U.S. Ambassador to China Leonard Woodcock discussing the first year of normalized diplomatic ties between Washington and Peking, said he thought the new relationship was "pretty much on course."
He reported that the Chinese are satisfied with the progress of a key trade bill in the U.S. Congress and on establishing a new U.S. consulate in Shanghai.
The rapid expansion of personal contacts creates opportunities for future trouble, but diplomats here and in Peking see no unusual difficulties ahead. The Chinese have allowed 12 American journalists, representing two wire services and eight newspapers, to take up residence in Peking.
They have indicated they will let even more in soon, despite American reporting on Peking's dissident movement and complaints from American journalists about inadequate facilities.
The Chinese have let about 300 American exchange students, research scholars and English teachers move into cities all over the country. About 1,100 Chinese students and scholars -- as many as 500 supported by relatives rather than the Chinese government -- have moved to the United States. Deep by some of the Americans with Chi-personal relationships being developed nese and expected decisions by some Chinese students not to return to China, could create future diplomatic problems.
For the moment, however, diplomatic cooperation between the two countries continues to be better than at any time in 30 years. The Chinese press this week enthusiastically reported tough U.S. statements on Soviet activities in Afghanistan. U.S. Defense Secretary Harold Brown is scheduled to visit Peking Jan. 5. He is expected to seek further cooperation in countering Soviet threats to Afghanistan and Iran.
Peking puts considerable emphasis on approval of the U.S. China trade agreement, which would lower tariffs on Chinese goods through most-favored-nation treatment and open the way for low-cost American loans to China. The Chinese press noted with approval last week that two congressional committees had approved the agreement. The Chinese had shown impatience about the progress of the bill in the past, but, Woodcock said, "I gave them my personal view that it would be January, possibly February before it came to a vote . . . . So they have not expressed any particular anxiety."
Introducing a long list of recent Sino-American agreements and exchanges, the official New China News Agency said Friday that "as China enters the 1980s, her people have every reason to look back at 1979 with satisfaction . . . . and the Chinese people are optimistic that Sino-U.S. relations will develop further in the days to come."
American diplomats have complained about some inequalities in the relationship. New U.S. travel restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the United States requiring written permission for trips 25 miles beyond their embassy or consulates, go into effect Jan. 1, in response to similar restrictions on American -- as well as all other -- diplomats in Peking.
U.S. officials note that while the Chinese have purchased a hotel in Washington and two large buildings in New York for their official staff, they have been slow to approve American requests for expansion in Peking.
The Chinese have established consulates in Houston and San Francisco. Since September the Americans have had a consulate in Canton, confined to a few rooms at the top of the Dong Fang Hotel. U.S. officials are not happy with a Chinese suggestion that they establish a permanent Canton consulate in a small, rundown house formerly used as the Vietnamese consulate, and are seeking better quarters.
In Shanghai, however, the Americans have been offered "an old mansion in excellent repair," Woodcock said.
Woodcock said American officials continue to be concerned by human rights developments in China, such as the sentencing of dissident wallposter writer Wei Jingsheng, but the human rights situation "in my mind is certainly not all negative," he said. The Chinese have so loosened emigration restrictions, particularly on people with families in the United States, that "we can't handle them all," Woodcock said.
Woodcock said he expects Peking to protest when Washington begins selling promised new arms to Taiwan, but "this should not affect the relationship" if this is restricted to defensive weapons, as President Carter promised a year ago.