It looks as though the American-Chinese relationship is going to be a difficult one for some time to come, characterized by tensions which simply will not go away.
But persons travelling with United States Secretary of State George Shultz were relatively relaxed about an official Chinese news agency report on Mr. Shultz's just-completed visit to China which seemed to indicate Shultz failed to improve relations to any significant degree while in Peking.
These persons, who asked not to be identified, argue that a careful reading of the Xinhua News Agency report of Feb. 6 shows similarities to what US officials have said about the Shultz visit and picked up some of what Shultz himself said.
The Xinhua report said that the Shultz four-day visit has helped Sino-US relations to some extent in that it provided an opportunity for a full exchange of ideas and understanding of each other's positions and views. It said the two sides are close in their views on a number of international issues, but said China was critical of US behavior on others.
Xinhua placed special stress on differences over Taiwan, and US arms sales to Taiwan in particular. Shultz had said at the outset to his trip to Asia that he had hoped to keep problems involving Taiwan in the background during his stay in Peking. It turned out that the total time actually spent discussing Taiwan during the Shultz visit was relatively limited. But the issue is obviously a key one for the Chinese leaders.
Shultz had said that by reaching agreement on issues other than Taiwan, the US would hope to enhance mutual trust and confidence. But according to Xinhua, Chinese leaders emphasized that unless the Taiwan problem is resolved, mutual trust is out of the question and bilateral relations cannot possibly develop on a sound basis.
While in Peking, Shultz did not gloss over differences with the Chinese. On Feb.5, he told reporters in Peking: ''. . . A number of times, when very direct and candid statements were made to me, my hosts said that I should remember that candor was something that could take place among friends. And I would have to say that I received a great deal of friendship during my visit here.''
On the positive side, persons travelling with Shultz note the Chinese conducted a radio interview with Shultz and gave the secretary's final press conference remarks fairly extensive coverage - both unusual developments when it comes to an American secretary of state. They also said that the Chinese press did not lump the Americans together with the Soviets as ''hegemonists,'' something which has happened on previous occasions over the past year or two, much to the annoyance of the Americans.
During the Shultz visit, China and the US agreed to consider expanding military contacts in certain technical areas. But Shultz gave no public indication that any action would be taken on Chinese complaints that export licensing delays were holding up the transfer of technology to China. He did note, however, that US Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge and the presidential science advisor would visit Peking in May.