>

About

The Center for Strategic Translation provides statesmen and scholars with the tools needed to interpret the Chinese party-state of today while training a new generation of China specialists with the skills needed to guide our relations with the China of tomorrow.

The Center meets this need through initiatives in translation and education. The Center locates, translates, and annotates documents of historic or strategic value that are currently only available in Chinese. Our introductory essays, glossaries, and commentaries are designed to make these materials accessible and understandable to statesmen and scholars with no special expertise in Chinese politics or the Chinese language.

Complementing the Center’s published translations are the Center’s training seminars. Starting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to instruct young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources.
    
The Center is an initiative of the American Governance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that studies and promotes the betterment of American public institutions and publishes the quarterly magazine Palladium. The Center is directed by Tanner Greer, a noted essayist, journalist, and researcher with expertise interpreting China in the context of American foreign policy.

Contact

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

An Evaluation of China’s Total National Security Environment

以总体国家安全观评估中国外部安全环境

Introduction

When Xi Jinping introduced the “Total National Security Paradigm” in 2014 the significance of the concept was still undefined. Xi instructed cadres that they must now “attach equal importance to internal and external security,” directing them to “build a national security system that integrates elements such as political, homeland, military, economic, cultural, social, science and technology, information, ecological, resource and nuclear security.”1 In hindsight we see that this was the beginning of a new era in Chinese security theory: at this meeting Xi Jinping inaugurated what observers have called “the securitization of everything.”2 But what about the policy areas that were already securitized? What did a total security perspective mean for China’s defense establishment and diplomatic corps?  

In this 2014 essay, Liu Jianfei, a professor at the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School, attempts to sketch what a foreign policy influenced by total security concerns should look like. As a historian of ideology’s role in American diplomacy, Liu had long argued that military conflict and economic development were not the only engines of international relations worth paying close attention to. The new Total National Security Paradigm gave him the opening he needed to make this case to the Party writ large. Liu’s essay is thus both an earnest effort to apply the insights garnered from his past studies to the grand strategy of his homeland and one of the earliest attempts to synthesize China’s foreign policy with the new guiding paradigm.  

For Liu Jianfei, viewing Chinese foreign policy from a “total” perspective means viewing Chinese foreign policy from the perspective of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” Liu insists that China is no ordinary state. It is a socialist state whose unique political system makes it distinct from—and at odds with—the other nations of the earth. This means that any foreign policy problem must be considered from two angles: First, in terms of its effect on China as an “ordinary” geopolitical actor. Second, in terms of its effect on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics—in other words, in terms of its effect on the unique Leninist institutions, teleological aims, and political culture that sets the Chinese system apart from other polities. 

Liu’s approach towards Taiwan provides a compelling case in point. Liu does not believe that Taiwan can mount a meaningful threat to China’s military security. But as a Chinese speaking republic occupying territory the PRC’s claims as its own, Taiwan’s existence as an autonomous market democracy undermines the Party’s legitimating narrative and poses a threat to the stability of Communist rule. As Liu puts it, “Taiwan does not pose a serious challenge to the external environment of China, [but its] challenge to the external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ is more acute.”

A parallel logic informs Liu’s analysis of China’s wider relations with the outside world. According to ordinary geopolitical logic, China’s rise as an “ordinary” geopolitical force “poses a concern only to large countries that have geo-strategic conflicts with China such as the United States, Japan, and India, as well as to small and medium-sized neighboring countries.” However, “the reality of international politics is that Western countries have been incorporating ideological factors into their foreign policy.” From this perspective, “China as a rising socialist power poses a concern not only to the above-mentioned countries but also to many Western countries that are not able to view a country with a socialist system as one of their own.”

Thus China should expect and prepare for the United States “to suppress China under the banner of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘universal values.’” This is dangerous to China for two reasons: first of all, every nation of the West and many parts of the developing world have embraced market democracy. If the United States is able to successfully frame its competition with China as a contest between Leninist systems and market democracies, China will find itself isolated on the international stage. More worrisome still is the threat that democracy promotion and universal values might pose to political stability within China itself. China can withstand isolation; it cannot survive dissent. This is “the lesson of the history of the international communist movement.” Chinese security professionals must remember that “any external threat to political security must work through internal factors to have an effect.”

This then is Liu’s ultimate fear: isolation and disgrace abroad might undermine ideological coherence at home. This is the only truly existential threat to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. The Soviet Union proved that “for large and powerful countries, threats to military security are relatively insignificant.” It was problems of “political security, especially ideological security” that brought down the Soviet regime.

Liu’s essay previews many of the themes that would become characteristic to discussions of the Total National Security Paradigm. These include an unflagging attention to political security, a determination to draw lessons from Soviet precedents, the insistence that diplomatic and security incidents be interpreted through their ideological consequences, and a deep fear of what might happen if external forces successfully coordinate with internal dissidents. Liu concludes with a warning that would not sound out of place today: “Although Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has attained impressive results, it has yet to escape from capitalist encirclement.”

—THE EDITORS

1. Xi Jinping, The Governance of China, vol. I (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014), 222.
2. Katja Drinhausen and Helena Legarda, “‘Comprehensive National Security’ Unleashed: How Xi’s Approach Shapes China’s Policies at Home and Abroad,” MERICS China Report, Mercator Institute for China Studies, 15 September 2022.
Author
Liu Jianfei
刘建飞
original publication
International Studies
国际问题研究
publication date
October 14, 2014
Translator
Nancy Yu
Translation date
March 2023
Tags
Tag term
Tag term
Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation
中华民族伟大复兴

General Secretaries of the Communist Party of China have described “national rejuvenation” [民族复兴] as the central mission of their Party since the Thirteenth Party Congress in 1987. Their wording intentionally echoes the language used by Sun Yat-sen and the nationalist revolutionaries who overthrew the Qing Dynasty at the cusp of the modern era. Those revolutionaries dreamed of restoring a broken nation to its traditional station at the center of human civilization.Though he lives a century after Sun Yat-sen’s death, Xi Jinping rarely gives a speech without endorsing the same aspiration. As Xi describes it, national rejuvenation is a “strategic plan” for “achieving lasting greatness for the Chinese nation” (Xi 2022). The formal term for this plan is the “National Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation,” a term that could be alternatively translated as the “National Rejuvenation of the Chinese Race.”

The work of a Leninist party is inherently goal oriented. Chinese governance depends on a  “high pressure system” [压力型体制] that uses a mix of campaign tactics and career incentives to focus the work of millions of cadres on a shared set of tasks, all of which are nested in a hierarchy of overarching goals. During the Maoist era China’s leadership identified the  “the realization of communism” as the “ultimate aim of the Party,” and proposed “victory in class struggle” as the path for reaching this end (Perrolle 1976). The CPC of today still endorses the“realization of communism” as the “highest ideal and ultimate aim” of the Party, but argues that “the highest ideal of communism pursued by Chinese Communists can be realized only when socialist society is fully developed and highly advanced,” a historical process that will “take over a century” to achieve (Constitution of the CPC 2022). In contrast, the “lasting greatness” associated with national rejuvenation can be accomplished on a more feasible timescale. The Party expects to lead the Chinese race to this desired end state by 2049, the centenary of the People’s Republic of China. Achieving the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation by this date is the overarching goal of the Chinese party-state.

To attain national rejuvenation, party leadership has argued that China must become a “great and modern socialist state” [社会主义现代化强国]. In Xi Jinping’s NEW ERA this imperative has been broken down into five aspirational end states: prosperity and strength [富强],democracy [民主], advanced culture [文明], social harmony [和谐], and beauty [美丽]. The first category emphasize the Party’s drive to build a country whose COMPOSITE NATIONAL POWER is commensurate with a civilization at the leading edge of modernity; the next three identify the desired relationship between the Communist Party and a unified Chinese nation; the last is associated with campaigns to reduce pollution and forge a healthier relationship between industrial development and the natural environment. 

With sub-components as broad as these, almost any policy promoted by THE CENTER falls under the remit of “national rejuvenation.” The breadth of this mandate is intentional. As communist utopia retreats ever further into the future, Party leadership has bet that reclaiming lost Chinese greatness is the one cause “the entire Party and all the Chinese people [will] strive for” (Xi 2022). 

See also: ADVANCING TOWARDS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD STAGE; CENTURY OF NATIONAL HUMILIATION

National Rejuvenation
民族复兴
Total National Security Paradigm
总体国家安全观

The Total National Security Paradigm is a set of interlinked concepts that party sources describe as Xi Jinping’s signature contribution to Chinese security theory. Xi introduced the paradigm in a 2014 address where he instructed cadres to “pay attention to both traditional and non-traditional security, and build a national security system that integrates such elements as political, military, economic, cultural, social, science and technology, information, ecological, resource, and nuclear security” (Xi 2014, p. 221-222).  This distinction between traditional [传统] and non-traditional [非传统] security is key to Xi’s paradigm. “Traditional security” is oriented around threats to China’s territorial integrity and threats from foreign military powers. The Total National Security Paradigm guides cadres to place equal emphasis on “non-traditional security” threats which cannot be resolved with military tools, but which are potentially as dangerous as military defeat.

Variously translated as the Holistic Approach to National Security, the Comprehensive National Security Concept, or the Overall National Security Outlook, the core of Xi's security paradigm is a maximalist conception of security. This intellectual framework blurs the lines between hard and soft power, internal and external threats, and traditional distinctions between the worlds of economics, culture, and diplomacy. China’s accounting of its security must be “total” [总体].

Though the Total National Security Paradigm is the most forceful and systematic presentation of this idea, it is not new to Party thought. Mao introduced the phrase PEACEFUL EVOLUTION into the party lexicon to describe the threat posed by Western powers who hoped to overthrow communist regimes by instigating revolution from within. The collapse of the Soviet Union vividly demonstrated what happened to a party who ignored this threat. From that moment to the present day, party leaders and state intellectuals have portrayed the Communist Party of China as safeguarding a system under siege. Be they faced with economic coercion and political isolation or friendly offers to integrate into the international order, party authorities consistently describe their country as the object of hostile stratagems designed to subvert China’s domestic stability and the Party’s unquestioned rule.

Xi Jinping’s solution to this problem differs from its predecessors more in scale than concept. Officials in the Jiang and Hu eras offered regular warnings about the danger that ideological dissent, social protest, online media, and official corruption posed to the Party’s hold on power. The Total National Security Paradigm formalized these warnings into a more systematic conceptual framework. In Leninist systems theoretical frameworks like these are the necessary prerequisite of bureaucratic overhaul. If this was the concept’s purpose it seems to have accomplished its aim: by the 20th Congress, the Chinese government was spending more on its internal security budget than on military power, the state security apparatus saw fresh expansion down to lower levels of government, and new national bodies like the Central National Security Commission (CNSC) [中央国家安全委员会] were coordinating state security functions across China’s bureaucratic labyrinth.

See also: CORE INTERESTS; HOSTILE FORCES; PEACEFUL EVOLUTION; SOFT BONE DISEASE; COMPOSITE NATIONAL POWER

Period of Strategic Opportunity
战略机遇期

The concept of a “period of strategic opportunity” was first introduced by Jiang Zemin in 2002. In his political report to the 16th Party Congress, Jiang identified “the first two decades of the twenty-first century” as “an important period of strategic opportunity that must be grasped tightly.” In Jiang’s telling, the turn of the 21st century introduced a rare window of time in which China could focus all of its efforts on economic development. By embracing the forces of globalization during this window, the Party had the opportunity to build Chinese power through peaceful means, thereby laying the foundation for “a strong, prosperous, democratic and culturally advanced socialist country by the middle of this century” (Jiang 2002).

Jiang’s slogan was born out of the foreign policy debates that racked the Communist Party of China in the late 1990s. A decade before Deng Xiaoping had declared that PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT WERE THE THEME OF THE TIMES; a suite of reform era policies—including China’s opening to outside investment, Deng’s pursuit of market reforms, and the decision to terminate support for Maoist guerillas in the developing world—flowed from this assessment. A world trending towards peace and economic integration was a world where it was safe to focus the work of the Chinese party-state on economic reform.

The annual debates over China’s trading status in Washington, the 1997 Taiwan Straits crisis, and America’s 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade all put Deng’s assessment of the international scene to question. Many in China believed that it had been a mistake to prioritize economic growth over military power or confrontation with the United States. China’s ascension to the WTO and the 9/11 attacks—which diverted American hostility away from the PRC and towards the Middle East—put an end to their worries. By 2002 it was clear that globalization would not only power China’s economic ascent but would also temper opposition to China’s growing material might.

Jiang’s conception of the period of strategic opportunity was endorsed by the two men who governed China during the remainder of this window of opportunity. Both Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping repeated Jiang’s phrase verbatim; both paired it with fulsome depictions of globalization as an unstoppable historical force. Yet as Xi Jinping’s second term came to a close, economic integration seemed a far less powerful trend than it had seemed at the start of tenure. By that point the BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE had met with numerous setbacks; China was engaged in an unforgiving trade war with the United States, and anti-China sentiment was rising across the globe. Two decades after Jiang’s introduction of the period of strategic opportunity, Xi would offer a new assessment of the times:

Our country has entered a period of development in which strategic opportunities, risks, and challenges are concurrent and uncertainties and unforeseen factors are rising… We must therefore be more mindful of potential dangers, be prepared to deal with worst-case scenarios, and be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms (Xi 2022).

 Xi’s new formula does not predict imminent war. It does suggest, however, that the Party can no longer rely on globalization and economic integration to shepherd the REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION. In an international environment defined by risk and danger, the strategies of the reform era are no longer sufficient to secure the Party CENTER’s desired future.

See also: ADVANCING TOWARDS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD STAGE; GREAT CHANGES UNSEEN IN A CENTURY; PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT ARE THE THEME OF THE TIMES; COMPOSITE NATIONAL POWER; PATH OF PEACEFUL DEVELOPMENT

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
中国特色社会主义

Leaders of the Communist Party of China use the phrase “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” as the preferred moniker for the political and economic system that they govern. The now ubiquitous phrase was invented shortly after the death of Mao Zedong to describe the distinctive features of a Leninist political system retreating from a Stalinist economic model. Yet if Socialism with Chinese Characteristics was originally intended to explain CPC deviations from orthodox Marxism, in the decades following the fall of the communist bloc it has most often been used to justify China’s deviation from the liberal norms of the world’s richest nations. To invoke Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is to remind cadres that China follows a distinct path to modernity. This path not only precludes the wholesale importation of Western institutions and values, but also provides an explanation for perceived Western hostility to China’s National Rejuvenation.  

The origins of the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics concept can be traced back to Mao Zedong’s various statements on the need to develop the “Sinicization of Marxism” [马克思主义的中国化].  In his most famous proclamation on this theme, Mao declared that “the history of this great nation of ours goes back several thousand years. It has its own laws of development [and] its own national characteristics.” These characteristics must be integrated into the revolutionary programs of the Chinese communists because even though “a communist is a Marxist internationalist…. Marxism must take on a national form before it can be put into practice.” Mao thus championed a

Marxism that has taken on a national form, that is, Marxism applied to the concrete struggle in the concrete conditions prevailing in China, and not Marxism abstractly used. If a Chinese Communist, who is a part of the great Chinese people, bound to his people by his very flesh and blood, talks of Marxism apart from Chinese peculiarities, this Marxism is merely an empty abstraction. Consequently, the Sinicization of Marxism—that is to say, making certain that in all its manifestations it is imbued with Chinese characteristics, using it according to Chinese peculiarities—becomes a problem that must be understood and solved by the whole Party without delay (Schram 2004, liii).

Mao spoke these words as the leader of a guerilla revolutionary movement. Neither Marx’s writings nor the Soviet experience provided much practical guidance in this situation. Stalinist models would prove more relevant to Mao after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Using Stalin’s Short Course as a guidebook, China’s new communist regime imported Soviet economic and political structures with little alteration. The failure of these structures over the next few decades would eventually prompt the leaders of the Communist Party of China to seek a new path—and to justify that path with language that echoed Mao’s early calls for a Sinicized form of Marxism.  “We must integrate the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete realities of China,” Deng Xiaoping would report to the 12th Party Congress in 1982, “and blaze a path of our own and build a Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” (Deng 1991).

The phrase “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” has featured in the title of every subsequent Political Report given by a General Secretary to a Party Congress. In these reports Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is consistently identified as comprising a distinctive theoretical system [理论体系], a set of institutions [制度], a culture [文化], and a path [道路].  As Xi Jinping describes it, the theoretical system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics offers intellectual “guid[ance] to the Party and people,” the institutions of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics “provide the fundamental guarantee for progress and development” of socialism, the culture of Socialism with Chinese characteristics “is a powerful source of strength and inspiration” for individual cadres, while the path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics “is the only path to socialist modernization and a better life for the people” (Xi 2020).  Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is thus defined both by the aims of China's political system and the tools cadres must use to accomplish these aims. 

The political debates of the 1980s powerfully shaped both these tools and aims. As the failings of the Chinese economy grew clearer, Party leaders concluded that “the practice of implementing orthodox socialist principles in the style of the Soviet Union was excessive for China’s level of socioeconomic development and productivity” (Zhao 2009). A country starting from such a low economic base must prioritize economic growth over class struggle—even if this required marketization of parts of the Chinese economy. In Zhao Ziyang’s 1987 Political Report this developmental stage—called the INITIAL STAGE OF SOCIALISM—was linked to the political structures and priorities of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics:

The basic line of our Party in building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics during the initial stage of socialism is as follows: to lead the people of all our nationalities in a united, self-reliant, intensive and pioneering effort to turn China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and modern socialist country… The fundamental task for a socialist society is to develop its productive forces and concentrate on a drive for modernization (Zhao 1987).

Zhao and his fellow economic reformers were aware that statements like these broke from Marxist orthodoxy. “Building socialism in a big, backward, Eastern country like China is something new in the history of the development of Marxism,” Zhao told the Party. “We are not in the situation envisioned by the founders of Marxism” (Zhao 1987). Deng Xiaoping echoed this theme in an interview with a doubtful member of the Japanese socialist party: “Ours is an entirely new endeavor, one that was never mentioned by Marx, never undertaken by our predecessors and never attempted by any other socialist country. So there are no precedents for us to learn from. We can only learn from practice, feeling our way as we go” (Deng 1994).

Statements like these gave reformers the cover they needed to defeat “hidebound thinking” and introduce market mechanisms to Chinese life. The idea that China must bend Marxist-Leninism to fit its national circumstances allowed the reformists to obscure the differences between capitalism and socialism. Tolerance for market processes and an open embrace of international trade would remain a distinguishing feature of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the decades to come.

Yet a return to “hidebound thinking” and “leftist deviation” was never the only danger that Socialism with Chinese Characteristics sought to avert. From its origins the concept was associated with Deng Xiaoping’s FOUR CARDINAL PRINCIPLES—a set of commitments that Deng did not allow the Party to retreat from or tolerate debate over. The four items that party members must remain loyal to include: the socialist path, the rule of a dictatorship of the proletariat, the political predominance of the Communist Party of China, and Marxist and Maoist thought. In practical terms these Four Cardinal Principles were understood as a party-wide commitment to maintain communist control over Chinese politics even as the Party relinquished a measure of control over China’s economy. These political commitments remain in force. “The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” Xi Jinping instructed in his Political Report to the 20th Congress, “and [is] the greatest strength of the system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” (Xi 2022). 

From the concept’s origin in the 1980s, the leaders of the CPC have identified liberalism as the most dangerous threat to the Party’s monopoly on power. Zhao Ziyang’s discussion of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics warns that “the tendency towards bourgeois liberalization, which rejects the socialist system in favor of capitalism… will last throughout the initial stage of socialism” (Zhao 1987). Socialism with Chinese Characteristics can thus be thought of as an attempt to ward off not only the temptations of the orthodox Marxist “left” but also the liberal-capitalist “right.” 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the allure of leftist deviation was much diminished. In recent decades Party leaders tend to contrast the theory, institutions, culture, and path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics not with Marxist orthodoxy but liberal heresy. Thus Xi Jinping warns party cadres that

Since the end of the Cold War, some countries, affected by Western values, have been torn apart by war or afflicted with chaos. If we tailor out practices to Western capitalist values, measure our national development by means of the Western capitalist evaluation system, and regard Western standards as the sole standards for development, the consequences will be devastating—we will have to follow others slavishly at every step, or we subject ourselves to their abuse (Xi 2017, 356).

The contrast with China could not be clearer. In Xi’s home country, “[our] party has led the people in independently blazing the path to success over the past century, and the success of Marxism in China has been realized by Chinese Communists through our own endeavors.” Xi insists that as cadres “strengthen [their] confidence in the path, theoretical system, institutions, and culture of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” they will be able to “deal with China’s issues… in light of the Chinese context.” In the eyes of Xi Jinping and other senior leaders of the Communist Party of China, this is the only path by which China can become strong, wealthy, beautiful, and modern  (Xi 2022). 

See Also: DENG XIAOPING THEORY; FOUR CARDINAL PRINCIPLES; GREAT REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION; INITIAL STAGE OF SOCIALISM; MODERATELY PROSPEROUS SOCIETY; ONE CENTER, TWO BASIC TASKS.

Initial Stage of Socialism
社会主义初级阶段

Since the 1980s the concept of the initial stage of socialism (also translated as the “primary stage of socialism”) has served as the theoretical foundation for the Communist Party of China’s embrace of market economics. The theory of the initial stage of socialism posits that the ideal socialist order—from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs—presumes a level of wealth that China simply does not have. China remains in the initial stage of socialist rule; in this stage the Communist Party of China must focus its work on creating the wealth that future generations will redistribute. The transition to that more “advanced” stage of socialism must wait until China’s productive capacity and COMPREHENSIVE NATIONAL POWER has caught up with or surpassed that of the leading capitalist nations.

The origins of the slogan begin with an oversight: Karl Marx did not anticipate that communist revolutionaries would succeed in economically underdeveloped agrarian empires. He theorized revolution as the inevitable end point of industrialization and saw socialism as the culmination of capitalist development. Marx’s writings, therefore, offered little guidance to any revolutionary leader who seized control of a country that had not yet industrialized. The attempts these leaders made to modernize their countries sans private property, market mechanisms, and the other trappings of capitalism led to some of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies—China’s own Great Leap Forward chief among them.

Having experienced these tragedies firsthand, the men who led the Communist Party of China in the 1980s did not need to be convinced that the economic programs of Stalin and Mao were disasters. However, theirs was a negative consensus: there was no widespread agreement on what positive economic program China should follow. Deng Xiaoping’s reform program was therefore both experimental and provisional. It drew criticism from both the “left” and the “right.” Leftists opposed the ongoing reforms out of fear that they undermined party authority and threatened a wholesale retreat from Marxist principles. The rightists, on the other hand, thought that Deng’s reforms did not go far enough. They hoped that economic reform might evolve into a radical overhaul of not only the Chinese economy but also the Chinese political system. It was in the context of this debate that the market-friendly Zhao Ziyang proposed the theory of the initial stage of socialism.

Though close antecedents to the phrase can be found in party documents as far back as the 1950s, the concept was neither fully explored nor codified as part of the CPC’s guiding ideology until General Secretary Zhao Ziyang used it to justify the sweeping market reform package that he introduced at the 13th Congress in 1987. By that point the phrase “initial stage of socialism” had been used at least three times before in major policy documents of the preceding decade (the 1981 resolution on party history, Hu Yaobang’s Political Report to the 12th Congress, and the 1986 “Resolution on the Construction of a Socialist Spiritual Civilization”), though it was never presented in a systematic way in any of them. However, as party leaders had already endorsed these documents, the phrase “initial stage of socialism” was a useful vehicle for Zhao’s new program.

