Chinese Vice Premier visits Seattle

Ron Chew February 15, 1979 0

When the Chinese Vice Premier arrived in Seattle February 3, his itinerary for the next two days made it clear why he had come.

Deng Xiaoping, the remarkable political phoenix who is leading China’s charge toward modernization, had come to bargain for the resources to transform China into an economic and military power.

On the day after he arrived, Deng, at a Washington Plaza luncheon with prominent Washington State business persons, said, “China has embarked on a new Long March, whose goal is the modernization of our agriculture, industry, science and technology and national defense by the end of the century.”

Deng survived a purge by radicals during the Cultural Revolution and has returned as the chief architect of rapprochement with the United States.

Seattle was the final stop in a visit that signaled the beginning of economic cooperation between two nations which in the last 30 years, have been virtually isolated from one another.

President Carter, piggybacking on the breakthrough of Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, announced normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China on December 15.

The Vice Premier arrived for the official visit to the United States with a delegation which included: Madame Zhuo Lin, his wife; Fang Yi, minister of science and technology; Huang Hua, minister of foreign affairs; and Chai Zemin, chief of the liaison office in Washington D.C.

According to a senior administration official, there were 20 to 30 requests from major cities for the Chinese delegation to visit. But, the official said, the final selections—Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston and Seattle—were based on what the administration thought “would be most responsive to the kind of things they (the Chinese) requested to see.”

Seattle has two carrots for the modernization-driven Chinese leaders: the Port of Seattle, with its promise of abundant commerce, and Boeing, with its promise of sophisticated aircraft. While they were here, the Chinese delegation toured the Port’s facilities, went on a jet foil cruise and visited a Boeing 747 plant in Everett.

The delegation dined at Canlis Restaurant with, as several journalists noted, “some of Washington State’s leading capitalists.” Deng ordered a Coke, telling U.S. Senator Henry M. Jackson, “I have to get used to it. We are going to have a lot of this.”

Throughout the delegation’s visit to the United States, including Seattle, Deng stated China’s opposition to “hegemony,” what the Chinese say are Soviet attempts to intrude in the internal affairs of other nations. In his farewell remarks, Deng said the delegation “came in the hope of strengthening peace, and we have not been disappointed in our hope.” The Chinese people, he said, “will do their bit toward opposing global and regional hegemism.”

Greg Tsang was one of a group of 29 Chinese Americans who met briefly with the Vice Premier and at length with Huang Hua and Chai Zemin. Tsang said Huang told the group that “Russia is the greatest threat to world peace and that China has to be on guard against Russia.” Tsang said the foreign affairs minister quoted Mao Tsetung as saying the biggest contradictions have to be dealt with first. “Huang said the biggest contradiction is Russia,” Tsang added.

However, Sunday afternoon, February 4, about 75 to 100 native Taiwanese marched in protest, across the street from the Washington Plaza where the Vice Premier was being toasted by the business persons.

Earlier in the day, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party and supporters of the Nationalist regime in Taiwan held their own demonstrations, both groups critical of Deng’s visit, but for different reasons.

The Taiwanese demonstrators, many students at the University of Washington, argued that Taiwan is not part of China and that normalization of U.S.-China relations was achieved at the expense of the right of the Taiwanese to determine their own future.

As part of the agreement to normalize relations with China, the U.S. government officially “acknowledged” the Chinese position “that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

Fu-Hsiung Shen, University of Washington (UW) assistant professor of medicine and spokesperson for the Taiwanese, said that because events in China are “totally unpredictable,” the Taiwanese do not want to be reunited with China. The Taiwanese, he added, “have developed their culture as a variant of Chinese culture.” He said the native Taiwanese comprise 85 per cent of the population of Taiwan and that 15 per cent are Nationalists who hold most of the power and wealth on the island.

Supporters of the Nationalist regime in Taiwan argue, however, that there is only one China and that the Nationalists are the legitimate government of the Chinese people.

Tsang said Huang was aware of Taiwanese who argue that the Nationalist government is not representative of the people there. “But he (Huang) said China has to deal with the people in power (in Taiwan),” said Tsang. “This is reality. If the Chinese refused to talk, nothing would happen.”

Tsang said the foreign minister stressed that a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question was best for all parties. “But as a matter of strategy, the Chinese cannot make a pledge not to have a military solution,” said Tsang. “If they say they won’t settle it by force, there would be no incentive to have Taiwan peacefully resolve it.”

But Shen feels Carter should have gotten “more guarantee of security for the Taiwanese. Carter gave up too much.”

“The future of a people,” Shen said, “should be based on the determination of the people themselves.”

On Monday, February 5, Deng and his delegation departed Seattle from the Boeing Flight Center, heading to Anchorage, Alaska on the way back to China.

Before the Chinese left, they signed agreements of cooperation with the United States: in science and technology; in education, agriculture and space; in high energy physics.

Will the ambitious modernization plans for China succeed?

China is in the fifth year of a 10-year plan to mechanize agriculture. Robert Kapp, UW assistant professor in International Studies and History, said, “If agricultural production does not rise to exceed population growth, the plan for modernization cannot survive very long.”

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