Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Warnings on hegemonism

Deng’s visit: new era of friendship

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 6, February 12, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping (Teng Hsiao-ping) finished his state visit to the U.S. on Feb. 5, having ushered in a new era in U.S.-Chinese relations.

Calling his visit “a complete success,” Deng added, “This is not the end, but the beginning. He predicted that the close friendship forged between the American and Chinese peoples as a result of normalized diplomatic relations would continue.

Deng spent the first three days of his visit in talks with President Carter and other government leaders in Washington. He then embarked on a five-day sweep through Atlanta, Houston, and Seattle which enabled him to meet American people from all walks of life and get a first-hand look at American society, especially its technological and scientific achievements.

The Chinese leader visited a Ford plant in Atlanta, a Hughes Tool plant in Houston and the Boeing plant in Seattle, all of which are of special interest to China’s vast modernization drive now underway. Deng also had a chance to take in a Texas barbeque and rodeo and participate in other events serving to build people-to-people friendship. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was so moved by the new spirit of U.S.-China friendship that it proclaimed in a banner headline, “We Have One Billion New Friends.”

Aside from consolidating the newly-developed diplomatic ties between the two countries, Deng’s visit also resulted in a number of government-to-government agreements. Five agreements were reached, including one to open Chinese consulates in San Francisco and Houston and American consulates in Shanghai and Canton and another on the sale of a U.S. communications satellite to China. Several accords were signed concerning the exchanges of scholars, journalists and cultural groups.

Perhaps the most significant document to emerge from the visit was a joint press communique in which Carter and Deng stated that they are “opposed to any efforts by any country or group of countries to establish hegemony or domination over others.”


The statement, a clear reference to the Soviet Union which is the most aggressive hegemony-seeker in the world today, was issued even though White House officials had initially said that no joint statement would be made to avoid offending the Soviet Union. The fact that the statement was issued and included a clearcut reference to opposing hegemony was an indication of the impact that Vice-Premier Deng’s trip had on the strategic debate within the U.S. ruling class over how to deal with the USSR.

Throughout his trip, Deng seized many occasions to warn influential American politicians and businessmen of the dangers inherent in the Soviet military build-up. Calling the USSR “the main hotbed of war,” Deng said that it was necessary for the U.S., Japan, China and other countries to cooperate in efforts to check Soviet expansionism.

The Chinese leader made it clear in an interview with U.S. television anchormen that he was not calling for a specific alliance to be set up at this time. But cooperation, consultation, and common efforts of all types are necessary, he said, to restrain the USSR and prevent the outbreak of world war.


What is the meaning of Deng’s comments about this type of U.S.-Chinese cooperation? Is a “reactionary alliance” being established between China and U.S. imperialism as the frenzied Soviet propaganda machine charged last week?

Far from it. What is happening is that China is making use of the contradictions between the two superpowers in order to advance the world struggle against imperialism. Recognizing that the USSR is by far the most aggressive of all imperialist powers and the biggest threat to world peace, China is seeking to enter into tactical cooperation with all those forces opposed to Soviet hegemony, even including the U.S. imperialists.

Up until now, the Carter administration has pursued a course towards the Soviet Union mainly characterized by appeasement of Soviet aggression. China recognizes that such appeasement will only allow the USSR to launch a war for domination of the whole world all the sooner and is trying to contribute more actively towards checking the Soviet drive. If war is delayed, the forces of revolution internationally will have that much more time to prepare and to turn the war situation to their advantage.

Some of the top U.S. spokesmen who, out of concern for preserving their own imperialist interests are worried about the Soviet threat, welcomed Vice-Premier Deng’s comments about the USSR. Washington’s Senator Henry Jackson, for example, made no secret of the fact that he supported Deng’s warnings on the Soviet Union.

But others, including top Carter administration officials, feared that Deng’s statements would offend the USSR. Syndicated columnists Evans and Novack observed that Deng’s message to U.S. leaders was “Sign all the agreements with Moscow you want, but be resolute in facing Soviet hegemonism; that means you must act, not just talk.” The columnists then commented: “That is dissonant language for the ears of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his principal adviser on Soviet affairs, Dr. Marshall Shulman, because it undercuts their global strategy: do not offend Moscow. That strategy is precisely why Deng fells a lecture for Americans on the menace of the ’polar bear’ is essential.”


Carter did his best to keep Moscow from taking offense at Deng’s visit. He pointedly noted that that U.S. didn’t endorse all Deng’s statements on international affairs, and according to Time Magazine, he even urged Deng to “look at things from the Soviet perspective.”

But despite these reassurances, Moscow was not happy at all about the visit. The Kremlin leaders saw clearly that Deng’s arguments about the Soviet danger—because of their truth— were persuasive with many American leaders and broad sections of the American people. Pravda blasted Carter for giving the Chinese leader a “wide podium for slander on the USSR.”

But for the working class in the U.S. and for the world’s people, Deng’s visit was a great victory and a great step forward. It heralded a new era for friendly relations between the American and Chinese people, and it offered important new prospects for pushing forward the fight against superpower hegemonism on a world scale.

Although Deng’s visit was carried out at the state-to-state level and necessitated the use of traditional diplomatic protocol, the Chinese delegation also showed interest in the American people’s struggle in the fight against exploitation and discrimination.

Deng’s wife Zhou Lin offered her support to the struggles of the American women, saying at a State Dept. luncheon, “Your striving for liberation has always been admired by women in China.” Deng himself took time out of his Atlanta tour to lay a wreath at the gravesite of Martin Luther King, underscoring the long-standing support China has given to the struggles of the Afro-American people in the U.S. And at many points in his travels, Deng sought out rank-and-file workers to hear from them first-hand about the conditions of life and work inside U.S. capitalist society.

Summing up, it could be said that while China and the U.S. have different social systems and are guided by different ideologies, the trip brought out points of common interest that presently exist between the two countries.

There are also important problems that still threaten the new relationship. The U.S. is still violating the recent agreement on normalization by selling huge amounts of weapons to Taiwan, even though it no longer recognizes the reactionary government there. Despite pressure from Carter, Deng refused to promise that no force would be used to reunify the country.

But overall, despite the problems posed by the U.S. side, the prospects for friendlier U.S.China cooperation in the coming period have been greatly enhanced by Deng’s visit.