Zhao’s version of the initial stage of socialism was carefully designed to parry criticism from both the left and the right. To leftists, Zhao emphasized the importance of socialist rule over China. China was still socialist—it was just that in China’s present “historical stage” [历史阶段] low productive capacity was a fundamental “national condition” [国情] that any program of SOCIALISM WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS could not ignore. “When a backward country is trying to build socialism,” Zhao explained, it is: 

natural that during the long initial period its productive forces will not be up to the level of those in developed capitalist countries and that it will not be able to eliminate poverty completely. Accordingly, in building socialism we must do all we can to develop the productive forces and gradually eliminate poverty, constantly raising the people’s living standards. Otherwise, how will socialism be able to triumph over capitalism?

In the second stage, or the advanced stage of communism, when the economy is highly developed and there is overwhelming material abundance, we shall be able to apply the principle of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ (Zhao 2009).

Yet even as Zhao’s commitment to communist rule placated the left, by promising that economic reform would remain at the center of the Party’s policy platform as long as the country remained in the initial stage of socialism Zhao also sought to ease the fears of the right. Zhao estimated that for China to enter an “advanced stage of communism” economic development must remain the focus of the Party for several generations—at least until the year 2050. This allowed Zhao to position himself in between extremes to both his left and right:  

Under the specific historical conditions of contemporary China, to believe that the Chinese people cannot take the socialist road without going through the stage of fully developed capitalism is to take a mechanistic position on the question of the development of revolution, and that is the major cognitive root of Right mistakes. On the other hand, to believe that it is possible to jump over the initial stage of socialism, in which the productive forces are to be highly developed, is to take a Utopian position on this question, and that is the major cognitive root of Left mistakes (Zhao 1987).

Zhao was able to continue this dance until the Tiananmen protests of 1989 led to his removal from power. His favored phrase initially seemed to fall with him, but in 1997 Jiang Zemin returned the slogan to the center of the Party’s policy program. In his Political Report to the 15th Congress Jiang used the initial stage of socialism as a cudgel to silence critics who wished to walk back Dengist reforms. In a long section of the Report devoted to the concept, Jiang affirmed that “the true reality is that China is currently in the initial stage of socialism and will remain in this stage for a long time to come…. This is a historical stage we cannot jump over.” In this stage China will “accomplish industrialization,” “realize socialist modernization by and large,” “gradually narrow the gap between our level and the advanced world standard,” and “bring about a GREAT REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION on the basis of socialism.” 

Taking the founding of the PRC in 1949 as the starting point of the initial stage of socialism, Jiang estimated that China “will take at least a century to complete this historical process.” He predicted that following 2050 “a much longer period of time to consolidate and develop the socialist system” will be needed. Attaining communism in this period “will require persistent struggle by many generations, a dozen or even several dozen” (Jiang 1997).

Like his predecessors, Xi Jinping has emphasized both that China remains in the initial stage of socialism and that cadres must have faith that communism will eventually be realized in the distant future. But where Zhao, Jiang, and other leaders of the reform generation closely tied their invocations of the initial stage to their judgment that they must make “economic development the central task of the entire Party and the whole country… and make sure that all other work is subordinated to and serves this task” (Jiang 1997), Xi has used the phrase to support party work on a larger set of priorities.

“We have laid a solid material foundation to embark on a new journey and achieve new and higher goals by our unremitting endeavors since the founding of the NEW CHINA, especially over the four decades since the reform and opening up,” Xi instructed members of the CENTRAL COMMITTEE in 2021. This “new journey” is possible because in Xi’s view the initial stage of socialism is “not static, but rather dynamic, active, promising, and permeated with vigorous vitality.” The task the CPC faces now is not merely to develop China’s productive forces, but to “advance from the initial stage [of socialism] to a higher one” (Xinhua 2021). 

Xi describes this higher stage of socialism in terms of modernization and rejuvenation. If the first two decades of development under the “initial stage of socialism” schema made China wealthy, Xi Jinping believes that development during the last three decades of the initial stage of socialism will restore China to its proper place at the CENTER OF THE WORLD STAGE.

See also: DENG XIAOPING THEORY; GREAT REJUVENATION OF THE CHINESE NATION; MODERATELY PROSPEROUS SOCIETY; ONE CENTER, TWO BASIC TASKS; REFORM AND OPENING; SOCIALISM WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS.

中国外部环境主要包括发展环境与安全环境两个方面。[a] 从发展的角度看,中国外部环境虽然面临着一些新挑战,但总体上是好的,机遇十分明显。从安全的角度看,中国所面临的外部环境尽管存在很多机遇,但挑战相对突出。本文试图以中国特色社会主义为视角,并以总体国家安全观为指导,对中国外部安全环境进行全面考察。

一、以中国特色社会主义为视角看国家外部安全环境

“总体国家安全观”由习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出,[b] 其要义就是从中国的特殊国情出发,将政治、经济、军事等各领域安全纳入到一个有机的整体中来统筹考量、把握。与世界其他大国相比,中国最特殊的国情就是实行社会主义制度,坚持走中国特色社会主义道路。所以,考察中国的外部环境,特别是国家外部安全环境,首先就要抓住这个基本国情。以中国特色社会主义为视角来考察国家外部安全环境问题,同单纯以国家角度来考察相比有不少看点。

第一,凸显“一国两制”和祖国统一问题所带来的挑战。

虽然香港、澳门已经是中华人民共和国的一部分,但是由于实行资本主义制度并高度自治,它们有可能被西方大国利用来干预中国内政,甚至作为向中国大陆传播西方价值观的阵地。台湾虽然是中国不可分割的一部分,两岸同属一个中国的事实从未改变,但台湾分裂的潜在威胁依然存在,而且台湾目前在安全上同美日保持着较为密切的关系,在意识形态上也同大陆有明显差异。所以,如果说港澳台地区对“中国外部环境”带来的挑战还不那么严重的话,其对“中国特色社会主义外部环境”所带来的挑战则十分明显。

第二,有助于对中国所面临的外部挑战有更客观、清醒的认识。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”来审视世界,我们往往倾向于将中国作为一个普通的正在崛起的大国来看问题,视野局限于国家间关系中常规的问题,如国家间的安全关系、经济关系,忽视了国际政治中的意识形态因素。然而,国际政治的现实是,西方国家一直将意识形态因素纳入其对外政策。比如,在经济上,打压“走出去”的中国国企,限制向中国出口高科技产品;在军事力量发展上,对中印区别对待,对中国防范限制,对印度则鼓励扶持。可以说,中国作为一般意义上的崛起大国,可能只有美国、日本、印度等同中国有地缘战略矛盾的大国及一些周边中小国家感到担忧;而中国作为一个社会主义大国崛起,感到担忧的恐怕就不只上述国家,许多西方国家出于各种原因,对社会主义制度缺乏认同感。

第三,有助于我们更理性地认知自己的实力。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”看问题,我们的目光往往聚焦于国家间硬实力的对比以及以硬实力为基础的国际政治格局变化,从而过多看到中国所面临的机遇,看到的挑战则相对少一些。比如,单纯从经济、军事等硬实力来看,我们很容易看到中美之间的实力差距在快速拉近;简单以硬实力为基础审视国际政治格局,我们也容易认为随着多极化推进,中国作为一极,其国际影响力和话语权会相应增大。然而,当我们从“中国特色社会主义外部环境”看问题时,情况就会有很大不同。

首先,虽然美国同中国的实力对比差距在缩小,但它凭借以价值观为基础的同盟体系,依然具有十分明显的优势。其次,美国很容易打着“促进民主”、“推广普世价值”的旗号在国际舞台上打压中国,并得到西方盟友及相当一部分实行西方民主制度的发展中国家的理解和支持。正如卡内基国际和平基金会副主席托马斯·卡罗瑟斯(Thomas Carothers)所强调的:“虽然西方和其他国家之间的国力对比正在发生变化,但是许多新的非西方大国实际上是民主国家。巴西、印度、印度尼西亚和土耳其等崛起民主大国的社会经济活力,不仅正在通过自己的样板作用,而且通过支持其周边国家的民主,来促进全球范围的民主”。[c] 

最后,美国将“普世价值”作为重要的软实力,严重制约中国软实力的构建。

“中国特色社会主义外部环境”与“中国外部环境”并非互不相关,二者实际是一个事物的两个层面:前者是后者的内核,后者是前者的载体。载体不存,内核也就失去存在的基础;而内核不存,载体的性质和面貌也会发生根本变化。换句话说,如果“中国外部环境”出了问题,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”也不会安然无恙,中国特色社会主义事业也就难以顺利推进,从这个意义上说,“中国外部环境”的挑战自然也是“中国特色社会主义外部环境”的挑战;反之,如果中国特色社会主义事业不能顺利推进,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”就会严重恶化,进而影响“中国外部环境”。

二、政治安全的外部环境最具挑战性

习近平总书记在提出总体国家安全观和中国国家安全体系时,强调了政治安全的核心地位。[d] 这是对中国特殊国情和国家安全形势新特点、新趋势准确把握基础上作出的论断。中国国情最大的特点之一就是走中国特色社会主义道路,这决定了中国政治安全所面临的挑战比一般国家为甚。

历史上,小国、弱国面临的最大安全威胁来自军事方面。但对大国、强国来说,军事安全威胁相对较小。例如苏联,虽曾多次面临外敌入侵,但都化险为夷。苏联解体时,其超强的军事实力丝毫未受打击,美国及北约也未动用一枪一弹。经济安全也不足以使一个大国解体。苏联在69年的历史中,虽曾多次遭遇严重经济困难,但都经过艰苦奋斗度过了难关。解体前,苏联经济也并非到了无可救药的程度。苏联安全问题首先出在政治安全,尤其是意识形态安全上。[e] 苏共改旗易帜导致政权丧失,社会主义制度难以为继;国家失去凝聚力,刺激了一些加盟共和国的分离倾向;苏共内部滋生出各种派系,最后分裂、瓦解。

历史经验表明,对处在资本主义包围之中的社会主义国家安全来说,最具颠覆性的是政治安全。中国特色社会主义事业发展到今天,虽然取得了举世瞩目的成就,但是仍然没有摆脱处在资本主义包围之中的局面。国家政治安全至关重要,其中最突出的问题就是意识形态安全。正因如此,意识形态被认定为“党的极端重要的工作”。[f]

就目前来看,中国意识形态安全面临着内外双重挑战。

从内部来看,中国特色社会主义意识形态一直面临着两方面的挑战:一是来自“右”的方面,有些人试图用西方的民主社会主义取代科学社会主义;二是来自“左”的方面,有些人忽视社会主义初级阶段这个基本国情,强调社会主义与资本主义对立的一面,漠视发展中国家需要向发达国家学习、借鉴的一面,若如此,中国特色社会主义就会失去“中国特色”,有可能退回僵化的老路。2014年2月,习近平总书记在省部级主要领导干部专题研讨班上发表重要讲话,强调“既不走封闭僵化的老路,也不走改旗易帜的邪路”。[g] 对中国特色社会主义道路来说,“老路”与“邪路”都是危险的,都会危及中国的意识形态安全。

从外部来看,美国等西方国家出于“反共主义”意识形态,一直没有放弃冷战思维。[h] 它们对中国坚持走社会主义道路及其快速崛起,越来越感到恐惧,对“中国模式”影响力的不断增强更是耿耿于怀。美国实施促进民主战略和推广“普世价值”战略,试图在亚洲构建“民主国家联盟”,在涉疆、涉藏和台湾问题上干涉中国内政,支持海外各种反共、反华势力,在香港政制发展问题上暗中同中国大陆较劲,无不是在贯彻其“西化”中国的战略。而美国的这些战略和政策,很容易得到其他西方国家的支持。美国等西方国家的所作所为,对中国的意识形态安全构成非常严峻的挑战。

这里值得特别强调的是美国推广“普世价值”战略的挑战。奥巴马政府上台后,将推广“普世价值”作为实施意识形态外交的主要抓手。2010年版《美国国家安全战略报告》明确将“在国内和全世界尊重普世价值”作为美国全球战略的主要目标之一。[i]

普世价值有两类:一类是世界各国共同发扬光大的价值,如和平、发展、善治、秩序、和谐、公正、平等、合作、环保;另一类是西方首先发扬光大然后为世界多数国家所接受的价值,如自由、民主、人权、法治。这就是说,普世价值并不等同于西方的价值。而第二类价值容易将人引入理论误区,它们虽然是西方首创,但却不是西方垄断的专利,许多发展中国家和社会主义国家也将这些价值作为本国施政的理念,最为典型的就是民主。

不过,西方国家将自己奉为民主的楷模,并以传教士的姿态向全球推广所谓“普世价值”,以实现自己的利益,对此我们要保持清醒。西方国家在推广所谓“普世价值”时,是将它们规定的内涵和标准赋予民主、自由等价值。例如,按西方的标准,凡是民主必须实行多党制、三权分立、普选等,这实际上是将作为实现民主方式的代议制等同于民主本身,将西方模式的民主等同于全部的民主。西方国家以它们定义的“普世价值”冒充一般普世价值的做法,在很大程度上混淆了视听,导致了非常恶劣的后果。一些尊崇民主的人误以为,中国要发展民主,就必须照搬西方模式;与之相反,一些反对自由化、要维护中国意识形态安全的人则误认为普世价值就是西方的东西,中国不能搞民主,也不能要自由和人权。美国等西方大国在推广“普世价值”时还时常实行双重标准,用“普世价值”来打压竞争对手,以维护本国的私利,这就更让人对普世价值敬而远之。普世价值很容易造成思想理论上的纷争,进而危及意识形态安全。

中国政治安全面临着非常复杂的外部环境,尤其是一些不利于中国维护政治安全的外部环境因素——经济全球化、市场经济和信息网络化,又恰恰是中国发展所必需的和无法回避的,这使政治安全的外部环境更具挑战性。

三、国家安全总体形势与外部环境评估

站在国家总体安全观的高度来审视中国国家安全体系可以看出,不同领域的安全形势及主要威胁来源大不相同。

政治安全形势相对较为严峻,主要威胁源来自内部,而外部威胁源主要来自美国等西方国家。从国际共产主义运动史的经验教训可见,任何外部的政治安全威胁都要通过内部因素来发挥作用。

军事安全也具有颠覆性,中国在评估国际形势和外部安全环境时,首先要看的就是军事安全环境,看和平与发展是否还是时代主题,中国是否会遭遇大规模战争。目前中国的军事安全只有潜在的威胁,主要威胁源来自日本及日美同盟。当然内部因素也很重要,如果自身虚弱或安全意识淡薄,给竞争对手可乘之机,就会刺激潜在外部威胁转化为现实威胁。

经济安全形势相对较好,主要潜在威胁源来自国内。中国应对国际金融危机的经验表明,只要国内经济良性运转,政府对外部危机的影响应对及时、得力,经济安全就有保障。

国土、社会、文化、科技、生态、资源、核等领域安全,主要威胁源也在国内,外部威胁源是次要的。这些安全领域虽然存在许多不利因素,但总体上是可控的。

维基解密和斯诺登事件表明,信息安全威胁比较现实、突出,而且主要威胁源来自外部,来自美国及其盟友,但信息安全威胁的作用主要通过军事、政治、经济和科技等领域的安全问题来发挥,其自身很难对国家安全造成颠覆性威胁。

应对上述各种安全挑战和威胁,维护国家安全,需要内外兼修。统筹把握国内与国际问题,对内不断提升维护安全的能力,对外不断营造良好的外部环境。营造外部环境,无论是安全环境还是发展环境,都需要搞好外交工作,处理好同各国的关系。在中国外交的大棋局中,最具挑战性,也是人们最为关注的是中美关系、中日关系以及中国同一些周边国家的关系。

从外部环境来说,美国是当今世界唯一有能力阻断中国和平发展进程、干扰中国和平崛起的国家。关键的问题是要对美国阻断中国和平发展的意愿和决心以及在此基础上的战略有一个准确的判断、评估。就目前来看,美国从自身利益出发,不愿同中国直接对抗,而是寻求在竞争中合作,当然不排除在不损害自身重大利益前提下利用一切机会和手段牵制中国崛起。

美国对华战略可以用“塑造”来概括,即通过合作、融合将中国塑造成伙伴,避免崛起后的中国变成美国的敌人。[j] 然而,随着中国综合国力迅速增强,美国牵制、遏制中国的动力在上升。[k] 特别是随着美国战略重心东移,中美在亚太地区的战略摩擦明显增加。妥善处理好中美关系,对中国安全环境至关重要。

日本并非一般意义上的东亚国家和中国周边国家,虽然中日关系已经从全球层面大国关系中淡出,但在东亚区域和中国周边层面仍然十分重要。近年来,中日关系明显恶化,这与日本政治右倾化有很大关系。安倍政权在钓鱼岛问题和历史问题上坚持错误立场,不顾中韩等国的强烈反对解禁集体自卫权,凸显出日本右翼势力之猖獗。影响中日关系的一个更重要因素是日美同盟。美国从其全球战略利益出发,不会接受日中关系好于日美关系的三边关系状况。鸠山由纪夫的民主党政府曾试图调整日本外交政策,拉近对华关系,构建日美中等边三角关系,但没多久就被迫下野,美国是背后推手几乎是公开的秘密。中日关系处于僵持状态,其结果是两败俱伤,而美国是最大受益者。

未来中日关系面临两个风险:一是日本右翼政客在既有道路上越走越远,为了自己的政治利益打中国牌,通过对中国示强获取民意支持;二是如果美国决心要全力遏制中国,日本会甘愿充当美国的急先锋,安倍政权在建立“亚洲民主国家联盟”上比美国还积极,就反映了这种倾向。中日如果走向军事对抗,极有可能刺激美国介入并站到日本一方,导致中国同美日同时对抗。若如此,中国军事安全环境乃至其他许多领域的安全环境会严重恶化。

中国周边国家众多,而且同不少国家有领土及海洋权益纠纷。中印领土争端一直是影响两国关系的重要因素。近年来,中国同一些东南亚国家在南海问题上的纷争加剧,一个重要动因是美国调整亚太战略,试图借南海问题牵制中国,恢复其在东南亚地区的影响力,而相关争端国家则试图借助美国的力量来谋取利益。

在处理南海问题上,中国政府处于两难境地:如果在维护领土主权上无所作为,会激起国内民众的强烈反响,损害党和政府的威信与形象;如果过度作为,导致同相关国家关系严重恶化,又会影响周边安全环境的稳定,更会影响国际社会对中国走和平发展道路的认同,甚至会使日美从中渔利,恶化中国的战略环境。

尽管如此,上述三方面外部因素的影响仍然是局部的,并没有从根本上逆转中国外部安全环境,包括周边安全环境。在和平与发展为主题的时代,周边多数国家都不愿同中国搞意识形态对抗,即便美国和日本,也没有将意识形态对抗作为其对华政策的主轴。

从总体国家安全观的视角考察一些媒体常炒作的“C型包围圈”可以看出,所谓“包围圈”只存在于某个领域,而不是在总体上。在经济等层面,根本就不存在针对中国的任何包围,周边国家与中国经济、文化关系密切,而且基本都愿意进一步发展这种关系;在军事层面,至多是在东亚地区存在一个针对中国的弧形,即美日同盟等以美国为中心的同盟体系,而在广大北亚、中亚、南亚、东南亚国家,并未见有威胁中国军事安全的意愿和行。

在政治层面,“包围圈”确实存在,由于中国周边绝大多数国家都实行与中国不同的社会制度,针对美国实施的“促进民主”战略和推广“普世价值”战略,这些国家或积极呼应,或乐见其成,或认为与己无关。这样的周边环境无疑给中国维护政治安全带来严峻挑战。

四、结语

站在总体国家安全观高度来审视中国外部安全环境,需要以中国特色社会主义为视角。在此视角下,政治安全是核心,中国政治安全外部环境最具挑战性。

以总体国家安全观为指导来评估中国安全形势与外部环境可以看出:虽然某些领域的安全形势相对复杂、严峻,但中国总体国家安全形势和外部环境的基本面是好的。虽然中美关系、中日关系、中国同一些周边国家关系近来摩擦较多,面临的挑战与风险较为突出,但外部因素的影响是可控的,只要经营得当,就不会对中国外部环境带来颠覆性影响。

推而言之,在安全与发展之间,安全尚未超越发展成为首要任务,中国的发展仍然面临重要战略机遇期,发展依然是党和国家的中心工作和第一要务。

本文是国家开发银行资助的中共中央党校2011年度重点科研项目“中国特色社会主义外部环境建设”的阶段性成果。
[a]外部环境若细分,还可以包括政治环境、社会环境、外交环境、文化环境、舆论环境、生态环境等,但是这些都可以归结到发展环境和安全环境。其中政治环境主要是指国家政治制度和意识形态存续与发展所面临的环境,通常会对发展环境和安全环境带来重大影响。
美国1994年发布的《国家安全战略报告》就提出三个方面的目标,即维护安全、扩展经济和推进民主。实际上就是将政治同安全与经济并列,成为国家处理对外关系时的主要考虑因素之一。不过,当今时代主题是和平与发展,意识形态对抗的地位下降,因此,同发展环境和安全环境相比,政治环境也位居次要地位。在谈外部环境时,学者们有时也用“战略环境”一词,用以表达将各种环境因素综合到一起的总体态势。
[b] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”, 《人民日报》,2014年4月16日,第1版。
[c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” November 29, 2012, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://carnegieendowment.org/globalten/?fa=50142. (上网时间:2014年8月13日)
[d] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”。
[e]政治安全主要包括意识形态安全、国家制度和政权安全、国家统一安全以及执政党自身组织安全。苏联解体在这四个方面都有体现:执政党和国家改旗易帜、原有的国家制度和政权消亡、多民族国家解体、执政党分裂进而瓦解。
[f]中共中央宣传部:《习近平总书记系列重要讲话读本》,学习出版社、人民出版社,2014年,第105页。
[g]黄中平:“着力提高治理能力 切实防止‘两个陷阱’”,《求是》,2014年第7期,第50-52页。
[h]刘建飞:《美国“民主联盟”战略研究》,当代世界出版社,2013年,第3-48页。
[i] The White House, National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17, (上网时间:2014年6月30日)
[j]美国“塑造”中国的战略思想在2006年的《四年防务评估报告》中阐述得最为清晰。参见刘建飞:“塑造中国:美国对华战略新动向”,《中国党政干部论坛》,2006年第3期,第33-35页。
[k]美国2014年《四年防务评估报告》就称,亚太地区的安全形势在恶化,而中国快速实现军事现代化并缺少军事透明度是导致这种恶化的重要原因。参见U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, March 2014, p.4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf。 (上网时间:2014年6月30日)

China’s external environment has two primary components: its development environment and its security environment. [a] From a developmental perspective, despite new challenges, China’s external environment is—when seen in total—a good environment that presents [us] with extremely clear opportunities. From a security perspective, despite numerous opportunities, China’s external environment faces prominent challenges. This essay will attempt to conduct a comprehensive examination of China’s external security environment through the lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide.

1. A View of the State’s External Security Environment Through the Lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The “Total National Security Paradigm” was proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the first meeting of the National Security Commission. [b]1 The key idea is to integrate political, economic, military and other areas of security into an organic whole by taking into account China’s special national conditions.2 Compared with other major countries in the world, the most distinctive element in China’s national conditions is its implementation of socialist institutions and its adherence to the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Therefore, to examine China's external environment, especially the country's external security environment, we must first grasp this basic national condition. An examination of the state’s external security environment that takes into account Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has more to offer than a [conventional] examination of [interstate relations].

