China has so thoroughly "normalized' its relations with the West by now that its foreign minister slipped in and out of Bonn June 19 and 20 practically unnoticed. It was a far cry from West Germany's slightly nervous staging of a limelight reception for the Chinese prime minister eight months ago.
Foreign Minister Huang Hua's timing was unfortunate, of course. He was eclipsed by Saudi Arabian King Khalid, who ended a four-day state visit the day Mr. Huang arrived -- and by President Carter, who a few days before angered the German leadership with a schoolmarmish "Dear Helmut" letter to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt on what Mr. Schmidt should and shouldn't say on his forthcoming Moscow trip.
King Khalid dramatized Europe's and West Germany's debut in Mideast security affairs after the European Community policy statement of a few days earlier. Mr. Carter dramatized the gulf between an America that still lectures its allies on occasion and a matured Europe that now expects consultation rather than orders from its superpower protector.
So irritated was Chancellor Schmidt by the nagging tone of the still-secret Carter letter that he publicly termed the letter "astonishing" in Washington Post interview. The chancellor, who had kept his famous lip buttoned for well over a year on the subject of Jimmy Carter, furthr pointed out that he had been used to thinking for himself and expressing his opinion for 30 years and that he did not propose to be instructed now by any newcomer with a lot less political experience.
All of this totally upstaged Huang Hua. Not even the Chinese Foreign Minister's dinner-speech warning against Soviet "expansion and aggression as well as hegemonism" created a stir. Last year this sentiment caused considerable agitation when Prime Minister Hua Guofeng uttered it despite his hosts' wish to avoid anti-Soviet polemics.
After their two-hour talks Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Huang did express their com mon opposition to the continued Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. And after the first of two foreign ministerial conversations the Chinese and West Germans ex pressed their common support for the Islamic meeting opening in Switzerland in support of the Afghan rebels.