NEAR MISCHIEF REEF, South China Sea — As the United States Navy reconnaissance plane banked low near Mischief Reef in the South China Sea early this month, a Chinese warning crackled on the radio.
南海美济礁附近——本月早些时候,当美国海军侦察机倾斜机翼低空掠过南海美济礁附近的海域时,无线电里传来一则来自中方的警告。
“U.S. military aircraft,” came the challenge, delivered in English in a harsh staccato. “You have violated our China sovereignty and infringed on our security and our rights. You need to leave immediately and keep far out.”
“呼叫美国军机,”在嘈杂断续的信号里,这则警告消息用英文警告道,“你已侵犯中国主权,对我国安全和权利造成了侵害。马上离开,不要靠近。”
Aboard the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, flying in what is widely considered to be international airspace, Lt. Dyanna Coughlin scanned a live camera feed showing the dramatic evolution of Mischief Reef.
这架“P-8A 海神”(P-8A Poseidon)海上巡逻机当时正在一片有广泛共识的国际空域内飞行。机上的狄安娜·考格林中尉(Lt. Dyanna Coughlin)拍摄了一段实况视频影像,展现美济礁上的巨大变化。
Five years ago, this was mostly an arc of underwater atoll populated by tropical fish and turtles. Now Mischief Reef, which is off the Philippine coast but controlled by China, has been filled out and turned into a Chinese military base, complete with radar domes, shelters for surface-to-air missiles and a runway long enough for fighter jets. Six other nearby shoals have been similarly transformed by Chinese dredging.
在五年前,位于水下的珊瑚礁环岛上还栖息着热带鱼和海龟。而现在,这座距离菲律宾海岸线不远,却处于中国掌控之下的珊瑚岛,已经被填平改造成了一个中国军事基地,安置着雷达站、地对空导弹掩体以及一条战斗机可用的长跑道。中国在附近的六处浅滩也都吹沙造陆,做了类似的改造。
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“I mean, this is insane,” Lieutenant Coughlin said. “Look at all that crazy construction.”
“我觉得,这真是疯了,”考格林表示,“你看看这些疯狂的建筑。”
A rare visit on board a United States Navy surveillance flight over the South China Sea pointed out how profoundly China has reshaped the security landscape across the region.
在美国海军少见的一次南海侦察飞行中,还发现中国对整片区域都进行了大规模的安全改造。
The country’s aggressive territorial claims and island militarization have put neighboring countries and the United States on the defensive, even as President Trump’s administration is stepping up efforts to highlight China’s controversial island-building campaign.
中国的强横领土主张和岛屿军事化使周边国家和美国十分警惕。同时,特朗普总统及其政府也对中国充满争议的造岛行动越来越重视。
In congressional testimony before assuming his new post as head of the United States Indo-Pacific Command in May, Adm. Philip S. Davidson sounded a stark warning about Beijing’s power play in a sea through which roughly one-third of global maritime trade flows.
在今年五月接任美国印度-太平洋司令部总司令一职前,菲利普·S·戴维森上将(Adm. Philip S. Davidson)曾在国会听证会上发出警告,表示北京正在海上采取高压攻势,而约有三分之一的国际海事贸易都需要经过这片海域。
“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” Admiral Davidson said, an assessment that caused some consternation in the Pentagon.
“简单来说,中国现在有能力在除了与美国开战以外的任何情况下控制南海,”戴维森表示。这一评价在五角大楼里引起了一些惊慌情绪。
How Beijing relates to its neighbors in the South China Sea could be a harbinger of its interactions elsewhere in the world. President Xi Jinping of China has held up the island-building effort as a prime example of “China moving closer to center stage” and standing “tall and firm in the East.”
从北京与南海邻国的相处方式,可以预见到它将如何与世界互动。中国国家主席习近平坚持把造岛作为“我国日益走近世界舞台中央”、“屹立于世界的东方”最好的例子。
渚碧礁和周围的许多船只。
渚碧礁和周围的许多船只。 Adam Dean for The New York Times
In a June meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Mr. Xi vowed that China “cannot lose even one inch of the territory” in the South China Sea, even though an international tribunal has dismissed Beijing’s expansive claims to the waterway.
在6月与美国国防部长吉姆·马蒂斯(Jim Mattis)的会晤中,习近平誓言中国在南海“领土一寸也不能丢”,尽管一个国际法庭已经驳回了中国对这片水域的广泛领土主张。
The reality is that governments with overlapping territorial claims — representing Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei — lack the firepower to challenge China. The United States has long fashioned itself as a keeper of peace in the Western Pacific. But it’s a risky proposition to provoke conflict over a scattering of rocks in the South China Sea, analysts say.