 First: this approach highlights the challenges posed by “one country, two systems” and the reunification of the motherland.

Although Hong Kong and Macau3 are already part of the People’s Republic of China, their capitalist institutions and high degree of autonomy may be used by Western powers to interfere in China's internal affairs, or even as a position to spread Western values to mainland China. Although Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the fact that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same China has never changed, the latent threat of Taiwan separatism still exists. On the security front, Taiwan currently maintains close relations with the United States and Japan,4 while on the ideological front it has obvious differences with the mainland. Therefore, if Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are not posing a serious challenge to the “external environment of China,” their challenge to the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is more acute.

Second: this approach is helpful for forming a more objective and sober understanding of the external challenges China faces.

If we look at the world only from the perspective of “China’s external environment,” we tend to view China as an ordinary rising power, restricting our field of vision to conventional issues in interstate relations—such as security and economic relations between countries—while ignoring the ideological factors in international politics. However, the reality of international politics is that Western countries have been incorporating ideological factors into their foreign policy. For example, in the economic sphere, they have suppressed China’s state-owned enterprises that “went global” and restricted the export of high-tech products to China; in terms of military development, they have treated China and India differently, preventing and restricting China while encouraging and supporting India.5 It can be said that China as a rising power in an ordinary sense poses a concern only to large countries that have geo-strategic conflicts with China such as the United States, Japan, and India, as well as to small and medium-sized neighboring countries. But China as a rising socialist power poses a concern not only to the above-mentioned countries but also to many Western countries that are not able to view a country with a socialist system as one of their own.

Third: this approach is helpful for a more rational perception of our own strength.

 If we only look at the “external environment of China,” our focus tends towards comparisons of different countries’ hard power and the changes in the international political landscape that are based on hard power. This perspective reveals more opportunities than challenges. For example, if we purely look at hard power – such as economic and military power – it is very easy for us to assume that the power gap between China and the United States is rapidly closing. If we simply examine the international political landscape through the lens of hard power, it is very easy for us to think that as multipolarity advances, China, as a pole, will increase international influence and discourse power accordingly. However, when we look at the "external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” the situation is different.

 First, although the power gap between the United States and China is narrowing, the United States still possesses  a very clear advantage by virtue of its values-based alliance system. Second, in the international arena it is easy for the United States to suppress China under the banner of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” and to gain the understanding and support of its Western allies and the significant portion of developing countries that practice Western democracy. As Thomas Carothers, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,6 has emphasized, “[A]lthough the relative power balance between the West and ‘the rest’ is shifting, many of the major new non-Western powers are in fact democracies. The socio-economic dynamism of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and other rising democratic powers is giving a boost to global democracy both through their example and through their increasing efforts to support democracy in their neighborhoods.” [c]7

Finally, the U.S. uses “universal values” as an important [tool of] soft power that has severely constrained the construction of China’s own soft power.

 The “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and the “external environment of China” are not unrelated to each other; they are actually two dimensions of the same thing: the former is the core of the latter, and the latter is the vehicle of the former. If the vehicle does not exist, the core would lose its basis of existence; and if the core does not exist, the nature and appearance of the vehicle will also change radically. In other words, if something goes wrong with the “external environment of China,” the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will not be untouched. It will in turn hinder the cause of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. In this sense, the challenges of the “external environment of China” are naturally the challenges of the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”; conversely, if the [internal] work of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics does not advance successfully, the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will also deteriorate, thus affecting the “external environment of China.”

2. Political Security’s External Environment Presents the Greatest Challenges

 When General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the Total National Security Paradigm and China’s [new] national security system, he emphasized the central position of political security. [d] This [guidance] is given on the basis of an accurate grasp of China’s special national conditions and the new characteristics and trends of the national security situation. One of the most significant characteristics of China's national conditions is that it follows the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which makes the challenges facing China's political security even greater than those facing ordinary countries.

 Historically, the greatest security threats to small, weak states come from the military domain. But for large and powerful countries, threats to military security are relatively insignificant. The Soviet Union, for example, faced many foreign invasions but survived them all. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, its superb military power was intact; the United States and NATO did not fire a single bullet. Nor is economic [insecurity] enough to cause the disintegration of a great power. In its 69 years of history the Soviet Union suffered several[periods of] serious economic difficulty yet endured them all. The Soviet economy was not unsalvageable before its collapse. The security problem[threatening] the Soviet Union was first and foremost a problem of political security, especially ideological security. [e] The Soviet Communist Party’s change of banner led to the loss of its sovereign power and [a situation where] socialist institutions could no longer be sustained.8 It [led to] the loss of national cohesion and stimulated secessionist tendencies in some of the constituent republics. It [led to] various factions sprouting within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which eventually split apart and disintegrated.9

 Historical experience makes clear that from the perspective of the security of a socialist state encircled by capitalism, the greatest threat of being overthrown [arises in the domain of] political security. Although Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has attained impressive results, it has yet to escape from capitalist encirclement. The state’s political security is of crucial importance. The most prominent [part of political security] is ideological security. For this reason, ideology has been recognized as “an extremely important work to the Party.” [f]10

 For the time being, China’s ideological security is facing both internal and external challenges.

 Internally, the ideology of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has been facing challenges from two directions: From the “right” some people try to replace scientific socialism with Western democratic socialism. From the “left” some people ignore [our] basic national conditions at the initial stage of socialism, emphasizing the opposition of socialism to capitalism and ignoring the need of developing countries to learn from developed countries. If [we listen to the “left”], Socialism with Chinese Characteristics will lose its “Chinese characteristics” and may revert to the old path of rigidity. In February 2014, General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important address at a special seminar for leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial levels, emphasizing that “we will neither take the old path of closure and rigidity nor the crooked path of changing flags and banners.” [g] For the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, both the “old path" and the “crooked path”11 are dangerous and will endanger China’s ideological security.

 Externally, the United States and other Western countries have not abandoned their Cold War mentality due to their “anti-communist” ideology. [h] They are increasingly fearful of China’s insistence on the socialist path and its rapid rise, and they are even more concerned about the growing influence of the “China model.” The U.S. has implemented a strategy of promoting democracy and universal values, attempted to build a “Concert of Democracies” in Asia,12 interfered in China’s internal affairs on issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan, supported various anti-communist and anti-China forces overseas, and secretly thwarted the efforts of mainland China on the issue of constitutional development in Hong Kong. These are all part of the U.S. strategy to “Westernize” China. These strategies and policies of the United States can easily win the support of other Western countries. What the United States and other Western countries are doing poses a very serious challenge to China's ideological security.

 The challenge posed by the U.S. strategy to promote “universal values” deserves special emphasis here. After taking office, the Obama administration has made the promotion of “universal values” the primary focus of its ideological diplomacy. The 2010 edition of the U.S. National Security Strategy Report explicitly sets “respect for universal values at home and around the world” as one of the main goals of U.S. global strategy. [i]

 There are two types of universal values: one type [includes] the values that all countries in the world develop and promote, such as peace, development, good governance, order, harmony, justice, equality, cooperation, and the protection of the environment; the other type [includes] the values that the West first developed and the rest accepted, such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. In other words, universal values are not the same as Western values. The second category of values easily leads people into theoretical errors. Although they were first created by the West, they are not monopolized by the West, and many developing countries and socialist countries also adopt these values as the philosophy of their own governance, the most emblematic one being democracy.

 However, we need to be sober about the fact that the Western countries hold themselves up as models of democracy and act like missionaries to evangelize their so-called “universal values” to the world for the sake of realizing their own interests. When Western countries promote these so-called “universal values” they assign the values of democracy and freedom a connotation and standard that they proscribed. For example, according to Western standards, all democracies must have a multi-party system, separation of powers, universal suffrage, and so on. This actually equates the representative system as a way to realize democracy with ‘democracy’ itself.13 It equates the Western model of democracy with all democracy. Western countries pretend that the “universal values" they espouse are general universal values, and this [fraudulent] practice has led to confusion and bad consequences. Some people who respect democracy mistakenly believe that if China wants to develop its democracy, it must copy the Western model; on the contrary, some people who oppose liberalization and want to maintain China’s ideological security mistakenly believe that universal values are Western values, and that China cannot develop democracy, nor can it have freedom and human rights. The United States and other Western powers often apply double standards when promoting “universal values” and use them to suppress their competitors in order to protect their self interests, which makes people even more suspicious of these universal values. Universal values can easily cause ideological and theoretical strife, thus endangering ideological security.

 China’s political security faces a very complex external environment, especially from factors that are not conducive to China’s maintenance of political security—[such as] economic globalization, the development of the market economy and of the internet, which happen to be necessary for China’s development and cannot be avoided. They make the external environment for political security even more challenging.

3. Assessing the total national  security situation and the external environment

 Looking at China’s national security system from the perspective of the Total National Security Paradigm, we can see that the security situation and the main sources of threats vary greatly in different areas.

 The political security situation is relatively severe, with the main source of threat arising from within with the main external source of threat coming mainly from the United States and other Western countries. The lessons of the history of the international communist movement show that any external threat to political security must work through internal factors to have an effect.

 The [threat] of overthrow is also seen in the domain of military security. When China assesses the international situation and external security environment, it must first look at the military security environment, [assessing] whether peace and development are still the theme of the times and whether China will encounter a large-scale war. At present, China’s military security has only potential threats, with the main source of threat coming from Japan and the Japan-US alliance.14 Of course internal factors are also important. If we are weak or our security awareness is found lacking, this would give competitors an opportunity to take advantage of us and transform latent external threats into actual threats.

The economic security situation is relatively good, with the main source of potential threats coming from within the country. China’s experience in dealing with the global financial crisis shows that as long as the domestic economy is functioning well and the government responds promptly and effectively to the impact of external crises, economic security will be guaranteed.15 

Such is also the case with territorial, social, cultural, technological, environmental, resource, and nuclear security issues, where domestic threats are dominant and external threats are secondary.16 While there are many adverse factors in these security areas, the overall situation is manageable.

The WikiLeaks17 and Snowden incident18 demonstrate that threats to information security are relatively imminent and acute, with the main source of threats coming from the outside, from the United States and its allies. Information threats, however, come into play through the military, political, economic and technological domains. Information by itself is not capable of overthrowing China’s national security. 

Addressing the various security challenges and threats mentioned above and maintaining national security requires effort both at home and abroad. We should manage domestic and international issues in an integrated manner, continuously improve our ability to maintain security internally, and continuously create a favorable external environment. Creating an external environment, whether it is a security environment or a development environment, requires good diplomacy and good relations with other countries. On the chessboard of China’s foreign relations, the most challenging and most prominent issues are China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries. 

In terms of the external environment, the United States is the only country in the world today capable of hindering China’s peaceful development and interfering with its peaceful rise. The key issue is to have an accurate judgment and assessment of the U.S. willingness and determination to block China's peaceful development and its strategy for doing so. For the time being, the United States, for the sake of its own interest, is unwilling to engage in direct confrontation with China, but rather seeks to cooperate as it competes–of course, it does not rule out the use of all possible opportunities and tricks to check China's rise without harming its own vital interests.  

The U.S. strategy toward China can be summarized with one word: “sculpting.” In essence, [they seek to] sculpt China into a partner through cooperation and integration, [aiming] to prevent China from becoming an enemy of the United States after it has risen. [j] However, with the rapid growth of China’s comprehensive national power, the U.S. has a growing incentive to curb and contain China. [k] Especially with the shift of the U.S. strategic focus to the East, strategic friction between China and the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region has increased significantly. Properly handling China-U.S. relations is crucial to China's security environment. 

Japan is not an East Asian country and China’s neighboring country in an ordinary sense. Even though China-Japan relations are no longer great power relations on the global stage, the relationship remains important in East Asia and China’s near abroad. In recent years, China-Japanese relations have deteriorated significantly. This has much to do with Japan's political shift to the right. The Abe administration’s stance regarding the Diaoyu Islands and on the erroneous historical issues,19 and the lifting of the ban on collective self-defense rights despite strong opposition from China, South Korea and other countries,20 highlight the rampant right-wing forces in Japan. A more important factor affecting China-Japanese relations is the Japan-US alliance. From the perspective of its global strategic interests, the United States will not accept a trilateral relationship in which China-Japan relations are better than Japan-U.S. relations. The Democratic Party of Japan administration of Yukio Hatoyama tried to adjust Japan’s foreign policy to bring relations with China closer and build an equilateral triangle between Japan, the U.S. and China, but it was not long before it was forced out of office, and it is almost an open secret that the U.S. was behind it.21 China-Japanese relations are at a stalemate. The result of this stalemate is that both sides lose, with the United States as the biggest beneficiary. 

In the future China-Japanese relations face two risks: First, Japanese right-wing politicians are moving further and further down their path, playing the China card for their own political interests and gaining public support by being hawkish on China; second, if the United States is determined to do all it canto contain China, Japan will willingly act as the vanguard of the United States. This tendency is reflected in the fact that the Abe regime is more active than the United States in establishing an “alliance of democratic Asian nations.”22 If China and Japan move toward military confrontation, it is likely that the United States will be stimulated to intervene and side with Japan, leading to a simultaneous confrontation between China and the United States and Japan. If this happens, China’s military security environment, and indeed the security environment in many other areas, will seriously deteriorate.

 China has many neighboring countries and has disputes regarding territory and marine rights and interests with a number of them. Territorial disputes between China and India have been an important element in the two countries’ bilateral relations. In recent years, the disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea have intensified. One contributing factor is the United States’ adjustment on Asia-Pacific strategy, in which the United States hopes to contain China and rebuild its influence in Southeast Asia.23 Relevant Southeast Asian countries are also attempting to use American strength for their own profit.

 The Chinese government thus faces a dilemma when dealing with South China Sea disputes: if it does nothing to safeguard territorial sovereignty it will provoke strong reactions from the masses inside the country and damage the prestige and image of the Party and the government; [but] if the government overreacts, it will lead to a serious deterioration of relations with the countries concerned. Such circumstances will harm border stability, impact the international recognition of China’s path of peaceful development, and ultimately benefit Japan and the United States while worsening China’s strategic environment.

 Nonetheless, the impact of the three external factors mentioned above is still partial and has not fundamentally reversed China’s external security environment, including its neighboring security environment. In an era when peace and development are the theme of the times, most neighboring countries are reluctant to provoke an ideological confrontation with China. Even the United States and Japan have not made ideological confrontation with China the main axis of their policy.

 From the perspective of total national security, the often discussed “C-shape Encirclement” only exists in certain domains [of activity].24 It is by no means total. Economically, there simply is no encirclement against China. All neighboring countries have close economic and cultural ties with China and are generally willing to further these ties. Militarily, there is at most an arc of encirclement against China in East Asia, namely the United States-led Japanese-American alliance. However, in North Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, there is neither behavior nor willingness to [engage in behavior] that poses a military threat to China.   

However, in political terms the “encirclement” does exist, since the vast majority of countries around China have social institutions different from China’s. These countries either actively support or welcome the U.S. strategy of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” or [they] do nothing to either support or deter it. Such a surrounding environment undoubtedly poses a serious challenge to China in maintaining political security.

 4. Conclusion

To examine China’s external security environment from the lens of the Total National Security Paradigm, it is necessary to take Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into account. In this perspective, political security is the core, and political security is the most challenging [domain] in China’s external environment.

 An assessment of China’s security situation and external environment using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide shows that although the security situation in certain areas is relatively complex and severe, the fundamentals of China's total national security situation and external environment are good. Although China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries have recently been marked by more friction, challenges. and risks, the impact of these external factors is manageable and will not have a destructive impact on China's external environment as long as they are properly managed.

 In summary: Between security and development, security has not yet overtaken development as the primary task. China’s development still faces an important period of strategic opportunity, [thus] development is still the central task and the first priority of the Party and the state.

[Author's Footnote] This paper is the result of the 2011 key research project of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China funded by the National Development Bank, entitled “Building the External Environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”
 [a] The external environment can be subdivided into political environment, social environment, diplomatic environment, cultural environment, public opinion environment, ecological environment, etc., but all of these can be reduced to the development environment and the security environment. The political environment mainly refers to the environment concerning the survival and development of the state’s political institutions and ideology, which usually has a significant impact on its development environment and security environment.
 The U.S. National Security Strategy Report released in 1994 set out three objectives, namely, maintaining security, expanding the economy, and advancing democracy. In effect, it juxtaposes politics with security and economy as one of the main considerations in [the U.S.’s] foreign relations.25 However, the theme of the current era is peace and development, and the status of ideological confrontation has declined. [As such] the political environment also takes a secondary position compared to the development and security environments. When talking about the external environment, scholars sometimes use the term “strategic environment” to express the overall situation that combines various factors of the environment.
 [b] “General Secretary Xi Jinping proposes at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhering to the total national security paradigm and taking the road of national security with Chinese characteristics,” People’s Daily, 16 April 2014, p. 1.
 [c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 29 November 2012.
 [d] “General Secretary Xi Jinping posited at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhere to the total national security paradigm, walk the road of national security with Chinese characteristics.”
 [e] Political security mainly includes ideological security, security of the state institution and sovereign power, security of national unity, and security of the ruling party’s own organization. The collapse of the Soviet Union was affected by all four aspects: the change of banner of the ruling party and the state, the demise of the original institution and sovereign power, the disintegration of the multi-ethnic state, and the splitting and subsequent disintegration of the ruling party.
 [f] Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,“Readings from the Series of Important Speeches by General Secretary Xi Jinping,” Study Publishing House and People’s Publishing House, 2014, p. 105.
 [g] Huang Zhongping, “Focusing on improving governance capacity to effectively prevent ‘two traps’”, Qiushi, No. 7, 2014, pp. 50-52.
 [h] Liu Jianfei, “Study of the U.S. Democratic Alliance,” Strategy (Contemporary World Press, 2013), pp. 3-48.
 [i] The White House,National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17(online date:June 30, 2014)
 [j]The U.S. strategic idea of “shaping" China was most clearly articulated in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Assessment. See Liu Jianfei, “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China," China Party and Government Cadre Forum, No.3, 2006, pp. 33-35.27
 [k] The U.S. 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review claims that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is deteriorating, and that China’s rapid military modernization and lack of military transparency are important causes of this deterioration. See U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review, March 2014,p. 4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf. (Accessed: June 30, 2014)

