Chinese Hard-Liners Welcome Soviet Ouster
Internal party documents say Gorbachev is 'traitor' to communism. SOVIET CRISIS
| HONG KONG
CHINA'S Communist regime is likely to use Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's ouster as a vindication of hard-line policies adopted since the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen crackdown, Chinese officials say.But despite potential ideological gains for Chinese conservatives, Mr. Gorbachev's removal could harm China's strategic interests if it leads to protracted chaos in the Soviet Union, Chinese analysts say. Beijing had offered no comment on the Soviet leadership change by press time yesterday. The official New China News agency, however, was quick to report the news without comment. Chinese leaders may have gained some forewarning of Gorbachev's departure. The chief of general staff of the Chinese Army, Chi Haotian, returned to Beijing last week from an official visit to Moscow. In a possible effort to reassure Beijing that relations would not be damaged, Mr. Chi and Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov "expressed confidence that relations between the Chinese and Soviet peoples and armies would develop continuously," the official People's Daily reported. China's hard-line leaders will be pleased by the departure of Gorbachev, whom they have long condemned in internal party documents as a "traitor" to communism, Chinese officials say. HE Chinese leadership will take a very positive response to this change," said one Chinese official in charge of Soviet affairs by telephone in Beijing. "This is a confirmation of the hard-line philosophy," says Ching Cheong, editor of the Contemporary, a major China-watching journal in Hong Kong. Conservatives have warned China's Party cadres in internal documents that Gorbachev was conspiring with Western capitalist forces to sabotage communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The documents predicted turmoil in those countries, but held out hopes for a comeback of loyal Communists. Hard-liners, represented by Premier Li Peng, could use this seeming justification of their strong-arm policies in an attempt to consolidate power before a major party congress next year, China analysts say. If so, it could lead to a setback for democratic activists and Chinese leaders who favor bold economic and political reforms. "Political reform will lag even further behind," said the Chinese official. Nevertheless, some analysts warn that any political gains enjoyed by Chinese hard-liners may come at a high cost. They point out that Gorbachev was the man who normalized Sino-Soviet relations with a historic visit to Beijing in May 1989. Moreover, analysts say, Beijing may find that fellow hard-liners in the Soviet military and KGB face strong resistance in their efforts to establish control.