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托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心

2018年05月04日14:34 来源:小站整理
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摘要:提升语感和熟练度比较常用也比较方便地一个方式就是利用各类英文报刊杂志文章进行精读与泛读练习。下面我们来看一篇经济学人文章:丝银轴心。

想要提高托福阅读能力,我们一定要在日常生活中有意识地增加英语阅读量,提升语感和熟练度,这其中比较常用也比较方便地一个方式就是利用各类英文报刊杂志文章进行精读与泛读练习。下面我们来看一篇经济学人文章:丝银轴心。

托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心图1

The silk-silver axis

The world’s most important economic relationship is also its most fraught

中美经济关系

丝银轴心

世界上最重要的经济关系也最令人担忧

IN 1784 the Empress of China set sail from New York, on the first American trade mission to China. Carrying ginseng, lead and woollen cloth, the merchants aboard dreamed of cracking open the vast Asian market. But the real profit, they found, came on their return, when they brought Chinese teas and porcelain to America. As other ships followed in its wake, the pattern became clear. Americans wanted more from China than Chinese wanted from America, and the difference was made up with a steady outflow of silver from America into China. The Empress had launched not just commercial ties between the two great countries but also an American deficit in its trade with China.

1784年,中国皇后号帆船从纽约起航,踏上美国对中国的首次通商之旅。船上满载着人参、铅和毛料,商人们渴望能够打开广阔的亚洲市场。但他们发现,从中国带回的茶叶和瓷器才是真正的利润之源。随着其他船只步其后尘,这种贸易模式逐渐清晰起来。美国人想要的中国货多过中国人想要的美国货,其中的差额由美国源源不断地向中国支付银元来补足。中国皇后号不仅开启了两个大国间的商业联系,也开启了美国对中国的贸易逆差。

托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心图2

The modern incarnation of this deficit is still driven by the flow of consumer goods, but nowadays electronic gadgets. In recent years it has reached a record size (see chart 1). When Xi Jinping, China’s president, meets Donald Trump—a meeting is reportedly planned in Florida early in April—the deficit will top the agenda. In his run to the White House, Mr Trump promised a combative stance against China on trade. Some expect America to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, triggering an all-out trade war. Others think a grand bargain that defuses tensions is possible.

这种赤字的现代化身仍由消费品贸易驱动,只不过货物变成了电子产品。近年来这一赤字已达到新高(见图表1)。据报道,中国国家主席习近平将于4月初在佛罗里达与特朗普会晤,届时贸易赤字将成为首要议题。在总统竞选期间,特朗普承诺将就贸易问题对中国采取强硬姿态。有人预计美国会对中国商品征收惩罚性关税,引发全面贸易战。其他人则认为双方可能会达成“大妥协”以缓和紧张局势。

Many American businesses, bruised in their dealings with China, cautiously welcome a harder line. For their part, Chinese businesses feel unjustly singled out. Both sides are nervous, conscious that the world’s most important economic relationship is also its most complex. America and China are bound together by cross-border flows of goods, cash, people and ideas that are bigger than ever. These ties have greatly benefited the two countries’ prosperity. A rupture would be severely damaging for both.

许多在跟中国打交道时吃过苦头的美国企业谨慎欢迎政府更强硬地处理经贸关系。而中国企业觉得独独自己成为矛头所向有失公允。双方都有些紧张,都意识到世界上最重要的经济关系也是最复杂的。中美之间货物、资金、人员和思想的跨国往来规模空前,关系密不可分,大大有利于两国的繁荣。关系一旦破裂,两方都会严重受损。

The original sin, for Mr Trump’s most hawkish advisers, is the trade imbalance. Before China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, China accounted for less than a quarter of America’s total trade deficit; over the past five years, it has made up two-thirds. Peter Navarro, head of Mr Trump’s new National Trade Council, sees the deficit as a drag on America’s economy. Close it, he argues, and America’s GDP will be bigger. And he sees a way to do so: take on China over its unfair trade practices, from currency meddling to export subsidies. In 2012 he released a documentary, “Death by China”, as a call to arms.

