Wandering China

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China mission to repair political ties [The Age]

China mission to repair political ties
Source – The Age, published June 21, 2010

CHINA is closely watching the resource tax stoush in Australia, sensitive to any threat to the supply of minerals that underpin China’s economic boom.

Vice-President Xi Jinping will meet Prime Minister Rudd in Canberra today amid threats from the mining industry that major projects are at risk if the government’s new tax goes ahead.

The visit by Mr Xi is part of a wider repair job for Australia-China ties after a series of tense months in the relationship.

Mr Xi was doubtless bemused by reports of Kevin Rudd’s fascination with mating rodents – this is the Year of the Tiger, after all.

Yet despite Mr Rudd’s reported annoyance with China’s hardline stance during climate change talks in Copenhagen last year and the fallout over the trial of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, officials insist the relationship is on track.

Mr Xi’s six-day visit to Australia is a clear sign by Beijing’s political elite that nothing should impede the rich supply of Australian resources to the Asian powerhouse.

The visit is seen as a chance for Australia to get to know Mr Xi, with the 57-year-old widely thought to be the most likely candidate to replace President Hu Jintao in the country’s opaque political system.

Stopping in Melbourne at the weekend, Mr Xi joined Premier John Brumby to take in an AFL match on Saturday night before touring Telstra headquarters in the CBD yesterday.

He later opened an institute for Chinese medicine at RMIT before flying to Canberra.

ANU Asian security expert Brendan Taylor said yesterday that early Chinese hopes that Mr Rudd would treat China more favourably quickly evaporated after recent tensions, which included a visit to Australia by exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer and critical comments about China’s military intentions in the region in Australia’s official defence plan.

”[Mr Rudd] tended to be misread because he’d worked as a diplomat in China and speaks Mandarin,” Dr Taylor said.

”I think the tension has been a result of Rudd taking a much tougher line than many expected him to take and certainly the Chinese expected him to take.”

Dr Taylor said there was a certain ”fragility” in political ties between the two countries – even though economic links were growing stronger.

Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Economics, Influence, International Relations, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Soft Power, The Age, Trade

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