By DOUGLAS HYDE
AS Mr. Khrushchev left Peking airport last Sunday he said that Sino-Soviet friendship had been strengthened in a common struggle for common aims by the friendly talks he had had
with the Chinese leaders. The aim which both the Chinese and Russians have in common, is, of course, a Communist world.
There was nothing which emerged from the talks one way or the other to show whether the Chinese leaders entirely accept Mr. Khrushchev's proclaimed belief that the struggle between Communism and capitalism can now take peaceful forms.
For that matter it is too early to judge whether Khrushchev's admonition to the Chinese leaders that there must be no testing of the stability of the capitalist world by force was a propaganda move in his attempt to end the cold war or whether this represents a genuine revision of Marxist theory.
Political commentators have noted the somewhat restrained way in which the Chinese Communist press dealt with the Soviet leader's visit to their country. It is quite possible that the Chinese and Russian leaders were, and still are, somewhat out of step on this important point.
The Chinese leaders may well feel that it is relatively easy for the Russians, having already swallowed up the Baltic States and acquired half a dozen satellites in East Europe to now talk peace. China's revolution came 30 years after Russia's. There are still quite a number of small countries which China would like to absorb. in the way that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were " incorporated " into the U.S.S.R. And China can no doubt think of half a dozen countries who might be made her satellites.
In the circumstances it is not surprising if the Chinese leaders do not share Russian enthusiasm for calling a halt to the cold war at this moment.
It is rather like a boy who has filled himself with stolen apples stopping his younger brother from doing the same just as he sees some peculiarly attractive ones within his grasp and then, moreover, proceeding to preach him a sermon about the wickedness of theft.
Another subject which Mr. Khrushchev no doubt wished to discuss with the Chinese leaders was the role of the two countries in what they call the " semicolonial, semi-feudal countries ". There has been some ambiguity about the respective roles in these important parts of the world.
Whereas, five years ago China had clearly been given major responsibility for these areas, Russia, recognising their growing significance, is now increasingly active there. too.
This is true of India and particularly true of the Arab countries. In the United Arab Republic both the Communist giants are active although China last week lost much goodwill when the leader of the outlawed Syrian Communist Party was allowed to make a vigorous attack on the U.A.R. at the Tenth Anniversary Celebrations in Peking.
This may have some interesting repercussions because China has hitherto been very active in Cairo, operating through the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee which is established there.
In Iraq, China's influence upon and direction of the Communist Party has been greater than that of Russia for some time now.
The Chinese influence upon the Algerian rebels has for years been
Last Sunday's " Observer ", however, published a report from Cairo making precisely this point. There is a growing awareness that whilst the Russian influence upon Algerian rebels is negligible, that of China is strong.
It would be wrong to suppose that the difference in their approach to the question of the ending of the cold war and the elbowing for position in Asia and the Middle East reflect anything in the nature of hostility between the two great Communist countries. There are growing signs of rivalry and tough but reasonably friendly competition.
It remains to be seen whether these small irritants will grow into serious tensions. My own impression is that both sides realise that they stand to gain everything by remaining together and to lose almost everything by disunity.
Meanwhile the next move in the penetration of the " semi-colonial " areas definitely goes to Mr. Khrushchev who, it is reported, is making some relatively unimportant celebrations in Liberia the pretext of a visit to Africa next January. If this tour materialises it may very well have extremely significant repercussions just at a time when new States and federations, in both British and French West Africa, are acquiring independence. Above the altar in the Lady Chapel of Pangbourne's new church (in the care of the Douai Benedictines) stands one of the most interesting and most beautiful representations of Our Lady's appearance to St. Bernadette in the country.
It is the work of Teresa Fuller who a few years ago trained herself in pottery-Making, rapidly becoming proficient with her original shapes and glazes. But her life as a painter, especially in tempera, drew her to experiment with a compromise: painting tiles with glazes, where the beauty of her line produced striking results.
Then her ambition being to paint for the decoration of churches, the painted single-tile became nine or a dozen tiles painted to make full-sized pictures in the Sienese tradition. These plaques are perfect for placing outside a house.
Finally she got her opportunity to express her nett' craft in a large tiled picture, when asked to paint the Lourdes scene for the Pangbourne Lady Chapel. In this work 180 tiles had to be used, each one, of course, separately painted, glazed and reglazed, to form the whole scene. It was a big undertaking, demanding great patience and an inspired enthusiasm Black and white photography cannot bring out the lovely shades of grey and purple forming the background, the delicate little flowers and plants, the cool running water. St. Bernadette, her hands in prayer, is a strong, firm peasant figure. Our Lady, with the simplest lines, wonderfully gives the sense of apparition, yet human maidenhood. The effect it has on the little chapel is really quite remarkable.
It is to he hoped that Teresa Fuller's special gifts in this most suitable medium for church decoration will be in much request.