Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. brought the Reagan administration's anti-Soviet drive to Moscow's bitterest foe today, but the first Chinese reaction was restrained.
Haig, in a two-hour meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua, spoke of "Soviet hegemonism" as the source of the world's woes. Such language and policy have been articles of faith in Peking since the Sino-Soviet split two decades ago but have been only intermittently espoused by Washington administrations.
Instead of the expectable expressions of delight, however, China's initial response was to emphasize continuing differences between Washington and Peking. The reason for the cautious posture, it was clear is Chinese displeasure and uncertainty about the Reagan approach to Taiwan.
Haig's vist is expected to have broad implications for China domestic political course, which has been charted by Communist Party Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping [Details on Page A23].
According to a U.S. participant who briefed reporters, no mention of Taiwan was made by either side in the first Haig-Huang meeting in the Great Hall of the People several hours after the secretary of state's midday arrival from Hong Kong. The Chinese side is expected to get to the touchy subject Monday and Tuesday and to insist that the continuing U.S. supply of arms to Taiwan is a gross interference in Chinese internal affairs.
Huang, foreshadowing this position, called in a banquet toast tonight for Sino-American relations to move forward on the bais of "noninterference in each other's internal affairs." m
The Chinese foreign minister's toast, the major public utterance by his side on this first of three days of talks declared that "we attach importance to the strategic relationship between China and the United States." He quickly added, however, that China and the United States differ in social system and ideology, "and there are quite a few differences between them in policy and viewpoint."
While huang did not mention Taiwan, his toast was studded with a list of Chinese positions that contrast with the main lines of current U.S. policy: condemnation of "the Israeli policy of aggression and expansion and Israel's outrageous bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor," opposition to "aparthied and colonialism" of South Africa, and support for the "reasonable demand" by low income nations for a "new international economic order."
Haig and his aides stressed mutual Sino-American interests, such as a joining in a common drive against the Soviets.
"Your statesmen have been warning of the dangers of agression for some time," Haig declared to Huang in his banquet toast, suggesting that the United States has come around to a longstanding Chinese position. "You have long argued for concerted action to prevent such dangers."
In language that stopped just short of declaring an alliance, Haig said, "The United States considers China to be a close and valued friend" in the effort "to resist aggression."
How the two nations can work together in practice, if the Taiwan issue can be surmounted or submerged, remains for development in Haig's further discussions with Huang as well as with Defense Minister Geng Biao, Prime Minister Zha Ziyang and Deng, who is considered the most powerful Chinese leader.
Before coming to Peking, Haig made it known that he was prepared to discuss "particular policy intiatives" with the Chinese on a whole spectrum of relationships -- strategic, regional and bilateral. But it was unclear to what extent the Chinese wish to pursue detail.