The Age: In an address to the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Sydney titled China under Xi Jinping: A New Strategic Roadmap for China-US relations) on October 6, former PM, FM but still MP Kevin Rudd (twitter account here) endorses a new, realist, phase of Sino-US relations with Xi Jinping and Obama (alluding to an Obama victory come November) at the helm.
‘‘What happens in Sino-US relations during President Obama’s second presidential term … and Xi Jinping’s first presidential term will very much determine the future peace, stability and prosperity of the Asian hemisphere through until mid-century…” Kevin Rudd
He also couches Australia’s foreign policy posturing as a kind of creative middle-power diplomacy to stay on top of its great and powerful friends dilemma.
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China’s new leader right man for times: Rudd
by John Garnaut
Source – The Age, published October 6, 2012
CHINA’S incoming leader, Xi Jinping, is ”the man for the times” who will transform the Chinese economy and reach a new security accommodation with US President Barack Obama, says former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr Rudd, departing from the normal diplomatic discretion of politicians, speculated that Mr Xi had the ”vast experience” and ”inquiring mind” to tackle the economic and global security challenges that would shape the world order for decades to come, after he takes charge of the Communist Party next month.
He also presented a wish list of Chinese internal changes, top-level intensive bilateral exchanges with the US, downsized Chinese foreign policy goals and even a bilateral five-year strategic road map that would reduce the likelihood of catastrophic conflict.
”What happens in Sino-US relations during President Obama’s second presidential term … and Xi Jinping’s first presidential term will very much determine the future peace, stability and prosperity of the Asian hemisphere through until mid-century,” said Mr Rudd, assuming an Obama victory in the November 6 presidential election, nine days before Mr Xi’s expected ascension to the leadership.
”My own instinct is that the new leadership will use its first term to both entrench and deepen China’s domestic economic reform agenda,” said Mr Rudd, addressing the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Sydney. ”This is a gargantuan task in itself. Any formal steps towards more political reform are more likely to be deferred to Xi Jinping’s second term.”
Mr Rudd’s optimism comes as faltering Chinese manufacturing and industrial output are puncturing the commodities boom that has been underwriting the Australian economy.
And his views about Mr Xi’s administration contrast with growing domestic and international pessimism about the capacity of Chinese leaders to confront vested interests and resume market-based reforms.
Mr Rudd was derided by his own bureaucracy for his management of the China relationship, which reached its lowest point in two decades on his watch. He was known to be disappointed with President Hu Jintao’s unwillingness to engage. But he has been keen to share his views on China with foreign dignitaries, and he has often been taken seriously.
”The best read on Xi Jinping that I have had is from Kevin Rudd,” then US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, said in 2010.
Mr Rudd’s optimistic take on Mr Xi, and his hawkish views on China’s military development, have influenced British Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to British diplomats.
His expectations for Mr Xi derive from his own observations of Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in the late 1970s, which was a subject of his honours thesis, and also the time he spent with Mr Xi in Australia just days before he was ousted as prime minister in 2010.