AFTER years of ranking Israel and South Africa high on its
blacklist, China has warmed to the two countries and pushed the
pragmatism in its foreign policy to a new extreme.
China's partial opening to the two countries this month is part
of its effort to broaden diplomatic contacts after the downfall of
fraternal communist regimes, Western diplomats say.
With the crumbling of Soviet influence, China seeks to pose
itself as a socialist counterweight to United States primacy in
southern Africa, the Middle East, and other regions, they say.
Also, Beijing aims to thwart its rival, the Nationalist
government on Taiwan, in its own campaign to bolster diplomatic
clout with other countries, they say. Taipei maintains close
relations with South Africa.
The formative diplomatic contacts will enable Beijing to quickly
establish formal relations when South Africa fully dismantles
apartheid and the Middle East nears a settlement to the Palestinian
question, the diplomats say.
Normalized relations with Pretoria and Tel Aviv are far from
imminent. China's recent contacts with both countries have been
understated and tentative; political obstacles remain.
But in recent weeks, China has shown a willingness to put a
political veneer on its relationship with Israel and make initial
contacts with South Africa.
The encounters betray an increasingly pragmatic foreign policy,
diplomats say. China for many years has censured South Africa and
Israel, despite its usual reluctance to criticize the internal
affairs of another country.
In the past, Beijing's criticism of the two countries has
focused on their domestic policies, largely to win points with
close friends in Africa and the Middle East, diplomats say.
But in order to avoid isolation itself, China has shifted away
from its stand against the governments behind apartheid and the
denial of Palestinian autonomy, diplomats say.
The 1989 massacre of pro-democracy activists in Beijing "has
intensified the pragmatism in China's foreign policy," a Western
Before the massacre Beijing "was able to sit back and let
foreign diplomats come to them, but now they must go out and seek
Chinese diplomats met with their Israeli counterparts in Beijing
earlier this month and discussed many topics, including the
situation in the Middle East, a Foreign Ministry official says.
Also, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen indicated to members of the
World Jewish Congress in an Oct. 11 meeting in Beijing that China
wants to renounce a 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism
with racism, the congress says.
"It was made abundantly plain to us that China today regards the
wording of that resolution as a gross distortion of the truth and a
slanderous slur on the Jewish people," Congress co-chairman Isi
Leibler recounted in New York.
Mr. Qian indicated that the gradual rapprochement between
Beijing and Tel Aviv could be completed when the Palestinian issue
was resolved, the congress says. …