Deputy Premier Deng Xiaoping has expressed disappointment over the Western powers' lack of cohesion in facing up to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union, he said, has a well-defined, long-term strategic policy, in accordance with which it makes each of its moves on the international scene. The West, including the United States, tries to take care of each problem as it comes along, on a short-term, ad hoc basis.
This, Mr. Deng said, was the fatal weakness of the Western nations and the Soviet Union's strong point. China's deputy premier and de-facto leader made these points in an interview March 29 with executives of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri.
Here is how the main points of the two-hour interview -- on Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and Korea, and Mr. Deng's future -- were described by one of the participants:
1. On Afghanistan: The United States is a superpower, but it cannot take on the Soviet Union by itself.
West Europe is also strong, but lacks the power to tackle the Soviet Union singlehandedly.
There must be a world pooling of strength if there is to be any chance of opposing Soviet hegemonism (Chinese code word for Soviet expansionism) successfully. China cannot take on the Soviet Union alone in Asia, nor can Japan.
China is a poor, backward country, but it does look at things from a strategic, long-term viewpoint. That is why, in the 1970s, China consistently called on all countries to unite and oppose Soviet hegemonism.
Now that the Soviets have actually invaded Afghanistan, the Western countries still are not united. Perhaps the West has not learned a sufficient lesson yet.
Perhaps it requires a far more profound lesson to get the West to unite against the Soviet Union. Soviet strategy has not changed since the days of the czars. In the Middle East it is to seek a warm-water port, to encircle Europe, and to cut it off from oil supplies.
This is a long-term policy. The only question is the timing. If you want lasting peace, you must resist this policy squarely.
The proposed $400 million US aid package to Pakistan does not amount to a hill of beans. It is not that Pakistan does not want aid -- it wants much more.
If all you want to drink is one cup of wine, peanuts may be a sufficient side dish. But if you want to drink half a catty, or one catty (two Chinese catties make one kilogram), peanuts are not enough.
The very fact that the United States offered Pakistan so small an amount of aid shows that American policy toward South Asia is a wavering one. As for China, it has cooperated with Pakistan to the limit of its ability, but Chinese equipment is backward.
After Afghanistan, will the Soviet Union strike Pakistan first, or Iran? We need to pay careful attention. Again, China's own strength is insufficient to deal with this problem.
2. On Southeast Asia. The Soviet Union now has Vietnam in its hand. It is trying to get a strategic base at Kompong Som, in Cambodia, to threaten countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The noncommunist countries of ASEAN are Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The punitive Chinese war against Vietnam was not for China's sake alone. The world was frightened by what we did (implying, this participant thought, that the world feared the Soviet Union would react militarily to the Chinese action).
But we went ahead, and as a result we found we could get away with it (there was no Soviet military reaction).
If the Soviet Union manages to control both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans , Japan will be much more affected than China.
Japan should think carefully about this. As for the Cambodian situation, it is better than we thought. Only one month of the dry season remains, but the guerrilla resistance to the Vietnamese continues.
We ourselves are of guerrilla origin, so we know how difficult it is to destroy guerrillas. The Pol Pot regime's policies were wrong -- it is now correcting them.
Khieu Samphan has taken charge of the government, while Pol Pot leads the Army.
3. On Taiwan. China's conditions for the return of Taiwan to the motherland are reasonable and should not be difficult to accept.
We expect that the Taiwan problem will be solved in the 1980s. If it can be solved in the early 1980s, So much the better. Solving the Taiwan problem is definitely on our agenda.
It will not be easy, but it must be done.
4. On Korea. We have consistently supported North Korea's stand of unification by peaceful, independent, democratic means -- not reunification through force.
Neither North nor South has the strength to bring about reunification by force. China has not taken on an obligation not to use force to bring about reunification.
But concretely, our policy is moving ahead on the basis of peaceful reunification. China cannot improve its relations with South Korea.
4. On his own future and on domestic issues: I am a conservative. During the Cultural Revolution there were two factions -- the conservatives and the revolutionaries.
I was a conservative. I am 76 now. At my age one starts thinking about what follows me.
It is better that successors be elected collectively, not just named by one person. The succession is an acute problem, not only at the center, but at each level of the government and party.