特朗普的强硬派顾问大多认为,双边关系的原罪是贸易不平衡。中国于2001年加入世贸组织之前,在美国总贸易逆差中只占了不到四分之一;过去五年中,中国已经占到三分之二。彼得·纳瓦罗(Peter Navarro)是特朗普新组建的全国贸易委员会的主席,他认为贸易赤字拖累了美国经济。纳瓦罗说,如果消除这一赤字,美国的GDP总量会更大。他认为有个办法可以消除贸易赤字:挑战中国从货币干预到出口补贴等不公平贸易的做法。2012年,纳瓦罗发布了纪录片《致命中国》(Death by China),如同贸易战的檄文。

Mr Navarro’s views rely on crude arithmetic that defies the most basic economic logic. In fact, big deficits often accompany fast growth. And it is misleading to focus on bilateral imbalances in an age of global supply chains. Counting the bits and pieces from other countries that go into “made in China” smartphones, fridges and televisions, China’s trade surplus with America is about a third smaller than officially reported.

纳瓦罗的观点基于粗略的计算,违背了最基本的经济逻辑。事实上,高逆差往往伴随着高增长而出现,而且在全球供应链的时代紧盯双边贸易失衡问题会有误导性。“中国制造”的智能手机、冰箱和电视机里有很多零部件来自其他国家,如果算上这些的话,中国对美国的贸易顺差比官方公布的结果要少三分之一。

Yet the gap ought perhaps to be smaller still. American companies insist that, with a level playing field, they would be able to sell much more to China. Some of the obstacles in their way are obvious. Carmakers, for instance, face 25% import tariffs. More often, barriers are subtler. Medical-device makers cite onerous licensing procedures and seed firms lengthy approvals.

然而,这一差距也许本应该更小一些。美国公司坚持认为,在公平竞争的环境下,它们能够向中国出口的产品要多得多。美国公司面临的贸易壁垒有些是显而易见的,例如,汽车制造商需缴纳25%的进口关税。但在更多情况下,贸易壁垒更为隐蔽,比如医疗器械制造商办理进口许可时程序繁琐,种子公司审批时间过长。

托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心图3

Indeed, America had been adopting a firmer approach to China on trade long before the election. Barack Obama’s administration stepped up pressure through the WTO. Of America’s 25 formal WTO complaints filed after 2008, 16 were against China. The administration also initiated 99 anti-dumping and countervailing-duty investigations against China, more than against any other country (see chart 2).

事实上,美国早在大选很久之前就已在贸易问题上对中国采取更为强硬的做法。奥巴马政府通过世贸组织施加了更多压力。2008年以后美国向世贸组织提出的25项正式投诉中,有16项是针对中国。奥巴马政府还对中国发起了99次反倾销和反补贴调查,多于任何其他国家(见图表2)。

China sees a pattern of unfair treatment. For Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the commerce ministry, what is wrong with the bilateral relationship is obvious: “American protectionism”. America has to cure its own ills and building walls won’t help, he says. Most emblematic is America’s decision to withhold “market-economy status” from China, which allows higher duties to be put on Chinese imports.

而中国则看到了一种不公平待遇。商务部研究员梅新育认为双边关系的症结显而易见,那就是“美国保护主义”。他说美国必须先解决自己的问题,搭建藩篱并无好处。这种保护主义最具代表性的动作是美国决定不给予中国“市场经济地位”,这样便可对进口自中国的产品征收更高的关税。

Chinese officials cite another example of unequal standards—the time-worn American complaint, made especially loudly by Mr Trump, that China fiddles its currency to cheapen its exports. China certainly does manage the yuan, but over the past decade it has let it appreciate by nearly two-fifths against a broad currency basket—more than any other big economy has.

