Still another friendly, force-fed tour of China, by One Who Ought to Know Better. Last time out, Payne interviewed Mao in wartime Yenan; 30 years later, he's reporting on the omnipresent wall posters denouncing the Gang of Four. When he can break away from the round of school and factory visits and indoctrination sessions, he walks along a river or visits a temple--even a closed temple will do. Description of the sites is extended by paragraphs of historical and cultural lore. The one lengthy conversation recorded is with an anonymous elderly Mandarin, now prototypically poor, who vouches for the government's good intentions. (When Payne meets the Chinese woman who was once his wife, they discuss, briefly, the fate of the family dwelling.) The book's single drama is (sit tight) an acupuncture demonstration apropos of the removal of an ovarian cyst--""an enormous silvery pearl,"" so beautiful in the light that ""it was like the elevation of the host."" Unlike earlier observers, Payne is not so much taken in by what he sees as stupefied or, not inappropriately, stumped; and he contributes only the meagerest of thoughts--that there were ""two Mao Tse-tungs,"" the populist leader and the autocrat, that the new leadership will move ""toward a greater respect for the person."" If so, there's no evidence here.