A meeting between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua today signaled an easing of the strains between Washington and Peking caused by American arms sales to Taiwan, according to U.S. officials.
After the two-hour luncheon meeting a senior U.S. official quoted Hua as telling Shultz: "From the long-term point of view, regardless of some present factors, the development of relations between our two countries is of fundamental importance to our two peoples."
The official said that remark, coupled with the generally cordial atmosphere of the meeting, was an indication that Peking wants to look beyond the immediate issue of Taiwan and return to the generally warm ties it has enjoyed with the United States in recent years.
The official acknowledged that problems still remain between the two governments over Taiwan and mutual difficulties in improving trade and transfers of technology.
But the general attitude among officials accompanying Shultz at the U.N. General Assembly session here is that tensions have eased greatly as the result of the communique issued by the two governments on Aug. 17. In it, the Reagan administration promised to hold its arms sales to Taiwan at present levels and to reduce them gradually over an unspecified period of time.
Peking said in the communique that its "fundamental policy" is to resolve peacefully its claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.
China's original demands that the United States cease security assistance to Taiwan had raised fears that Peking might turn away from friendship for the United States and move instead toward a rapprochement with the Soviet Union or identification with anti-American Third World states.
However, U.S. officials came away from today's meeting with the clearly optimistic feeling that the problem has been set aside for the present. The senior official said Hua, who was meeting Shultz for the first time, assured the secretary that neither impending Chinese-Soviet talks nor Peking's approaches to the Third World are incompatible with its desire for strengthened ties with the United States.
In another development today, Shultz met with representatives of the four allied governments working with the United States to bring about the independence of Namibia from South Africa. A statement issued afterwards said the five governments are encouraged by the progress being made on working out the principles for electing a Namibian constituent assembly.