Hoping to win favor with a new Kremlin leadership, China has used the death of Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev to send its most conciliatory signals to Moscow in two decades, according to foreign analysts here.
With Foreign Minister Huang Hua in Moscow for Brezhnev's funeral, Peking apparently sees an opportunity to strengthen the hand of pro-China spokesmen in the policy debates likely to be held under new Communist Party chief Yuri Andropov, the analysts said.
"Peking is trying to give the moderates in the Soviet hierarchy ammunition to argue for better relations with China," said a Western source.
While in Moscow, Huang praised Brezhnev, something Peking had refused to do during his 18-year rule in Moscow. Huang called him "an all-around statesman," and said Peking appreciated his efforts over the past eight months to reopen a dialogue with China after a three-year silence.
Before departing Peking, Huang and Politburo member Ulanhu went to the Soviet Embassy to express their condolences. In a chat with Soviet Ambassador I.S. Shcherbakov, Ulanhu said Peking hopes "our two countries will move toward normalization step by step."
Privately, Chinese officials have ruled out the possibility of any fundamental change in Soviet foreign policy after Brezhnev's death because of the collective nature of the Soviet leadership. Yet, according to analysts, Peking apparently views the Soviet policy-making process as fluid enough now to make at least small adjustments in Sino-Soviet relations.
Even in his conciliatory comments in Moscow Sunday, however, Huang urged Moscow to remove the "obstacles" blocking better relations, by which Peking means a rollback of Brezhnev's advanced military stance in Asia, especially on China's periphery.
"China is trying to emit positive signals," said a foreign analyst, "but there has to be some substantive move by the Soviets or this is all a charade."