30-Year Feud Ended by Gorbachev, Deng : Leaders Declare China-Soviet Ties Are Normalized

Times Staff Writers

China and the Soviet Union, which quarreled bitterly for 30 years over who was the greater threat to world peace and who were the better Communists, ended their feud today with a determination to forge a new relationship bringing them together again.

Deng Xiaoping, China’s senior leader, said that relations between the two countries now were fully normalized as he began talks here this morning with visiting Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev at the first summit meeting between the two countries since 1959.

“Can we take this opportunity to announce the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations?” Deng asked Gorbachev, calling him “comrade,” and Gorbachev agreed.


“This means,” Deng added, “the normalization of relations as well between the Chinese and Soviet Communist parties.”

Deng said that the new relationship between China and the Soviet Union will help reduce international tensions and will show the world “the possibilities to move from confrontation to dialogue.”

The key development in Sino-Soviet relations had come, Deng said, when Gorbachev assumed the Kremlin leadership in 1985 and began to reassess Soviet foreign policy, moving away from the Cold War with the West and conflicts with other countries.

“Frankly speaking, the central issue of world politics is Soviet-American relations, and the key political problems stem from them,” the 84-year-old Chinese leader said, opening the two-hour meeting, the first few minutes of which were televised live from the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. “And for many years, it may be said, the general situation was one of confrontation, and a particular feature was an arms race that has not yet stopped and is increasing day by day.

“But from your speech at Vladivostok (where he made a major overture to China in July, 1986), Comrade Gorbachev, all the people of the world, and I myself, saw new content in the political thinking of the Soviet Union. I saw that there might be a turning point in your relations with the United States and it might be possible to find a way out of the confrontation and transform the situation into one of dialogue.”

Moscow’s Responsibility

Gorbachev, who arrived on Monday, had earlier acknowledged Moscow’s responsibility for some of the tension that turned the former allies into seemingly implacable foes and brought them, for a time, to the brink of war.

“Very probably we are also responsible for what happened in that period to a certain extent,” Gorbachev told Chinese President Yang Shangkun at an initial half-hour meeting at the Great Hall on Monday, setting the tone for the four-day visit.

Expressing the Soviet leadership’s “sorrow and regret” for the three decades of hostility, Gorbachev declared, “This period has come to an end.”

He Will See Zhao, Li

Gorbachev, who has made the rapprochement with China a key element of the Soviet Union’s new foreign policy, will meet later today with Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and with Premier Li Peng for the key talks of his visit, the first by the top man in the Kremlin since 1959.

Despite their historic nature, the talks Monday and today have been largely overshadowed by continuing student protests in Tian An Men Square outside the Great Hall. About 50,000 people were gathered in the square this morning as the meeting between Deng and Gorbachev began and thousands more were marching toward the center of Beijing in the fourth day of a hunger strike that has grown to include more than 2,000 students demanding a dialogue with Chinese leaders on ways to expand democracy here.

While trying to avoid involvement in what they regard as a Chinese domestic affair, Soviet officials expressed understanding for the Chinese leadership’s predicament but regret that it had diverted attention, both here and abroad, from the summit.

“The first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years is a much more important event, incomparably so, than the students’ actions, which have their own internal causes and which have nothing to do with us,” Gennady I. Gerasimov, the Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters.

Greeting Gorbachev with the Russian that he learned as a student in the Soviet Union 60 years ago, Yang said that the leaders of the two countries will be “exploring ways to establish a new type of relationship” between them, one that would be stable and strengthen, rather than jeopardize, world peace.

“The way to this meeting was not an easy one,” Gorbachev replied at Monday night’s banquet in his honor. “It required from both sides wisdom, responsibility and perseverance in removing the negative aggravations and prejudices that marred our relations for so many years.”

Cooperative Relationship

Gorbachev then sketched the Soviet Union’s hopes for a new relationship with China based on cooperation, a relationship that neither country would dominate and that would threaten no others.

Moscow is willing, as Beijing has long insisted, to make the “principles of peaceful coexistence,” including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, nonaggression, non-interference in internal affairs and mutual benefit the basis of their future relationship, Gorbachev said.

“Every country and every people reassess its place in the world,” he said, recalling the other major shifts in Soviet foreign policy in the past three to four years. “We initiated this kind of in-depth analysis and, together with perestroika (restructuring), emerged something that is generally known now as ‘new political thinking.’ We are prepared to translate the main concepts of this into practice in our relations with China.”

The Soviet Union also would like to develop, step by step, extensive political and economic cooperation with China as well as “interaction” in their approaches to international problems, he said.

“The improvement of Sino-Soviet relations is not directed against any third country,” Gorbachev stressed. “The entire world community stands to gain from that improvement.”

Describing Gorbachev’s visit as historic, Yang told the banquet that Sino-Soviet relations “have traversed a tortured course in the past, but today we have come to a new starting point.”

Chinese expectations for the new relationship, as outlined by Yang, are more modest, focused first on consolidating the recent improvement and on resolving the remaining problems. China sees the current visit, the result of long and difficult negotiations, as only “signaling the beginning of the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations,” Yang said.

“We in China hope and believe that your visit can and should make an important contribution to resolving the major existing problems between our two countries and laying a sound foundation for long-term, steady and healthy development of our bilateral relations,” he added.

Beijing agreed, as proposed by Deng in correspondence with Gorbachev over the past three years, that they could move forward only by putting the past behind them, Yang told the Soviet president, and focusing instead on increased cooperation with one another.

The Chinese expressions of responsibility and regret for the prolonged conflict were left implicit in Yang’s comments, but Soviet officials did not object.

‘Somewhat Sinful’ Past

“We were all somewhat sinful as far as our past was concerned,” Gerasimov commented after the meetings. “If we started delving into it all, then it would impede the future.”

As the world’s two largest Communist countries, each has also expressed an interest in the current reforms of the other’s political, economic and social systems. “Socialism is entering a new stage in its development where full use will be made of its creative potential,” Gorbachev said. And Yang suggested that Beijing and Moscow might learn from each other’s reform efforts.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES 2:30 p.m.--Gorbachev meets China’s Premier Li Peng in West Hall of Great Hall of the People.

3 p.m.--Raisa Gorbachev visits Xu Beihong Museum.

5:15 p.m.--Raisa Gorbachev visits Temple of Heaven shrine in Beijing.

5:30 p.m.--Gorbachev meets Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of China’s Communist Party, at the Diaoyutai state guest house, a compound in Beijing where the Gorbachevs are staying.

7:30 p.m.--Zhao hosts banquet for Gorbachev at Diaoyutai state guest house.

Dan Rather will anchor the CBS Evening News from Beijing during the summit. Bernard Shaw will also anchor broadcasts from Beijing during Cable News Network’s International Hour (noon PDT), Newswatch (3 p.m. PDT) and CNN Evening News (10 p.m. PDT) throughout the week.