Vice President Bush accepted an invitation today to visit Peking at the conclusion of his current visit to Asia on May 4, according to an official in his delegation. He is expected to discuss China's objections to U.S. sale of military parts to Taiwan.
The White House, in subsequently making the official announcement, said the visit will be an "indication of the great importance we place on our relations with China and our desire to further understanding between our two governments." Deputy press secretary Larry Speakes described the trip as initiated by President Reagan and "not a mission to resolve in one stroke our differences on the Taiwan arms sale issue. We nevertheless fully expect this subject will be thoroughly discussed."
Bush had made clear on the first stops of his current five-nation tour that he was willing to make an unscheduled visit to China to discuss the recently announced U.S. sale of $60 million in arms parts to Taiwan, which strained relations with Peking.
The vice president's itinerary has not yet been announced, but some sources said it may include stopovers in Canton and Shanghai before arrival in Peking. The talks will be at the highest level since the Reagan administration took office.
China's repeated statements that arms sales to Taiwan could result in a downgrading of relations between the United States and China had been taken seriously in this region, although diplomats were relieved at the restrained tone of the Chinese protest when the parts sale was confirmed in Washington.
Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiao-ping has reassured U.S. investors that despite the chill in diplomatic exchanges, trade and commercial affairs would not be affected. Nevertheless, China's downgrading of diplomatic relations with the Netherlands in 1980 after the Dutch sale of two submarines to Taiwan is still fresh in diplomats' minds.
Bush initially held economic talks in Japan on that country's $16 billion trade surplus with the United States. In South Korea, he met with opposition groups as well as officials in Seoul. The other stops are to be Australia and New Zealand.
Arriving in Singapore today for talks with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Bush stressed the importance the United States attaches to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in combating "the everyday specter of communist aggression."