A FIVE-DAY visit to the Soviet Union by Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin has strengthened Sino-Soviet relations, as potential trade took precedence over ideological differences. Mr. Jiang, making the first visit to the Soviet Union by a Chinese party leader in 34 years, was wrapping up his stay yesterday in Leningrad. Earlier in Moscow, he held talks with a host of Soviet officials, including President Mikhail Gorbachev, who is also Soviet Communist Party leader, and Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov.
At a news conference here Friday, the Chinese party leader said the two countries had buried almost 30 years of hostility. China and the Soviet Union were close allies until ideological differences led to bloody border clashes in the 1960s.
"We intend to return to the state of relations we had in the 1950s," Jiang said. "These are the relations among allies."
The chief accomplishment of Jiang's visit was signing a treaty settling a long-running border dispute in the far eastern Khabarovsk region. China and the Soviet Union still must agree on the western border in Central Asia, but both sides say they're confident about a quick solution.
Progress on the frontier dispute comes at a time when both countries appear anxious to expand economic relations. Mr. Gorbachev is facing stiff criticism both at home and abroad over his wavering policies of economic reform, and seems ready to welcome support from whomever offers it. China, meanwhile, still finds itself isolated because of the crackdown on democracy that started with the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989. And to increase the pressure, the United States is considering suspending Chi n
a's most-favored-nation trading status.
"China and the Soviet Union have an immense potential and wide prospects for deeper contacts and cooperation in all fields," Jiang said.
While seeking closer ties with the Soviets, Jiang repeatedly stressed that changes in China's strict party control over domestic politics would not happen anytime soon.
"Each state has the right to develop socialism in its own way," Jiang said.
In the Soviet Union, Gorbachev has presided over the dismantling of the party's dominance in political affairs. He seems to have no problem with the different ideological paths taken by both countries, however. Jiang said the Soviets did not raise the issue of the Tiananmen Square massacre in talks.