中国官员还指出了另一个双重标准的例子——美国一直老生常谈地抱怨中国操纵货币以降低出口产品价格,特朗普喊得尤其大声。中国的确在管理人民币,但是在过去十年里,它已经让人民币对广泛的货币篮子升值了近五分之二,比任何其他大经济体的货币升值幅度都大。

Left to its own devices, the trade relationship between China and America should become more balanced in time. As China’s middle class grows, its consumers are buying more from abroad. Chinese demand for American agricultural products, especially soyabeans, has boomed. China is already buying more services from America then vice versa. One of America’s biggest exports to China is education. The number of Chinese students in America has reached nearly 330,000—almost a third of all foreign students—and is up more than fivefold over the past decade.

顺其自然的话,中美贸易关系最终应该会变得更平衡。随着中国中产阶级的壮大,消费者会购买更多进口产品。中国对美国农产品(尤其是大豆)的需求一直在增长。而中国对美国的服务贸易已经为逆差;教育是美国对华最大的出口产品之一,留美的中国学生人数已接近33万,几乎是外国学生总数的三分之一,而且在过去十年中增加了五倍多。

Battle lines

But if Mr Trump carries out his most extreme threats and whacks a 45% across-the-board tariff on Chinese goods, trade flows between the two giants—the world’s biggest bilateral trading relationship—would shrivel. Collateral damage to the global economy would be immense. The very survival of the rules-based international trading system would be at stake.

战线

但倘若特朗普果真兑现了他最偏激的威吓之言,对中国商品全面征收45%的关税,那么中美两大国之间的贸易往来就会萎缩,这一全球最大的双边贸易关系的倒退会令全球经济连带遭受巨大损害,基于规则的国际贸易体系将岌岌可危。

China would, in a conventional analysis, suffer more in a trade war. About a fifth of its exports go to America, equating to nearly 4% of Chinese GDP. Less than a tenth of American exports go to China, worth less than 1% of American GDP. But a fight would also hit America hard. No other country could easily replace China in making many of the products, from toys to textiles, that fill American shops. Consumers would face sharply higher prices. American companies that have used China as a production base would struggle to reconfigure their supply chains. If American firms brought factories back home, prices would rocket. Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, estimates that the cost of producing clothing would increase by 46% and smartphones by 37%.

按照传统的分析,中国在贸易战中损失会更大。中国约五分之一的出口流向了美国,相当于中国GDP的近4%;而美国只有不到十分之一的出口流向中国,不到美国GDP的1%。但贸易战也将令美国遭受重创。美国的商场里摆满了中国制造的产品,从玩具到纺织品无不如此,在这一点上没有其他国家可以轻易地取代中国。消费者将面临价格暴涨的局面,以中国为生产基地的美国公司将必须重新配置供应链,困难重重。假如美国公司把工厂迁回本国,价格将会飙升。投资银行高盛估计,服装生产成本将增长46%,智能手机生产成本将增长37%。

托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心图4

Moreover, China would retaliate. Even if America as a whole runs a deficit, it has industries and companies that increasingly rely on Chinese demand. Nearly half its fruit and seed exports go to China. China is in some months the world’s biggest market for iPhones. Semiconductor-makers such as Qualcomm and Broadcom derive most of their revenues from China (see chart 3).

此外,中国一定会报复。即使美国对中国的贸易整体处于赤字,它的某些行业和企业还是日益依赖中国市场的需求。近一半的美国水果和种子都出口到中国;中国一度是全球最大的iPhone销售市场;高通和博通等半导体制造商的大部分收入都来自中国(见图表3)。

All this helps explain why Mr Trump has so far trod softly in confronting China. James McGregor, Greater China chairman of APCO Worldwide, a lobbying firm, says that American bosses have been streaming into Washington for meetings with the Trump team to appeal for calm and to teach them that “China is not a country to be toyed with.” But perhaps Mr Trump has merely been distracted by the rocky start to his domestic agenda and it is only a matter of time before he lashes out at China. If he does, though, he will soon learn that trade is not the only show in town. Investment gets much less attention but is also vital to the relationship.

