在1991年苏联解体前,预测了前苏联的崩溃,美国中情局完全没有料到。直到真的发生前,说东欧共产政权垮台也同样被蔑称为反共人士的一厢情愿。苏联解体后,从2003年到2005年,格鲁吉亚,乌克兰和吉尔吉斯坦发生的‌‌‌‌"颜色革命‌‌‌‌",以及2011年阿拉伯之春的起义,都是在意想不到的情况下爆发的。

自从1989年天安门广场屠杀事件中共政权险些倒台后,中国问题观察家们就一直高度警觉该政权的腐朽和没落的迹象。从那时起,几位资深的汉学家们冒着自己的职业声誉受损的风险,断言了中共统治的崩溃是不可避免的。包括我在内的其他人则更为谨慎。但是,中国的时代在变化,我们的分析也要跟上。

我认为,中国共产党统治的末日已经开始,并且,它在末日的旅途上走得比很多人想象的还要远。当然,我们无从知道从现在开始到它结束前的路会是什么样子。它可能是非常不稳定,非常不安定的。但是直到该制度开始出现明显的解体前,体制内的还是会随波逐流,因此,继续装点着稳定的门面。

中国共产党的统治不太可能安静的结束。它的死亡很可能是长期的,混乱而暴力的。我也不排除习近平在权力斗争或政变中被废黜的可能性。

中国有句谚语,外强中干。习近平的这种强硬的个性掩饰了该党和政治制度其实内在是极其脆弱的。

下面,从五个迹象来阐述该政权的脆弱性和党的系统性弱点。

首先,中国的富豪们已经一脚踏出了国门,他们已经为一旦制度真正开始崩溃而大批逃亡做好了准备。2014年,上海的胡润研究院发现,他们调查的高净值个人--即393名百万富翁和亿万富翁--中的64%,已经移民或者正在计划移民。有钱的中国人以创纪录的人数将孩子送出国留学。

有钱的中国人也在以创纪录的水平和价格在海外置业,经常在避税天堂,用皮包公司的名义,将金融资产转移海外。

同时,北京在试图引渡生活在海外的大量卷财逃跑的逃犯。当一个国家的精英—其中很多是党员—以这样巨大的人数逃离,这说明他们对现政权和国家的未来缺乏信心。

第二,自从2012年上任以来,习近平加剧了笼罩在中国的自2009年以来的政治压制。压制的目标包括媒体,社交媒体,电影,艺术和文学,宗教团体,互联网,知识分子,藏族和维吾尔族,异见人士,律师,非政府组织,大学生和教科书。2013年,中央委员会通过各级党委下发了被称为9号文件的严厉命令,命令所有单位揪出任何看起来是对西方‌‌‌‌"普世价值‌‌‌‌"的支持—包括宪政民主,公民社会,新闻自由和新自由主义经济学。

一个有安全感和自信的政府不会实行这样一个严厉的镇压。它是党的领导人的深深焦虑和不安全感的症状。

第三,即使是很多政权的支持者也只是在走过场。去年夏天,我作为少数的外国人(唯一的美国人)在北京的一个党领导下的智库参加了一个关于‌‌‌‌"中国梦‌‌‌‌"的会议。我们连续两天不间断的观看了由20多个党的学者带来的令人头脑麻木的演讲,这些学者的脸很僵硬,他们的身体语言非常呆板,他们的无聊之情溢于言表。他们假装奉迎党和领导人的最新口头禅。但是很显然,宣传已经失去了效力,皇帝没有穿衣。

12月,我回到北京,参加了中央党校的一个会议,中国的高官们和外国政策专家们再次的逐字背诵口号。一天午餐时,我去了校园书店。书架上的大部头从列宁文选到赖斯的回忆录,在门口的一张桌子上高高的堆满了习近平关于推动‌‌‌‌"群众路线‌‌‌‌"的小册子。我问店员:‌‌‌‌"这个怎么卖?‌‌‌‌"她回答道:‌‌‌‌"哦,那个不卖,我们免费赠送。‌‌‌‌"那么大一堆表明这不是什么抢手的作品。

第四,弥漫在党国和军队中的腐败也同样到处弥漫在中国社会中。习近平的反腐运动比之前的任何一次都更持久,更严厉,但是没有运动可以消除问题。腐败顽固的根植于一党专制,裙带关系,经济缺乏透明度,政府控制媒体,缺乏法治之中。

另一个问题,习近平是中国第一代革命精英的后代,党的‌‌‌‌"太子党‌‌‌‌"之一,他的政治纽带很大程度上都是其他的太子党。这些含着银汤勺出生的一代在中国社会是广受诟病的。

