奥巴马的亚洲之行与TPP、南海争端和美缅关系

默里•希伯特,德格雷戈里•波林  2014年11月11日

【摘要】 奥巴马在即将到来的亚洲之行中应当要求日本更加建设性地参与TPP谈判。在南海问题上应当支持美国国务院此前提出的冻结计划,并且呼吁东盟中的南海岛屿声索国首先达成多边协议,明确自己的主张。在缅甸执行中,奥巴马应当同缅甸总统登盛和其他领导人就2015年的议会选举进行讨论;敦促缅甸领导层恢复在边境地区的人道主义援助;提醒缅甸领导人,国际社会正在密切观察政府同少数民族武装的和平谈判。



11月4日的美国中期选举结束后不久,奥巴马总统就将前往亚洲参加一系列重要的峰会,同时他将有机会处理美国在这一地区面临的一系列挑战。第一个会议就将是亚太经合组织领导人非正式会议,该会议将于11月10-11日在北京举行。紧接着将会是于11月13-14日在内比都举行的东亚峰会。这两大峰会为奥巴马总统提供了一个很好的机会,能够为其亚太再平衡战略积聚势头。再平衡战略由于中东和乌克兰危机的接连发生在很大程度上被削弱了。最后他将于11月15-16日前往澳大利亚的布里斯班参加二十国集团领导人峰会。

由于TPP谈判久拖不决,因此投资和贸易议题这一再平衡战略中最重要的组成部分之一仍然有待强化。2014年的大部分时间里,12个TPP谈判国大部分时间处于僵持阶段,这很大程度上是由于日本不愿意对五大能源产品免税。当奥巴马在APEC会议和东亚峰会中同安倍晋三会面的时候,他将有机会同日本领导人讨论这一问题。在奥巴马决定将日本纳入TPP谈判的时候,他曾向美国国民允诺了一个光明的前景。

日本的谈判代表一直说,直到奥巴马从国会获得了贸易促进授权他们才会将对日本而言最重要的市场准入议题摆在桌面上。随着奥巴马任内最后一场选举在11月4日结束,总统将有机会移除日本长期以来最冠冕堂皇的理由,可以向日本承诺他将在2015年初向国会提交贸易促进立法的请求。由于奥巴马将TPP作为他任期内最标志性的外交成就之一,因此美国国会很有可能将在2015年中前通过这一法案。2015年中期后美国将进入美国总统大选的周期。

奥巴马总统在缅甸的东亚峰会上面临的最大的安全议题毫无疑问将是南海争端。奥巴马在过去将大部分的再平衡战略中的资源投入了安全和外交议题,远远超出经济议题,其中对南海争议的介入又是其中的重中之重。

去年,美国政府变得越来越积极。美国国务卿克里和其他高级官员开始不断呼吁各方澄清自己的主张以及主张背后的依据。美国助理副国务卿麦克·福克斯在7月提出了新的倡议,呼吁各国同意冻结任何在争议海域升级局势的行为,包括在岛上的工事以及油气资源开发。这一提议迅速得到了菲律宾的支持,尽管中国对此表示反对。

奥巴马总统应当明确表达对这些倡议的坚定支持,并且重申美国的基本立场,即南海争端必须通过国际法得到解决,决不能动用武力。在这一次,他应该要求东盟内的南海岛屿声索国——文莱、马来西亚、菲律宾和越南——达成一个初步的协议,明确自己的主张,并且在多边层面达成哪些海域属于争议海域的共识,并且停止任何在这些区域的建设行为和挑衅行动。他同时也应该敦促那些国家开始合作开始对南沙群岛进行勘察,以保护自身免受中国通过填筑工程改变礁石地位,增高低地的行为。

马来西亚、菲律宾和越南本年举行的部长级会议为这些协议的达成提供了一个非常理想的场所,菲律宾将争议提交国际法院的行为也将给北京施加巨大的外交压力能够回到谈判桌前阐明自己的主张。