鉴于以上原因,迄今为止特朗普应对中国时一直小心谨慎。游说机构安可顾问公司(APCO Worldwide)大中华区董事长詹姆斯·麦格雷戈(James McGregor)说,美国企业老板纷纷前往华盛顿与特朗普团队会晤,呼吁他们保持冷静,让他们明白“对待中国不可儿戏”。但特朗普也许只是在国内事务上开局不利,有些分心,对付中国是迟早的事。不过,如果特朗普真要开始瞄准中国,他很快就会知道,贸易并不是唯一影响双边关系的问题。投资问题受到的关注要少得多,但对两国关系同样至关重要。

Start with a myth—that China can bankrupt the American government. Over the past decade, China has invested more than $1trn in Treasuries. At its peak, America owed more money to China than to anywhere else. Pundits fret that, were China to dump its bonds, American interest rates would shoot up and the dollar plummet.

先从一个谬见说起,即认为中国能让美国政府破产。在过去十年中,中国投资美国国债超过一万亿美元。在高峰期,中国是美国最大的债权国。专家担心一旦中国抛售美国国债,美国利率会暴涨,美元则会暴跌。

But that is to misunderstand the financial mechanics. The Federal Reserve has demonstrated that it can buy far more government bonds than any foreign or domestic holder can sell. China thus cannot dictate interest rates in America, much less push it into penury. And the volatility of the dollar is also a Chinese concern. Because Chinese companies borrowed heavily abroad, dollar strength has made their debts more costly in yuan terms.

但这种判断误解了金融机制。美联储已经证明,不论国内外持有人抛售多少国债,美联储都有能力收购,财力绰绰有余。因此,中国无法左右美国利率,更不能把美国推向绝境。而美元的波动也会让中国担忧。因为中国企业在国外大量举债,美元走强会让这些债务以人民币计价的成本更加高昂。

Financial exposure goes the other way, too. Back in 2015 the Fed was planning to embark on a series of interest-rate increases. In the end it managed to deliver its second rise only at the very end of 2016. Jitters over China’s economy had stayed its hand. American investors have learned that news out of China can wreak havoc on their portfolios. Anxiety about China has triggered two of the three most recent “risk-off” episodes in global markets, as captured by the VIX, a measure of stockmarket volatility, popularly known as the “fear gauge”. This is the crucial point: it is not that China has the financial upper hand over America, or vice versa; it is that they are increasingly joined at the hip.

金融风险也是双向的。在2015年,美联储计划进行一系列加息,最终只在2016年底才完成了第二次加息,对中国经济的担忧让美联储放缓了加息。美国投资者明白了一个道理,中国的任何风吹草动都可能会重创其投资组合。VIX是股票市场的波动指标,即人们常说的“恐慌指数”,其数据显示,全球市场近期历经了三次大规模“风险规避”,其中两次都是出于对中国经济的焦虑。有一点至关重要:在金融领域,中国并不比美国更占上风,反之也是如此;实情是两国之间的联系日渐紧密,休戚与共。

Mutually assured destruction

And these are just the financial linkages, which remain limited by China’s capital controls. Look at the physical investment ties between China and America and the mutual vulnerabilities are even more glaring. According to official data, roughly 1% of the stock of American direct investment abroad (money spent on assets such as factories, warehouses and shops) is in China. But this misses much of the cash routed through the Cayman Islands or Hong Kong for accounting reasons. An analysis last year by the Rhodium Group, an American research firm, took a granular approach to calculate that the true stock of American foreign direct investment (FDI) in China built up from 1990 to 2015 was $228bn, three times the official figure.

一损俱损

这些还只是金融领域的联系,而这些联系仍然受到中国资本管制的限制。再看看中美之间的实际投资关系,双方相互依赖又相互威胁的情况则更为明显。官方数据显示,美国的对外直接投资存量(投资于工厂、仓库和商店等资产的资金)约1%在中国,但这个数据未包括因会计原因经由开曼群岛或香港流入中国的大部分资金。美国研究公司荣鼎集团(Rhodium Group)去年采用精细方法进行分析,结果显示在1990年至2015年间,美国在中国的对外直接投资存量实际为2280亿美元,是官方数字的三倍。

American companies initially lighted on China as a cheap manufacturing base; as costs there have risen, that wave of investment has tailed off. A new influx seeks to tap China’s consumer demand. In 2016 China was the leading emerging market into which American firms poured FDI. China’s booming middle class is forecast by McKinsey, a consultancy, to grow from just 6% of urban households in 2010 to over half of the total by 2020.

