Pastor General's Report


It is an exceedingly rare event when the leader of the Chinese nation travels abroad. Emperors never left "The Middle Kingdom" (the meaning of the name "China," signifying the center of things political). It has happened only three times since the Communists came to power in 1949. Therefore, Chairman Hua Kuo-feng's historic trip to Romania and Yugoslavia (with Iran thrown in for good measure) is extremely important. In fact, it is part and parcel of an amazing realignment of political forces of the world today.

Chairman Hua embarked on his grand tour of the Soviet Union's sensitive Balkan backyard only days after concluding the Sino-Japanese friendship treaty. Thus, there can be no doubt that Peking's new, aggressive foreign policy — a far cry from the excessively inward view of the 1960's during the depth of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — is designed to encircle the Soviet Union and make open overtures to nations that can help China politically and economically.

The Chinese leadership has set as its primary goal the modernization of China by the end of the century. This will be an enormous task, necessitating massive infusions of foreign — meaning Japanese, West European and American — technology and capital. The Chinese are already shopping heavily in Western Europe for up-to-date military hardware.

All of this is extremely upsetting to the Soviets whom the Chinese never tire of labelling their number one enemy. Chairman Hua, in fact, has made no attempt on his current sojourn to allay Moscow's fears whatsoever.

"A fight must be waged against the policy of domination and dictate, against the division into spheres of influence, against the recourse to threat or use of force," said Hua in his toast at a farewell banquet hosted by China for Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu. "Aggression, control, and subversion of any state against other states must be strongly condemned and firmly combated," Hua added.

The Chinese leader added insult to injury by timing his toast to coincide with the actual start of the invasion ten years ago that crushed the "Prague Spring" policies of liberal Czech leader Alexander Dubcek. Troops of the Soviet Union and four hard-core Warsaw Pact nations (not including Romania) moved into Czech territory at 11 p.m. August 20, 1968.

China's aggressiveness is having a predictable reaction in Moscow. And this reaction is the most important aspect of the changing world power relationship. The Soviets are fearful — in fact somewhat paranoiac — about their shaky eastern flank, especially with China and Japan getting together and with relations between China and India also improving. As a result Moscow is making renewed efforts to shore up relations in the West — particularly with West Germany.

Both Pravda and Izvestia have recently carried a number of articles emphasizing improved relations with Paris and Bonn in particular. On August 16 Pravda devoted a column of commentary on increased trade with Western Europe. Izvestia a week earlier spoke glowingly of good relations with Bonn in the wake of Mr. Brezhnev's visit there earlier in May. Soviet television recently showed a flattering documentary on West Germany, dealing extensively with relations with Moscow. (West Germany is now at the top of the list of Moscow's capitalist trade partners, ahead of Japan, with the U.S. way down the list as Soviet-American trade continues to contract.)

"Western diplomats," reports the Christian Science Monitor of August 18, "also see other reasons for paying attention to Western Europe. Moscow cherishes hopes of dividing the U.S. from its NATO allies." Germany and France are particularly ripe for Soviet overtures. Their confidence in the United States, especially over economic affairs, has fallen dramatically. On the eve of Chairman Brezhnev's visit to Bonn last May, the German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine commented: "Brezhnev is going to try to woo the Federal Republic of Germany, and with it Western Europe, away from the United States... Annoyance in Bonn and Paris about American policies has grown appreciably in the last year. Not for a long time have the policies of an American President commanded as little respect in Europe as those of President Carter.... Leonid Brezhnev could hardly have chosen a better moment to visit Bonn."

One top official in the West German government, Egon Bahr, has been especially active in pushing for greatly expanded ties with the Soviet Union. He has spent hours talking with Brezhnev both in Bonn, and on a subsequent trip he made to Moscow in July, not as an emissary of Schmidt, but admittedly as agent of the SPD's activist left wing. Nevertheless, as Germany's confidence in the U.S. decreases, Bahr's "radical" approach may become the standard German policy in the future.

Here is what the noted syndicated columnists Evans and Novak have to say about this development:

Here is the specter of what has always made the Western alliance tremble: a menacing new version of the 1920 Rapallo Soviet- German treaty. Another Rapallo is certainly no possibility in the near future. Indeed, it is unthinkable in Helmut Schmidt's Germany.

Nevertheless, what is clearly at issue in the Brezhnev-Bahr talks is chilling, even though no immediate threat: West Germany leaving NATO with Soviet guarantees against aggression and with the ultimate prospect of German reunification. Bahr, a fanatical German nationalist, leads SPD's far-left faction which believes the key to Germany's future reunification is held in Moscow, not Washington.

Thus, events in Asia — the signing of the Sino-Japanese pact, and Chairman Hua's bold anti-Soviet trip and the chills these are producing in Moscow — have their direct bearing on extremely important future political realignments in Europe. And perhaps these realignments could mature even quicker than the analysts believe.

— Gene H. Hogberg News Bureau

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Pastor General's ReportAugust 21, 1978Vol 2 No. 31