现实情况是,和中国有领土主张冲突的几个政府——越南、菲律宾、台湾、马来西亚和文莱——缺乏挑战中国的火力。长期以来,美国一直把自己塑造成西太平洋地区的和平守护者。但分析人士表示,为了在南海的几块礁石而挑起争端是一个冒险的提议。
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“As China’s military power grows relative to the United States, and it will, questions will also grow regarding America’s ability to deter Beijing’s use of force in settling its unresolved territorial issues,” said Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt, who is now a senior fellow in strategic studies at the Center for Naval Analyses.
“随着中国相对美国军事实力的增长——这一定会发生——关于美国想要阻止北京用武力解决领土问题的能力,问题也会越来越多,”海军少将迈克尔·麦克德维特(Michael McDevitt)说,他现在是战略研究中心(Center for Naval Analyses)在战略研究方面的高级研究员。
An unexpected encounter in the South China Sea could also set off an international incident. A 1.4-million-square-mile sea presents a kaleidoscope of shifting variables: hundreds of disputed shoals, thousands of fishing boats, coast guard vessels and warships and, increasingly, a collection of Chinese fortresses.
一次意料之外的南海相遇可能引发国际事件。140万平方英里的海域有太多不断变化的变量:数百个有争议的浅滩,数千艘渔船,海岸警卫队和海军舰船,以及越来越多的中国堡垒。
In late August, one of the Philippines’ largest warships, a cast-off cutter from the United States Coast Guard, ran aground on Half Moon Shoal, an unoccupied maritime feature not far from Mischief Reef.
8月下旬,菲律宾最大的军舰之一——一艘被美国海岸警卫队遗弃的巡逻艇——在半月礁(Half Moon Shoal)上搁浅。半月礁是离美济礁不远的一个无人居住的岛礁。
The Chinese, who also claim the shoal, sent vessels from nearby artificial islands, but the Philippines refused any help. After all, in 2012, the Chinese Coast Guard had muscled the Philippines off of Scarborough Shoal, a reef just 120 nautical miles from the main Philippine island of Luzon. Another incident in 1995 brought a Chinese flag to Mischief Reef, also well within what international maritime law considers a zone where the Philippines has sovereign rights.
同样声称对该浅滩拥有主权的中方从附近的人工岛派遣了船只,但菲律宾拒绝接受任何帮助。毕竟,在2012年,中国海岸警卫队将菲律宾强行逐出斯卡伯勒浅滩(Scarborough Shoal,中国称之为黄岩岛。——译注),一处距离菲律宾主要岛屿吕宋岛(Luzon)仅120海里的岛礁。1995年的另一起事件使一面中国国旗来到美济礁,这一岛礁也完全在国际海事法界定的菲律宾主权区域内。
Could somewhere like Half Moon Shoal be the next flash point in the South China Sea?
像半月礁这样的地方会成为南海下一个爆发点吗?
“A crisis at Half Moon was averted, but it has always been the risk with the South China Sea that a small incident in remote waters escalates into a much larger crisis through miscommunication or mishandling,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. “That’s why this is all so dangerous. It’s not just a pile of rocks that can be ignored.”
“半月礁的危机得以避免,但是南海一直存在这样的风险:在偏远海域发生的一件小事,如果沟通不畅或处理不当,可能会升级为一场规模大得多的危机,”新加坡东南亚研究所(Institute of Southeast Asian Studies)的高级研究员伊恩·J·斯托雷(Ian J. Storey)说。“这就是为什么这一切如此地危险。这不仅仅是一堆可以忽略的岩石。”
‘Leave immediately!’
“立即离开!”
上周在海军侦察任务中,监视器上显示着左前方观察员控制的一台摄像机拍摄到的画面。
上周在海军侦察任务中,监视器上显示着左前方观察员控制的一台摄像机拍摄到的画面。 Adam Dean for The New York Times
On the scratchy radio channel, the Chinese challenges kept on coming. Eight separate times during the mission this month, Chinese dispatchers queried the P-8A Poseidon. Twice, the Chinese accused the American military aircraft not just of veering close to what Beijing considered its airspace but also of violating its sovereignty.
