MOSCOW, JAN. 10 -- Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has again proposed a summit meeting with China, calling it a "logical development" in the improving relations between the two commmunist giants after three decades of strain.
In an interview with a Chinese weekly, Liaowang, carried today by the Soviet news agency Tass, Gorbachev repeated his proposal for a meeting with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, which he first put forward Nov. 27. China rebuffed the offer, saying obstacles in the Sino-Soviet relationship must first be removed.
Gorbachev's new appeal to China comes after the Soviets indicated last week that they are ready to push for a withdrawal this year of their troops from Afghanistan, one of the three obstacles cited by China. The Soviets also have been diplomatically active in Cambodia, where China has said domination by Soviet-backed Vietnam has been the greatest block to improving Sino-Soviet relations.
The interview in Liaowang, also released today in China, underlined Soviet eagerness to improve relations with the southern neighbor, which first soured in the 1950s in an ideological dispute.
Gorbachev stressed that Moscow's relations with China should not be affected by the improving Soviet-U.S. relationship. "One cannot build today one's long-term policy at another's expense," he said. "It is necessary to look for balance of interests, not against someone, but together with all."
In the last three years, since Gorbachev came to power, Moscow and Beijing have improved trade, begun border talks and established a regular diplomatic dialogue. But relations between the two ruling communist parties, an essential element for normalized ties, are still dormant. In the interview, Gorbachev said "mutually acceptable solutions" to difficulties with China can be found.
"Political dialogue is being established. A Soviet-Chinese summit meeting could become, in our view, its logical development. As all signs indicate, an objective need for it is felt by both sides," he said.
Gorbachev first signaled his interest in better relations with China in July 1986. In a speech in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, he said the Soviet Union, as an Asian power, was ready for a significant improvement in ties with China. As an example, he signaled that Moscow was willing to change its position on one of several border disputes that led to armed conflicts in the 1960s along the Amur and Ussuri rivers.
In the same speech, Gorbachev proposed the symbolic withdrawal of six divisions of troops from Afghanistan and one division from Mongolia. Soviet troop strength in the Mongolian People's Republic, a staunch Soviet ally that lies between the Soviet Union and China, is now estimated at 70,000. China cites their presence as another obstacle to good relations.
Another gesture to China was Gorbachev's decision to include 100 Soviet warheads on medium-range missiles based in Asia in the U.S.-Soviet treaty eliminating such nuclear weapons that was signed last month in Washington.
In the interview, Gorbachev stressed views shared by the Soviet Union and China. In an effort to reassure Beijing about improved U.S.-Soviet ties, he said, "The new political thinking that we have embraced rejects the old simplistic rule: if you maintain good relations with someone, it is necessarily to the detriment of others."
"We are far from the thought that everything in the world, including East-West relations, depends only on Moscow and Washington," Gorbachev added.
The interview in the Chinese weekly seemed designed to send a signal to China and beyond that Soviet foreign policy is not being dominated by the Moscow-Washington relationship, even as Gorbachev and President Reagan ready for a fourth meeting in as many years this spring in Moscow. Gorbachev said their third meeting, in Washington last month, had dampened world tensions by beginning a disarmament process and "opening the prospect of deep . . . cuts in major strategic arsenals of nuclear weapons."
He credited a change in the "pyschological climate of the world" to initiatives from the Socialist world and stressed common Soviet and Chinese views on certain nuclear issues.
Answering questions on the progress of his economic reform program, Gorbachev suggested that the Soviet Union and China should exchange experiences. "I will say that we are greatly interested in reforms of the economic mechanism and the political system currently under way" in China, he said.
The Soviet government today published new rules for collective farms which, while loosening some central controls, fall far short of the liberalization of private agriculture in China.
In the Liaowang interview, Gorbachev conceded that the current phase of reforms in the Soviet Union, which took shape on Jan. 1 with a new law on state enterprises, will spawn "contradictions." He hinted at aftereffects from the political crisis created by the ouster of Moscow party boss Boris Yeltsin in November, saying that "leftist avant-garde sentiments and aspirations to do everything at one stroke" led to "panic and disappointment" when the efforts failed.