REVIVING an orthodox Marxist approach to foreign policy, Beijing has accused the United States of subverting China's socialist system. China's leadership recently charged that the US and other Western powers are conspiring to steer it from a totalitarian, socialist regime toward a multiparty, capitalistic system.
Beijing has not voiced such an alarmist, ideological view of its relations with the West since it renounced Maoist isolationism and opened to foreign contact more than a decade ago, Western diplomats and analysts say.
The concern over Western influence could signal that the hard-line old guard who returned from semi-retirement to endorse the June 3-4 massacre of liberal activists has laced China's pragmatic foreign policy with Marxist orthodoxy, they add.
``The older party cadres now running things are comfortable with the sort of dated rhetoric that they used during the '50s and '60s to form a view of the West's `grand strategy,''' a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The party elders ``have never been as enthusiastic as [senior leader] Deng Xiaoping about all the aspects of the `open door,' and some of the criticisms they have used in the past are similar to the ones used now in what may be the beginning of an ideological campaign,'' the diplomat says.
Beijing's renewed defensiveness toward the West underscores the danger that China could become increasingly isolated as it faces foreign censure for its brutal crackdown on dissent, the diplomats and analysts say.
Such a scenario suggests that if veteran party leaders solidify their power, China will reemphasize its ties with the third world and again make communist ideology rather than Realpolitik its chief guide in foreign affairs. And such a relapse could very well end up alienating China from the West, they say.
Nevertheless, despite its persistent attacks against ``bourgeois liberalization'' or liberal values, Beijing has assured Western businesses and diplomats that it still welcomes trade, investment, and other contacts.
Still, China appears to be retracing the lines of Marxist class struggle that have faded in its foreign policy in the decade since it began opening to overseas contact in the '70s, the diplomats and analysts say.
``For decades Western countries have been invading, interfering in, subverting, and penetrating socialist countries militarily, politically, economically, and culturally in an attempt to topple the socialist system,'' says the introduction to ``Western Political Figures on `Peaceful Evolution,''' a book released by the government this month.
``Since the failure of their naked armed aggression, Western countries have been increasingly emphasizing the strategy of `peaceful evolution' toward socialist countries,'' says the collection of speeches and articles from the West. The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily calls the book ``confessions by the figures of the bourgeois class.''
Both the book and the party newspaper identify Washington as the chief conspirator behind this alleged soft aggression. The book focuses largely on material dating from 1958 to the present and written by US statesmen ranging from former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to former President Nixon.
An article in People's Daily quotes former President Reagan as saying America's ``success in freedom `can be repeated a hundred times in a hundred countries.''' The paper asks, ``Is this not a confession by the USA's bourgeois class that it exports the American way of life and social system?''
Drawing from a broad array of nonviolent weapons, the United States uses the Voice of America (VOA) and other official radio to subvert China and other socialist states, the Aug. 5 article says.
Beijing has expelled two VOA correspondents since June for alleged inaccurate reporting or attempts to whip up liberal demonstrators. VOA is one of the few sources of foreign news for millions of Chinese.
Also, Beijing says efforts by the West to encourage tolerant, humane treatment toward dissidents are merely veiled attacks against China's socialist regime.
``Some Western countries use human rights as a weapon in their struggle against us,'' says the latest issue of the party's theoretical journal ``Seeking Truth.''
Moreover, China has sought to show that the US-financed ``Fund for the Reform and Opening of China'' in Beijing is linked to the Central Intelligence Agency, say unnamed Chinese sources quoted in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao and in a story in the Washington Post.
Police in Beijing last month questioned Liang Congjie, the Chinese representative of the Soros Foundation, an organization devoted to encouraging free-market economic reforms in socialist countries. New York financier George Soros founded the organization in 1986 with a $1 million endowment.
Diplomats and analysts say the US and other Western powers have attempted to avoid any appearance of attempting to remold China's political or economic systems.
The US has ``really bent over backward to try to provide China on reasonably decent terms with the resources that are required to enable its system to meet its own goals,'' says Kenneth Lieberthal, a political science professor at the University of Michigan.
``So I don't think it's true to say the US government has sought capitalism and democracy [in China] versus saying that it has sought to encourage a developing, increasingly efficient and effective economy and a government able to meet people's needs and to do so in an increasingly humane fashion,'' says Dr. Lieberthal, a China specialist.
As if taking a cue from the bygone era of Maoist extremism, China's leaders have squared off against the alleged foreign subversion more on class rather than national lines.
Sounding the alarm against ``counterrevolution,'' Public Security Minister Wang Fang warned recently that ``the aim of imperialists and various hostile forces abroad for overturning the socialist system in China will remain unchanged and they are sure to resort to subversive activities,'' according to the New China News Agency.
Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin said recently that, ``We have relaxed our vigilance against the influence of international imperialist and capitalist forces and the danger of `peaceful evolution' of China's socialism,'' according to an article in the Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po. This paper traditionally has been a mouthpiece for Beijing.
In response, China must more carefully screen what enters the ``open door'' from abroad, according to People's Daily. ``Socialist countries must not only develop normal diplomatic contacts but gain experience in fighting ideological infiltration and `peaceful evolution,''' the paper says.