Chinese Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping said yesterday that he believes his country eventually will have normal relations with the United States but only after the Taiwan issue is settled on China's terms.
"We are waiting for the United States to make up its mind," the Chinese leader emphasized. He also said there will be no "tension" on the Korean peninsula so long as South Korea does not attempt any "actions" against the communist North, which he recently visited.
Holding his first Western-style news conference, Teng was a relaxed, amiable performer, telling reporters that he was not very bright and inviting them to criticize if his replies to questions were unclear.
He broke no new ground on any major issue but at several points suggested that many currently divisive problems in Asia - including Taiwan and the Koreas - will disappear with the passage of time.
But he stuck to the familiar warning that the Soviets "pose a grave threat to world peace and international security." he said the danger of a "new world war is an objective reality."
Teng is visiting Japan for the formal ratification of the new peace and friendship treaty and has held lengthy talks about several world issues - including U.S. relations - with Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda.
If anything new passed between them on the issue of the United States and Taiwan, Japanese officials did not reveal it. A spokesman for Fukuda, said, however, there were some points of their discussion too "delicate" to disclose.
Teng, asked about normalizing U.S. relations, replied: "We are talking about it. I think that this will follow in the general course of events . . . The obstacle is Taiwan."
He then listed the three conditions for that settlement: abrogation of the U.S. Taiwan mutual security treaty, withdrawal of U.S. troops, and severance of diplomatic relations.
"On these three conditions we are waiting for the United States to make up its mind," Teng added.
There have been suggestions that the Carter administration will make some new more early next year on the Taiwan issue, although there is heavy sentiment in Congress against a normalization that would amount to abandoning Taiwan.
On the Korean issue, Teng emphasized that he strongly supports the North's views on unification but implied that the division can be ended in time, once U.S. troops withdraw from the South. Teng visited the North last month and had extensive talks with the Communist leader, Kim II Sung.
Saying there is no "tension" on the peninsula, Teng added that unification should come through North-South talks and the necessary atmosphere will come only after U.S. troops are withdraws. The Carter administration's first partial withdrawal of U.S. forces is scheduled for mid-December.
Teng did not mention that one of the North's key demands is that before unification talks begin, the United States should agree to separate talks with North Korean officials.
"No country should be divided" in an "artificial" manner, Teng said, adding that he expects the Korean issue to be "resolved in due course."
Teng's determination to be tactful and unalarming extended even to one of the touchiest issues between China and Japan, control of the Senkaku Island claimed by both countries. The right wing of Fukuda' party is extremely sensitive about the issue and once tried to block treaty negotiations until China conceded to Japan's claim.
Instead of insisting on China's claim, Teng merely observed that the two countries differ on the Senkakus and have agreed to put off trying to settle it.
"By Chinese wisdom, this is the only way," he said. "It was wise not to touch it. It is shelved for an indefinite period of time." Perhaps, he added, the next generation will resolve the Senkakus problem.
The Japanese had been worried that Teng might touch off new troubles for them with the Soviets by his persistent campaign against "hegemonism," a code word for Soviet expansionism. The Soviets have bitterly criticized Japan for signing a treaty that contains an "antihegemony clause," although Japan says the clause is not aimed at the Soviet Union but is only a general statement of belief.
Teng called the Soviets "hegemonists" and went after "hegemonists" fiercely in a prepared statement before the news conference, but he tactfully refrained from asserting the Chinese position that they clause is, indeed, aimed solely at Moscow. He called it merely a statement of opposition "to the efforts of others to seek hegemony."