[Editors' footnotes]
1.  Xi Jinping introduced the Total National Security Paradigm in 2014 in an attempt to overhaul China’s national security apparatus. The paradigm integrates “traditional” security concerns such as territorial integrity with “non-traditional” concerns such as threats to state security emanating from the  political, economic, cultural, social, and ecological realms. The Central National Security Commission (CNSC) [中央国家安全委员会] was established in November 2013 to coordinate work across these security domains.  
2. In the early 20th century Chinese thinkers who wished to modernize Neo-confucian political forms instead of adopting a socialist or liberal model defended their program by describing Western political imports as incompatible with China’s “national conditions” [国情], a phrase that might also be translated as “national characteristics” or “national essence.” The term was resuscitated as the 20th century turned to the 21st. In both the early 20th century and the early 21st,“national conditions” were presented as a set of immutable elements of Chinese social life that flowed from China’s unique geography, longstanding cultural traditions, and specific historical experiences, each constraining the type of social arrangements or political structures the Chinese people could fruitfully adopt. In the early 20th century the term was often used against Chinese communists; after several generations of Communist rule, China’s “national conditions” are now used conterminously, as historian John Fitzgerald notes, with a “wealthy and powerful Communist Party-governed state that lacks democratic accountable government…[and has] no constitutional or institutional restraint on its exercise of power.” See John Fitzgerald, “Beijing’s guoqing versus Australia’s way of life,” Inside Story, 27 September 2016.
3. Neither Hong Kong nor Macau are governed as normal Chinese cities, a legacy of their former status as imperial possessions of Great Britain and Portugal. The Sino-British Joint Declaration mandated Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, ending 156 years of British rule. The Declaration set the conditions for the transfer, with China agreeing to maintain existing structures of government and economy under the principle of “one country, two systems” for a period of 50 years. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, signed on March 26, 1987, established a similar process and the conditions of the transfer of sovereignty over Macau from Portugal to the PRC. This transfer was formally completed on December 20, 1999, after a twelve year “transition”period when the Basic Law of Macau was drafted and approved by the PRC’s National People’s Congress.
4. Although Japan broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 as a precondition to normalizing relations with the PRC, Taiwan and Japanese maintained cultural and economic ties. These ties were strengthened as relations between the PRC and Japan deteriorated over the dispute of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.  Japan and Taiwan concluded a landmark agreement that addressed fishing rights in the East China Sea in 2013, a year before the publication of this article. This may be the “close relations” on “the security front” that Liu alludes to. However, in contrast to the United States, Japan did not (and still does not)  support Taiwan through arms sales and to this day lacks any legal framework for military collaboration with the Taiwanese armed forces.
5. American law has prohibited arms sales to China since 1989. Congressional legislation and the executive branch directives have also regulated the export of dual-use goods (items and technology that may have both civilian and military use) to Chinese firms. In contrast, arms sales are a major component of America’s strategic partnership with India. The year this article was originally published (2014) the United States was India’s third-largest source of arms. See Karen Sutter and Christopher Casey, “US Export Controls and China,”  Congressional Research Service, 24 March 2022. Dinshaw Mistry, “US Arms Sales to India.” Asia Pacific Bulletin, 8 July 2014.  
6. In 2014, Thomas Carothers was the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment of Peace. He is now the co-director of Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program.
7. The essay from which Liu pulls this quotation does not express the triumphalist sentiments this isolated passage suggests. Carothers' central argument is that  “the loss of global democratic momentum, problems of Western political credibility, and the rise of alternative political models” are making democracy promotion a more challenging task than it has been since the end of the Cold War.  Carothers consequently urges the Obama administration to make democracy promotion a key item of its second term agenda less the tide of global politics turns against democratic reform. See Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment of Peace, 29 November 2012.
8. The term zhèngquán ānquán [政权安全] is difficult to render accurately into English. When Chinese translate English phrases like “regime change” into Chinese,  政权 (zhèngquán) is the word they most often us for “regime.”  “Regime security” is therefore an acceptable gloss. Yet unlike the English “regime,”  zhèngquán does not describe institutional architecture of rulership so much as the sovereign power that rulership grants. Thus its appearance in Mao’s most famous aphorism: “枪杆子里面出政权” [usually translated as “political power (zhèngquán) grows from the barrel of a gun”].
9. Liu Jianfei’s assessment of the disintegration of the Soviet Union official narrative on the collapse of the Soviet Union during the 2010s, which attributes the failure of the CPSU to the poison of “historical nihilism.” Yet debate over the cause of the USSR’s fall has been wide ranging, with critics of the official position pointing to the systemic decay of the Soviet economy or the failure of the USSR to reform the inflexible and rigid political structure it inherited from Stalin. For examples of critical arguments, consult Wang Xiaoxiao 王笑笑, “Sulian Jubiande Genben Yuanyin 苏东剧变的根本原因 [The Fundamental Reason for the Transformation of theSoviet Union]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 4 March 2013; Huang Lifu 黄立茀, “Sulian Yinhe Sangshi Gaige Liangji  苏联因何丧失改革良机? Why did the USSR miss the chanceto reform?” Aisixiang 爱思想, 15 October 2009; Liu Xingyi 刘新宜, “Sugong Kuatai, Sulian Wangguode Yuanyin  苏共垮台、苏联亡国的原因 [Reasons for the Collapse of the Soviet Communist Party and the Demise of the USSR]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 14 November 2004. For longer presentations of the official view published around the same time as Liu’sarticle, see  Cheng Zhihua 陈之骅, “Lishi Xuwuzhuyi Gaoluan Sulian 历史虚无主义搞乱苏联[Historical Nihilism Ruined the Soviet Union],” Aisixiang 爱思想, 18 September 2013 and Wang Tingyou 汪亭友, “Liang Zhong Duiweide Shijieguan he Lichang Guanchuan SulianYanbian Yanjiu 两种对立的世界观和立场贯穿苏联演变研究 [The Ideological Divide in the Study of the Soviet Collapse],”Aisixiang, 20 Feb 2014.
10. This was said by Xi Jinping in a conference on national propaganda work on August 20, 2013. See “Xi Jinping: Yishi Xintai Gongzou shi Dang de Yixiang Jiduan Zhongyaode Gongzuo 习近平:意识形态工作是党的一项极端重要的工作 [Xi Jinping:ideological work is an extremely important work of the Party],” Xinhua, 20 August 2013.  
11. Xie lu [邪路] could also rendered as the “evil path,” but the Chinese word xie [邪] does not carry the theological baggage that comes along with the English “evil.” Xie [邪] in this context does not imply a transcendent malevolence forever in opposition to the ideal good, but simply deviation from the  “correct path.” Alternate translations of xie lu [邪路] might include the “lost path,” “incorrect path,” or “unrighteous pat.” For a longer explication see Tao Wenzhao 陶文昭, “Ruhe Lijie Bu Zou Yalu 如何理解不走‘邪路’ [How to Understand ‘Don’t Travel the Crooked Path’],” People’s Daily, 20 May 2013.   
12. Debate over whether democratic countries in the world should form a “concert” or a “league” of democracies to promote peace and counter autocratic influence first arose in American foreign policy circles in 2004, with prominent scholar-officials like Ivo Daalder, James Lindsday, John Ikenberry, and Anne-Marie Slaughter all endorsing the idea. The proposal reached its zenith with John McCain’s  2008 presidential election, when the senator championed this imagined league as an alternative to the United Nations. However, the proposal largely died with his campaign and had no purchase within the Obama administration.
The possibility of a league of democracies alarmed Chinese analysts, including Liu Jianfei. In a 2011 article, Liu argues that the league would disrupt international order with the United Nations at its core and divide the world  between democratic and non-democratic countries based on American standards. See author’s footnote h.
13. The PRC understands democracy in the context of its socialist and autocratic rule. Introduced by Mao Zedong, the idea of a “socialist democracy” or “centralized democracy” seeks to increase the input of average citizens into the political process without surrendering the Party’s monopoly of power. In the eyes of the CPC, democracy most fundamentally means the CPC’s single party rule on behalf of  the people.
14. The US-Japan alliance was formalized in 1960 by the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The alliance has been strengthened over the years by joint military exercises and other forms of cooperation.
15. For more than a decade, Chinese analysts have characterized China’s successful weathering of the 2008 financial crisis as proof of the strength of the CPC political model, and have likewise characterized the crisis as the beginning of the end of American hegemony. For a particularly influential example, see this 2009 essay by Yuan Peng, now President of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), the think-tank linked to the Ministry of State Security: 袁鹏 [Yuan Peng], “金融危机与美国经济霸权:历史与政治的解读 [The Financial Crisis and American Hegemony: Interpreting the History and Politics],” 更新时间 [Renewal Times], 29 May 2015, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/88470.html.
16. This is a list of security concerns that Xi Jinping specifically mentioned in his 2014 speech that introduced the total national security paradigm. “Xíjìnpíng: Jiānchí zǒngtǐ guójiā ānquán guān zǒu zhōngguó tèsè guójiā ānquán dàolù 习近平:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路 [Xi Jinping: Insisting on Total National Security Paradigm Walking a Path of National Security with Chinese Characteristic]” Renmin, 16 April 2014.  
17. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes leaked information, documents, and classified media provided by anonymous sources. The organization was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange and a group of like-minded activists and journalists. WikiLeaks has published several documents related to China over the years, revealing a variety of sensitive information about the Chinese government and its activities.
18. The Snowden incident refers to the events that began in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, leaked a large amount of classified documents to journalists. The documents revealed the extent of the NSA's surveillance programs, which collected data on American citizens and foreign governments and individuals. In an interview he gave with the South China Morning Post in 2013 while he sought asylum in Hong Kong,Snowden claimed that the US government had hacked into Chinese telecommunications company Huawei's servers, and that the NSA had been targeting Chinese officials and businesses in its surveillance programs.  
19. Diaoyu Island is the Chinese name for a string of islands in the East China. In Japanese they are known as the Senkakus. Possession of the islands is claimed by both countries, and has served as a significant source of tension between the two powers after evidence for the existence of oil reserves around the islands surfaced in the latter half of the 1970s.
20. On July 1, 2014, Japan passed a Cabinet decision that changed the interpretation of Article 9 of its constitution, which restricted Japan’s use of force overseas. The new interpretation allows Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense. See Kawasaki Akira and Celine Nahory, “Japan’s Decision on Collective Self-Defense inContext,” The Diplomat, 3 October 2014.
21. As Prime Minister of Japan from 16 September 2009 to 8 June 2010, Yukio Hatoyama attempted to shift Japan’s America-centric foreign policy to become more Asian-centric. Relations with China warmed under his leadership. Hatoyama’s administration came to an abrupt end, however, after he failed to fulfill his campaign promise to move a US marine base off Japanese shore, a promise that he originally hoped to signal his determination to end Japan’s subservience to Washington foreign policy. Yet, due to pressure from the United States and the lack of a viable alternative site, he agreed to merely move the marine base to a less conspicuous location, a concession that cost his political support at home.
Hatoyama remained a controversial figure after his resignation due to his dovish stance on China. In 2013, during a private visit to China, he told reporters that theJ apanese government should acknowledge the territorial dispute for the Senkaku Islands, a remark that contradicted the Japanese government’s position on the issue. On the same trip, Hatoyama also visited the Nanjing Memorial built for the Chinese victims of the Japanese army during the second Sino-Japanese War.In the eyes of the Chinese public, Hatoyama’s visit was valuable as it was an indirect acknowledgement of Japanese misdeeds during WWII.
22. Liu is likely referencing Shinzo Abe’s attempt to form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD or “the quad”)—composed of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia—during his first term as prime minister in 2006-2007. The origin of the quad  can be traced to the “Tsunami Core Group,” an ad-hoc grouping that sprang up to respond to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Later, in 2007, Prime Minister Abe would use the template to push for an informal security framework to address Japan’s  concerns regarding China’s growing power.  However, during its initial inception, the proposed quad existed more in concept than reality, its development floundered on the unwillingness of Australia and India to risk trade relations with China. At the time of writing, therefore, Liu’s worries might have seen overblown. In reality they proved prescient: Australia and India’s calculations changed as the 2010s progressed. After an eight year hiatus the quad reconvened in 2017, and its joint exercises and meetings are acrucial part of the security architecture of the region.  For a longer analysis of these developments, see  Patrick Gerard Buchan and Benjamin Rimland, “Defining the Diamond: The Past, Present, and Future of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 16 March 2020.  
23. See “Fact sheet: Advancing the re-balance to Asia and the Pacific,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 16 Nov 2015. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/fact-sheet-advancing-rebalance-asia-and-pacific
24. The idea that the U.S. is constructing a c-shape encirclement in Asia-Pacific was popularized in 2009 by Dai Xun [戴旭], a Colonel Commandant in the Chinese air force and a professor at the National Defense University. Dai argued that the c-shape encirclement was America’s primary strategy in the Indo-Pacific in order to thwart China’s growth. See Dai Xun 戴旭, “Zhōngguó zhèng miànlín dì sān cì bèi guāfēn de wéijī 中国正面临第三次被瓜分的危机 [China is facing the third crisis of being divided up],” Honggehui, 18 November 2012.  
25. Liu is referencing the National Security Strategy Report published in July 1994 by the Clinton administration. As Liu notes, the report outlines a threefold goal for the U.S. post-Cold War national security: “to credibly sustain our security with military forces that are ready to fight; to bolster America’s economic revitalization; to promote democracy abroad.” The peport attempts to craft a comprehensive strategy to address these goals, believing that they are mutually supportive: “Secure nations are more likely to support free trade and maintain democratic structures. Nations with growing economies and strong trade ties are more likely to feel secure and to work toward freedom. And democratic states are less likely to threaten our interests and more likely to cooperate with theU.S. to meet security threats and promote sustainable development.” See “A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement,” National Security Strategy Archive, 1 July 1994, accessed Feb 21, 2023. https://nssarchive.us/national-security-strategy-1994/
26.  The abstract of “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China” reads:

The new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that the United States will continue to pursue a global strategy focused on counterterrorism and counter-proliferation. In this strategy, China is the most important “strategic crossroads” country, but it is not the enemy. The United States wants to shape these “crossroads countries” to prevent them from choosing a strategy that is hostile to the United States. The U.S. strategy toward China remains primarily one of cooperation, supplemented by prevention and containment.

中国外部环境主要包括发展环境与安全环境两个方面。[a] 从发展的角度看,中国外部环境虽然面临着一些新挑战,但总体上是好的,机遇十分明显。从安全的角度看,中国所面临的外部环境尽管存在很多机遇,但挑战相对突出。本文试图以中国特色社会主义为视角,并以总体国家安全观为指导,对中国外部安全环境进行全面考察。

一、以中国特色社会主义为视角看国家外部安全环境

“总体国家安全观”由习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出,[b] 其要义就是从中国的特殊国情出发,将政治、经济、军事等各领域安全纳入到一个有机的整体中来统筹考量、把握。与世界其他大国相比,中国最特殊的国情就是实行社会主义制度,坚持走中国特色社会主义道路。所以,考察中国的外部环境,特别是国家外部安全环境,首先就要抓住这个基本国情。以中国特色社会主义为视角来考察国家外部安全环境问题,同单纯以国家角度来考察相比有不少看点。

第一,凸显“一国两制”和祖国统一问题所带来的挑战。

虽然香港、澳门已经是中华人民共和国的一部分,但是由于实行资本主义制度并高度自治,它们有可能被西方大国利用来干预中国内政,甚至作为向中国大陆传播西方价值观的阵地。台湾虽然是中国不可分割的一部分,两岸同属一个中国的事实从未改变,但台湾分裂的潜在威胁依然存在,而且台湾目前在安全上同美日保持着较为密切的关系,在意识形态上也同大陆有明显差异。所以,如果说港澳台地区对“中国外部环境”带来的挑战还不那么严重的话,其对“中国特色社会主义外部环境”所带来的挑战则十分明显。

第二,有助于对中国所面临的外部挑战有更客观、清醒的认识。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”来审视世界,我们往往倾向于将中国作为一个普通的正在崛起的大国来看问题,视野局限于国家间关系中常规的问题,如国家间的安全关系、经济关系,忽视了国际政治中的意识形态因素。然而,国际政治的现实是,西方国家一直将意识形态因素纳入其对外政策。比如,在经济上,打压“走出去”的中国国企,限制向中国出口高科技产品;在军事力量发展上,对中印区别对待,对中国防范限制,对印度则鼓励扶持。可以说,中国作为一般意义上的崛起大国,可能只有美国、日本、印度等同中国有地缘战略矛盾的大国及一些周边中小国家感到担忧;而中国作为一个社会主义大国崛起,感到担忧的恐怕就不只上述国家,许多西方国家出于各种原因,对社会主义制度缺乏认同感。

第三,有助于我们更理性地认知自己的实力。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”看问题,我们的目光往往聚焦于国家间硬实力的对比以及以硬实力为基础的国际政治格局变化,从而过多看到中国所面临的机遇,看到的挑战则相对少一些。比如,单纯从经济、军事等硬实力来看,我们很容易看到中美之间的实力差距在快速拉近;简单以硬实力为基础审视国际政治格局,我们也容易认为随着多极化推进,中国作为一极,其国际影响力和话语权会相应增大。然而,当我们从“中国特色社会主义外部环境”看问题时,情况就会有很大不同。

首先,虽然美国同中国的实力对比差距在缩小,但它凭借以价值观为基础的同盟体系,依然具有十分明显的优势。其次,美国很容易打着“促进民主”、“推广普世价值”的旗号在国际舞台上打压中国,并得到西方盟友及相当一部分实行西方民主制度的发展中国家的理解和支持。正如卡内基国际和平基金会副主席托马斯·卡罗瑟斯(Thomas Carothers)所强调的:“虽然西方和其他国家之间的国力对比正在发生变化,但是许多新的非西方大国实际上是民主国家。巴西、印度、印度尼西亚和土耳其等崛起民主大国的社会经济活力,不仅正在通过自己的样板作用,而且通过支持其周边国家的民主,来促进全球范围的民主”。[c] 

最后,美国将“普世价值”作为重要的软实力,严重制约中国软实力的构建。

“中国特色社会主义外部环境”与“中国外部环境”并非互不相关,二者实际是一个事物的两个层面:前者是后者的内核,后者是前者的载体。载体不存,内核也就失去存在的基础;而内核不存,载体的性质和面貌也会发生根本变化。换句话说,如果“中国外部环境”出了问题,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”也不会安然无恙,中国特色社会主义事业也就难以顺利推进,从这个意义上说,“中国外部环境”的挑战自然也是“中国特色社会主义外部环境”的挑战;反之,如果中国特色社会主义事业不能顺利推进,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”就会严重恶化,进而影响“中国外部环境”。

二、政治安全的外部环境最具挑战性

习近平总书记在提出总体国家安全观和中国国家安全体系时,强调了政治安全的核心地位。[d] 这是对中国特殊国情和国家安全形势新特点、新趋势准确把握基础上作出的论断。中国国情最大的特点之一就是走中国特色社会主义道路,这决定了中国政治安全所面临的挑战比一般国家为甚。

历史上,小国、弱国面临的最大安全威胁来自军事方面。但对大国、强国来说,军事安全威胁相对较小。例如苏联,虽曾多次面临外敌入侵,但都化险为夷。苏联解体时,其超强的军事实力丝毫未受打击,美国及北约也未动用一枪一弹。经济安全也不足以使一个大国解体。苏联在69年的历史中,虽曾多次遭遇严重经济困难,但都经过艰苦奋斗度过了难关。解体前,苏联经济也并非到了无可救药的程度。苏联安全问题首先出在政治安全,尤其是意识形态安全上。[e] 苏共改旗易帜导致政权丧失,社会主义制度难以为继;国家失去凝聚力,刺激了一些加盟共和国的分离倾向;苏共内部滋生出各种派系,最后分裂、瓦解。

历史经验表明,对处在资本主义包围之中的社会主义国家安全来说,最具颠覆性的是政治安全。中国特色社会主义事业发展到今天,虽然取得了举世瞩目的成就,但是仍然没有摆脱处在资本主义包围之中的局面。国家政治安全至关重要,其中最突出的问题就是意识形态安全。正因如此,意识形态被认定为“党的极端重要的工作”。[f]

就目前来看,中国意识形态安全面临着内外双重挑战。

从内部来看,中国特色社会主义意识形态一直面临着两方面的挑战:一是来自“右”的方面,有些人试图用西方的民主社会主义取代科学社会主义;二是来自“左”的方面,有些人忽视社会主义初级阶段这个基本国情,强调社会主义与资本主义对立的一面,漠视发展中国家需要向发达国家学习、借鉴的一面,若如此,中国特色社会主义就会失去“中国特色”,有可能退回僵化的老路。2014年2月,习近平总书记在省部级主要领导干部专题研讨班上发表重要讲话,强调“既不走封闭僵化的老路,也不走改旗易帜的邪路”。[g] 对中国特色社会主义道路来说,“老路”与“邪路”都是危险的,都会危及中国的意识形态安全。

从外部来看,美国等西方国家出于“反共主义”意识形态,一直没有放弃冷战思维。[h] 它们对中国坚持走社会主义道路及其快速崛起,越来越感到恐惧,对“中国模式”影响力的不断增强更是耿耿于怀。美国实施促进民主战略和推广“普世价值”战略,试图在亚洲构建“民主国家联盟”,在涉疆、涉藏和台湾问题上干涉中国内政,支持海外各种反共、反华势力,在香港政制发展问题上暗中同中国大陆较劲,无不是在贯彻其“西化”中国的战略。而美国的这些战略和政策,很容易得到其他西方国家的支持。美国等西方国家的所作所为,对中国的意识形态安全构成非常严峻的挑战。

这里值得特别强调的是美国推广“普世价值”战略的挑战。奥巴马政府上台后,将推广“普世价值”作为实施意识形态外交的主要抓手。2010年版《美国国家安全战略报告》明确将“在国内和全世界尊重普世价值”作为美国全球战略的主要目标之一。[i]

普世价值有两类:一类是世界各国共同发扬光大的价值,如和平、发展、善治、秩序、和谐、公正、平等、合作、环保;另一类是西方首先发扬光大然后为世界多数国家所接受的价值,如自由、民主、人权、法治。这就是说,普世价值并不等同于西方的价值。而第二类价值容易将人引入理论误区,它们虽然是西方首创,但却不是西方垄断的专利,许多发展中国家和社会主义国家也将这些价值作为本国施政的理念,最为典型的就是民主。

不过,西方国家将自己奉为民主的楷模,并以传教士的姿态向全球推广所谓“普世价值”,以实现自己的利益,对此我们要保持清醒。西方国家在推广所谓“普世价值”时,是将它们规定的内涵和标准赋予民主、自由等价值。例如,按西方的标准,凡是民主必须实行多党制、三权分立、普选等,这实际上是将作为实现民主方式的代议制等同于民主本身,将西方模式的民主等同于全部的民主。西方国家以它们定义的“普世价值”冒充一般普世价值的做法,在很大程度上混淆了视听,导致了非常恶劣的后果。一些尊崇民主的人误以为,中国要发展民主,就必须照搬西方模式;与之相反,一些反对自由化、要维护中国意识形态安全的人则误认为普世价值就是西方的东西,中国不能搞民主,也不能要自由和人权。美国等西方大国在推广“普世价值”时还时常实行双重标准,用“普世价值”来打压竞争对手,以维护本国的私利,这就更让人对普世价值敬而远之。普世价值很容易造成思想理论上的纷争,进而危及意识形态安全。

中国政治安全面临着非常复杂的外部环境,尤其是一些不利于中国维护政治安全的外部环境因素——经济全球化、市场经济和信息网络化,又恰恰是中国发展所必需的和无法回避的,这使政治安全的外部环境更具挑战性。

三、国家安全总体形势与外部环境评估

站在国家总体安全观的高度来审视中国国家安全体系可以看出,不同领域的安全形势及主要威胁来源大不相同。

政治安全形势相对较为严峻,主要威胁源来自内部,而外部威胁源主要来自美国等西方国家。从国际共产主义运动史的经验教训可见,任何外部的政治安全威胁都要通过内部因素来发挥作用。

军事安全也具有颠覆性,中国在评估国际形势和外部安全环境时,首先要看的就是军事安全环境,看和平与发展是否还是时代主题,中国是否会遭遇大规模战争。目前中国的军事安全只有潜在的威胁,主要威胁源来自日本及日美同盟。当然内部因素也很重要,如果自身虚弱或安全意识淡薄,给竞争对手可乘之机,就会刺激潜在外部威胁转化为现实威胁。

经济安全形势相对较好,主要潜在威胁源来自国内。中国应对国际金融危机的经验表明,只要国内经济良性运转,政府对外部危机的影响应对及时、得力,经济安全就有保障。

国土、社会、文化、科技、生态、资源、核等领域安全,主要威胁源也在国内,外部威胁源是次要的。这些安全领域虽然存在许多不利因素,但总体上是可控的。

维基解密和斯诺登事件表明,信息安全威胁比较现实、突出,而且主要威胁源来自外部,来自美国及其盟友,但信息安全威胁的作用主要通过军事、政治、经济和科技等领域的安全问题来发挥,其自身很难对国家安全造成颠覆性威胁。

应对上述各种安全挑战和威胁,维护国家安全,需要内外兼修。统筹把握国内与国际问题,对内不断提升维护安全的能力,对外不断营造良好的外部环境。营造外部环境,无论是安全环境还是发展环境,都需要搞好外交工作,处理好同各国的关系。在中国外交的大棋局中,最具挑战性,也是人们最为关注的是中美关系、中日关系以及中国同一些周边国家的关系。

从外部环境来说,美国是当今世界唯一有能力阻断中国和平发展进程、干扰中国和平崛起的国家。关键的问题是要对美国阻断中国和平发展的意愿和决心以及在此基础上的战略有一个准确的判断、评估。就目前来看,美国从自身利益出发,不愿同中国直接对抗,而是寻求在竞争中合作,当然不排除在不损害自身重大利益前提下利用一切机会和手段牵制中国崛起。

美国对华战略可以用“塑造”来概括,即通过合作、融合将中国塑造成伙伴,避免崛起后的中国变成美国的敌人。[j] 然而,随着中国综合国力迅速增强,美国牵制、遏制中国的动力在上升。[k] 特别是随着美国战略重心东移,中美在亚太地区的战略摩擦明显增加。妥善处理好中美关系,对中国安全环境至关重要。

日本并非一般意义上的东亚国家和中国周边国家,虽然中日关系已经从全球层面大国关系中淡出,但在东亚区域和中国周边层面仍然十分重要。近年来,中日关系明显恶化,这与日本政治右倾化有很大关系。安倍政权在钓鱼岛问题和历史问题上坚持错误立场,不顾中韩等国的强烈反对解禁集体自卫权,凸显出日本右翼势力之猖獗。影响中日关系的一个更重要因素是日美同盟。美国从其全球战略利益出发,不会接受日中关系好于日美关系的三边关系状况。鸠山由纪夫的民主党政府曾试图调整日本外交政策,拉近对华关系,构建日美中等边三角关系,但没多久就被迫下野,美国是背后推手几乎是公开的秘密。中日关系处于僵持状态,其结果是两败俱伤,而美国是最大受益者。

未来中日关系面临两个风险:一是日本右翼政客在既有道路上越走越远,为了自己的政治利益打中国牌,通过对中国示强获取民意支持;二是如果美国决心要全力遏制中国,日本会甘愿充当美国的急先锋,安倍政权在建立“亚洲民主国家联盟”上比美国还积极,就反映了这种倾向。中日如果走向军事对抗,极有可能刺激美国介入并站到日本一方,导致中国同美日同时对抗。若如此,中国军事安全环境乃至其他许多领域的安全环境会严重恶化。

中国周边国家众多,而且同不少国家有领土及海洋权益纠纷。中印领土争端一直是影响两国关系的重要因素。近年来,中国同一些东南亚国家在南海问题上的纷争加剧,一个重要动因是美国调整亚太战略,试图借南海问题牵制中国,恢复其在东南亚地区的影响力,而相关争端国家则试图借助美国的力量来谋取利益。

在处理南海问题上,中国政府处于两难境地:如果在维护领土主权上无所作为,会激起国内民众的强烈反响,损害党和政府的威信与形象;如果过度作为,导致同相关国家关系严重恶化,又会影响周边安全环境的稳定,更会影响国际社会对中国走和平发展道路的认同,甚至会使日美从中渔利,恶化中国的战略环境。

尽管如此,上述三方面外部因素的影响仍然是局部的,并没有从根本上逆转中国外部安全环境,包括周边安全环境。在和平与发展为主题的时代,周边多数国家都不愿同中国搞意识形态对抗,即便美国和日本,也没有将意识形态对抗作为其对华政策的主轴。