最后,中国的经济,陷入了一系列系统性的陷阱,没有容易的出路。在2013年11月,习近平主持了党的三中全会,推出了经济改革的方案,但是到目前为止,只听雷声不见雨。总之,习近平的宏伟目标已经胎死腹中。改革方案挑战强大的,根深蒂固的利益集团,例如国企和地方党的干部,他们分明就是在阻挡着改革的实施。

这五个日益明显的裂缝只能通过政治改革来解决。除非中国放松其严厉的政治控制,中国永远不可能成为一个创新型的社会和‌‌‌‌"知识经济‌‌‌‌"。政治体制已经成为中国亟需的社会和经济改革的主要障碍。如果习近平和党的领导人不放松管制,他们可能招致恰恰是他们希望避免的命运。

自从苏联解体后,中国的高层一直对共产大哥的倒台耿耿于怀,不停的剖析苏联解体的原因。

习近平的真实的‌‌‌‌"中国梦‌‌‌‌"就是要避免苏联一样的噩梦。就在他上台的几个月后,就发表了一个内部讲话,懊悔苏联的解体,并哀叹戈尔巴乔夫的背叛,认为莫斯科没有‌‌‌‌"真正的男儿‌‌‌‌"来面对其改革派的最后一位领导人。习近平现在的一系列打压意味着就是戈尔巴乔夫重组改革和开放政策的的反面。不但不开放,习近平还加倍管制异见人士,经济,甚至是党内对手。

有专家认为,习近平的严厉手法可能预示着在他任期的后面可能会更开放更加改革。我不这样认为。这位领导人和现政权这样认为:如果放松管制,就肯定带来制度的灭亡和他们自己的垮台。他们也采取了阴谋论,认为美国正在积极的努力颠覆共产党的统治。没有任何迹象表明,大刀阔斧的改革指日可待。

我们无法预测中国共产主义何时会崩溃,但是不难得出结论我们正在目睹它的最后阶段。中国共产党是世界上历时第二长的政权(仅次于北韩),没有任何一个政党可以永久统治下去。

展望未来,中国观察家们应该关注该政权的控制工具,以及那些被分配使用这些工具的人。大量的中国公民和党员已经用脚投了票,离开中国或假装遵守党的指示。

当政权的宣传机构和内部安全机构开始在执行党的指令时变得松懈,或当他们开始认同异见人士时,我们应该格外关注。当人类的同情心开始战胜僵化的权威时,中国共产党的末日将真的开始。

本文译自David Shambaugh(沈大伟)于3月6日发表在《华尔街日报》上的文章,原文题目是‌‌‌‌"The Coming Chinese Crackup‌‌‌‌"(点击阅读) 译文略有删节。

Shambaugh博士是乔治•华盛顿大学中国政策项目的主任和国际事务教授,也是布鲁金斯学会的的非常驻高级研究员。

The Coming Chinese Crackup

The endgame of communist rule in China has begun, and Xi Jinping's ruthless measures are only bringing the country closer to a breaking point

Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. PHOTO: XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS
By 
DAVID SHAMBAUGH
March 6, 2015 11:26 a.m. ET
On Thursday, the National People's Congress convened in Beijing in what has become a familiar annual ritual. Some 3,000 "elected" delegates from all over the country—ranging from colorfully clad ethnic minorities to urbane billionaires—will meet for a week to discuss the state of the nation and to engage in the pretense of political participation.
Some see this impressive gathering as a sign of the strength of the Chinese political system—but it masks serious weaknesses. Chinese politics has always had a theatrical veneer, with staged events like the congress intended to project the power and stability of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP. Officials and citizens alike know that they are supposed to conform to these rituals, participating cheerfully and parroting back official slogans. This behavior is known in Chinese as biaotai, "declaring where one stands," but it is little more than an act of symbolic compliance.
Despite appearances, China's political system is badly broken, and nobody knows it better than the Communist Party itself. China's strongman leader,Xi Jinping , is hoping that a crackdown on dissent and corruption will shore up the party's rule. He is determined to avoid becoming the Mikhail Gorbachev of China, presiding over the party's collapse. But instead of being the antithesis of Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Xi may well wind up having the same effect. His despotism is severely stressing China's system and society—and bringing it closer to a breaking point.
Predicting the demise of authoritarian regimes is a risky business. Few Western experts forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union before it occurred in 1991; the CIA missed it entirely. The downfall of Eastern Europe's communist states two years earlier was similarly scorned as the wishful thinking of anticommunists—until it happened. The post-Soviet "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan from 2003 to 2005, as well as the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, all burst forth unanticipated.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.ENLARGE
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC/GETTY IMAGES
China-watchers have been on high alert for telltale signs of regime decay and decline ever since the regime's near-death experience in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since then, several seasoned Sinologists have risked their professional reputations by asserting that the collapse of CCP rule was inevitable. Others were more cautious—myself included. But times change in China, and so must our analyses.
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The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think. We don't know what the pathway from now until the end will look like, of course. It will probably be highly unstable and unsettled. But until the system begins to unravel in some obvious way, those inside of it will play along—thus contributing to the facade of stability.
Communist rule in China is unlikely to end quietly. A single event is unlikely to trigger a peaceful implosion of the regime. Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d'état. With his aggressive anticorruption campaign—a focus of this week's National People's Congress—he is overplaying a weak hand and deeply aggravating key party, state, military and commercial constituencies.
The Chinese have a proverb, waiying, neiruan—hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Mr. Xi is a genuinely tough ruler. He exudes conviction and personal confidence. But this hard personality belies a party and political system that is extremely fragile on the inside.
Consider five telling indications of the regime's vulnerability and the party's systemic weaknesses.
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People's Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People's Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
First, China's economic elites have one foot out the door, and they are ready to flee en masse if the system really begins to crumble. In 2014, Shanghai's Hurun Research Institute, which studies China's wealthy, found that 64% of the "high net worth individuals" whom it polled—393 millionaires and billionaires—were either emigrating or planning to do so. Rich Chinese are sending their children to study abroad in record numbers (in itself, an indictment of the quality of the Chinese higher-education system).
Just this week, the Journal reported, federal agents searched several Southern California locations that U.S. authorities allege are linked to "multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses that enabled thousands of Chinese women to travel here and return home with infants born as U.S. citizens." Wealthy Chinese are also buying property abroad at record levels and prices, and they are parking their financial assets overseas, often in well-shielded tax havens and shell companies.
Meanwhile, Beijing is trying to extradite back to China a large number of alleged financial fugitives living abroad. When a country's elites—many of them party members—flee in such large numbers, it is a telling sign of lack of confidence in the regime and the country's future.
Second, since taking office in 2012, Mr. Xi has greatly intensified the political repression that has blanketed China since 2009. The targets include the press, social media, film, arts and literature, religious groups, the Internet, intellectuals, Tibetans and Uighurs, dissidents, lawyers, NGOs, university students and textbooks. The Central Committee sent a draconian order known as Document No. 9 down through the party hierarchy in 2013, ordering all units to ferret out any seeming endorsement of the West's "universal values"—including constitutional democracy, civil society, a free press and neoliberal economics.
A more secure and confident government would not institute such a severe crackdown. It is a symptom of the party leadership's deep anxiety and insecurity.
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman in Beijing on Wednesday before the opening of the National People's Congress nearby.ENLARGE
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman in Beijing on Wednesday before the opening of the National People's Congress nearby. PHOTO:ASSOCIATED PRESS
Third, even many regime loyalists are just going through the motions. It is hard to miss the theater of false pretense that has permeated the Chinese body politic for the past few years. Last summer, I was one of a handful of foreigners (and the only American) who attended a conference about the "China Dream," Mr. Xi's signature concept, at a party-affiliated think tank in Beijing. We sat through two days of mind-numbing, nonstop presentations by two dozen party scholars—but their faces were frozen, their body language was wooden, and their boredom was palpable. They feigned compliance with the party and their leader's latest mantra. But it was evident that the propaganda had lost its power, and the emperor had no clothes.
