China's retaliation against the United States for granting political asylum to tennis star Hu Na appears to have a significant loophole. All 1983 cultural and sports exchanges sponsored by the two national governments have been cancelled. But three exchanges negotiated ''people to people'' between Chinese and American cities are still set to run.
Last week, 232 art objects from the Shanghai Museum were uncrated at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, where they will be on display from May 4 through September. ''We terminated exchanges between the two governments, but I don't think exchanges between the two peoples will be affected,'' says a spokeswoman for the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
A second exhibit, opening in Chicago June 1, covers 7,000 years of Chinese history and features early paper-making machines, earthquake-proof construction techniques, and silk and pottery making. In addition, a visit to Seattle in June by the mayor of its sister city, Chongqing City, is still scheduled.
The distinction between people-to-people exchange and government-to-government is a way for the Chinese government to preserve some ties with foreign countries despite political tensions. Similarly, China has maintained people-to-people friendship with the citizens of the Soviet Union, despite troubled relations between the governments.
The Shanghai exhibit, representing 6,000 years of Chinese art, will travel to Chicago (Nov. 1, 1983 to Feb. 14, 1984); Houston (March 16 to July 9, 1984); and Washington, D.C. (Aug. 11 to Nov. 30, 1984). All the works in the exhibit come from the Shanghai area. Included are bronze and jade sculptures, as well as paintings. Among the objects are a bronze ax inlaid with turquoise, which dates from the 11th century B.C.; a 5,000-year-old painted pottery jar; and a celadon stoneware ram dated 317-419 A.D.
The other exhibit will run in Chicago until Oct. 2 and then move to Seattle (March to August 1984) and Atlanta (Oct. 13, 1984 to Jan. 13, 1985).