从总体国家安全观的视角考察一些媒体常炒作的“C型包围圈”可以看出,所谓“包围圈”只存在于某个领域,而不是在总体上。在经济等层面,根本就不存在针对中国的任何包围,周边国家与中国经济、文化关系密切,而且基本都愿意进一步发展这种关系;在军事层面,至多是在东亚地区存在一个针对中国的弧形,即美日同盟等以美国为中心的同盟体系,而在广大北亚、中亚、南亚、东南亚国家,并未见有威胁中国军事安全的意愿和行。

在政治层面,“包围圈”确实存在,由于中国周边绝大多数国家都实行与中国不同的社会制度,针对美国实施的“促进民主”战略和推广“普世价值”战略,这些国家或积极呼应,或乐见其成,或认为与己无关。这样的周边环境无疑给中国维护政治安全带来严峻挑战。

四、结语

站在总体国家安全观高度来审视中国外部安全环境,需要以中国特色社会主义为视角。在此视角下,政治安全是核心,中国政治安全外部环境最具挑战性。

以总体国家安全观为指导来评估中国安全形势与外部环境可以看出:虽然某些领域的安全形势相对复杂、严峻,但中国总体国家安全形势和外部环境的基本面是好的。虽然中美关系、中日关系、中国同一些周边国家关系近来摩擦较多,面临的挑战与风险较为突出,但外部因素的影响是可控的,只要经营得当,就不会对中国外部环境带来颠覆性影响。

推而言之,在安全与发展之间,安全尚未超越发展成为首要任务,中国的发展仍然面临重要战略机遇期,发展依然是党和国家的中心工作和第一要务。

本文是国家开发银行资助的中共中央党校2011年度重点科研项目“中国特色社会主义外部环境建设”的阶段性成果。
[a]外部环境若细分,还可以包括政治环境、社会环境、外交环境、文化环境、舆论环境、生态环境等,但是这些都可以归结到发展环境和安全环境。其中政治环境主要是指国家政治制度和意识形态存续与发展所面临的环境,通常会对发展环境和安全环境带来重大影响。
美国1994年发布的《国家安全战略报告》就提出三个方面的目标,即维护安全、扩展经济和推进民主。实际上就是将政治同安全与经济并列,成为国家处理对外关系时的主要考虑因素之一。不过,当今时代主题是和平与发展,意识形态对抗的地位下降,因此,同发展环境和安全环境相比,政治环境也位居次要地位。在谈外部环境时,学者们有时也用“战略环境”一词,用以表达将各种环境因素综合到一起的总体态势。
[b] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”, 《人民日报》,2014年4月16日,第1版。
[c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” November 29, 2012, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://carnegieendowment.org/globalten/?fa=50142. (上网时间:2014年8月13日)
[d] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”。
[e]政治安全主要包括意识形态安全、国家制度和政权安全、国家统一安全以及执政党自身组织安全。苏联解体在这四个方面都有体现:执政党和国家改旗易帜、原有的国家制度和政权消亡、多民族国家解体、执政党分裂进而瓦解。
[f]中共中央宣传部:《习近平总书记系列重要讲话读本》,学习出版社、人民出版社,2014年,第105页。
[g]黄中平:“着力提高治理能力 切实防止‘两个陷阱’”,《求是》,2014年第7期,第50-52页。
[h]刘建飞:《美国“民主联盟”战略研究》,当代世界出版社,2013年,第3-48页。
[i] The White House, National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17, (上网时间:2014年6月30日)
[j]美国“塑造”中国的战略思想在2006年的《四年防务评估报告》中阐述得最为清晰。参见刘建飞:“塑造中国:美国对华战略新动向”,《中国党政干部论坛》,2006年第3期,第33-35页。
[k]美国2014年《四年防务评估报告》就称,亚太地区的安全形势在恶化,而中国快速实现军事现代化并缺少军事透明度是导致这种恶化的重要原因。参见U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, March 2014, p.4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf。 (上网时间:2014年6月30日)

China’s external environment has two primary components: its development environment and its security environment. [a] From a developmental perspective, despite new challenges, China’s external environment is—when seen in total—a good environment that presents [us] with extremely clear opportunities. From a security perspective, despite numerous opportunities, China’s external environment faces prominent challenges. This essay will attempt to conduct a comprehensive examination of China’s external security environment through the lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide.

1. A View of the State’s External Security Environment Through the Lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The “Total National Security Paradigm” was proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the first meeting of the National Security Commission. [b]1 The key idea is to integrate political, economic, military and other areas of security into an organic whole by taking into account China’s special national conditions.2 Compared with other major countries in the world, the most distinctive element in China’s national conditions is its implementation of socialist institutions and its adherence to the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Therefore, to examine China's external environment, especially the country's external security environment, we must first grasp this basic national condition. An examination of the state’s external security environment that takes into account Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has more to offer than a [conventional] examination of [interstate relations].

 First: this approach highlights the challenges posed by “one country, two systems” and the reunification of the motherland.

Although Hong Kong and Macau3 are already part of the People’s Republic of China, their capitalist institutions and high degree of autonomy may be used by Western powers to interfere in China's internal affairs, or even as a position to spread Western values to mainland China. Although Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the fact that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same China has never changed, the latent threat of Taiwan separatism still exists. On the security front, Taiwan currently maintains close relations with the United States and Japan,4 while on the ideological front it has obvious differences with the mainland. Therefore, if Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are not posing a serious challenge to the “external environment of China,” their challenge to the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is more acute.

Second: this approach is helpful for forming a more objective and sober understanding of the external challenges China faces.

If we look at the world only from the perspective of “China’s external environment,” we tend to view China as an ordinary rising power, restricting our field of vision to conventional issues in interstate relations—such as security and economic relations between countries—while ignoring the ideological factors in international politics. However, the reality of international politics is that Western countries have been incorporating ideological factors into their foreign policy. For example, in the economic sphere, they have suppressed China’s state-owned enterprises that “went global” and restricted the export of high-tech products to China; in terms of military development, they have treated China and India differently, preventing and restricting China while encouraging and supporting India.5 It can be said that China as a rising power in an ordinary sense poses a concern only to large countries that have geo-strategic conflicts with China such as the United States, Japan, and India, as well as to small and medium-sized neighboring countries. But China as a rising socialist power poses a concern not only to the above-mentioned countries but also to many Western countries that are not able to view a country with a socialist system as one of their own.

Third: this approach is helpful for a more rational perception of our own strength.

 If we only look at the “external environment of China,” our focus tends towards comparisons of different countries’ hard power and the changes in the international political landscape that are based on hard power. This perspective reveals more opportunities than challenges. For example, if we purely look at hard power – such as economic and military power – it is very easy for us to assume that the power gap between China and the United States is rapidly closing. If we simply examine the international political landscape through the lens of hard power, it is very easy for us to think that as multipolarity advances, China, as a pole, will increase international influence and discourse power accordingly. However, when we look at the "external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” the situation is different.

 First, although the power gap between the United States and China is narrowing, the United States still possesses  a very clear advantage by virtue of its values-based alliance system. Second, in the international arena it is easy for the United States to suppress China under the banner of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” and to gain the understanding and support of its Western allies and the significant portion of developing countries that practice Western democracy. As Thomas Carothers, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,6 has emphasized, “[A]lthough the relative power balance between the West and ‘the rest’ is shifting, many of the major new non-Western powers are in fact democracies. The socio-economic dynamism of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and other rising democratic powers is giving a boost to global democracy both through their example and through their increasing efforts to support democracy in their neighborhoods.” [c]7

Finally, the U.S. uses “universal values” as an important [tool of] soft power that has severely constrained the construction of China’s own soft power.

 The “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and the “external environment of China” are not unrelated to each other; they are actually two dimensions of the same thing: the former is the core of the latter, and the latter is the vehicle of the former. If the vehicle does not exist, the core would lose its basis of existence; and if the core does not exist, the nature and appearance of the vehicle will also change radically. In other words, if something goes wrong with the “external environment of China,” the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will not be untouched. It will in turn hinder the cause of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. In this sense, the challenges of the “external environment of China” are naturally the challenges of the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”; conversely, if the [internal] work of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics does not advance successfully, the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will also deteriorate, thus affecting the “external environment of China.”

2. Political Security’s External Environment Presents the Greatest Challenges

 When General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the Total National Security Paradigm and China’s [new] national security system, he emphasized the central position of political security. [d] This [guidance] is given on the basis of an accurate grasp of China’s special national conditions and the new characteristics and trends of the national security situation. One of the most significant characteristics of China's national conditions is that it follows the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which makes the challenges facing China's political security even greater than those facing ordinary countries.

 Historically, the greatest security threats to small, weak states come from the military domain. But for large and powerful countries, threats to military security are relatively insignificant. The Soviet Union, for example, faced many foreign invasions but survived them all. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, its superb military power was intact; the United States and NATO did not fire a single bullet. Nor is economic [insecurity] enough to cause the disintegration of a great power. In its 69 years of history the Soviet Union suffered several[periods of] serious economic difficulty yet endured them all. The Soviet economy was not unsalvageable before its collapse. The security problem[threatening] the Soviet Union was first and foremost a problem of political security, especially ideological security. [e] The Soviet Communist Party’s change of banner led to the loss of its sovereign power and [a situation where] socialist institutions could no longer be sustained.8 It [led to] the loss of national cohesion and stimulated secessionist tendencies in some of the constituent republics. It [led to] various factions sprouting within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which eventually split apart and disintegrated.9

 Historical experience makes clear that from the perspective of the security of a socialist state encircled by capitalism, the greatest threat of being overthrown [arises in the domain of] political security. Although Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has attained impressive results, it has yet to escape from capitalist encirclement. The state’s political security is of crucial importance. The most prominent [part of political security] is ideological security. For this reason, ideology has been recognized as “an extremely important work to the Party.” [f]10

 For the time being, China’s ideological security is facing both internal and external challenges.

 Internally, the ideology of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has been facing challenges from two directions: From the “right” some people try to replace scientific socialism with Western democratic socialism. From the “left” some people ignore [our] basic national conditions at the initial stage of socialism, emphasizing the opposition of socialism to capitalism and ignoring the need of developing countries to learn from developed countries. If [we listen to the “left”], Socialism with Chinese Characteristics will lose its “Chinese characteristics” and may revert to the old path of rigidity. In February 2014, General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important address at a special seminar for leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial levels, emphasizing that “we will neither take the old path of closure and rigidity nor the crooked path of changing flags and banners.” [g] For the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, both the “old path" and the “crooked path”11 are dangerous and will endanger China’s ideological security.

 Externally, the United States and other Western countries have not abandoned their Cold War mentality due to their “anti-communist” ideology. [h] They are increasingly fearful of China’s insistence on the socialist path and its rapid rise, and they are even more concerned about the growing influence of the “China model.” The U.S. has implemented a strategy of promoting democracy and universal values, attempted to build a “Concert of Democracies” in Asia,12 interfered in China’s internal affairs on issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan, supported various anti-communist and anti-China forces overseas, and secretly thwarted the efforts of mainland China on the issue of constitutional development in Hong Kong. These are all part of the U.S. strategy to “Westernize” China. These strategies and policies of the United States can easily win the support of other Western countries. What the United States and other Western countries are doing poses a very serious challenge to China's ideological security.

 The challenge posed by the U.S. strategy to promote “universal values” deserves special emphasis here. After taking office, the Obama administration has made the promotion of “universal values” the primary focus of its ideological diplomacy. The 2010 edition of the U.S. National Security Strategy Report explicitly sets “respect for universal values at home and around the world” as one of the main goals of U.S. global strategy. [i]

 There are two types of universal values: one type [includes] the values that all countries in the world develop and promote, such as peace, development, good governance, order, harmony, justice, equality, cooperation, and the protection of the environment; the other type [includes] the values that the West first developed and the rest accepted, such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. In other words, universal values are not the same as Western values. The second category of values easily leads people into theoretical errors. Although they were first created by the West, they are not monopolized by the West, and many developing countries and socialist countries also adopt these values as the philosophy of their own governance, the most emblematic one being democracy.

 However, we need to be sober about the fact that the Western countries hold themselves up as models of democracy and act like missionaries to evangelize their so-called “universal values” to the world for the sake of realizing their own interests. When Western countries promote these so-called “universal values” they assign the values of democracy and freedom a connotation and standard that they proscribed. For example, according to Western standards, all democracies must have a multi-party system, separation of powers, universal suffrage, and so on. This actually equates the representative system as a way to realize democracy with ‘democracy’ itself.13 It equates the Western model of democracy with all democracy. Western countries pretend that the “universal values" they espouse are general universal values, and this [fraudulent] practice has led to confusion and bad consequences. Some people who respect democracy mistakenly believe that if China wants to develop its democracy, it must copy the Western model; on the contrary, some people who oppose liberalization and want to maintain China’s ideological security mistakenly believe that universal values are Western values, and that China cannot develop democracy, nor can it have freedom and human rights. The United States and other Western powers often apply double standards when promoting “universal values” and use them to suppress their competitors in order to protect their self interests, which makes people even more suspicious of these universal values. Universal values can easily cause ideological and theoretical strife, thus endangering ideological security.

 China’s political security faces a very complex external environment, especially from factors that are not conducive to China’s maintenance of political security—[such as] economic globalization, the development of the market economy and of the internet, which happen to be necessary for China’s development and cannot be avoided. They make the external environment for political security even more challenging.

3. Assessing the total national  security situation and the external environment

 Looking at China’s national security system from the perspective of the Total National Security Paradigm, we can see that the security situation and the main sources of threats vary greatly in different areas.

 The political security situation is relatively severe, with the main source of threat arising from within with the main external source of threat coming mainly from the United States and other Western countries. The lessons of the history of the international communist movement show that any external threat to political security must work through internal factors to have an effect.

 The [threat] of overthrow is also seen in the domain of military security. When China assesses the international situation and external security environment, it must first look at the military security environment, [assessing] whether peace and development are still the theme of the times and whether China will encounter a large-scale war. At present, China’s military security has only potential threats, with the main source of threat coming from Japan and the Japan-US alliance.14 Of course internal factors are also important. If we are weak or our security awareness is found lacking, this would give competitors an opportunity to take advantage of us and transform latent external threats into actual threats.

The economic security situation is relatively good, with the main source of potential threats coming from within the country. China’s experience in dealing with the global financial crisis shows that as long as the domestic economy is functioning well and the government responds promptly and effectively to the impact of external crises, economic security will be guaranteed.15 

Such is also the case with territorial, social, cultural, technological, environmental, resource, and nuclear security issues, where domestic threats are dominant and external threats are secondary.16 While there are many adverse factors in these security areas, the overall situation is manageable.

The WikiLeaks17 and Snowden incident18 demonstrate that threats to information security are relatively imminent and acute, with the main source of threats coming from the outside, from the United States and its allies. Information threats, however, come into play through the military, political, economic and technological domains. Information by itself is not capable of overthrowing China’s national security. 

Addressing the various security challenges and threats mentioned above and maintaining national security requires effort both at home and abroad. We should manage domestic and international issues in an integrated manner, continuously improve our ability to maintain security internally, and continuously create a favorable external environment. Creating an external environment, whether it is a security environment or a development environment, requires good diplomacy and good relations with other countries. On the chessboard of China’s foreign relations, the most challenging and most prominent issues are China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries. 

In terms of the external environment, the United States is the only country in the world today capable of hindering China’s peaceful development and interfering with its peaceful rise. The key issue is to have an accurate judgment and assessment of the U.S. willingness and determination to block China's peaceful development and its strategy for doing so. For the time being, the United States, for the sake of its own interest, is unwilling to engage in direct confrontation with China, but rather seeks to cooperate as it competes–of course, it does not rule out the use of all possible opportunities and tricks to check China's rise without harming its own vital interests.  

The U.S. strategy toward China can be summarized with one word: “sculpting.” In essence, [they seek to] sculpt China into a partner through cooperation and integration, [aiming] to prevent China from becoming an enemy of the United States after it has risen. [j] However, with the rapid growth of China’s comprehensive national power, the U.S. has a growing incentive to curb and contain China. [k] Especially with the shift of the U.S. strategic focus to the East, strategic friction between China and the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region has increased significantly. Properly handling China-U.S. relations is crucial to China's security environment. 

Japan is not an East Asian country and China’s neighboring country in an ordinary sense. Even though China-Japan relations are no longer great power relations on the global stage, the relationship remains important in East Asia and China’s near abroad. In recent years, China-Japanese relations have deteriorated significantly. This has much to do with Japan's political shift to the right. The Abe administration’s stance regarding the Diaoyu Islands and on the erroneous historical issues,19 and the lifting of the ban on collective self-defense rights despite strong opposition from China, South Korea and other countries,20 highlight the rampant right-wing forces in Japan. A more important factor affecting China-Japanese relations is the Japan-US alliance. From the perspective of its global strategic interests, the United States will not accept a trilateral relationship in which China-Japan relations are better than Japan-U.S. relations. The Democratic Party of Japan administration of Yukio Hatoyama tried to adjust Japan’s foreign policy to bring relations with China closer and build an equilateral triangle between Japan, the U.S. and China, but it was not long before it was forced out of office, and it is almost an open secret that the U.S. was behind it.21 China-Japanese relations are at a stalemate. The result of this stalemate is that both sides lose, with the United States as the biggest beneficiary. 

In the future China-Japanese relations face two risks: First, Japanese right-wing politicians are moving further and further down their path, playing the China card for their own political interests and gaining public support by being hawkish on China; second, if the United States is determined to do all it canto contain China, Japan will willingly act as the vanguard of the United States. This tendency is reflected in the fact that the Abe regime is more active than the United States in establishing an “alliance of democratic Asian nations.”22 If China and Japan move toward military confrontation, it is likely that the United States will be stimulated to intervene and side with Japan, leading to a simultaneous confrontation between China and the United States and Japan. If this happens, China’s military security environment, and indeed the security environment in many other areas, will seriously deteriorate.

 China has many neighboring countries and has disputes regarding territory and marine rights and interests with a number of them. Territorial disputes between China and India have been an important element in the two countries’ bilateral relations. In recent years, the disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea have intensified. One contributing factor is the United States’ adjustment on Asia-Pacific strategy, in which the United States hopes to contain China and rebuild its influence in Southeast Asia.23 Relevant Southeast Asian countries are also attempting to use American strength for their own profit.

 The Chinese government thus faces a dilemma when dealing with South China Sea disputes: if it does nothing to safeguard territorial sovereignty it will provoke strong reactions from the masses inside the country and damage the prestige and image of the Party and the government; [but] if the government overreacts, it will lead to a serious deterioration of relations with the countries concerned. Such circumstances will harm border stability, impact the international recognition of China’s path of peaceful development, and ultimately benefit Japan and the United States while worsening China’s strategic environment.

 Nonetheless, the impact of the three external factors mentioned above is still partial and has not fundamentally reversed China’s external security environment, including its neighboring security environment. In an era when peace and development are the theme of the times, most neighboring countries are reluctant to provoke an ideological confrontation with China. Even the United States and Japan have not made ideological confrontation with China the main axis of their policy.

 From the perspective of total national security, the often discussed “C-shape Encirclement” only exists in certain domains [of activity].24 It is by no means total. Economically, there simply is no encirclement against China. All neighboring countries have close economic and cultural ties with China and are generally willing to further these ties. Militarily, there is at most an arc of encirclement against China in East Asia, namely the United States-led Japanese-American alliance. However, in North Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, there is neither behavior nor willingness to [engage in behavior] that poses a military threat to China.   

However, in political terms the “encirclement” does exist, since the vast majority of countries around China have social institutions different from China’s. These countries either actively support or welcome the U.S. strategy of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” or [they] do nothing to either support or deter it. Such a surrounding environment undoubtedly poses a serious challenge to China in maintaining political security.

 4. Conclusion

To examine China’s external security environment from the lens of the Total National Security Paradigm, it is necessary to take Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into account. In this perspective, political security is the core, and political security is the most challenging [domain] in China’s external environment.

 An assessment of China’s security situation and external environment using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide shows that although the security situation in certain areas is relatively complex and severe, the fundamentals of China's total national security situation and external environment are good. Although China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries have recently been marked by more friction, challenges. and risks, the impact of these external factors is manageable and will not have a destructive impact on China's external environment as long as they are properly managed.

 In summary: Between security and development, security has not yet overtaken development as the primary task. China’s development still faces an important period of strategic opportunity, [thus] development is still the central task and the first priority of the Party and the state.

