Secretary of State Cyrus Vance got a good reception in Peking last month, but nothing like the red-carpet treatment received by that distinguished representative of the American people Michael Klonsky.
It was a question asked by more than one American reader of the New China News Agency when the official Chinese wire service reported Chairman Hua Kuo-feng's July 20 meeting with Klonsky, who got what still stands as the warmest reception ever given an American by the new Chinese leader.
Klonksy, as it turns out, is the chairman of the newly organized Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States of America, an amalgam of various pro-Peking leftist troops whose memberships are not thought to total more than a few hundred people - if that.
Klonsky enjoyed a period of notoriety during the late 1960s when he headed Students for a Democratic Society and, for the first time, brought a radical Communist rhetoric to that New Left organization.
Klonsky told the SDS membership in March 1969 that "Our primary task is to build a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement," but three months later he was deposed by so-called "regulars" in SDS who turned the organization's attentions toward civil rights and anti-war activities.
The reception Klonsky's new party and other groups like it have received in Peking, often reveals how eager the Chinese are to prove the ideological leaders of the Communist world.
The Chinese are not naive. There are men in Peking who realize how close these public performances come to diplomatic comedies. But like American Christians who see the few Chinese straggling into holiday Catholic Masses in Peking as the hope of China's future, Hua and his advisers have an emotional and ideological stake in the future of the Klonskys of the world.
Like the tree that falls unheard in the forest, nothing of the activities of the new U.S. Communist Party (M-L: would be widely known if Peking did not report it. The Chinese news agency revealed on June 22 that the founding congress of the new party had been held in an unnamed Midwestern town of the United States on June 4 and 5. Officials of the U.S. consulate here responsible for watching Chinese affairs still don't know where the party was founded; nor do they know Klonsky's age or occupation.
Two pictures of Klonsky meeting Hua appeared on the front page of the official People's Daily July 21. They show a man in his 30s or 40s with receding hairline and long side-burns wearing a light suit and brightly patterned tie. Hua also attended a banquet in honor of the visiting American and the new party vice chairman, Eileen Klehr, something Hua did not do for Vance.
Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien told Klonsky at the banquet that the founding of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States reflects the aspirations of the proletariat and other working people of the United States and is a new victory for the Marxist-Leninist movement in the United States.
Klonsky replied, according to the Chinese news agency, "As a Marxist-Leninist party in one of the two superpowers, and recognizing our responsibility to lead the struggle to topple the U.S. imperialist ruling class, we are determined as well to make a contribution to the worldwide struggle against the two superpowers, the United States and Soviet social-imperialism, the main enemies of the peoples of the world.
Since he purged his more dogmatic competitors for the mantle of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung after Mao's death a year ago, Hua has also received staunch Marxist-Leninists from France, Norway, Australia, Sweden, Indonesia, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Burma and Honduras. The Chinese news agency did not name and the People's daily published no no pictures of it, apparently to the delegation from Honduras, to protect the control American visitors from persecution back home. According to the Hoover Institute, the official pro-Moscow Communist Party in Hondruas has few more than 300 members. Membership of its pro-Paking rival is Unknown.
If such groups did not exist, Peking might have to invent them in its vehement feud with the Soviet Communist Party. The Chinese must provide some proof that they are pursuing the goal of world communism dear to the heart of Lenin and Marx, but a communism untainted by influence from Moscow.
The New China News Agency continually reprints items from such pro-Peking leftist publications as the U.S. weekly The Call, which accuse the Soviets a pursuing elitism in their social system at home and imperialism in their diplomatic dealings aboard. The Chinese agency thus gives the American publication a readership of millions in China and thousands abroad, for more than the few American leftists and F.B.I. agents who might ever see the original publication.
In China's new feud with its old ally the Albanians, this support from abroad is all the more important. To much of the rest of the world, fending off charges of ideological impurity from tiny Albania with expressions of support from even tinier Marxist-Leninist splinter groups in the United States seems comic, but that is not the way they look at these things in Peking.