In December, I was back in Beijing for a conference at the Central Party School, the party's highest institution of doctrinal instruction, and once again, the country's top officials and foreign policy experts recited their stock slogans verbatim. During lunch one day, I went to the campus bookstore—always an important stop so that I can update myself on what China's leading cadres are being taught. Tomes on the store's shelves ranged from Lenin's "Selected Works" to Condoleezza Rice's memoirs, and a table at the entrance was piled high with copies of a pamphlet by Mr. Xi on his campaign to promote the "mass line"—that is, the party's connection to the masses. "How is this selling?" I asked the clerk. "Oh, it's not," she replied. "We give it away." The size of the stack suggested it was hardly a hot item.
Fourth, the corruption that riddles the party-state and the military also pervades Chinese society as a whole. Mr. Xi's anticorruption campaign is more sustained and severe than any previous one, but no campaign can eliminate the problem. It is stubbornly rooted in the single-party system, patron-client networks, an economy utterly lacking in transparency, a state-controlled media and the absence of the rule of law.
Moreover, Mr. Xi's campaign is turning out to be at least as much a selective purge as an antigraft campaign. Many of its targets to date have been political clients and allies of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin . Now 88, Mr. Jiang is still the godfather figure of Chinese politics. Going after Mr. Jiang's patronage network while he is still alive is highly risky for Mr. Xi, particularly since Mr. Xi doesn't seem to have brought along his own coterie of loyal clients to promote into positions of power. Another problem: Mr. Xi, a child of China's first-generation revolutionary elites, is one of the party's "princelings," and his political ties largely extend to other princelings. This silver-spoon generation is widely reviled in Chinese society at large.
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014.ENLARGE
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Finally, China's economy—for all the Western views of it as an unstoppable juggernaut—is stuck in a series of systemic traps from which there is no easy exit. In November 2013, Mr. Xi presided over the party's Third Plenum, which unveiled a huge package of proposed economic reforms, but so far, they are sputtering on the launchpad. Yes, consumer spending has been rising, red tape has been reduced, and some fiscal reforms have been introduced, but overall, Mr. Xi's ambitious goals have been stillborn. The reform package challenges powerful, deeply entrenched interest groups—such as state-owned enterprises and local party cadres—and they are plainly blocking its implementation.
These five increasingly evident cracks in the regime's control can be fixed only through political reform. Until and unless China relaxes its draconian political controls, it will never become an innovative society and a "knowledge economy"—a main goal of the Third Plenum reforms. The political system has become the primary impediment to China's needed social and economic reforms. If Mr. Xi and party leaders don't relax their grip, they may be summoning precisely the fate they hope to avoid.
In the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the upper reaches of China's leadership have been obsessed with the fall of its fellow communist giant. Hundreds of Chinese postmortem analyseshave dissected the causes of the Soviet disintegration.
Mr. Xi's real "China Dream" has been to avoid the Soviet nightmare. Just a few months into his tenure, he gave a telling internal speech ruing the Soviet Union's demise and bemoaning Mr. Gorbachev's betrayals, arguing that Moscow had lacked a "real man" to stand up to its reformist last leader. Mr. Xi's wave of repression today is meant to be the opposite of Mr. Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost. Instead of opening up, Mr. Xi is doubling down on controls over dissenters, the economy and even rivals within the party.
But reaction and repression aren't Mr. Xi's only option. His predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao , drew very different lessons from the Soviet collapse. From 2000 to 2008, they instituted policies intended to open up the system with carefully limited political reforms.
They strengthened local party committees and experimented with voting for multicandidate party secretaries. They recruited more businesspeople and intellectuals into the party. They expanded party consultation with nonparty groups and made the Politburo's proceedings more transparent. They improved feedback mechanisms within the party, implemented more meritocratic criteria for evaluation and promotion, and created a system of mandatory midcareer training for all 45 million state and party cadres. They enforced retirement requirements and rotated officials and military officers between job assignments every couple of years.
In effect, for a while Mr. Jiang and Mr. Hu sought to manage change, not to resist it. But Mr. Xi wants none of this. Since 2009 (when even the heretofore open-minded Mr. Hu changed course and started to clamp down), an increasingly anxious regime has rolled back every single one of these political reforms (with the exception of the cadre-training system). These reforms were masterminded by Mr. Jiang's political acolyte and former vice president, Zeng Qinghong, who retired in 2008 and is now under suspicion in Mr. Xi's anticorruption campaign—another symbol of Mr. Xi's hostility to the measures that might ease the ills of a crumbling system.
Some experts think that Mr. Xi's harsh tactics may actually presage a more open and reformist direction later in his term. I don't buy it. This leader and regime see politics in zero-sum terms: Relaxing control, in their view, is a sure step toward the demise of the system and their own downfall. They also take the conspiratorial view that the U.S. is actively working to subvert Communist Party rule. None of this suggests that sweeping reforms are just around the corner.
We cannot predict when Chinese communism will collapse, but it is hard not to conclude that we are witnessing its final phase. The CCP is the world's second-longest ruling regime (behind only North Korea), and no party can rule forever.
Looking ahead, China-watchers should keep their eyes on the regime's instruments of control and on those assigned to use those instruments. Large numbers of citizens and party members alike are already voting with their feet and leaving the country or displaying their insincerity by pretending to comply with party dictates.
We should watch for the day when the regime's propaganda agents and its internal security apparatus start becoming lax in enforcing the party's writ—or when they begin to identify with dissidents, like the East German Stasi agent in the film "The Lives of Others" who came to sympathize with the targets of his spying. When human empathy starts to win out over ossified authority, the endgame of Chinese communism will really have begun.

Dr. Shambaugh is a professor of international affairs and the director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His books include "China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation" and, most recently, "China Goes Global: The Partial Power."

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