Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, on the first day of his visit to Yugoslavia, yesterday delivered a sharp attack on the Soviet Union - and particularly on what he saw as its attempts to undermine the non-aligned movement.
Speaking at a banquet given by his host, President Tito, who is the sole surviving founder of the nonaligned movement, Hua said he supported Yugoslavia's efforts to preserve the orginial character of the movement. Yugoslav officials have recently expressed concern at Cuban moves to give the movement an openly pro-Soviet stance.
Clearly referring to Moscow, Hua said some people considered the nonaligned movement a serious obstacle to the realization of their aggressive and expansionist policy.
"They are trying at all costs to disrupt the unity of the nonaligned movement, to divert it and subordinate it to their own hegemonistic objectives," he said.
Hegemony, meaning domination by a big power, is the code word used by both the Chinese and the Yugoslavs for Soviet foreign policy.
Meanwhile, in a commentary on Hua's visit to Romania, the Soviet news agency Tass accused the Chinese leader of obsessive anti-Sovietism.
Hua's remarks in Belgrade are particularly significant in view of last month's stormy meeting of nonaligned foreign ministers here. A number of countries criticized Cuba for its role in Africa at the meeting, accusing it of acting as the agent of the Kremlin.
Cuba and other pro-Soviet nonaligned states such as Angola, Ethiopia and Vietnam accused the Chinese leadership of harboring expansionist aims of their own.
The Chinese leaders' references to the Soviet Union in the speech were more detailed and explicit than in Romania, the first leg of his three-nation tour, which will also take hin to Iran.
In Bucharest, he clearly felt obliged to respect the delicate position of his host, resident Nicolae Ceausescu, who remains committed to an alliance with the Soviet Union while seeking a greater degree of independence in foreign policy. In Yugoslavia, which broke away from Moscow in 1948, this constraint has largely been removed.
While in Romania, both Hua and Ceausescu dealt mainly with mutual relations in their public speeches. In Yugoslavia the focus of the talks is on international issues. Yugoslav officials have described Hua's visit as having enormous international significance - an idea the nervous Romanian officials were anxious to play down.
Echoing many Western leaders including President Carter, Hua gave his full support to Yugoslavia's continued independence from the Soviet Union.
"Yugoslavia is ready at all times to repel an enemy that would dare mount an invasion," he declared.
Earlier in the day, Hua was given a warm welcome on his arrival in Yugoslavia from Romania at the start of a nine-day visit.Thousands of Belgrade residents lined streets decorated with Yugosla and Chinese flags as he drove to the presidential palace where he was embraced by Tito.
Western diplomats here believe that the 86-year-old Yugosla leader has made a carefully calculated decision to expand ties with China as extra insurance against Soviet interference in his country after his death.
Although Yugosla officials are mindful of the warning given by former Chinese Premier Chou En-lai that "disant waters cannot quench fires," they welcome China's commitment to the notion that relations between Communist parties should be guided by the principles of equality and independence. This was a theme dealt with at length in Tito's banquet toast.
Hua's cordial welcome in Yugoslavia is remarkable for the contrast it provides with the bitter verbal feud once waged between the two countries.
In June 1948, the Chinese People's Daily described Tito as "a dwarf kneeling in the mud and trying with all its might to spit at a giant standing on a high mountain."
In reply the Yugoslav accused the former Chinese leader, Mao Tse-tung of attempting to lead the entire world over a percipice.