Round 4 of China-Soviet talks opens
Peking — China and the Soviet Union began another round of talks on normalizing relations Monday, but there appears little chance that substantial progress will be made.
Recent attempts by the Chinese leadership to push for some concessions in this round of talks appear to have been rebuffed by new Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko.
The talks, which are being held in Moscow, will be the fourth round of consultations between the two countries on the question of normalizing relations and the first under the new Soviet leadership.
Initiated by Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, the talks have succeeded so far only in the marginal areas of bilateral contacts and trade. But following the death of President Andropov last month, the Chinese leadership made it clear they hoped the change in Soviet rule would lead to ''solid progress'' toward normalization.
However Mr. Chernenko made it clear in his first major policy speech that the Soviet Union ''was not prepared to make any major concessions toward China that would affect a third country. . . . We are consistent proponents of normalization. . . . However, we cannot make any agreements to the prejudice of the interests of third countries,'' he said.
This effectively rules out any movement on the three issues China claims are preventing normalization of relations.
China is demanding that before normalization can take place the Soviet Union must withdraw from Afghanistan, revoke its support for Vietnam's occupation of Kampuchea (Cambodia), and reduce its estimated 1 million troops from the Sino-Soviet and Sino-Mongolian borders.
Last week the official Soviet news agency, Tass, published a statement by the Mongolian government stating Mongolia would not agree to the removal of any Soviet troops from the border with China.
This would appear to kill speculation that the Soviet Union would agree to a token reduction in the number of troops on the border as a means of pacifying Chinese demands.
Chernenko said the Soviet Union was still committed to the normalization of relations but had found that the talks held so far had only revealed that there were still ''a number of differences of questions of principle'' between the two countries.
''It is useful that mutually beneficial contacts in the economic, cultural, science, and other fields are being gradually reestablished,'' he said.
''The Soviet Union stands for the level of contacts being raised to the extent acceptable to both sides.''
He said such improvements were ''not to the liking of those who want to benefit by the aggravation of relations between the USSR and China. But it is good for both countries and the improvement of the overall world situation.''
The Chinese delegation to the talks will again be headed by a vice-minister of foreign affairs, Qian Qichen.
Although the talks appear to be stalemated, they do offer both sides opportunities to score political points.
China is concerned about balancing any improvement in its relations with the US with continued contact with the Soviet Union.
With President Reagan's visit to China looming next month, this round of talks with the Soviets is likely to be highlighted in the offical Chinese press.
China is also concerned about its image as a leader of the third world and is eager to be seen to be maintaining an independent foreign policy.
For the Soviet Union, the talks provide another opportunity for expressing dissatisfaction with China's improved US relations.