中国不断通过噪杂的无线电发出查问。在这个月的任务中,中国调度员分别对P-8A海神巡逻机进行了8次问询。中方两次指责美国军机不仅接近北京自认的领空,而且侵犯了中国的主权。
“Leave immediately!” the Chinese warned over and over.
“立即离开!”中方一遍又一遍地警告。
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Cmdr. Chris Purcell, the executive officer of the surveillance plane, said such challenges have been routine during the four months he has flown missions over the South China Sea.
该侦察机指挥官克里斯·珀塞尔中校(Cmdr. Chris Purcell)说,在他在南海上空执行飞行任务的四个月中,此类查问一直很常见。
“What they want is for us to leave, and then they can say that we left because this is their sovereign territory,” he said. “It’s kind of their way to try to legitimize their claims, but we are clear that we are operating in international airspace and are not doing anything different from what we’ve done for decades.”
“他们想让我们离开,然后他们就可以说我们离开了,因为这是他们的主权领土,”他说。“这是他们试图让自己的主张合法化的一种方式,但我们很清楚,我们是在国际空域行动,我们所做的和过去几十年来没有任何不同。”
In 2015, President Xi stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and promised that “there is no intention to militarize” a collection of disputed reefs in the South China Sea known as the Spratlys.
2015年,习近平主席站在白宫的玫瑰园,承诺“无意”对南海的一系列有争议岛礁——即斯普拉特利群岛(Spratlys,中国称南沙群岛。——译注)进行军事化。
But since then, Chinese dredgers have poured mountains of sand onto Mischief Reef and six other Chinese-controlled features in the Spratlys. China has added at least 3,200 acres of new land in the area, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
但自那以后,中国的抽沙船将一山山的沙子倒到美济礁和斯普拉特利群岛其他六处受中国控制的岛礁上。国际战略研究中心(Center for Strategic and International Studies)下属亚洲海事透明度倡议组织(Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)指出,中国已在该地区增加了至少3200英亩的新土地。
Descending as low as 5,000 feet, the surveillance flight this month gave a bird’s-eye view of the Chinese construction.
这个月的监视飞行下降到了5000英尺,可以鸟瞰中国的建设工程。
On Subi Reef, a construction crane swung into action next to a shelter designed for surface-to-air missiles. There were barracks, bunkers and open hangars. At least 70 vessels, some warships, surrounded the island.
在渚碧礁(Subi Reef)上,一辆建筑起重机在一处专门用于地对空导弹的掩体旁开始工作。岛上有营房、工事和开放式机库。至少有70艘船和几艘军舰包围着该岛。
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On Fiery Cross Reef, a complex of buildings with Chinese eaves was arrayed at the center of the reclaimed island, including an exhibition-style hall with an undulating roof. It looked like a typical newly built town in interior China — except for the radar domes that protruded like giant golf balls across the reef. A military-grade runway ran the length of the island, and army vehicles trundled across the tarmac. Antenna farms bristled.
在永暑礁(Fiery Cross Reef),一片带着中式屋檐的建筑物排在这个填海岛屿的中心,其中有一座有着波浪屋顶,看起来像一个展厅。除了像巨型高尔夫球一样凸起的雷达天线罩,这里和典型的中国内陆新建城镇没什么不同。一段军用飞机跑道有整个岛那么长,军用车辆在跑道上缓慢行进。天线密布。
“It’s impressive to see the Chinese building, given that this is the middle of the South China Sea and far away from anywhere, but the idea that this isn’t militarized, that’s clearly not the case,” Commander Purcell said. “It’s not hidden or anything. The intention, it’s there plain to see.”
“看到中国的建筑还是挺惊人的,因为那是南海的中间地带,远离任何地方,但是要说它不是军事化的,显然并非如此,”珀塞尔说。“它并没有遮遮掩掩。它的意图很明显。”
In other spots, reclamation could also be seen on Vietnamese-controlled features, such as West London Reef, where workers dragged equipment past piles of sand. But dredging by Southeast Asian nations is scant compared with the Chinese effort.
在其他地方,例如西伦敦礁(中国称西礁。——译注)等越南控制的部分也可以看到填海工程,那里的工人们将设备拖过成堆的沙子。但与中国的行动相比,东南亚国家的填海造陆工程很少。
In April, China for the first time deployed antiship and antiaircraft missiles on Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross, American military officials said. The following month, a long-range bomber landed on Woody Island, another contested South China Sea islet.
