Officials of Finland on Thursday quoted Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as saying that there may be a Sino-Soviet summit meeting next year, in a further sign that relations between Moscow and Beijing appear on the upswing.
According to the Finnish officials, Deng discussed the possibility of a summit meeting and the prospects for normalizing Sino-Soviet relations at a meeting with Finnish President Mauno Koivisto.
The official New China News Agency, in its report of the meeting, made no mention of any comments by Deng about a summit meeting. But it said Deng told Koivisto that political and economic relations between China and the Soviet Union will never be what they were in the 1950s, even after relations are normalized.
Estranged Since 1960
China and the Soviet Union, close allies in the 1950s, have been estranged since 1960. The last Sino-Soviet summit meeting was in 1959. Trade and cultural relations have improved in recent years, and a summit meeting would mark the full restoration of normal ties.
The New China News Agency reported that Deng said the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations will not harm the interests of any other country.
Several Finnish officials who took part in the meeting with Deng, including Foreign Minister Kalevi Sorsa, quoted Deng as saying that if a scheduled visit to Moscow later this year by Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen goes well, there might be a summit meeting next year.
Meeting Site Unclear
It is not certain where such a meeting would take place, but it is expected that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev will come to Beijing for meetings with Deng, Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and Premier Li Peng.
Immediately after the meeting with Deng, Foreign Minister Sorsa told reporters that Deng had said there would be a summit meeting next year. But Sorsa later corrected himself and said Deng had told them there might be a summit meeting if Qian’s trip is successful.
Li Jinhua, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference that the timing of a summit meeting “depends on whether the conditions are ripe or not” and added: “Now, I think, is the time for the creation of the conditions.”
China has emphasized that the key obstacle to normalizing Sino-Soviet relations is the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam, which is an ally of the Soviet Union. Chinese officials have said repeatedly that the Soviet Union must urge Vietnam to withdraw its troops from Cambodia before there can be any summit meeting.
Vietnam, which invaded Cambodia in 1978, is believed to have 80,000 to 100,000 troops in the country, where they support the government against a resistance coalition backed by China and other nations. Vietnam has said it will withdraw the troops by 1990.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov told reporters in Moscow that Soviet and Chinese officials are laying the groundwork for a summit.
‘Prepared for Meeting’
“We are prepared for such a meeting,” he said. “We would welcome such a meeting by all means.”
No date has been discussed, Gerasimov said, adding that “as far as I am concerned, the sooner the better.”
A Western diplomat in Beijing, who asked not to be identified by name, said it appears that China will continue to pressure the Soviet Union for a Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia.
“I think there are still several hoops they’re going to make the Soviets jump through before they get a summit,” the diplomat said.