Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng has agreed to visit the United States next year, the first such trip ever for Peking's top leader, Vice President Mondale announced today.
Mondale repeated President Carter's hope to visit China next year, but officials indicated that Hua's trip would come before Carter's. The Chinese party chairman, who is also this country's premier, accepted the invitation with "delight," but no specific date has been set, Mondale said.
Hua visited North Korea, Romania, Yugoslavia and Iran last year, and will visit Britain, France and West Germany in October. The late Chairman Mao Tse-tung, during his 40 years as head of the party, traveled abroad only twice, both times to the Soviet Union.
At a press conference winding up his two full days of talks with Chinese leaders here, Mondale also said that later this week he would open the first American consulate in China since 1949 in the southern coastal city of Canton.
Hua, for most of his career an obscure administrator in the central province of Hunan, became premier in April 1976 and succeeded Mao as party chairman after Mao's death in September of that year. But despite three years at the head of China's party, government and army, he remains a figure whose personal views are difficult to decipher and whose family details -- such as the names of his wife and most of his children -- remain a secret.
Now about 58 years old, Hua has appeared to defer to the views of a group of much more experienced officials in the party, led by the influential Vice Chairman and Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, 75. Together they have completely changed Chinese policy from an emphasis on political fervor and economic self-reliance in the Mao era to a cultivation of a new technical elite, whose political views are not so closely questioned, and a growing reliance on international trade.
The change has coincided with steadily closer ties with the United States in the last year. China and the United States agreed to establish normal relations in December, and early this year a high-level Chinese delegation, headed by Deng, visited Washington.
Hua and Deng made an unusual endorsement of the momentum toward better relations by appearing together with Mondale today. The signing of new cultural and hydroelectric agreements was the first time the two men jointly had received an American visitor.
Mondale spoke at the press conference of a feeling during his speech at Peking University yesterday of "reaching out . . . as friends on an equal and mature basis." Mondale's formal talks, three sessions with Deng and one with Hua for a total of about 12 hours, seemed to veterans of such discussions to be totally lacking in the posturing and repetition of old themes they had encountered in the past.
Mondale said the Chinese asked about the delay in submission to Congress of a general trade agreement includingmost-favored-nation status for Chinese goods entering the United States, a great saving in tariff duties for the Chinese. Sen. Henry Jackson, who saw Deng and Hua before Mondale arrived, had said the Chinese were unhappy about the delay.
Mondale said he told the Chinese that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) "asked that the most-favored nation bill not be sent up until he asked for it."
Byrd supports the bill, Mondale said, but there has been a glut of other legislation. "We're going to make more progress that way than if we had not agreed to his request," Mondale said.
Mondale quoted Deng as replying: "I am satisfied with your answer. I understand."
Taiwan, the independent Chinese island that still gets U.S. military support, was mentioned only during a discussion of civil air agreements, Mondale said. He said he told the Chinese that Washington was moving toward only informal air pacts with Taiwan. He also said he repeated U.S. hopes that reconciliation talks could begin between North and South Korea.
A Chinese reporter asked Mondale about reports that Washington planned to reorganize the Hanoi-backed government of Heng Samrin in Cambodia and resume relations with Vietnam. Mondale said Washington thought the Cambodian government "insupportable" and would not recognize Hanoi until it changed certain policies, such as its expulsion of thousands of refugees and its occupation of Cambodia.
"We talked about the need for emergency relief for the people in desparate condition in Kampuchea," Mondale said, referring to the serious famine that has been reported in wartorn Cambodia. "They, as we, hope we can get aid to these places as soon as possible."
U.S. Ambassador to China Leonard Woodcock said the new consulate in Canton would open with seven or eight U.S. officials and be headed by State Department official Richard Williams. The office is needed to handle a deluge of Chinese citizens seeking to reunite with relatives in the United States, most of whom are from southern China.
Mondale spends a full day in Canton Friday, after a visit to the ancient capital of China's first dynasty at Xi'an (Sian).
The agreements signed this afternoon include provisions for a series of exchanges of films, dance troupes, paintings and books in the next two years and for teams of U.S. government dam building experts to help the Chinese with major hydroelectrical projects. Their services are to be paid for by the Chinese government.