"Moscow, Washington, Beijing" {editorial, Jan. 18} provided an outdated picture of what The Post calls the "Washington-Moscow-Beijing triangle." It ignored the significance of China's 20th-century experiences in international relations and its foreign policy developments. Moreover, it revealed a tendency that many Americans have of reducing the world to a bipolar, or "East-West," sphere.

The Sino-Soviet conflict of the late 1950s and 1960s and China's experience with the Reagan administration in the early 1980s have made China wary of developing too close an alliance with either of the superpowers. Nevertheless, China's desire for modernization and its long border with the Soviet Union force it to establish ties with both super-power nations.

In reaction to the attempts by the United States and the Soviet Union to bring China to their side, China has struggled to maintain independence and equality. As part of this effort, China has worked to shift the focus of international politics from the current bipolar arrangement to a multipolar system.

China's orientation is vital to global stability. Therefore, we must be ready to accept its position in terms of its own significance and not as a part of the super-power game, which China has obviously chosen not to play. Until we tear ourselves from our old-fashioned, bipolar vision of the world, we will fail to see the reality of the international system.

JACKIE SMITH Washington