奥巴马应该承诺为这些努力提供美国的技术支持,重点推介美国国务院从2014年初开始的“海上权利限制”的系列研究课题。该研究课题将研究沿海国家相关海洋权利主张的合法性问题。9月16日,这一系列研究发布了有关印度尼西亚和菲律宾的报告。美国总统应当明确,美国国务院将就相关国家的主张发布更新报告,目的是最终明确指出一系列具体的需要明确各自主张的领域。

在东亚峰会以及美国-东盟峰会之外,奥巴马还将同缅甸领导人举行双边会谈。正如他2012年对缅甸进行的第一次访问一样,美国总统需要对缅甸文人政府自2011年推行改革以来的成就表示赞赏。但他同时也应当推动缅甸继续在许多问题仍然突出的领域进行改革。

首先,奥巴马需要同缅甸总统登盛和其他领导人就2015年的议会选举进行讨论。对许多华盛顿的政治家,尤其是国会议员而言,这一选举将是评判改革成功与否的关键指标。现在看来,似乎议会越来越不可能修改宪法59条f条款,该条款将禁止反对派领导人昂山素季成为缅甸领导人,因为昂山素季的儿子是外国公民,同时似乎也不太可能修改第435条,该条款规定国会四分之一的议席必须来自军方。这场选举很可能将是不完美的,但此次选举自由和公平的程度将决定美国在2016年以后和缅甸的接触层级。奥巴马也许想要在即将到来的选举前为缅甸国内各政党及选举委员会提供能力建设方面的帮助。

其次,奥巴马总统应当敦促缅甸领导层恢复在边境地区的人道主义援助,包括医生无国界组织向西部若开邦罗辛亚族的人道主义援助。自3月以来义工被驱逐出若开邦后,缅甸政府没有能够很好地解决这一地区大批14万多少数族裔人群的人道主义援助问题,这些民众几乎不可能得到医疗帮助,外国医疗工作者已经被强制驱逐。

第三,奥巴马应当提醒缅甸领导人,国际社会正在密切观察政府同少数民族武装的和平谈判。少数民族领导人在8月的谈判后对协议的达成感到比较乐观,但是在9月的谈判后感觉到政府内的军方成员从8月份所做出的一些承诺中有所让步。如果没有同少数民族达成和解,那么缅甸想要实现领导人所希望的经济发展水平将会是非常困难的。奥巴马总统应当对和平进程基于强劲的外交支持,同时承诺一旦达成协议,将会为难民安置提供协助,也将为缅甸提供经济援助。


 

 

Summits Provide Obama Venues for Addressing Asia Challenges


Murray Hiebert, Gregory B. Poling


Shortly after the November 4 congressional elections, President Barack Obama will head to Asia for a series of important summits at which he will have an opportunity to address some critical challenges facing the United States and the region. First will be the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting at Yanqi Lake outside Beijing on November 10–11. Next up will be the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Naypyidaw on November 13–14. Those two summits will give President Obama an opportunity to give some much-needed momentum to his administration’s rebalance to Asia, which has been drowned out by crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, before he heads to the November 15–16 Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, Australia.

 

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks drag on, trade and investment remain one of the most important components of Obama’s rebalance to Asia still to be consummated. For much of 2014, the talks between the 12 TPP negotiating countries have been stuck largely due to Japan’s inability to slash tariffs on five key agricultural products. When Obama meets Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at APEC and the EAS, he will have opportunities to discuss with the Japanese leader the courageous vision to which the latter committed his country when he brought Japan into the TPP.

 

Japanese negotiators often say they do not want to put their most forward-leaning market access offer on the table until they are assured that Obama will get trade promotion authority from Congress. With his last election campaign behind him after November 4, the president could help remove one of Tokyo’s ostensible reasons for delaying by pledging to send trade promotion legislation to the new Congress early in 2015. For Obama to snare the TPP as a signature accomplishment of his presidency, U.S. lawmakers will likely need to pass the trade bill before mid-2015 when the next presidential election cycle will kick into full gear. 