美国公司最初将中国作为廉价制造业基地来投资,随着中国生产成本的上升,这一轮投资大潮已近尾声。新一轮资本涌入中国,意在挖掘中国市场的消费需求。2016年,美国企业对外直接投资的首选新兴市场是中国。中国的中产阶级不断壮大,2010年,中产阶级仅占城镇家庭的6%,咨询公司麦肯锡预测,2020年这一数字将增长到一半以上。

For firms that have made it in China, the rewards have been immense. Through joint ventures with local partners, GM sells more cars, and makes more profits, in China than it does anywhere in the world. Over the next two decades, Boeing estimates, China will buy 6,000 new aeroplanes, becoming its first trillion-dollar market. Starbucks is opening new cafés in China at a pace of over one a day. On official estimates, some 1.6m people in China now work for American subsidiaries.

在中国获得成功的美国企业回报巨大。通过与当地合作伙伴合资经营,通用汽车在中国市场的汽车销量和盈利要好于在世界上任何其他地方。波音公司估计,在接下来的20年中,中国将购买6000架新飞机,成为波音首个万亿美元市场。星巴克在中国每天都新开设一家以上的连锁店。据官方估计,目前中国约有160万人就职于美国企业的子公司。

But success stories of American companies in China will not exactly warm the hearts of Mr Trump’s band of economic nationalists. What they want is money invested in America, not more profits made abroad. Forget for a moment that this policy risks doing more harm than good (preventing Apple or GM from going big in China would hurt them financially). The more relevant point—the one likelier to sway Mr Trump—is that the bigger investment flows these days are from China into America.

然而,美国公司尽管在中国获得了成功,却并不能让以特朗普为首的那班经济民族主义者回心转意。他们希望看到钱投资在美国,而不是在国外赚取更多的利润。先不管这一政策有可能弊大于利(阻止苹果或通用汽车在中国发展将有损它们的经济利益),更重要、也更有可能改变特朗普心意的一点是,如今中国对美国的投资要多过美国对中国的投资。

Chinese investment into America used to be tiny. No longer (see chart 4). Rhodium estimates that it leapt from about $16bn in 2015 to some $46bn in 2016, compared with $13bn invested by American firms in China. Chinese investments are already thought to support roughly 90,000 American jobs across several dozen states. The money is spread across virtually every area of the economy. Chinese companies have bought Hollywood production companies, car-parts- and appliance-makers, semiconductor firms and more.

过去,中国对美国的投资规模很小。今非昔比(见图表4)。中国对美国的投资在2015年约为160亿美元,荣鼎集团估计,这一数字在2016年大幅上涨至约460亿美元,而美国企业在中国的投资仅为130亿美元。据信,中国的投资已经为几十个州的美国人带来了约九万个工作岗位。而且中国的投资几乎涉及所有经济领域。中国公司收购了好莱坞影视制作公司、汽车零部件企业、家电制造商以及半导体公司,不一而足。

托福双语阅读素材:丝银轴心图5

China is well aware that its investors can also convey a positive message. Witness Jack Ma’s meeting with Mr Trump, just before his inauguration. Mr Ma, founder of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant, boasted that his shopping portal would create 1m jobs in America, giving small businesses and farmers a platform to export to Asia. The promise was far-fetched (Mr Trump might appreciate that). But there was a kernel of truth: Chinese investors are only getting started in America.