[Author's Footnote] This paper is the result of the 2011 key research project of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China funded by the National Development Bank, entitled “Building the External Environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”
 [a] The external environment can be subdivided into political environment, social environment, diplomatic environment, cultural environment, public opinion environment, ecological environment, etc., but all of these can be reduced to the development environment and the security environment. The political environment mainly refers to the environment concerning the survival and development of the state’s political institutions and ideology, which usually has a significant impact on its development environment and security environment.
 The U.S. National Security Strategy Report released in 1994 set out three objectives, namely, maintaining security, expanding the economy, and advancing democracy. In effect, it juxtaposes politics with security and economy as one of the main considerations in [the U.S.’s] foreign relations.25 However, the theme of the current era is peace and development, and the status of ideological confrontation has declined. [As such] the political environment also takes a secondary position compared to the development and security environments. When talking about the external environment, scholars sometimes use the term “strategic environment” to express the overall situation that combines various factors of the environment.
 [b] “General Secretary Xi Jinping proposes at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhering to the total national security paradigm and taking the road of national security with Chinese characteristics,” People’s Daily, 16 April 2014, p. 1.
 [c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 29 November 2012.
 [d] “General Secretary Xi Jinping posited at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhere to the total national security paradigm, walk the road of national security with Chinese characteristics.”
 [e] Political security mainly includes ideological security, security of the state institution and sovereign power, security of national unity, and security of the ruling party’s own organization. The collapse of the Soviet Union was affected by all four aspects: the change of banner of the ruling party and the state, the demise of the original institution and sovereign power, the disintegration of the multi-ethnic state, and the splitting and subsequent disintegration of the ruling party.
 [f] Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,“Readings from the Series of Important Speeches by General Secretary Xi Jinping,” Study Publishing House and People’s Publishing House, 2014, p. 105.
 [g] Huang Zhongping, “Focusing on improving governance capacity to effectively prevent ‘two traps’”, Qiushi, No. 7, 2014, pp. 50-52.
 [h] Liu Jianfei, “Study of the U.S. Democratic Alliance,” Strategy (Contemporary World Press, 2013), pp. 3-48.
 [i] The White House,National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17(online date:June 30, 2014)
 [j]The U.S. strategic idea of “shaping" China was most clearly articulated in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Assessment. See Liu Jianfei, “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China," China Party and Government Cadre Forum, No.3, 2006, pp. 33-35.27
 [k] The U.S. 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review claims that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is deteriorating, and that China’s rapid military modernization and lack of military transparency are important causes of this deterioration. See U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review, March 2014,p. 4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf. (Accessed: June 30, 2014)

[Editors' footnotes]
1.  Xi Jinping introduced the Total National Security Paradigm in 2014 in an attempt to overhaul China’s national security apparatus. The paradigm integrates “traditional” security concerns such as territorial integrity with “non-traditional” concerns such as threats to state security emanating from the  political, economic, cultural, social, and ecological realms. The Central National Security Commission (CNSC) [中央国家安全委员会] was established in November 2013 to coordinate work across these security domains.  
2. In the early 20th century Chinese thinkers who wished to modernize Neo-confucian political forms instead of adopting a socialist or liberal model defended their program by describing Western political imports as incompatible with China’s “national conditions” [国情], a phrase that might also be translated as “national characteristics” or “national essence.” The term was resuscitated as the 20th century turned to the 21st. In both the early 20th century and the early 21st,“national conditions” were presented as a set of immutable elements of Chinese social life that flowed from China’s unique geography, longstanding cultural traditions, and specific historical experiences, each constraining the type of social arrangements or political structures the Chinese people could fruitfully adopt. In the early 20th century the term was often used against Chinese communists; after several generations of Communist rule, China’s “national conditions” are now used conterminously, as historian John Fitzgerald notes, with a “wealthy and powerful Communist Party-governed state that lacks democratic accountable government…[and has] no constitutional or institutional restraint on its exercise of power.” See John Fitzgerald, “Beijing’s guoqing versus Australia’s way of life,” Inside Story, 27 September 2016.
3. Neither Hong Kong nor Macau are governed as normal Chinese cities, a legacy of their former status as imperial possessions of Great Britain and Portugal. The Sino-British Joint Declaration mandated Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, ending 156 years of British rule. The Declaration set the conditions for the transfer, with China agreeing to maintain existing structures of government and economy under the principle of “one country, two systems” for a period of 50 years. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, signed on March 26, 1987, established a similar process and the conditions of the transfer of sovereignty over Macau from Portugal to the PRC. This transfer was formally completed on December 20, 1999, after a twelve year “transition”period when the Basic Law of Macau was drafted and approved by the PRC’s National People’s Congress.
4. Although Japan broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 as a precondition to normalizing relations with the PRC, Taiwan and Japanese maintained cultural and economic ties. These ties were strengthened as relations between the PRC and Japan deteriorated over the dispute of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.  Japan and Taiwan concluded a landmark agreement that addressed fishing rights in the East China Sea in 2013, a year before the publication of this article. This may be the “close relations” on “the security front” that Liu alludes to. However, in contrast to the United States, Japan did not (and still does not)  support Taiwan through arms sales and to this day lacks any legal framework for military collaboration with the Taiwanese armed forces.
5. American law has prohibited arms sales to China since 1989. Congressional legislation and the executive branch directives have also regulated the export of dual-use goods (items and technology that may have both civilian and military use) to Chinese firms. In contrast, arms sales are a major component of America’s strategic partnership with India. The year this article was originally published (2014) the United States was India’s third-largest source of arms. See Karen Sutter and Christopher Casey, “US Export Controls and China,”  Congressional Research Service, 24 March 2022. Dinshaw Mistry, “US Arms Sales to India.” Asia Pacific Bulletin, 8 July 2014.  
6. In 2014, Thomas Carothers was the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment of Peace. He is now the co-director of Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program.
7. The essay from which Liu pulls this quotation does not express the triumphalist sentiments this isolated passage suggests. Carothers' central argument is that  “the loss of global democratic momentum, problems of Western political credibility, and the rise of alternative political models” are making democracy promotion a more challenging task than it has been since the end of the Cold War.  Carothers consequently urges the Obama administration to make democracy promotion a key item of its second term agenda less the tide of global politics turns against democratic reform. See Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment of Peace, 29 November 2012.
8. The term zhèngquán ānquán [政权安全] is difficult to render accurately into English. When Chinese translate English phrases like “regime change” into Chinese,  政权 (zhèngquán) is the word they most often us for “regime.”  “Regime security” is therefore an acceptable gloss. Yet unlike the English “regime,”  zhèngquán does not describe institutional architecture of rulership so much as the sovereign power that rulership grants. Thus its appearance in Mao’s most famous aphorism: “枪杆子里面出政权” [usually translated as “political power (zhèngquán) grows from the barrel of a gun”].
9. Liu Jianfei’s assessment of the disintegration of the Soviet Union official narrative on the collapse of the Soviet Union during the 2010s, which attributes the failure of the CPSU to the poison of “historical nihilism.” Yet debate over the cause of the USSR’s fall has been wide ranging, with critics of the official position pointing to the systemic decay of the Soviet economy or the failure of the USSR to reform the inflexible and rigid political structure it inherited from Stalin. For examples of critical arguments, consult Wang Xiaoxiao 王笑笑, “Sulian Jubiande Genben Yuanyin 苏东剧变的根本原因 [The Fundamental Reason for the Transformation of theSoviet Union]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 4 March 2013; Huang Lifu 黄立茀, “Sulian Yinhe Sangshi Gaige Liangji  苏联因何丧失改革良机? Why did the USSR miss the chanceto reform?” Aisixiang 爱思想, 15 October 2009; Liu Xingyi 刘新宜, “Sugong Kuatai, Sulian Wangguode Yuanyin  苏共垮台、苏联亡国的原因 [Reasons for the Collapse of the Soviet Communist Party and the Demise of the USSR]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 14 November 2004. For longer presentations of the official view published around the same time as Liu’sarticle, see  Cheng Zhihua 陈之骅, “Lishi Xuwuzhuyi Gaoluan Sulian 历史虚无主义搞乱苏联[Historical Nihilism Ruined the Soviet Union],” Aisixiang 爱思想, 18 September 2013 and Wang Tingyou 汪亭友, “Liang Zhong Duiweide Shijieguan he Lichang Guanchuan SulianYanbian Yanjiu 两种对立的世界观和立场贯穿苏联演变研究 [The Ideological Divide in the Study of the Soviet Collapse],”Aisixiang, 20 Feb 2014.
10. This was said by Xi Jinping in a conference on national propaganda work on August 20, 2013. See “Xi Jinping: Yishi Xintai Gongzou shi Dang de Yixiang Jiduan Zhongyaode Gongzuo 习近平:意识形态工作是党的一项极端重要的工作 [Xi Jinping:ideological work is an extremely important work of the Party],” Xinhua, 20 August 2013.  
11. Xie lu [邪路] could also rendered as the “evil path,” but the Chinese word xie [邪] does not carry the theological baggage that comes along with the English “evil.” Xie [邪] in this context does not imply a transcendent malevolence forever in opposition to the ideal good, but simply deviation from the  “correct path.” Alternate translations of xie lu [邪路] might include the “lost path,” “incorrect path,” or “unrighteous pat.” For a longer explication see Tao Wenzhao 陶文昭, “Ruhe Lijie Bu Zou Yalu 如何理解不走‘邪路’ [How to Understand ‘Don’t Travel the Crooked Path’],” People’s Daily, 20 May 2013.   
12. Debate over whether democratic countries in the world should form a “concert” or a “league” of democracies to promote peace and counter autocratic influence first arose in American foreign policy circles in 2004, with prominent scholar-officials like Ivo Daalder, James Lindsday, John Ikenberry, and Anne-Marie Slaughter all endorsing the idea. The proposal reached its zenith with John McCain’s  2008 presidential election, when the senator championed this imagined league as an alternative to the United Nations. However, the proposal largely died with his campaign and had no purchase within the Obama administration.
The possibility of a league of democracies alarmed Chinese analysts, including Liu Jianfei. In a 2011 article, Liu argues that the league would disrupt international order with the United Nations at its core and divide the world  between democratic and non-democratic countries based on American standards. See author’s footnote h.
13. The PRC understands democracy in the context of its socialist and autocratic rule. Introduced by Mao Zedong, the idea of a “socialist democracy” or “centralized democracy” seeks to increase the input of average citizens into the political process without surrendering the Party’s monopoly of power. In the eyes of the CPC, democracy most fundamentally means the CPC’s single party rule on behalf of  the people.
14. The US-Japan alliance was formalized in 1960 by the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The alliance has been strengthened over the years by joint military exercises and other forms of cooperation.
15. For more than a decade, Chinese analysts have characterized China’s successful weathering of the 2008 financial crisis as proof of the strength of the CPC political model, and have likewise characterized the crisis as the beginning of the end of American hegemony. For a particularly influential example, see this 2009 essay by Yuan Peng, now President of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), the think-tank linked to the Ministry of State Security: 袁鹏 [Yuan Peng], “金融危机与美国经济霸权:历史与政治的解读 [The Financial Crisis and American Hegemony: Interpreting the History and Politics],” 更新时间 [Renewal Times], 29 May 2015, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/88470.html.
16. This is a list of security concerns that Xi Jinping specifically mentioned in his 2014 speech that introduced the total national security paradigm. “Xíjìnpíng: Jiānchí zǒngtǐ guójiā ānquán guān zǒu zhōngguó tèsè guójiā ānquán dàolù 习近平:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路 [Xi Jinping: Insisting on Total National Security Paradigm Walking a Path of National Security with Chinese Characteristic]” Renmin, 16 April 2014.  
17. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes leaked information, documents, and classified media provided by anonymous sources. The organization was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange and a group of like-minded activists and journalists. WikiLeaks has published several documents related to China over the years, revealing a variety of sensitive information about the Chinese government and its activities.
18. The Snowden incident refers to the events that began in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, leaked a large amount of classified documents to journalists. The documents revealed the extent of the NSA's surveillance programs, which collected data on American citizens and foreign governments and individuals. In an interview he gave with the South China Morning Post in 2013 while he sought asylum in Hong Kong,Snowden claimed that the US government had hacked into Chinese telecommunications company Huawei's servers, and that the NSA had been targeting Chinese officials and businesses in its surveillance programs.  
19. Diaoyu Island is the Chinese name for a string of islands in the East China. In Japanese they are known as the Senkakus. Possession of the islands is claimed by both countries, and has served as a significant source of tension between the two powers after evidence for the existence of oil reserves around the islands surfaced in the latter half of the 1970s.
20. On July 1, 2014, Japan passed a Cabinet decision that changed the interpretation of Article 9 of its constitution, which restricted Japan’s use of force overseas. The new interpretation allows Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense. See Kawasaki Akira and Celine Nahory, “Japan’s Decision on Collective Self-Defense inContext,” The Diplomat, 3 October 2014.
21. As Prime Minister of Japan from 16 September 2009 to 8 June 2010, Yukio Hatoyama attempted to shift Japan’s America-centric foreign policy to become more Asian-centric. Relations with China warmed under his leadership. Hatoyama’s administration came to an abrupt end, however, after he failed to fulfill his campaign promise to move a US marine base off Japanese shore, a promise that he originally hoped to signal his determination to end Japan’s subservience to Washington foreign policy. Yet, due to pressure from the United States and the lack of a viable alternative site, he agreed to merely move the marine base to a less conspicuous location, a concession that cost his political support at home.
Hatoyama remained a controversial figure after his resignation due to his dovish stance on China. In 2013, during a private visit to China, he told reporters that theJ apanese government should acknowledge the territorial dispute for the Senkaku Islands, a remark that contradicted the Japanese government’s position on the issue. On the same trip, Hatoyama also visited the Nanjing Memorial built for the Chinese victims of the Japanese army during the second Sino-Japanese War.In the eyes of the Chinese public, Hatoyama’s visit was valuable as it was an indirect acknowledgement of Japanese misdeeds during WWII.
22. Liu is likely referencing Shinzo Abe’s attempt to form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD or “the quad”)—composed of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia—during his first term as prime minister in 2006-2007. The origin of the quad  can be traced to the “Tsunami Core Group,” an ad-hoc grouping that sprang up to respond to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Later, in 2007, Prime Minister Abe would use the template to push for an informal security framework to address Japan’s  concerns regarding China’s growing power.  However, during its initial inception, the proposed quad existed more in concept than reality, its development floundered on the unwillingness of Australia and India to risk trade relations with China. At the time of writing, therefore, Liu’s worries might have seen overblown. In reality they proved prescient: Australia and India’s calculations changed as the 2010s progressed. After an eight year hiatus the quad reconvened in 2017, and its joint exercises and meetings are acrucial part of the security architecture of the region.  For a longer analysis of these developments, see  Patrick Gerard Buchan and Benjamin Rimland, “Defining the Diamond: The Past, Present, and Future of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 16 March 2020.  
23. See “Fact sheet: Advancing the re-balance to Asia and the Pacific,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 16 Nov 2015. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/fact-sheet-advancing-rebalance-asia-and-pacific
24. The idea that the U.S. is constructing a c-shape encirclement in Asia-Pacific was popularized in 2009 by Dai Xun [戴旭], a Colonel Commandant in the Chinese air force and a professor at the National Defense University. Dai argued that the c-shape encirclement was America’s primary strategy in the Indo-Pacific in order to thwart China’s growth. See Dai Xun 戴旭, “Zhōngguó zhèng miànlín dì sān cì bèi guāfēn de wéijī 中国正面临第三次被瓜分的危机 [China is facing the third crisis of being divided up],” Honggehui, 18 November 2012.  
25. Liu is referencing the National Security Strategy Report published in July 1994 by the Clinton administration. As Liu notes, the report outlines a threefold goal for the U.S. post-Cold War national security: “to credibly sustain our security with military forces that are ready to fight; to bolster America’s economic revitalization; to promote democracy abroad.” The peport attempts to craft a comprehensive strategy to address these goals, believing that they are mutually supportive: “Secure nations are more likely to support free trade and maintain democratic structures. Nations with growing economies and strong trade ties are more likely to feel secure and to work toward freedom. And democratic states are less likely to threaten our interests and more likely to cooperate with theU.S. to meet security threats and promote sustainable development.” See “A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement,” National Security Strategy Archive, 1 July 1994, accessed Feb 21, 2023. https://nssarchive.us/national-security-strategy-1994/
26.  The abstract of “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China” reads:

The new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that the United States will continue to pursue a global strategy focused on counterterrorism and counter-proliferation. In this strategy, China is the most important “strategic crossroads” country, but it is not the enemy. The United States wants to shape these “crossroads countries” to prevent them from choosing a strategy that is hostile to the United States. The U.S. strategy toward China remains primarily one of cooperation, supplemented by prevention and containment.

Cite This Article

Liu Jianfei, “An Evaluation of China's Total National Security Environment.” Translated by Nancy Yu. San Francisco: Center for Strategic Translation, 2023.

Originally published as Liu Jianfei 刘建飞, “Yi Zongti Guojia Anquanguan Pinggu Zhongguo Waibu Anquan Huanjing 以总体国家安全观评估中国外部安全环境 [An Evaluation of China's Total National Security Environment],” Guoji Wenti Yanjiu 国际问题研究 [International Studies], 14 October 2014.

Related Articles

An Evaluation of China’s Total National Security Environment

以总体国家安全观评估中国外部安全环境

Author
Liu Jianfei
刘建飞
original publication
International Studies
国际问题研究
publication date
October 14, 2014
Translator
Nancy Yu
Translation date
March 10, 2023

Introduction

When Xi Jinping introduced the “Total National Security Paradigm” in 2014 the significance of the concept was still undefined. Xi instructed cadres that they must now “attach equal importance to internal and external security,” directing them to “build a national security system that integrates elements such as political, homeland, military, economic, cultural, social, science and technology, information, ecological, resource and nuclear security.”1 In hindsight we see that this was the beginning of a new era in Chinese security theory: at this meeting Xi Jinping inaugurated what observers have called “the securitization of everything.”2 But what about the policy areas that were already securitized? What did a total security perspective mean for China’s defense establishment and diplomatic corps?  

In this 2014 essay, Liu Jianfei, a professor at the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School, attempts to sketch what a foreign policy influenced by total security concerns should look like. As a historian of ideology’s role in American diplomacy, Liu had long argued that military conflict and economic development were not the only engines of international relations worth paying close attention to. The new Total National Security Paradigm gave him the opening he needed to make this case to the Party writ large. Liu’s essay is thus both an earnest effort to apply the insights garnered from his past studies to the grand strategy of his homeland and one of the earliest attempts to synthesize China’s foreign policy with the new guiding paradigm.  

For Liu Jianfei, viewing Chinese foreign policy from a “total” perspective means viewing Chinese foreign policy from the perspective of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” Liu insists that China is no ordinary state. It is a socialist state whose unique political system makes it distinct from—and at odds with—the other nations of the earth. This means that any foreign policy problem must be considered from two angles: First, in terms of its effect on China as an “ordinary” geopolitical actor. Second, in terms of its effect on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics—in other words, in terms of its effect on the unique Leninist institutions, teleological aims, and political culture that sets the Chinese system apart from other polities. 

Liu’s approach towards Taiwan provides a compelling case in point. Liu does not believe that Taiwan can mount a meaningful threat to China’s military security. But as a Chinese speaking republic occupying territory the PRC’s claims as its own, Taiwan’s existence as an autonomous market democracy undermines the Party’s legitimating narrative and poses a threat to the stability of Communist rule. As Liu puts it, “Taiwan does not pose a serious challenge to the external environment of China, [but its] challenge to the external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ is more acute.”

A parallel logic informs Liu’s analysis of China’s wider relations with the outside world. According to ordinary geopolitical logic, China’s rise as an “ordinary” geopolitical force “poses a concern only to large countries that have geo-strategic conflicts with China such as the United States, Japan, and India, as well as to small and medium-sized neighboring countries.” However, “the reality of international politics is that Western countries have been incorporating ideological factors into their foreign policy.” From this perspective, “China as a rising socialist power poses a concern not only to the above-mentioned countries but also to many Western countries that are not able to view a country with a socialist system as one of their own.”

Thus China should expect and prepare for the United States “to suppress China under the banner of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘universal values.’” This is dangerous to China for two reasons: first of all, every nation of the West and many parts of the developing world have embraced market democracy. If the United States is able to successfully frame its competition with China as a contest between Leninist systems and market democracies, China will find itself isolated on the international stage. More worrisome still is the threat that democracy promotion and universal values might pose to political stability within China itself. China can withstand isolation; it cannot survive dissent. This is “the lesson of the history of the international communist movement.” Chinese security professionals must remember that “any external threat to political security must work through internal factors to have an effect.”

This then is Liu’s ultimate fear: isolation and disgrace abroad might undermine ideological coherence at home. This is the only truly existential threat to Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. The Soviet Union proved that “for large and powerful countries, threats to military security are relatively insignificant.” It was problems of “political security, especially ideological security” that brought down the Soviet regime.

Liu’s essay previews many of the themes that would become characteristic to discussions of the Total National Security Paradigm. These include an unflagging attention to political security, a determination to draw lessons from Soviet precedents, the insistence that diplomatic and security incidents be interpreted through their ideological consequences, and a deep fear of what might happen if external forces successfully coordinate with internal dissidents. Liu concludes with a warning that would not sound out of place today: “Although Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has attained impressive results, it has yet to escape from capitalist encirclement.”

—THE EDITORS

1. Xi Jinping, The Governance of China, vol. I (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014), 222.
2. Katja Drinhausen and Helena Legarda, “‘Comprehensive National Security’ Unleashed: How Xi’s Approach Shapes China’s Policies at Home and Abroad,” MERICS China Report, Mercator Institute for China Studies, 15 September 2022.

China’s external environment has two primary components: its development environment and its security environment. [a] From a developmental perspective, despite new challenges, China’s external environment is—when seen in total—a good environment that presents [us] with extremely clear opportunities. From a security perspective, despite numerous opportunities, China’s external environment faces prominent challenges. This essay will attempt to conduct a comprehensive examination of China’s external security environment through the lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide.

1. A View of the State’s External Security Environment Through the Lens of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics

The “Total National Security Paradigm” was proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the first meeting of the National Security Commission. [b]1 The key idea is to integrate political, economic, military and other areas of security into an organic whole by taking into account China’s special national conditions.2 Compared with other major countries in the world, the most distinctive element in China’s national conditions is its implementation of socialist institutions and its adherence to the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. Therefore, to examine China's external environment, especially the country's external security environment, we must first grasp this basic national condition. An examination of the state’s external security environment that takes into account Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has more to offer than a [conventional] examination of [interstate relations].

 First: this approach highlights the challenges posed by “one country, two systems” and the reunification of the motherland.

Although Hong Kong and Macau3 are already part of the People’s Republic of China, their capitalist institutions and high degree of autonomy may be used by Western powers to interfere in China's internal affairs, or even as a position to spread Western values to mainland China. Although Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the fact that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same China has never changed, the latent threat of Taiwan separatism still exists. On the security front, Taiwan currently maintains close relations with the United States and Japan,4 while on the ideological front it has obvious differences with the mainland. Therefore, if Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are not posing a serious challenge to the “external environment of China,” their challenge to the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is more acute.

Second: this approach is helpful for forming a more objective and sober understanding of the external challenges China faces.

If we look at the world only from the perspective of “China’s external environment,” we tend to view China as an ordinary rising power, restricting our field of vision to conventional issues in interstate relations—such as security and economic relations between countries—while ignoring the ideological factors in international politics. However, the reality of international politics is that Western countries have been incorporating ideological factors into their foreign policy. For example, in the economic sphere, they have suppressed China’s state-owned enterprises that “went global” and restricted the export of high-tech products to China; in terms of military development, they have treated China and India differently, preventing and restricting China while encouraging and supporting India.5 It can be said that China as a rising power in an ordinary sense poses a concern only to large countries that have geo-strategic conflicts with China such as the United States, Japan, and India, as well as to small and medium-sized neighboring countries. But China as a rising socialist power poses a concern not only to the above-mentioned countries but also to many Western countries that are not able to view a country with a socialist system as one of their own.

Third: this approach is helpful for a more rational perception of our own strength.

 If we only look at the “external environment of China,” our focus tends towards comparisons of different countries’ hard power and the changes in the international political landscape that are based on hard power. This perspective reveals more opportunities than challenges. For example, if we purely look at hard power – such as economic and military power – it is very easy for us to assume that the power gap between China and the United States is rapidly closing. If we simply examine the international political landscape through the lens of hard power, it is very easy for us to think that as multipolarity advances, China, as a pole, will increase international influence and discourse power accordingly. However, when we look at the "external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” the situation is different.

 First, although the power gap between the United States and China is narrowing, the United States still possesses  a very clear advantage by virtue of its values-based alliance system. Second, in the international arena it is easy for the United States to suppress China under the banner of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” and to gain the understanding and support of its Western allies and the significant portion of developing countries that practice Western democracy. As Thomas Carothers, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,6 has emphasized, “[A]lthough the relative power balance between the West and ‘the rest’ is shifting, many of the major new non-Western powers are in fact democracies. The socio-economic dynamism of Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and other rising democratic powers is giving a boost to global democracy both through their example and through their increasing efforts to support democracy in their neighborhoods.” [c]7

Finally, the U.S. uses “universal values” as an important [tool of] soft power that has severely constrained the construction of China’s own soft power.

 The “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and the “external environment of China” are not unrelated to each other; they are actually two dimensions of the same thing: the former is the core of the latter, and the latter is the vehicle of the former. If the vehicle does not exist, the core would lose its basis of existence; and if the core does not exist, the nature and appearance of the vehicle will also change radically. In other words, if something goes wrong with the “external environment of China,” the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will not be untouched. It will in turn hinder the cause of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. In this sense, the challenges of the “external environment of China” are naturally the challenges of the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”; conversely, if the [internal] work of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics does not advance successfully, the “external environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” will also deteriorate, thus affecting the “external environment of China.”

2. Political Security’s External Environment Presents the Greatest Challenges

 When General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the Total National Security Paradigm and China’s [new] national security system, he emphasized the central position of political security. [d] This [guidance] is given on the basis of an accurate grasp of China’s special national conditions and the new characteristics and trends of the national security situation. One of the most significant characteristics of China's national conditions is that it follows the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which makes the challenges facing China's political security even greater than those facing ordinary countries.

