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Making Up With China

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Television has made the world a smaller place in 1989. Tune in your television set these days and and you can witness history in the making around the world. Much of the time it is live, happening right in front of you. Most of us have been gripped this year by two extraordinary dramas we saw with our own eyes, now etched in memory. One was the moving attempt, spearheaded by students, to bring freedom to China - an attempt cut down by the brutal massacre of Tiananmen Square. The other was the successful attempt by millions in Eastern Europe to throw off the communist shackles by which they had so long been bound.

In the case of Eastern Europe, the United States has responded positively. As one country after another has moved away from communism, it has been embraced by Washington, encouraged, and helped. To Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who has acceded to all this change in the communist empire, the Bush administration has shown an increasingly friendly face.

In the case of China, after initial hesitation the Bush administration responded negatively to events in Tiananmen Square. Mr. Bush imposed sanctions. He gave sanctuary to Chinese students studying in the US. As a mark of disapproval of China's bloody repression, he cut off all high-level contact with the Chinese.

Until now.

A mere six months after the event, two top Bush aides have been in Beijing, clinking glasses with the Chinese leaders. One of them, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, said that he and his colleague, Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, ``came as friends ... to bring new impetus and vigor into our bilateral relationship and seek new areas of agreement.''

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