Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang's visits to New Zealand and Australia this week underscore China's determination to keep its open-door policy toward the West, despite the sourness of Peking's official relations with Washington.
Vice-Premier Yao Yilin has been in Japan and state councillor Mrs. Chen Muhua has been in Western Europe repeating the same theme, that China welcomes economic cooperation with Western countries.
At home, regulations on joint ventures have been eased and a patent law is promised soon in order to encourage the transfer of technology. Senior leader Deng Xiaoping welcomed a delegation from the Fluor Corporation of San Francisco April 11 and used the occasion to promise that ''China will not change its open-to-the-outside-world policy in its economic relations with other countries, '' the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The Fluor delegation, headed by China-born President David S. Tappan, signed a protocol with the China National Coal Development Corporation providing for cooperation in building a 600-mile coal slurry pipeline from coal-bearing Shanxi Province to Nantong City near Shanghai in central China. The pipeline is part of an ambitious project to open up Shanxi's coal resources, including the Pingsuo open-cut mine which is to be developed with the cooperation of Occidental Petroleum. Many details remain to be worked out.
During his Australian visit, Mr. Zhao is expected to discuss the possibility of importing iron ore for the Baoshan steel mill China is building outside Shanghai with Japanese economic aid.
One of the members of Zhao's delegation is Jing Shuping, deputy general manager of the China International Trust and Investment Company. Mr. Jing, a veteran business leader, says Chinese investment in Australian iron mines is a distinct possibility.
Official relations with the US, however, remain rocky. At an airport press conference April 12 before boarding the plane for New Zealand, Zhao was asked whether he thought the Hu Na incident was over. ''Do you think Hu Na was really persecuted in China?'' Zhao shot back. ''The United States has no reason to give so-called political asylum to Hu Na. The incident is over, but its influence remains.''