The Oct. 9 editorial "D.C. Mayors {heart} China" showed that there is a need for greater awareness of the benefits of improved communication and cooperation between China and the United States.

The 1984 mission to China by then-Mayor Marion Barry led to a sister-city agreement between Beijing and the District and the construction of the Chinatown Friendship Archway (China contributed $600,000 plus the skilled artisans; that's not a bad return on the $45,000 in city and corporate contributions). The visit also prompted more than a dozen new Chinese businesses to move to our Chinatown because Mr. Barry's mission helped put the District on the map for consideration by Chinese businesses.

Important short- and long-term benefits of Mayor Anthony A. Williams's China mission include:

* Millions of dollars of free publicity, which greatly outweighs the $80,000 in air travel costs for this trip. TV, radio and newspaper interviews in China with the mayor and his party will stimulate interest in visiting, investing in and locating in the District, especially in Chinatown. This is important for the U.S. effort to reduce its massive trade imbalance with China.

* Discussions of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, the environment and the world economy, and greater city government and personal contact between China and the United States.

* Increased opportunities for educational exchanges and for sharing information on how each culture approaches the challenges of aging, health, retirement, crime, drugs, poverty and other issues of mutual concern.

The Chinese community will present an award to Mr. Williams at a Nov. 9 Friendship Archway Awards banquet in Chinatown to recognize the mayor's political courage in undertaking this mission and for his vision and contributions to revitalizing downtown.



The writer is a member of the Chinatown Steering Committee.