中国很清楚其投资者也能传递一个积极的信息。看看马云在特朗普就职前和他进行的会面,这位中国电子商务巨头阿里巴巴的创始人夸口说,他的购物门户网站将在美国创造100万个就业机会,为小企业和农民提供出口亚洲的平台。这个承诺有些牵强(尽管特朗普可能很欣赏),但有一点不假:中国投资者在美国才刚刚开始伸展拳脚。

Were it just a question of money, these investment trends ought to be the clincher, giving America and China every reason to stay on each other’s good side. But investment cannot be divorced from power, and that poses complications. Most obvious are national-security concerns. Both China and America have become more active in restricting each other’s technology and blocking deals that they fear might compromise their security.

如果一切仅仅是钱的问题,这些投资趋势就应该足以决定大局,让美国和中国都有充分的理由相互尊重对方的利益。但投资不能孤立于政治,而政治将局面复杂化了。这其中最明显的是国家安全问题,对于中美双方认为可能会损害各自国家安全的技术和交易,它们都已更积极地加以限制和阻碍。

But commercial competition casts an even bigger shadow. China and America are increasingly butting heads. “Made in China 2025”, an industrial plan unveiled in 2015, is indicative of how China is gunning for industries that America and other foreign countries have dominated. China aims to become a leader in ten strategic sectors, ranging from next-generation IT to agricultural machinery.

但商业竞争带来了更大的阴影,中美之间的角力日益激烈。“中国制造2025”是2015年发布的一项产业计划,表明中国力图在美国和其他国家主导的行业里奋起直追。在包括下一代IT和农业机械的十个战略领域里,中国都志在成为领导者。

Critics in America warn that China’s state-driven model for advancing in these industries will cause damage around the world. Their worry is that China will deploy much the same industrial policy that it has used in sectors from wind power to high-speed rail: pressure on foreign firms to share technology; protection of local firms; targets to phase out imports; and generous state funding. “This could lead not only to China taking over market share but, because of its scale, destroying entire business models,” says Scott Kennedy of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington, DC.

美国的批评家警告说,中国由国家推动这些行业发展的模式将在全球范围内造成破坏。中国在风力发电和高铁等多个行业里采用的产业政策是施压外国企业分享技术、保护本地企业、逐步替代进口,以及国家大力资助。他们担心中国继续沿用类似的策略。华盛顿特区的智库战略与国际研究中心(Centre for Strategic and International Studies)的斯科特·肯尼迪(Scott Kennedy)表示:“这不仅可能让中国获取市场份额,而且由于其规模巨大,还可能破坏整个商业模式。”

Another casus belli

How America might respond to this perceived threat remains hazy. A committee recommended to Congress last year a ban on all investment in America by China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs)—a measure as likely to lead to a full-blown trade war as Mr Trump’s 45% tariff wall. A recent review of the semiconductor industry called for a stiffer response to China’s market distortions. Others argue that fears of “Made in China 2025” are overblown. Government interventions may work in industries such as solar power and railways, which are dominated by subsidies and public-sector procurement. But they have already been seen to fail in consumer industries such as carmaking.

另一条导火索

美国会如何应对这种潜在的威胁仍不明朗。一个委员会去年向国会提出建议,禁止中国国有企业对美国的所有投资,这和特朗普45%的关税壁垒一样可能会引发全面贸易战。最近一份半导体行业的报告要求对中国扭曲市场的行为作出更强硬的回应。其他人则认为对“中国制造2025”的担心有些过度。诸如太阳能发电和铁路等行业的发展主要依靠补贴和政府采购,在这些领域政府的干预措施可能会发挥作用,但在汽车制造等消费行业,这种干预已经有过失败的先例。

China’s government has tried to rebut critics of its industrial plan. The point, it says, is merely to give companies guidance about future trends. Meanwhile, Chinese firms, for their part, fear that obstacles in America are proliferating. He Fan, a prominent Chinese economist, says the feeling is that business in America is becoming more politicised. “You can only have long-term investment when the rules are clear,” he says. “Previously that was America’s strong point. Now it’s uncertain.”

