China's leader warms up to a Reagan White House
In his first public comment on Ronald Reagan since the American election, China's powerful senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, broke his previous silence and sent his warm congratulations.Skip to next paragraph
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The vice-chairman thus ended speculation about possible official coolness here stemming from preelection Chinese criticism of a Reagan remark about arms for Taiwan.
More important, Mr. Deng appeared to be laying a base for further gains in Peking-Washington relations when he said that "quite a number of people who are involved in the decisionmaking process on the part of Mr. Reagan can be considered our old friends. For instance, Mr. Bush [vice president-elect and former ambassador to Peking] is one."
Mr. Deng made these remarks in a lengthy interview with this writer and with the Monitor's Peking bureau chief, Takashi Oka. The veteran Chinese leader and i sat side by side in antimacassared easy chairs in the Fukien Room of the Great Hall of the People. The former deputy premier, who now has the title of vice-chairman, was animated, direct, sometimes jovially self-effacing.
In an hour and a half of give-and-take he wove together his scenario in which the long-term growth of China to a prosperous state, the interests of American business in China, the byzantine tale of the "gang of four" whose trial starts here this week, and the global strategy of the Kremlin all fit like pieces in a Chinese puzzle.
It was obvious that he expected the bipartism American policy of improving relations with Peking to continue. He made it clear, in a few terse sentences, that he had not changed his objection to the Taiwan Relations Act under which Washington continues unofficial relations with what Peking considers one of its provinces. But he was otherwise warm to the incomeing Reagan administration.
Asked whether he might invite Mr. Reagan to visit China after a period of settling in, Deng answere: "Of course, we welcome him to visit China. This depends Deng pointed out that Sino-Americans relations had resumed after a 25 -year break under two Republican administration and had become official under a Democratic administration. "It is our hope," he continued, "that during the presidency of Mr. Reagan the sino-US relation will develope more, not just mark time or retrogress . . . because this is required by global strategy."
The Deng outlook on global strategy is not new. But he elaborated on his concept of Soviet expansionism and related it directly to the often-asked American question: Would China, after a period of strengthening, no longer need close Washington ties? And, if Peking's interests diverged from Washington's, would US business find trade and investment turning risky?
His basic thesis was that American ofFicials and businessmen need not worry about a fickle Peking.
"It's common sense," he said, punctuating the air with a pointed finger, "that if China dares to stand up to the Soviet Union even if it's poor. . . . why should China try to seek reconciliation with the Soviet Union after it gets rich."
Looking at the reverse side of this equation, the vice-chairman was scornful of the argument that Chinese and American global aims would diverge. "According to this logic," he retorted. "once China has become strong economically and militarily, China will not keep up good relations with the United States so as to deal with the Soviet challenge. This logic is not sound." In broadest terms the major points he made in our interview were: (1) that the Soviet challenge to China and the West will continue, and (2) that the internal threat from his "gang of four" opponents and entrenched bureaucrats opposed to his massive modernization are ended for good.
He described the Soviet threat to China as he has before: "In Khrushchev's time only a dozen Soviet divisions were massed along the Sino-Soviet border. Now in Brezhnev's time 54 divisions. . . about 1 million men [$K$Are there] He saw the troops in Siberia amd Mongolia, the Afghan war, and Soviet aid to Vietnam on China's southern flank as part of a global pincer movement.