美国军方官员说,今年4月,中国首次向美济礁、渚碧礁和永暑礁部署了反舰导弹和防空导弹。接下来的一个月,一架远程轰炸机降落另一个有争议的南海小岛永兴岛上。
A Pentagon report released in August said that with forward operating bases on artificial islands in the South China Sea, the People’s Liberation Army was honing its “capability to strike U.S. and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.”
五角大楼8月份发布的一份报告称,在南海人工岛的前沿行动基地,人民解放军正在磨练其“打击西太平洋包括关岛在内的美国及盟军和军事基地”的能力。
In response to the intensifying militarization of the South China Sea, the United States in May disinvited China from joining the biannual Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, the world’s largest maritime warfare training, involving more than 20 navies.
为应对南海日益激烈的军事化进程,美国在5月份没有邀请中国加入它一年两次的环太平洋海军演习,这是世界上最大的海上作战演练,有20多个国家的海军参加。
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“We are prepared to support China’s choices, if they promote long-term peace and prosperity,” Mr. Mattis said, explaining the snub. “Yet China’s policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness of our strategy.”
“如果中国的选择是促进长期的和平与繁荣,我们准备支持它们,”马蒂斯解释了美国对中国的冷落。“然而,中国在南海的政策与我们的开放性战略存在巨大反差。”
Projecting Power
展示力量
永暑礁上的雷达塔、机库和五层的楼房。
永暑礁上的雷达塔、机库和五层的楼房。 Adam Dean for The New York Times
For its part, Beijing claims the United States is the one militarizing the South China Sea. In addition to the routine surveillance flyovers, Mr. Trump has sent American warships more frequently to waters near China’s man-made islands. These so-called freedom of navigation patrols, which occur worldwide, are meant to show the United States’ commitment to maritime free passage, Pentagon officials say.
北京方面声称是美国导致了南海的军事化。除常规的监视低空飞行外,特朗普还更频繁地将美国军舰送往中国人造岛附近的水域。五角大楼官员说,这些所谓的自由巡航,在世界各地都有,旨在表明美国对海上自由通行的承诺。
The last such operation by the United States was in May, when two American warships sailed near the Paracels, another contested South China Sea archipelago. Beijing was irate.
美国上一次这样的行动发生在5月,当时两艘美国战舰在另一处有争议的南海群岛帕拉塞尔群岛(Paracels,中国称西沙群岛。——译注)附近航行。北京很愤怒。
“Certain people in the U.S. are staging a farce of a thief crying, ‘Stop, thief!’ ” said Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman. “It is self-evident to a keener eye who is militarizing the South China Sea.”
“美国有些人……有种‘贼喊捉贼’的滑稽,”中国外交部发言人华春莹说。“到底是谁在南海推动‘军事化’,大家可以擦亮眼睛,答案不言自明。”
The United States says that it does not take any side in territorial disputes in the South China Sea. On its maps, China uses a so-called nine-dash line to scoop out most of the waterway’s turf as its own. But international legal precedent is not on China’s side when it comes to the dashed demarcation, a version of which was first used in the 1940s.
美国表示,它不会在南海的领土争端中支持任何一方。在中国的地图上,它使用所谓的“九段线”把这条水路上的大部分领域划归己有。但是,国际法律先例并不支持中国的划界,这个划界版本最早是在1940年代使用的。
In 2016, an international tribunal dismissed Beijing’s nine-dash claim, judging that China has no historical rights to the South China Sea. The case was brought by the Philippines after Scarborough Shoal was commandeered by China in 2012, following a tense blockade.
2016年,一个国际法庭驳回了北京的九段线主张,判断中国在南海没有历史权利。此案由菲律宾提起,此前斯卡伯勒浅滩经过气氛紧张的封锁后,于2012年被中国占领。
The landmark ruling, however, has had no practical effect. That’s in large part because Rodrigo Duterte, who became president of the Philippines less than a month before the tribunal reached its decision, chose not to press the matter with Beijing. He declared China his new best friend and dismissed the United States as a has-been power.
然而,这个具有里程碑意义的裁决没有收到实际效果。这在很大程度上是因为在法庭作出裁决前不到一个月成为菲律宾总统的罗德里戈·杜特地(Rodrigo Duterte)选择不在这个问题上对北京施加压力。他宣称中国是他最好的朋友,并将美国贬称为过气的大国。
But last month, Mr. Duterte took Beijing to task when a recording aired on the BBC from another P-8A Poseidon mission over the South China Sea demonstrated that Chinese dispatchers were taking a far more aggressive tone with Philippine aircraft than with American ones.