中国政府试图反驳对其产业计划的批评,表示这一计划只是为了在未来发展趋势方面给予企业指引。同时,中国企业也担心美国的壁垒激增。著名中国经济学家何帆表示,美国市场让人感觉越来越政治化了。“规则明确才能有长期投资,”他说, “这以前是美国的强项,现在就难说了。”

Easily lost amid the blaze of recriminations is the extent to which competition between China and America can also yield benefits. The two countries are already spurring each other to innovate. American venture capitalists are well embedded in the software cluster in Beijing and the hardware ecosystem in Shenzhen, a city in southern China. American private-equity firms are prominent in China, making bets on industries ranging from health care to energy. American multinationals used to build shiny R&D centres in Shanghai and Beijing to please officials, but did little original work in them. Now, firms ranging from industrial conglomerates like GE to biotech giants such as Amgen are doing some of their cutting-edge research in China.

在一片相互指责声中,很容易忽略一个事实,即双方的竞争在一定程度上也会带来益处。两国已经相互激发创新了。美国的风险资本家已经深入到北京的软件产业集群和深圳的硬件生态系统中;美国私募股权投资公司在中国市场表现突出,广泛投资于医疗保健、能源等各个行业。美国跨国公司为讨好政府官员,曾在上海和北京建立了光鲜靓丽的研发中心,但并未在那些地方开展多少原创性工作。现在,各大美国企业都正在中国进行一些前沿性研究,包括通用汽车等工业集团和安进(Amgen)等生物科技巨头。

China’s most inventive firms are also investing heavily in America in search of talent and new patents. Just last week, Tencent, a tech giant, said it was spending $1.8bn to buy 5% of Tesla, a maker of electric cars. Huawei, Alibaba and Baidu are its near-neighbours in Silicon Valley. BGI, the world’s biggest genome-sequencing firm, is opening a laboratory in Seattle to be closer to the Gates foundation, a big client. Mindray, a medical-devices firm, has a couple of American R&D labs. Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, is inventing and manufacturing B2B products in North Carolina.

中国最具创造性的企业也在美国大量投入,搜罗人才和新专利。就在上周,科技巨头腾讯表示,将斥资18亿美元收购电动汽车制造商特斯拉5%的股份。华为、阿里巴巴、百度和腾讯在硅谷都是近邻。世界上最大的基因组测序公司华大基因正在西雅图开设实验室,因为这里更接近其大客户盖茨基金会。医疗器械公司迈瑞在美国也有几个研发实验室。世界上最大的个人电脑制造商联想也正在北卡罗来纳研发和制造B2B产品。

One possibility is that, as these kinds of cross-border business operations become more widespread, the Chinese-American economic relationship will settle down. Competition will be welcomed as healthy, not feared as destructive. But it is likely to be a long time before that happens. It would help if the governments could see eye to eye—in particular, if they could agree on a long-stalled bilateral investment treaty; and if they could reach an understanding on trade before their disagreements threaten the WTO itself.

有一种可能性是,随着这类跨境企业运营越来越普遍,中美经济关系也将趋于稳定。双方会视竞争为健康而非破坏性的,因而会欢迎而不是惧怕竞争,但要发展到那一步可能还要很久。如果双方政府能取得共识,尤其是如果能就搁置已久的双边投资协定达成一致,并能在双边分歧威胁到世贸组织的存亡之前能就贸易问题达成谅解,将对双边关系有所助益。

Both outcomes, however, are highly unlikely. The diplomacy needed to navigate the shoals of their economic ties is in short supply. China’s success in low-end manufacturing has already caused a backlash in America. As Chinese firms take on companies at the heart of the American economy, the friction will surely increase. It is enough to make one nostalgic for the days when their business involved little more than swapping silver for silk.

然而,出现这两个结果的可能性都很小。目前应对双边经济问题的外交手段比较匮乏。中国在低端制造业方面的成功已经引发了美国的抵制。随着中国企业挑战处于美国经济核心的公司,摩擦势必会更多。这足以让人怀念做生意仅以白银交换丝绸的年代,那时候一切都要简单多了。

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