China’s elder statesman Deng Xiaoping said today the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years will take place in 1989.
Deng told visiting Finnish President Mauno Koivisto that China’s foreign minister will prepare a Sino-Soviet summit for next year during a visit to Moscow due to take place before the end of this year.
Diplomats expect Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to come to Beijing because Deng, at 84, is getting too old to travel far.
Deng, who survived two periods of political exile to launch China’s economic reforms in 1978, looked unsteady on his feet when greeting Koivisto, and his voice was shaky.
Deng’s remarks were quoted to reporters in the Great Hall of the People by Finnish Foreign Minister Kalevi Sorsa but were not repeated by the official New China News Agency.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told a weekly news conference that she did not know what Deng had told Koivisto, but she did not deny that a summit would take place next year.
The official news agency quoted Deng as saying that relations between China and the Soviet Union could never be the same as in the 1950s, the early years of China’s revolution, when Beijing relied heavily on aid from the Soviet Union and followed Moscow as the ideological leader of world communism.
Normalization of Sino-Soviet relations would not harm the interests of any other country and should be developed on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, Deng was quoted as saying.
Meeting in 1959
The last Sino-Soviet summit--between Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Tse-tung in 1959--was a disaster, soon followed by a bitter split on ideological and foreign issues which has still not healed.
But, diplomats say, a meeting between Gorbachev and Deng would be painstakingly orchestrated.
A Sino-Soviet summit would put the seal on Vietnam’s withdrawal of its 100,000 or so troops in Cambodia.
Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 to oust the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge, whose four-year reign resulted in the deaths of up to 1 million people.
China has insisted that Hanoi pull out its forces as a precondition for a Sino-Soviet summit, and East European sources said Vietnam would announce a timetable for its withdrawal before a Sino-Soviet summit takes place.