 Historically, the greatest security threats to small, weak states come from the military domain. But for large and powerful countries, threats to military security are relatively insignificant. The Soviet Union, for example, faced many foreign invasions but survived them all. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, its superb military power was intact; the United States and NATO did not fire a single bullet. Nor is economic [insecurity] enough to cause the disintegration of a great power. In its 69 years of history the Soviet Union suffered several[periods of] serious economic difficulty yet endured them all. The Soviet economy was not unsalvageable before its collapse. The security problem[threatening] the Soviet Union was first and foremost a problem of political security, especially ideological security. [e] The Soviet Communist Party’s change of banner led to the loss of its sovereign power and [a situation where] socialist institutions could no longer be sustained.8 It [led to] the loss of national cohesion and stimulated secessionist tendencies in some of the constituent republics. It [led to] various factions sprouting within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which eventually split apart and disintegrated.9

 Historical experience makes clear that from the perspective of the security of a socialist state encircled by capitalism, the greatest threat of being overthrown [arises in the domain of] political security. Although Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has attained impressive results, it has yet to escape from capitalist encirclement. The state’s political security is of crucial importance. The most prominent [part of political security] is ideological security. For this reason, ideology has been recognized as “an extremely important work to the Party.” [f]10

 For the time being, China’s ideological security is facing both internal and external challenges.

 Internally, the ideology of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has been facing challenges from two directions: From the “right” some people try to replace scientific socialism with Western democratic socialism. From the “left” some people ignore [our] basic national conditions at the initial stage of socialism, emphasizing the opposition of socialism to capitalism and ignoring the need of developing countries to learn from developed countries. If [we listen to the “left”], Socialism with Chinese Characteristics will lose its “Chinese characteristics” and may revert to the old path of rigidity. In February 2014, General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered an important address at a special seminar for leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial levels, emphasizing that “we will neither take the old path of closure and rigidity nor the crooked path of changing flags and banners.” [g] For the road of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, both the “old path" and the “crooked path”11 are dangerous and will endanger China’s ideological security.

 Externally, the United States and other Western countries have not abandoned their Cold War mentality due to their “anti-communist” ideology. [h] They are increasingly fearful of China’s insistence on the socialist path and its rapid rise, and they are even more concerned about the growing influence of the “China model.” The U.S. has implemented a strategy of promoting democracy and universal values, attempted to build a “Concert of Democracies” in Asia,12 interfered in China’s internal affairs on issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan, supported various anti-communist and anti-China forces overseas, and secretly thwarted the efforts of mainland China on the issue of constitutional development in Hong Kong. These are all part of the U.S. strategy to “Westernize” China. These strategies and policies of the United States can easily win the support of other Western countries. What the United States and other Western countries are doing poses a very serious challenge to China's ideological security.

 The challenge posed by the U.S. strategy to promote “universal values” deserves special emphasis here. After taking office, the Obama administration has made the promotion of “universal values” the primary focus of its ideological diplomacy. The 2010 edition of the U.S. National Security Strategy Report explicitly sets “respect for universal values at home and around the world” as one of the main goals of U.S. global strategy. [i]

 There are two types of universal values: one type [includes] the values that all countries in the world develop and promote, such as peace, development, good governance, order, harmony, justice, equality, cooperation, and the protection of the environment; the other type [includes] the values that the West first developed and the rest accepted, such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. In other words, universal values are not the same as Western values. The second category of values easily leads people into theoretical errors. Although they were first created by the West, they are not monopolized by the West, and many developing countries and socialist countries also adopt these values as the philosophy of their own governance, the most emblematic one being democracy.

 However, we need to be sober about the fact that the Western countries hold themselves up as models of democracy and act like missionaries to evangelize their so-called “universal values” to the world for the sake of realizing their own interests. When Western countries promote these so-called “universal values” they assign the values of democracy and freedom a connotation and standard that they proscribed. For example, according to Western standards, all democracies must have a multi-party system, separation of powers, universal suffrage, and so on. This actually equates the representative system as a way to realize democracy with ‘democracy’ itself.13 It equates the Western model of democracy with all democracy. Western countries pretend that the “universal values" they espouse are general universal values, and this [fraudulent] practice has led to confusion and bad consequences. Some people who respect democracy mistakenly believe that if China wants to develop its democracy, it must copy the Western model; on the contrary, some people who oppose liberalization and want to maintain China’s ideological security mistakenly believe that universal values are Western values, and that China cannot develop democracy, nor can it have freedom and human rights. The United States and other Western powers often apply double standards when promoting “universal values” and use them to suppress their competitors in order to protect their self interests, which makes people even more suspicious of these universal values. Universal values can easily cause ideological and theoretical strife, thus endangering ideological security.

 China’s political security faces a very complex external environment, especially from factors that are not conducive to China’s maintenance of political security—[such as] economic globalization, the development of the market economy and of the internet, which happen to be necessary for China’s development and cannot be avoided. They make the external environment for political security even more challenging.

3. Assessing the total national  security situation and the external environment

 Looking at China’s national security system from the perspective of the Total National Security Paradigm, we can see that the security situation and the main sources of threats vary greatly in different areas.

 The political security situation is relatively severe, with the main source of threat arising from within with the main external source of threat coming mainly from the United States and other Western countries. The lessons of the history of the international communist movement show that any external threat to political security must work through internal factors to have an effect.

 The [threat] of overthrow is also seen in the domain of military security. When China assesses the international situation and external security environment, it must first look at the military security environment, [assessing] whether peace and development are still the theme of the times and whether China will encounter a large-scale war. At present, China’s military security has only potential threats, with the main source of threat coming from Japan and the Japan-US alliance.14 Of course internal factors are also important. If we are weak or our security awareness is found lacking, this would give competitors an opportunity to take advantage of us and transform latent external threats into actual threats.

The economic security situation is relatively good, with the main source of potential threats coming from within the country. China’s experience in dealing with the global financial crisis shows that as long as the domestic economy is functioning well and the government responds promptly and effectively to the impact of external crises, economic security will be guaranteed.15 

Such is also the case with territorial, social, cultural, technological, environmental, resource, and nuclear security issues, where domestic threats are dominant and external threats are secondary.16 While there are many adverse factors in these security areas, the overall situation is manageable.

The WikiLeaks17 and Snowden incident18 demonstrate that threats to information security are relatively imminent and acute, with the main source of threats coming from the outside, from the United States and its allies. Information threats, however, come into play through the military, political, economic and technological domains. Information by itself is not capable of overthrowing China’s national security. 

Addressing the various security challenges and threats mentioned above and maintaining national security requires effort both at home and abroad. We should manage domestic and international issues in an integrated manner, continuously improve our ability to maintain security internally, and continuously create a favorable external environment. Creating an external environment, whether it is a security environment or a development environment, requires good diplomacy and good relations with other countries. On the chessboard of China’s foreign relations, the most challenging and most prominent issues are China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries. 

In terms of the external environment, the United States is the only country in the world today capable of hindering China’s peaceful development and interfering with its peaceful rise. The key issue is to have an accurate judgment and assessment of the U.S. willingness and determination to block China's peaceful development and its strategy for doing so. For the time being, the United States, for the sake of its own interest, is unwilling to engage in direct confrontation with China, but rather seeks to cooperate as it competes–of course, it does not rule out the use of all possible opportunities and tricks to check China's rise without harming its own vital interests.  

The U.S. strategy toward China can be summarized with one word: “sculpting.” In essence, [they seek to] sculpt China into a partner through cooperation and integration, [aiming] to prevent China from becoming an enemy of the United States after it has risen. [j] However, with the rapid growth of China’s comprehensive national power, the U.S. has a growing incentive to curb and contain China. [k] Especially with the shift of the U.S. strategic focus to the East, strategic friction between China and the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region has increased significantly. Properly handling China-U.S. relations is crucial to China's security environment. 

Japan is not an East Asian country and China’s neighboring country in an ordinary sense. Even though China-Japan relations are no longer great power relations on the global stage, the relationship remains important in East Asia and China’s near abroad. In recent years, China-Japanese relations have deteriorated significantly. This has much to do with Japan's political shift to the right. The Abe administration’s stance regarding the Diaoyu Islands and on the erroneous historical issues,19 and the lifting of the ban on collective self-defense rights despite strong opposition from China, South Korea and other countries,20 highlight the rampant right-wing forces in Japan. A more important factor affecting China-Japanese relations is the Japan-US alliance. From the perspective of its global strategic interests, the United States will not accept a trilateral relationship in which China-Japan relations are better than Japan-U.S. relations. The Democratic Party of Japan administration of Yukio Hatoyama tried to adjust Japan’s foreign policy to bring relations with China closer and build an equilateral triangle between Japan, the U.S. and China, but it was not long before it was forced out of office, and it is almost an open secret that the U.S. was behind it.21 China-Japanese relations are at a stalemate. The result of this stalemate is that both sides lose, with the United States as the biggest beneficiary. 

In the future China-Japanese relations face two risks: First, Japanese right-wing politicians are moving further and further down their path, playing the China card for their own political interests and gaining public support by being hawkish on China; second, if the United States is determined to do all it canto contain China, Japan will willingly act as the vanguard of the United States. This tendency is reflected in the fact that the Abe regime is more active than the United States in establishing an “alliance of democratic Asian nations.”22 If China and Japan move toward military confrontation, it is likely that the United States will be stimulated to intervene and side with Japan, leading to a simultaneous confrontation between China and the United States and Japan. If this happens, China’s military security environment, and indeed the security environment in many other areas, will seriously deteriorate.

 China has many neighboring countries and has disputes regarding territory and marine rights and interests with a number of them. Territorial disputes between China and India have been an important element in the two countries’ bilateral relations. In recent years, the disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea have intensified. One contributing factor is the United States’ adjustment on Asia-Pacific strategy, in which the United States hopes to contain China and rebuild its influence in Southeast Asia.23 Relevant Southeast Asian countries are also attempting to use American strength for their own profit.

 The Chinese government thus faces a dilemma when dealing with South China Sea disputes: if it does nothing to safeguard territorial sovereignty it will provoke strong reactions from the masses inside the country and damage the prestige and image of the Party and the government; [but] if the government overreacts, it will lead to a serious deterioration of relations with the countries concerned. Such circumstances will harm border stability, impact the international recognition of China’s path of peaceful development, and ultimately benefit Japan and the United States while worsening China’s strategic environment.

 Nonetheless, the impact of the three external factors mentioned above is still partial and has not fundamentally reversed China’s external security environment, including its neighboring security environment. In an era when peace and development are the theme of the times, most neighboring countries are reluctant to provoke an ideological confrontation with China. Even the United States and Japan have not made ideological confrontation with China the main axis of their policy.

 From the perspective of total national security, the often discussed “C-shape Encirclement” only exists in certain domains [of activity].24 It is by no means total. Economically, there simply is no encirclement against China. All neighboring countries have close economic and cultural ties with China and are generally willing to further these ties. Militarily, there is at most an arc of encirclement against China in East Asia, namely the United States-led Japanese-American alliance. However, in North Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, there is neither behavior nor willingness to [engage in behavior] that poses a military threat to China.   

However, in political terms the “encirclement” does exist, since the vast majority of countries around China have social institutions different from China’s. These countries either actively support or welcome the U.S. strategy of “democracy promotion” and “universal values,” or [they] do nothing to either support or deter it. Such a surrounding environment undoubtedly poses a serious challenge to China in maintaining political security.

 4. Conclusion

To examine China’s external security environment from the lens of the Total National Security Paradigm, it is necessary to take Socialism with Chinese Characteristics into account. In this perspective, political security is the core, and political security is the most challenging [domain] in China’s external environment.

 An assessment of China’s security situation and external environment using the Total National Security Paradigm as a guide shows that although the security situation in certain areas is relatively complex and severe, the fundamentals of China's total national security situation and external environment are good. Although China-US relations, China-Japan relations, and China's relations with certain neighboring countries have recently been marked by more friction, challenges. and risks, the impact of these external factors is manageable and will not have a destructive impact on China's external environment as long as they are properly managed.

 In summary: Between security and development, security has not yet overtaken development as the primary task. China’s development still faces an important period of strategic opportunity, [thus] development is still the central task and the first priority of the Party and the state.

[Author's Footnote] This paper is the result of the 2011 key research project of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China funded by the National Development Bank, entitled “Building the External Environment of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”
 [a] The external environment can be subdivided into political environment, social environment, diplomatic environment, cultural environment, public opinion environment, ecological environment, etc., but all of these can be reduced to the development environment and the security environment. The political environment mainly refers to the environment concerning the survival and development of the state’s political institutions and ideology, which usually has a significant impact on its development environment and security environment.
 The U.S. National Security Strategy Report released in 1994 set out three objectives, namely, maintaining security, expanding the economy, and advancing democracy. In effect, it juxtaposes politics with security and economy as one of the main considerations in [the U.S.’s] foreign relations.25 However, the theme of the current era is peace and development, and the status of ideological confrontation has declined. [As such] the political environment also takes a secondary position compared to the development and security environments. When talking about the external environment, scholars sometimes use the term “strategic environment” to express the overall situation that combines various factors of the environment.
 [b] “General Secretary Xi Jinping proposes at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhering to the total national security paradigm and taking the road of national security with Chinese characteristics,” People’s Daily, 16 April 2014, p. 1.
 [c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 29 November 2012.
 [d] “General Secretary Xi Jinping posited at the first meeting of the National Security Council: adhere to the total national security paradigm, walk the road of national security with Chinese characteristics.”
 [e] Political security mainly includes ideological security, security of the state institution and sovereign power, security of national unity, and security of the ruling party’s own organization. The collapse of the Soviet Union was affected by all four aspects: the change of banner of the ruling party and the state, the demise of the original institution and sovereign power, the disintegration of the multi-ethnic state, and the splitting and subsequent disintegration of the ruling party.
 [f] Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,“Readings from the Series of Important Speeches by General Secretary Xi Jinping,” Study Publishing House and People’s Publishing House, 2014, p. 105.
 [g] Huang Zhongping, “Focusing on improving governance capacity to effectively prevent ‘two traps’”, Qiushi, No. 7, 2014, pp. 50-52.
 [h] Liu Jianfei, “Study of the U.S. Democratic Alliance,” Strategy (Contemporary World Press, 2013), pp. 3-48.
 [i] The White House,National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17(online date:June 30, 2014)
 [j]The U.S. strategic idea of “shaping" China was most clearly articulated in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Assessment. See Liu Jianfei, “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China," China Party and Government Cadre Forum, No.3, 2006, pp. 33-35.27
 [k] The U.S. 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review claims that the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is deteriorating, and that China’s rapid military modernization and lack of military transparency are important causes of this deterioration. See U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review, March 2014,p. 4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf. (Accessed: June 30, 2014)

[Editors' footnotes]
1.  Xi Jinping introduced the Total National Security Paradigm in 2014 in an attempt to overhaul China’s national security apparatus. The paradigm integrates “traditional” security concerns such as territorial integrity with “non-traditional” concerns such as threats to state security emanating from the  political, economic, cultural, social, and ecological realms. The Central National Security Commission (CNSC) [中央国家安全委员会] was established in November 2013 to coordinate work across these security domains.  
2. In the early 20th century Chinese thinkers who wished to modernize Neo-confucian political forms instead of adopting a socialist or liberal model defended their program by describing Western political imports as incompatible with China’s “national conditions” [国情], a phrase that might also be translated as “national characteristics” or “national essence.” The term was resuscitated as the 20th century turned to the 21st. In both the early 20th century and the early 21st,“national conditions” were presented as a set of immutable elements of Chinese social life that flowed from China’s unique geography, longstanding cultural traditions, and specific historical experiences, each constraining the type of social arrangements or political structures the Chinese people could fruitfully adopt. In the early 20th century the term was often used against Chinese communists; after several generations of Communist rule, China’s “national conditions” are now used conterminously, as historian John Fitzgerald notes, with a “wealthy and powerful Communist Party-governed state that lacks democratic accountable government…[and has] no constitutional or institutional restraint on its exercise of power.” See John Fitzgerald, “Beijing’s guoqing versus Australia’s way of life,” Inside Story, 27 September 2016.
3. Neither Hong Kong nor Macau are governed as normal Chinese cities, a legacy of their former status as imperial possessions of Great Britain and Portugal. The Sino-British Joint Declaration mandated Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, ending 156 years of British rule. The Declaration set the conditions for the transfer, with China agreeing to maintain existing structures of government and economy under the principle of “one country, two systems” for a period of 50 years. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, signed on March 26, 1987, established a similar process and the conditions of the transfer of sovereignty over Macau from Portugal to the PRC. This transfer was formally completed on December 20, 1999, after a twelve year “transition”period when the Basic Law of Macau was drafted and approved by the PRC’s National People’s Congress.
4. Although Japan broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 as a precondition to normalizing relations with the PRC, Taiwan and Japanese maintained cultural and economic ties. These ties were strengthened as relations between the PRC and Japan deteriorated over the dispute of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.  Japan and Taiwan concluded a landmark agreement that addressed fishing rights in the East China Sea in 2013, a year before the publication of this article. This may be the “close relations” on “the security front” that Liu alludes to. However, in contrast to the United States, Japan did not (and still does not)  support Taiwan through arms sales and to this day lacks any legal framework for military collaboration with the Taiwanese armed forces.
5. American law has prohibited arms sales to China since 1989. Congressional legislation and the executive branch directives have also regulated the export of dual-use goods (items and technology that may have both civilian and military use) to Chinese firms. In contrast, arms sales are a major component of America’s strategic partnership with India. The year this article was originally published (2014) the United States was India’s third-largest source of arms. See Karen Sutter and Christopher Casey, “US Export Controls and China,”  Congressional Research Service, 24 March 2022. Dinshaw Mistry, “US Arms Sales to India.” Asia Pacific Bulletin, 8 July 2014.  
6. In 2014, Thomas Carothers was the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment of Peace. He is now the co-director of Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program.
7. The essay from which Liu pulls this quotation does not express the triumphalist sentiments this isolated passage suggests. Carothers' central argument is that  “the loss of global democratic momentum, problems of Western political credibility, and the rise of alternative political models” are making democracy promotion a more challenging task than it has been since the end of the Cold War.  Carothers consequently urges the Obama administration to make democracy promotion a key item of its second term agenda less the tide of global politics turns against democratic reform. See Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” Carnegie Endowment of Peace, 29 November 2012.
8. The term zhèngquán ānquán [政权安全] is difficult to render accurately into English. When Chinese translate English phrases like “regime change” into Chinese,  政权 (zhèngquán) is the word they most often us for “regime.”  “Regime security” is therefore an acceptable gloss. Yet unlike the English “regime,”  zhèngquán does not describe institutional architecture of rulership so much as the sovereign power that rulership grants. Thus its appearance in Mao’s most famous aphorism: “枪杆子里面出政权” [usually translated as “political power (zhèngquán) grows from the barrel of a gun”].
9. Liu Jianfei’s assessment of the disintegration of the Soviet Union official narrative on the collapse of the Soviet Union during the 2010s, which attributes the failure of the CPSU to the poison of “historical nihilism.” Yet debate over the cause of the USSR’s fall has been wide ranging, with critics of the official position pointing to the systemic decay of the Soviet economy or the failure of the USSR to reform the inflexible and rigid political structure it inherited from Stalin. For examples of critical arguments, consult Wang Xiaoxiao 王笑笑, “Sulian Jubiande Genben Yuanyin 苏东剧变的根本原因 [The Fundamental Reason for the Transformation of theSoviet Union]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 4 March 2013; Huang Lifu 黄立茀, “Sulian Yinhe Sangshi Gaige Liangji  苏联因何丧失改革良机? Why did the USSR miss the chanceto reform?” Aisixiang 爱思想, 15 October 2009; Liu Xingyi 刘新宜, “Sugong Kuatai, Sulian Wangguode Yuanyin  苏共垮台、苏联亡国的原因 [Reasons for the Collapse of the Soviet Communist Party and the Demise of the USSR]” Aisixiang 爱思想, 14 November 2004. For longer presentations of the official view published around the same time as Liu’sarticle, see  Cheng Zhihua 陈之骅, “Lishi Xuwuzhuyi Gaoluan Sulian 历史虚无主义搞乱苏联[Historical Nihilism Ruined the Soviet Union],” Aisixiang 爱思想, 18 September 2013 and Wang Tingyou 汪亭友, “Liang Zhong Duiweide Shijieguan he Lichang Guanchuan SulianYanbian Yanjiu 两种对立的世界观和立场贯穿苏联演变研究 [The Ideological Divide in the Study of the Soviet Collapse],”Aisixiang, 20 Feb 2014.
10. This was said by Xi Jinping in a conference on national propaganda work on August 20, 2013. See “Xi Jinping: Yishi Xintai Gongzou shi Dang de Yixiang Jiduan Zhongyaode Gongzuo 习近平:意识形态工作是党的一项极端重要的工作 [Xi Jinping:ideological work is an extremely important work of the Party],” Xinhua, 20 August 2013.  
11. Xie lu [邪路] could also rendered as the “evil path,” but the Chinese word xie [邪] does not carry the theological baggage that comes along with the English “evil.” Xie [邪] in this context does not imply a transcendent malevolence forever in opposition to the ideal good, but simply deviation from the  “correct path.” Alternate translations of xie lu [邪路] might include the “lost path,” “incorrect path,” or “unrighteous pat.” For a longer explication see Tao Wenzhao 陶文昭, “Ruhe Lijie Bu Zou Yalu 如何理解不走‘邪路’ [How to Understand ‘Don’t Travel the Crooked Path’],” People’s Daily, 20 May 2013.   
12. Debate over whether democratic countries in the world should form a “concert” or a “league” of democracies to promote peace and counter autocratic influence first arose in American foreign policy circles in 2004, with prominent scholar-officials like Ivo Daalder, James Lindsday, John Ikenberry, and Anne-Marie Slaughter all endorsing the idea. The proposal reached its zenith with John McCain’s  2008 presidential election, when the senator championed this imagined league as an alternative to the United Nations. However, the proposal largely died with his campaign and had no purchase within the Obama administration.
The possibility of a league of democracies alarmed Chinese analysts, including Liu Jianfei. In a 2011 article, Liu argues that the league would disrupt international order with the United Nations at its core and divide the world  between democratic and non-democratic countries based on American standards. See author’s footnote h.
13. The PRC understands democracy in the context of its socialist and autocratic rule. Introduced by Mao Zedong, the idea of a “socialist democracy” or “centralized democracy” seeks to increase the input of average citizens into the political process without surrendering the Party’s monopoly of power. In the eyes of the CPC, democracy most fundamentally means the CPC’s single party rule on behalf of  the people.
14. The US-Japan alliance was formalized in 1960 by the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The alliance has been strengthened over the years by joint military exercises and other forms of cooperation.
15. For more than a decade, Chinese analysts have characterized China’s successful weathering of the 2008 financial crisis as proof of the strength of the CPC political model, and have likewise characterized the crisis as the beginning of the end of American hegemony. For a particularly influential example, see this 2009 essay by Yuan Peng, now President of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), the think-tank linked to the Ministry of State Security: 袁鹏 [Yuan Peng], “金融危机与美国经济霸权:历史与政治的解读 [The Financial Crisis and American Hegemony: Interpreting the History and Politics],” 更新时间 [Renewal Times], 29 May 2015, http://www.aisixiang.com/data/88470.html.
16. This is a list of security concerns that Xi Jinping specifically mentioned in his 2014 speech that introduced the total national security paradigm. “Xíjìnpíng: Jiānchí zǒngtǐ guójiā ānquán guān zǒu zhōngguó tèsè guójiā ānquán dàolù 习近平:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路 [Xi Jinping: Insisting on Total National Security Paradigm Walking a Path of National Security with Chinese Characteristic]” Renmin, 16 April 2014.  
17. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes leaked information, documents, and classified media provided by anonymous sources. The organization was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange and a group of like-minded activists and journalists. WikiLeaks has published several documents related to China over the years, revealing a variety of sensitive information about the Chinese government and its activities.
18. The Snowden incident refers to the events that began in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, leaked a large amount of classified documents to journalists. The documents revealed the extent of the NSA's surveillance programs, which collected data on American citizens and foreign governments and individuals. In an interview he gave with the South China Morning Post in 2013 while he sought asylum in Hong Kong,Snowden claimed that the US government had hacked into Chinese telecommunications company Huawei's servers, and that the NSA had been targeting Chinese officials and businesses in its surveillance programs.  
19. Diaoyu Island is the Chinese name for a string of islands in the East China. In Japanese they are known as the Senkakus. Possession of the islands is claimed by both countries, and has served as a significant source of tension between the two powers after evidence for the existence of oil reserves around the islands surfaced in the latter half of the 1970s.
20. On July 1, 2014, Japan passed a Cabinet decision that changed the interpretation of Article 9 of its constitution, which restricted Japan’s use of force overseas. The new interpretation allows Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense. See Kawasaki Akira and Celine Nahory, “Japan’s Decision on Collective Self-Defense inContext,” The Diplomat, 3 October 2014.
21. As Prime Minister of Japan from 16 September 2009 to 8 June 2010, Yukio Hatoyama attempted to shift Japan’s America-centric foreign policy to become more Asian-centric. Relations with China warmed under his leadership. Hatoyama’s administration came to an abrupt end, however, after he failed to fulfill his campaign promise to move a US marine base off Japanese shore, a promise that he originally hoped to signal his determination to end Japan’s subservience to Washington foreign policy. Yet, due to pressure from the United States and the lack of a viable alternative site, he agreed to merely move the marine base to a less conspicuous location, a concession that cost his political support at home.
Hatoyama remained a controversial figure after his resignation due to his dovish stance on China. In 2013, during a private visit to China, he told reporters that theJ apanese government should acknowledge the territorial dispute for the Senkaku Islands, a remark that contradicted the Japanese government’s position on the issue. On the same trip, Hatoyama also visited the Nanjing Memorial built for the Chinese victims of the Japanese army during the second Sino-Japanese War.In the eyes of the Chinese public, Hatoyama’s visit was valuable as it was an indirect acknowledgement of Japanese misdeeds during WWII.
22. Liu is likely referencing Shinzo Abe’s attempt to form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD or “the quad”)—composed of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia—during his first term as prime minister in 2006-2007. The origin of the quad  can be traced to the “Tsunami Core Group,” an ad-hoc grouping that sprang up to respond to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Later, in 2007, Prime Minister Abe would use the template to push for an informal security framework to address Japan’s  concerns regarding China’s growing power.  However, during its initial inception, the proposed quad existed more in concept than reality, its development floundered on the unwillingness of Australia and India to risk trade relations with China. At the time of writing, therefore, Liu’s worries might have seen overblown. In reality they proved prescient: Australia and India’s calculations changed as the 2010s progressed. After an eight year hiatus the quad reconvened in 2017, and its joint exercises and meetings are acrucial part of the security architecture of the region.  For a longer analysis of these developments, see  Patrick Gerard Buchan and Benjamin Rimland, “Defining the Diamond: The Past, Present, and Future of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 16 March 2020.  
23. See “Fact sheet: Advancing the re-balance to Asia and the Pacific,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 16 Nov 2015. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/fact-sheet-advancing-rebalance-asia-and-pacific
24. The idea that the U.S. is constructing a c-shape encirclement in Asia-Pacific was popularized in 2009 by Dai Xun [戴旭], a Colonel Commandant in the Chinese air force and a professor at the National Defense University. Dai argued that the c-shape encirclement was America’s primary strategy in the Indo-Pacific in order to thwart China’s growth. See Dai Xun 戴旭, “Zhōngguó zhèng miànlín dì sān cì bèi guāfēn de wéijī 中国正面临第三次被瓜分的危机 [China is facing the third crisis of being divided up],” Honggehui, 18 November 2012.  
25. Liu is referencing the National Security Strategy Report published in July 1994 by the Clinton administration. As Liu notes, the report outlines a threefold goal for the U.S. post-Cold War national security: “to credibly sustain our security with military forces that are ready to fight; to bolster America’s economic revitalization; to promote democracy abroad.” The peport attempts to craft a comprehensive strategy to address these goals, believing that they are mutually supportive: “Secure nations are more likely to support free trade and maintain democratic structures. Nations with growing economies and strong trade ties are more likely to feel secure and to work toward freedom. And democratic states are less likely to threaten our interests and more likely to cooperate with theU.S. to meet security threats and promote sustainable development.” See “A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement,” National Security Strategy Archive, 1 July 1994, accessed Feb 21, 2023. https://nssarchive.us/national-security-strategy-1994/
26.  The abstract of “Shaping China: New Trends in U.S. Strategy Toward China” reads:

