In spite of the obvious failure of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, China is clinging to it tenaciously.

As 2,700 delegates gathered this week in the Great Hall of the People for the annual meeting of China's legislature, a largely ceremonial body, Premier Li Peng warned of continuing threats from "foreign hostile forces" opposed to communism and said Beijing would resist Western notions of democracy and human rights.Interestingly enough, former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, who sympathized with the June 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that posed the greatest threat to Communist rule in the 40 years of the People's Republic, was conspicuously absent, even though he remains a congress deputy.

That anti-communist movement was crushed when tanks and troops opened fire on protesters, killing hundreds and wounding thousands.

Now China continues with its hard-line communist dictatorship, curiously out of sync with world developments. The premier reflected a continuing isolation, as he called on the Chinese to resist all efforts to negate communism and "vend capitalism under the signboard of democracy, freedom, human rights and pluralism."

In an obvious slap at the United States, which maintains economic and political sanctions toward China, Li criticized countries which interfere in Chinese internal affairs "under the pretext of their so-called human rights issues."

In spite of a failing economy that has been operating under an austerity program since 1988, the premier offered no startling new proposals.

He admitted that state enterprises still operate inefficiently, but called for a greater emphasis on overhauling them rather than any radical change.

It is unfortunate for such a large and imposing nation to be so slow in realizing the necessity for political and economic change. The Chinese people will be the ones who will ultimately suffer by this unrealistic refusal to throw off the burdensome yoke of communist oppression.

Communism is not working in China any more than it has worked in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

China will see the light one day. It is unfortunate that it cannot be sooner rather than later.