Soprano Ma Ping charmed U.S. Vice-President Walter Mondale with a specially rehearsed paean called I Love the Rose of Peace. Two other singers followed with Western songs to entertain the highest ranking U.S. delegation to visit Peking since normalization of relations eight months ago. Then, 51-year-old Mondale sat through an entire opera, entitled Stealing the Magic Herb. All the serenading led Mondale to joke to Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping the next day that he had
heard “two classical Chinese songs— Jingle Bells and Do-Re-Mi.” But if the two leaders were listening to different songs, they were both tapping to the same political rhythm which sent discomfiting vibes to both Moscow and Hanoi.
Mondale pushed U.S. policy significantly ahead by enveloping China in a vague U.S. global umbrella. In a speech televised to the Chinese people, the U.S. vice-president noted that Washington was “committed” to joining with China “ to advance our many parallel strategic and bilateral interests.” “Thus,” he declared, “any nation which seeks to weaken or isolate you in world affairs assumes a stance counter to American interests.” While far from any notion of a definite Washington-Peking alliance, this was the strongest statement yet on
the Carter administration’s determination to play its China card forcefully.
The wily Deng was delighted. And, while Mondale brought no changes in U.S. support of the nationalist regime on Taiwan—a continuing irritant to Peking—he did have a loadful of other goodies for the Chinese Communists.
After 12 hours of talks with the Chinese vice-premier and a two-hour chat with Party Chairman Hua Guofeng, Mondale emerged to declare that Washington does not plan to recognize Vietnam. He also even-handedly refused any support for either the ousted China-backed regime of Pol Pot in Kampuchea or the ruling Heng Samrin regime which the Vietnamese back. But from ‘the global perspective,” which Deng had urged before the discussions, the Chinese were well satisfied. Washington’s views on Vietnam closely paralleled Peking’s.
To make the occasion even sweeter, Mondale carried President Jimmy Carter’s invitation to Premier Hua to visit
the U.S. next year. He also announced that the U.S. would provide up to $2 billion to help finance China’s moderniza-
tion program during the next five years, and signed a protocol on U.S. aid for Chinese hydroelectric development. And, to the delight of his hosts, Móndale said that President Carter would send the China trade agreement to Congress before the end of the year—a move which should grant China mostfavored-nation status.
Deng, no doubt, was left smiling at the rather obvious timing of the U.S. overtures. Next month, Chinese and Soviet vice-foreign ministers are to meet in Moscow and the Soviet Union will get a chance to play its China card. For D Washington, the one-upmanship might seem like a simple do-re-mi scale, but to the more intricate minds of Peking’s leadership the tune may sound much more like Stealing the Magic Herb.
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