 

The biggest security issue facing the leaders’ retreat at the EAS in Myanmar will undoubtedly be the disputes in the South China Sea. The Obama administration has done a far better job investing in diplomacy and security than in economics as part of the rebalance, and its engagement on the South China Sea has been central to that.

 

In the last year, the U.S. government has become even more forward-leaning. Secretary of State John Kerry and other high-ranking officials have begun to consistently call on all parties to clarify what they are claiming and on what basis. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs in July issued a new recommendation for the South China Sea claimants to agree to a freeze on all escalatory activities in disputed areas, including construction and oil and gas exploration. That call was immediately taken up by the Philippines, although rejected by China.

 

President Obama should voice strong support for both of these initiatives, and reiterate his administration’s consistent message that the South China Sea disputes must be managed and resolved according to international law and without resorting to violence. To this end, he should press the ASEAN claimants—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam—to reach a preliminary agreement to clarify their claims, agree to a mutually acceptable definition of what waters are disputed, and halt all construction and provocative actions within that area. He should also urge those claimants to embark immediately on a concerted effort to survey the disputed Spratly Islands to protect against Chinese efforts to alter the status of rocks and low-tide elevations via reclamation work.

 

The ministerial-level claimants meetings between Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam this year provide an ideal venue to pursue this effort, which in combination with Manila’s ongoing arbitration case will put considerable diplomatic pressure on Beijing to come to the table and clarify its positions.

 

Obama should offer U.S. technical assistance in these efforts, highlighting the renewed work of the State Department’s “Limits in the Sea” studies series that was restarted in early 2014 to examine the legality of coastal states’ maritime claims. On September 16, the series issued new reports on the claims of Indonesia and the Philippines. The president should make explicit that the State Department intends to issue updated reports on the remaining claimant states as well, with the goal of compiling a list of outstanding areas in which the United States believes clarification is needed.

 

Beyond the EAS and the parallel U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Naypyidaw, Obama is also expected to have bilateral meetings with Myanmar’s leaders. As during his first visit in 2012, the U.S. president will want to laud the quasi-civilian leaders for what they have achieved since they mounted political and economic reforms in 2011. But he will also want to nudge them to keep going and to address a number of critical challenges still outstanding.

 

For starters, Obama will need to discuss the November 2015 parliamentary elections with President Thein Sein and the other leaders he meets. For many in Washington, and particularly in Congress, the elections will be a key indicator for measuring the success of the reforms. It looks increasingly unlikely that the parliament will revise Article 59f of the constitution, which bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president because she has sons who are foreign citizens, or Article 436, which reserves for the military a quarter of the seats in the legislature. The elections will likely be less than perfect but the extent to which they are considered free and fair will determine the level of U.S. engagement in 2016 and beyond. Obama may want to offer more assistance to capacity building for political parties and the election commission in the run-up to the elections.

 

Second, the president should press Myanmar’s leadership to restore emergency humanitarian assistance, including by Doctors Without Borders, to the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State in the far west. Since March, when aid workers were expelled from the state, the government has not done enough to address the humanitarian disaster facing the 140,000 Rohingya quarantined since 2012 in barbed wire-enclosed camps. It has been almost impossible for them to obtain medical treatment since the foreign medical workers were forced out.

 

Third, Obama will want to remind Myanmar’s leaders that the international community is carefully watching the peace negotiations with the country’s armed ethnic groups. Ethnic leaders were fairly optimistic about the prospects for a settlement following talks in August, but later felt the military members of the government’s negotiating team rolled back some of their earlier commitments during talks in September. Without a settlement with the ethnic groups, it will be tough for the country to achieve the level of economic development its leaders are hoping for.

 

Obama should offer the strongest diplomatic support for the peace process and pledge assistance to refugee resettlement and economic assistance once an agreement is hammered out.


 
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