Presidential National Security affairs Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski will make a mission to China next month, despite the reported opposition of Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance.
Brzezinski's journey was announced yesterday at the White House and State Department, where officials went out of their way to say for the record that Vance had "recommended" that Brzezinski go.
Nonetheless, informed sources confirmed the essence of an account in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine that Vance "opposed the idea of the trip" and worked to thwart it through the policy process. Some sources suggested that Vance objected to the timing moe than the substance of the trip, On goounds that it could complicate delicate negotiations with the soviet Union on strategic arms and other topics.
Officials said it was significant that Brezinzki's journey was announced after Vance returned Monday from apparently satisfactory in Moscow.
Brzezinski had been an expert on Soviet affairs in his academic career before joining the government, but this will be his first trip to China. Officials said he was eager to go, and quickly picked up a "jocular" hint dropped by a Chinese official here last November that he would be welcome to visit Peking.
The occasion for th hint was a farewell luncheon given by Vice President Mondale for Huang Chen, the departing chief of the Chinese Liaison Office in Washington. No successor to Huang ahs yet been nemed, evidently as a sign of Chinese displeasure with the lack of movement by the Carter administration toward noramlization of relations.
"This is not a normalization trip." said Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke in announcing the Brzezinski mission. "It is a consultation trip on a broad range of issues." Even movement toward normalization is not anticipated as a result of the journey, Holbrooke said.
Brzenzinski's forerunner as White House adviser on national security, Henry A. Kissinger, made his more sensational secret mission in July 1971 in a Peking trip which re-established U.S.-China relationsa fter decades of hostility. The symbolism if not he substance of a Brzezinski trip to Peking is a matter of unusual interest among foreign policy watchers who have been waiting since january, 1977, for Breezinski to develop into "another Kissinger."
The New Yorker account by Elizabth Drew described Brzezinski as wishing he to use relations with China in kissinger-like fashion "as a means of tweaking the Soviet Union: that is . . . to do what policymakers call 'playing the China card.'" One source said this description is "too simplistic." But it is well known that Brzezinski and Vance have differed on several occasions on the management of Soviet-American relations.
Differences in emphasis became public in clear fashion during the U.S. alarm over Cuban and Soviet activities in the Horn of Africa in February and March this year. Brzezinski and the White House were much more emphatic about the facts and dangers of what was taking place than were Vance and the State Department. Drew reported in The New Yorker article that Brzezinski proposed to send a U.S. naval task force to the area of conflict> but that opposition from Vance and Secretary of Defense harold Brown headed off this plan.
Officials described the likely topic for Brzezinski's talks in China May 20-23 as broad discussion of geopolitics essentially the kind of summit seminar that Kissinger carried on to his delight with the late Premier Chou En-lai. In order to avoid offending Japan and South Korea, Brzezinski will stop there for two days each before returning home.
No reporters will be permitted to accompany Brzezinski, it was announced yesterday. This was reportedly his decision, in an effort to maintain his fast-eroding "low profile."