US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown's visit to China has opened the door to wide-ranging cooperation and dialogue between China and the United States on strategic issues of global impact.
Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping has proposed that China and the United States should take "down-to-earth action to defend world peace against Soviet hegemonism."
As if in response, the US has announced it is prepared to provide China with advanced technology capable of military application.
The announcement came at the end of the second day of Mr. Brown's talks here with the Chinese leadership. Mr. Brown, who met for over two hours with Mr. Deng Jan. 8, will conclude his talks Jan. 9 with Premier Hua Guofeng.
The specific technology involved, according to a statement by Defense Department spokesman Thomas B. ross, is made up of computers and tape recorders in a ground station to receive information from the US satellite known as Landsat D.
So far US spokesmen have refused to predict what common conclusions Mr. Brown and his Chinese hosts may reach on Washington's most pressing preoccupation: the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and possible countersteps by the US, China, and other powers.
But it is clear that both sides have reached some agreement already, both on Afghanistan and on questions of global and regional strategy.
Mr. Brown may announce some of the "down-to-earth" measures suggested by Mr. Deng at his press conference Jan. 9, possibly including military aid to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, at a sumptuous Peking duck dinner for American journalists accompanying Mr. Brown, Wu Xiuchuan, deputy chief of staff of the Chinese armed forces, explained what was meant by "down-to-earth" in the following way: "It is no use to talk empty words in opposing hegemonists." He then listed the normalization of Sino- American relations and the signing of the Sino-japanese friendship treaty last year as examples of "down-to-earth" actions.
"Many things remain to be done by the United States and China," Mr. Wu said. "We hope all such questions will be settled one by one."
Mr. Wu admitted frankly that the weapons of China's armed forces are "comparatively backward," although its soldiers feared neither hardships nor death. Modernization of defense is one of the "four modernizations" China is pursuing, he said. It could not be isolated from the other three modernizations -- of agriculture, industry, and science and technology.
American spokesmen continue to insist that the United States will provide no weapons to China, but they admit there is a "grey area" in which decisions will have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Landsat D is a satellite sensitive to heat and therefore useful for information about crops and for the exploration of oil, gas, and other minerals, as well as for other scientific purposes.
The satellite is to be placed in orbit in 1981. China will be the first communist country to receive information from this satellite, although some 20 noncommunist countries already have been given access to this information.