Li in bid to boost East Europe ties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 1994, 12:00am

BEIJING has laid down four basic principles for maintaining ties with Eastern Europe in a move seen by diplomats as an important strategy for boosting China's influence in the former Eastern bloc.

The four principles were announced by premier Li Peng on the last day of his visit to Romania.

The quasi-official China News Service (CNS) said last night this was the first time that a Chinese leader had laid out a ''comprehensive policy'' towards Eastern Europe since major changes in the Eastern bloc in the late 1980s.

The main points of the principles are: Respect for the choice of the people in these countries and non-interference in their internal affairs; Developing traditional friendship and pursuing peaceful co-existence; Promoting mutually-beneficial co-operation and seeking common development and prosperity; and Supporting peaceful settlement of conflicts and promoting regional stability.

Western diplomats in Beijing said that on the surface these principles were similar to the famous Five Principles on Peaceful Coexistence, which have underpinned Chinese foreign policy since the 1950s.

However, they said Mr Li's Four Principles represented the politburo's new thinking on global strategy.

The diplomats said Beijing was much more confident about its ability to cement ties with Eastern Europe because a few countries in the region, including Romania, had re-embraced elements of the former communist administrations.

They said China was anxious to upgrade ties with the former Eastern bloc because this could be used as a ''card'' against the industrialised West, particularly the United States.

During his discussions with Romanian President Ion Iliescu - Mr Li's Moscow classmate in the 1950s - Mr Li hinted at their joint determination to fight American ''hegemonism''.

A dispatch by the official Xinhua (New China News Agency) said yesterday that ''both sides agree that the world cannot allow a minority of countries to issue orders''.

In a separate dispatch, CNS said that during Mr Li's European tour he had unveiled a new era of Chinese diplomacy characterised by the principle that ''economics is the most important politics''.

''Using all efforts to develop the economy is currently China's core task and China's 'most important politics','' CNS said.

''Economic factors play an outstanding, and sometimes decisive role in the international community,'' the agency said.

It cited the recent decision by Washington to renew China's Most Favoured Nation status.