但上个月,杜特地也指责了北京,BBC播出了一段P-8A海神(P-8A Poseidon)巡逻机在在南海执行任务时的录音,表明中国调度员对菲律宾飞机使用了比美国飞机更为暴躁的语气。
“I hope China would temper its behavior,” Mr. Duterte said. “You cannot create an island and say the air above it is yours.”
“我希望中国能够缓和自己的行为,”杜特地说。“你不能造出一个岛屿,然后说整个上空都是你的。”
Missed Opportunities
错失的机会
执行了南海任务的机组成员在日本冲绳下飞机。
执行了南海任务的机组成员在日本冲绳下飞机。 Adam Dean for The New York Times
Perceptions of power — and Chinese reactions to these projections — have led some analysts to criticize President Barack Obama as having been too timid in countering China over what Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the former head of the United States Pacific Command, memorably called a “great wall of sand” in the South China Sea.
对力量的认识——以及中国对这些力量展示的反应——导致一些分析人士批评美国总统贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)反对中国在南海建造的“沙之长城”时过于胆怯——这个令人难忘的名称是美国太平洋司令部前司令小哈里·B·哈里斯(Harry B. Harris Jr.)提出的。
Critics, for instance, have faulted the previous administration for not conducting more frequent freedom of navigation patrols.
例如,批评者指责前政府没有进行更频繁的自由巡航。
“China’s militarization of the South China Sea has been a gradual process, with several phases where alternative actions by the U.S., as well as other countries, could have changed the course of history,” said Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.
“中国将南海军事化是一个渐进的过程,在其中几个阶段里,美国以及其他国家的如果采取不同的行动,可能会改变历史进程,”檀香山亚太安全研究中心(Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies)的教授亚历山大·吴翁(Alexander Vuving)说。
Chief among these moments, Mr. Vuving said, was China’s takeover of Scarborough Shoal. The United States declined to back up the Philippines, a defense treaty ally, by sending Coast Guard vessels or warships to an area that international law has designated as within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
吴翁说,在这些时刻中,最重要的是中国占领斯卡伯勒浅滩的时候。当时美国拒绝派海岸警卫队船只或战舰到这个国际法指定为菲律宾专属经济区的海域,以此支持作为国防条约盟友的菲律宾。
“Seeing U.S. commitment to its ally, Beijing might not have been as confident as it was with its island-building program,” Mr. Vuving said. “The U.S. failure to support its ally in the Scarborough standoff also demonstrated to people like Duterte that he had no other option than to kowtow to China.”
“假如能看到美国对其盟友的承诺,北京可能不会像现在这样自信地开展其岛屿建设计划,”吴翁说。“美国未能在斯卡伯勒的对峙中支持其盟友,也向杜特地这样的人证明,他除了向中国叩头外别无选择。”
With most of the Spratly military bases nearing completion by the end of the year, according to Pentagon assessments, the next question is whether — or more likely when — China will begin building on Scarborough. A Chinese base there would put the People’s Liberation Army in easy striking distance of the Philippine capital, Manila.
根据五角大楼的评估,随着大部分斯普拉特利群岛的军事基地在年底接近完工,下一个问题是,中国是否会——或者更有可能的是何时会——在斯卡伯勒进行建设。中国的基地将使菲律宾首都马尼拉处于中国解放军容易打击的范围之内。
From the American reconnaissance plane, Scarborough looked like a perfect diving retreat, a lazy triangle of reef sheltering turquoise waters. But Chinese Coast Guard vessels could be seen circling the shoal, and Philippine fishermen have complained about being prevented from accessing their traditional waters.
从美国侦察机上看,斯卡伯勒群岛看上去像是一个完美的潜水胜地,一片慵懒的三角形珊瑚礁,隐藏在蓝绿色的水域之中。但可以看到中国海岸警卫队的船只在浅滩中游弋,菲律宾渔民抱怨他们无法进入自己的传统水域。
“Do you see any construction vessels around there?” Lieutenant Coughlin asked.
“你看到周围有建筑船只吗?”考格林问道。
“Negative, ma’am,” replied Lt. Joshua Grant, as he used a control stick to position the plane’s camera over Scarborough Shoal. “We’ll see if it changes next time.”
“没有,女士,”约书亚·格兰特(Joshua Grant)上尉回答道,他操纵控制杆,将飞机相机对准斯卡伯勒浅滩。“我们下次再看看有没有变化。”