The new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that the United States will continue to pursue a global strategy focused on counterterrorism and counter-proliferation. In this strategy, China is the most important “strategic crossroads” country, but it is not the enemy. The United States wants to shape these “crossroads countries” to prevent them from choosing a strategy that is hostile to the United States. The U.S. strategy toward China remains primarily one of cooperation, supplemented by prevention and containment.

中国外部环境主要包括发展环境与安全环境两个方面。[a] 从发展的角度看,中国外部环境虽然面临着一些新挑战,但总体上是好的,机遇十分明显。从安全的角度看,中国所面临的外部环境尽管存在很多机遇,但挑战相对突出。本文试图以中国特色社会主义为视角,并以总体国家安全观为指导,对中国外部安全环境进行全面考察。

一、以中国特色社会主义为视角看国家外部安全环境

“总体国家安全观”由习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出,[b] 其要义就是从中国的特殊国情出发,将政治、经济、军事等各领域安全纳入到一个有机的整体中来统筹考量、把握。与世界其他大国相比,中国最特殊的国情就是实行社会主义制度,坚持走中国特色社会主义道路。所以,考察中国的外部环境,特别是国家外部安全环境,首先就要抓住这个基本国情。以中国特色社会主义为视角来考察国家外部安全环境问题,同单纯以国家角度来考察相比有不少看点。

第一,凸显“一国两制”和祖国统一问题所带来的挑战。

虽然香港、澳门已经是中华人民共和国的一部分,但是由于实行资本主义制度并高度自治,它们有可能被西方大国利用来干预中国内政,甚至作为向中国大陆传播西方价值观的阵地。台湾虽然是中国不可分割的一部分,两岸同属一个中国的事实从未改变,但台湾分裂的潜在威胁依然存在,而且台湾目前在安全上同美日保持着较为密切的关系,在意识形态上也同大陆有明显差异。所以,如果说港澳台地区对“中国外部环境”带来的挑战还不那么严重的话,其对“中国特色社会主义外部环境”所带来的挑战则十分明显。

第二,有助于对中国所面临的外部挑战有更客观、清醒的认识。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”来审视世界,我们往往倾向于将中国作为一个普通的正在崛起的大国来看问题,视野局限于国家间关系中常规的问题,如国家间的安全关系、经济关系,忽视了国际政治中的意识形态因素。然而,国际政治的现实是,西方国家一直将意识形态因素纳入其对外政策。比如,在经济上,打压“走出去”的中国国企,限制向中国出口高科技产品;在军事力量发展上,对中印区别对待,对中国防范限制,对印度则鼓励扶持。可以说,中国作为一般意义上的崛起大国,可能只有美国、日本、印度等同中国有地缘战略矛盾的大国及一些周边中小国家感到担忧;而中国作为一个社会主义大国崛起,感到担忧的恐怕就不只上述国家,许多西方国家出于各种原因,对社会主义制度缺乏认同感。

第三,有助于我们更理性地认知自己的实力。

如果仅从“中国外部环境”看问题,我们的目光往往聚焦于国家间硬实力的对比以及以硬实力为基础的国际政治格局变化,从而过多看到中国所面临的机遇,看到的挑战则相对少一些。比如,单纯从经济、军事等硬实力来看,我们很容易看到中美之间的实力差距在快速拉近;简单以硬实力为基础审视国际政治格局,我们也容易认为随着多极化推进,中国作为一极,其国际影响力和话语权会相应增大。然而,当我们从“中国特色社会主义外部环境”看问题时,情况就会有很大不同。

首先,虽然美国同中国的实力对比差距在缩小,但它凭借以价值观为基础的同盟体系,依然具有十分明显的优势。其次,美国很容易打着“促进民主”、“推广普世价值”的旗号在国际舞台上打压中国,并得到西方盟友及相当一部分实行西方民主制度的发展中国家的理解和支持。正如卡内基国际和平基金会副主席托马斯·卡罗瑟斯(Thomas Carothers)所强调的:“虽然西方和其他国家之间的国力对比正在发生变化,但是许多新的非西方大国实际上是民主国家。巴西、印度、印度尼西亚和土耳其等崛起民主大国的社会经济活力,不仅正在通过自己的样板作用,而且通过支持其周边国家的民主,来促进全球范围的民主”。[c] 

最后,美国将“普世价值”作为重要的软实力,严重制约中国软实力的构建。

“中国特色社会主义外部环境”与“中国外部环境”并非互不相关,二者实际是一个事物的两个层面:前者是后者的内核,后者是前者的载体。载体不存,内核也就失去存在的基础;而内核不存,载体的性质和面貌也会发生根本变化。换句话说,如果“中国外部环境”出了问题,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”也不会安然无恙,中国特色社会主义事业也就难以顺利推进,从这个意义上说,“中国外部环境”的挑战自然也是“中国特色社会主义外部环境”的挑战;反之,如果中国特色社会主义事业不能顺利推进,“中国特色社会主义外部环境”就会严重恶化,进而影响“中国外部环境”。

二、政治安全的外部环境最具挑战性

习近平总书记在提出总体国家安全观和中国国家安全体系时,强调了政治安全的核心地位。[d] 这是对中国特殊国情和国家安全形势新特点、新趋势准确把握基础上作出的论断。中国国情最大的特点之一就是走中国特色社会主义道路,这决定了中国政治安全所面临的挑战比一般国家为甚。

历史上,小国、弱国面临的最大安全威胁来自军事方面。但对大国、强国来说,军事安全威胁相对较小。例如苏联,虽曾多次面临外敌入侵,但都化险为夷。苏联解体时,其超强的军事实力丝毫未受打击,美国及北约也未动用一枪一弹。经济安全也不足以使一个大国解体。苏联在69年的历史中,虽曾多次遭遇严重经济困难,但都经过艰苦奋斗度过了难关。解体前,苏联经济也并非到了无可救药的程度。苏联安全问题首先出在政治安全,尤其是意识形态安全上。[e] 苏共改旗易帜导致政权丧失,社会主义制度难以为继;国家失去凝聚力,刺激了一些加盟共和国的分离倾向;苏共内部滋生出各种派系,最后分裂、瓦解。

历史经验表明,对处在资本主义包围之中的社会主义国家安全来说,最具颠覆性的是政治安全。中国特色社会主义事业发展到今天,虽然取得了举世瞩目的成就,但是仍然没有摆脱处在资本主义包围之中的局面。国家政治安全至关重要,其中最突出的问题就是意识形态安全。正因如此,意识形态被认定为“党的极端重要的工作”。[f]

就目前来看,中国意识形态安全面临着内外双重挑战。

从内部来看,中国特色社会主义意识形态一直面临着两方面的挑战:一是来自“右”的方面,有些人试图用西方的民主社会主义取代科学社会主义;二是来自“左”的方面,有些人忽视社会主义初级阶段这个基本国情,强调社会主义与资本主义对立的一面,漠视发展中国家需要向发达国家学习、借鉴的一面,若如此,中国特色社会主义就会失去“中国特色”,有可能退回僵化的老路。2014年2月,习近平总书记在省部级主要领导干部专题研讨班上发表重要讲话,强调“既不走封闭僵化的老路,也不走改旗易帜的邪路”。[g] 对中国特色社会主义道路来说,“老路”与“邪路”都是危险的,都会危及中国的意识形态安全。

从外部来看,美国等西方国家出于“反共主义”意识形态,一直没有放弃冷战思维。[h] 它们对中国坚持走社会主义道路及其快速崛起,越来越感到恐惧,对“中国模式”影响力的不断增强更是耿耿于怀。美国实施促进民主战略和推广“普世价值”战略,试图在亚洲构建“民主国家联盟”,在涉疆、涉藏和台湾问题上干涉中国内政,支持海外各种反共、反华势力,在香港政制发展问题上暗中同中国大陆较劲,无不是在贯彻其“西化”中国的战略。而美国的这些战略和政策,很容易得到其他西方国家的支持。美国等西方国家的所作所为,对中国的意识形态安全构成非常严峻的挑战。

这里值得特别强调的是美国推广“普世价值”战略的挑战。奥巴马政府上台后,将推广“普世价值”作为实施意识形态外交的主要抓手。2010年版《美国国家安全战略报告》明确将“在国内和全世界尊重普世价值”作为美国全球战略的主要目标之一。[i]

普世价值有两类:一类是世界各国共同发扬光大的价值,如和平、发展、善治、秩序、和谐、公正、平等、合作、环保;另一类是西方首先发扬光大然后为世界多数国家所接受的价值,如自由、民主、人权、法治。这就是说,普世价值并不等同于西方的价值。而第二类价值容易将人引入理论误区,它们虽然是西方首创,但却不是西方垄断的专利,许多发展中国家和社会主义国家也将这些价值作为本国施政的理念,最为典型的就是民主。

不过,西方国家将自己奉为民主的楷模,并以传教士的姿态向全球推广所谓“普世价值”,以实现自己的利益,对此我们要保持清醒。西方国家在推广所谓“普世价值”时,是将它们规定的内涵和标准赋予民主、自由等价值。例如,按西方的标准,凡是民主必须实行多党制、三权分立、普选等,这实际上是将作为实现民主方式的代议制等同于民主本身,将西方模式的民主等同于全部的民主。西方国家以它们定义的“普世价值”冒充一般普世价值的做法,在很大程度上混淆了视听,导致了非常恶劣的后果。一些尊崇民主的人误以为,中国要发展民主,就必须照搬西方模式;与之相反,一些反对自由化、要维护中国意识形态安全的人则误认为普世价值就是西方的东西,中国不能搞民主,也不能要自由和人权。美国等西方大国在推广“普世价值”时还时常实行双重标准,用“普世价值”来打压竞争对手,以维护本国的私利,这就更让人对普世价值敬而远之。普世价值很容易造成思想理论上的纷争,进而危及意识形态安全。

中国政治安全面临着非常复杂的外部环境,尤其是一些不利于中国维护政治安全的外部环境因素——经济全球化、市场经济和信息网络化,又恰恰是中国发展所必需的和无法回避的,这使政治安全的外部环境更具挑战性。

三、国家安全总体形势与外部环境评估

站在国家总体安全观的高度来审视中国国家安全体系可以看出,不同领域的安全形势及主要威胁来源大不相同。

政治安全形势相对较为严峻,主要威胁源来自内部,而外部威胁源主要来自美国等西方国家。从国际共产主义运动史的经验教训可见,任何外部的政治安全威胁都要通过内部因素来发挥作用。

军事安全也具有颠覆性,中国在评估国际形势和外部安全环境时,首先要看的就是军事安全环境,看和平与发展是否还是时代主题,中国是否会遭遇大规模战争。目前中国的军事安全只有潜在的威胁,主要威胁源来自日本及日美同盟。当然内部因素也很重要,如果自身虚弱或安全意识淡薄,给竞争对手可乘之机,就会刺激潜在外部威胁转化为现实威胁。

经济安全形势相对较好,主要潜在威胁源来自国内。中国应对国际金融危机的经验表明,只要国内经济良性运转,政府对外部危机的影响应对及时、得力,经济安全就有保障。

国土、社会、文化、科技、生态、资源、核等领域安全,主要威胁源也在国内,外部威胁源是次要的。这些安全领域虽然存在许多不利因素,但总体上是可控的。

维基解密和斯诺登事件表明,信息安全威胁比较现实、突出,而且主要威胁源来自外部,来自美国及其盟友,但信息安全威胁的作用主要通过军事、政治、经济和科技等领域的安全问题来发挥,其自身很难对国家安全造成颠覆性威胁。

应对上述各种安全挑战和威胁,维护国家安全,需要内外兼修。统筹把握国内与国际问题,对内不断提升维护安全的能力,对外不断营造良好的外部环境。营造外部环境,无论是安全环境还是发展环境,都需要搞好外交工作,处理好同各国的关系。在中国外交的大棋局中,最具挑战性,也是人们最为关注的是中美关系、中日关系以及中国同一些周边国家的关系。

从外部环境来说,美国是当今世界唯一有能力阻断中国和平发展进程、干扰中国和平崛起的国家。关键的问题是要对美国阻断中国和平发展的意愿和决心以及在此基础上的战略有一个准确的判断、评估。就目前来看,美国从自身利益出发,不愿同中国直接对抗,而是寻求在竞争中合作,当然不排除在不损害自身重大利益前提下利用一切机会和手段牵制中国崛起。

美国对华战略可以用“塑造”来概括,即通过合作、融合将中国塑造成伙伴,避免崛起后的中国变成美国的敌人。[j] 然而,随着中国综合国力迅速增强,美国牵制、遏制中国的动力在上升。[k] 特别是随着美国战略重心东移,中美在亚太地区的战略摩擦明显增加。妥善处理好中美关系,对中国安全环境至关重要。

日本并非一般意义上的东亚国家和中国周边国家,虽然中日关系已经从全球层面大国关系中淡出,但在东亚区域和中国周边层面仍然十分重要。近年来,中日关系明显恶化,这与日本政治右倾化有很大关系。安倍政权在钓鱼岛问题和历史问题上坚持错误立场,不顾中韩等国的强烈反对解禁集体自卫权,凸显出日本右翼势力之猖獗。影响中日关系的一个更重要因素是日美同盟。美国从其全球战略利益出发,不会接受日中关系好于日美关系的三边关系状况。鸠山由纪夫的民主党政府曾试图调整日本外交政策,拉近对华关系,构建日美中等边三角关系,但没多久就被迫下野,美国是背后推手几乎是公开的秘密。中日关系处于僵持状态,其结果是两败俱伤,而美国是最大受益者。

未来中日关系面临两个风险:一是日本右翼政客在既有道路上越走越远,为了自己的政治利益打中国牌,通过对中国示强获取民意支持;二是如果美国决心要全力遏制中国,日本会甘愿充当美国的急先锋,安倍政权在建立“亚洲民主国家联盟”上比美国还积极,就反映了这种倾向。中日如果走向军事对抗,极有可能刺激美国介入并站到日本一方,导致中国同美日同时对抗。若如此,中国军事安全环境乃至其他许多领域的安全环境会严重恶化。

中国周边国家众多,而且同不少国家有领土及海洋权益纠纷。中印领土争端一直是影响两国关系的重要因素。近年来,中国同一些东南亚国家在南海问题上的纷争加剧,一个重要动因是美国调整亚太战略,试图借南海问题牵制中国,恢复其在东南亚地区的影响力,而相关争端国家则试图借助美国的力量来谋取利益。

在处理南海问题上,中国政府处于两难境地:如果在维护领土主权上无所作为,会激起国内民众的强烈反响,损害党和政府的威信与形象;如果过度作为,导致同相关国家关系严重恶化,又会影响周边安全环境的稳定,更会影响国际社会对中国走和平发展道路的认同,甚至会使日美从中渔利,恶化中国的战略环境。

尽管如此,上述三方面外部因素的影响仍然是局部的,并没有从根本上逆转中国外部安全环境,包括周边安全环境。在和平与发展为主题的时代,周边多数国家都不愿同中国搞意识形态对抗,即便美国和日本,也没有将意识形态对抗作为其对华政策的主轴。

从总体国家安全观的视角考察一些媒体常炒作的“C型包围圈”可以看出,所谓“包围圈”只存在于某个领域,而不是在总体上。在经济等层面,根本就不存在针对中国的任何包围,周边国家与中国经济、文化关系密切,而且基本都愿意进一步发展这种关系;在军事层面,至多是在东亚地区存在一个针对中国的弧形,即美日同盟等以美国为中心的同盟体系,而在广大北亚、中亚、南亚、东南亚国家,并未见有威胁中国军事安全的意愿和行。

在政治层面,“包围圈”确实存在,由于中国周边绝大多数国家都实行与中国不同的社会制度,针对美国实施的“促进民主”战略和推广“普世价值”战略,这些国家或积极呼应,或乐见其成,或认为与己无关。这样的周边环境无疑给中国维护政治安全带来严峻挑战。

四、结语

站在总体国家安全观高度来审视中国外部安全环境,需要以中国特色社会主义为视角。在此视角下,政治安全是核心,中国政治安全外部环境最具挑战性。

以总体国家安全观为指导来评估中国安全形势与外部环境可以看出:虽然某些领域的安全形势相对复杂、严峻,但中国总体国家安全形势和外部环境的基本面是好的。虽然中美关系、中日关系、中国同一些周边国家关系近来摩擦较多,面临的挑战与风险较为突出,但外部因素的影响是可控的,只要经营得当,就不会对中国外部环境带来颠覆性影响。

推而言之,在安全与发展之间,安全尚未超越发展成为首要任务,中国的发展仍然面临重要战略机遇期,发展依然是党和国家的中心工作和第一要务。

本文是国家开发银行资助的中共中央党校2011年度重点科研项目“中国特色社会主义外部环境建设”的阶段性成果。
[a]外部环境若细分,还可以包括政治环境、社会环境、外交环境、文化环境、舆论环境、生态环境等,但是这些都可以归结到发展环境和安全环境。其中政治环境主要是指国家政治制度和意识形态存续与发展所面临的环境,通常会对发展环境和安全环境带来重大影响。
美国1994年发布的《国家安全战略报告》就提出三个方面的目标,即维护安全、扩展经济和推进民主。实际上就是将政治同安全与经济并列,成为国家处理对外关系时的主要考虑因素之一。不过,当今时代主题是和平与发展,意识形态对抗的地位下降,因此,同发展环境和安全环境相比,政治环境也位居次要地位。在谈外部环境时,学者们有时也用“战略环境”一词,用以表达将各种环境因素综合到一起的总体态势。
[b] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”, 《人民日报》,2014年4月16日,第1版。
[c] Thomas Carothers, “Reenergizing Democracy Promotion,” November 29, 2012, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://carnegieendowment.org/globalten/?fa=50142. (上网时间:2014年8月13日)
[d] “习近平总书记在国家安全委员会第一次会议上提出:坚持总体国家安全观 走中国特色国家安全道路”。
[e]政治安全主要包括意识形态安全、国家制度和政权安全、国家统一安全以及执政党自身组织安全。苏联解体在这四个方面都有体现:执政党和国家改旗易帜、原有的国家制度和政权消亡、多民族国家解体、执政党分裂进而瓦解。
[f]中共中央宣传部:《习近平总书记系列重要讲话读本》,学习出版社、人民出版社,2014年,第105页。
[g]黄中平:“着力提高治理能力 切实防止‘两个陷阱’”,《求是》,2014年第7期,第50-52页。
[h]刘建飞:《美国“民主联盟”战略研究》,当代世界出版社,2013年,第3-48页。
[i] The White House, National Security Strategy, May 2010, p. 7 & p. 17, (上网时间:2014年6月30日)
[j]美国“塑造”中国的战略思想在2006年的《四年防务评估报告》中阐述得最为清晰。参见刘建飞:“塑造中国:美国对华战略新动向”,《中国党政干部论坛》,2006年第3期,第33-35页。
[k]美国2014年《四年防务评估报告》就称,亚太地区的安全形势在恶化,而中国快速实现军事现代化并缺少军事透明度是导致这种恶化的重要原因。参见U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, March 2014, p.4, http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf。 (上网时间:2014年6月30日)
Share this article
subscribe