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19-08-09, 01:09

PM's stand on Beijing pleases ObamaFont Size:
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Print Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor | August 19, 2009
Article from: The Australian
THE Rudd government may be in bad odour in Beijing, but its steady management of the quite serious crisis in Canberra-Beijing relations has won discreet but high praise from the Obama administration in Washington.

The revelation that Beijing took the highly unusual step of cancelling a visit to Australia by its Vice Foreign Minister, He Yafei, in protest at Canberra allowing Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer to visit, does not reflect poorly on the Rudd government. It does not indicate mismanagement, or a need for a more comprehensive China policy.

In the view of the Obama administration, Kevin Rudd is the Western leader who best knows China. His troubles with Beijing, which have been closely followed in Washington, are typical of the troubles numerous nations are facing with China.

Beijing put immense but unsuccessful pressure on Japan to deny Kadeer a visa. The private character of Beijing's recent dialogue with the US in Washington was difficult and at times rancorous.

The Obama administration is impressed with the discipline and resolve of the Rudd government. The Prime Minister has established a well-earned reputation for maintaining balance in his approach to Beijing.

This balance has several elements. One is not to give way on matters of core values, such as the Kadeer visa, or key national interests, such as the proposed Chinalco bid for a large chunk of Rio Tinto. Another is to continue to broadcast messages supportive of your key national interests, which in Australia's relationship with China are overwhelmingly positive. And finally, don't panic.

Beijing at the moment is characterised by extreme self-confidence merging into arrogance internationally, and a strange brittleness at home. In such a circumstance there will inevitably be rough patches, as well as smooth, in the relationship, and the key task for Canberra is to keep on an even keel.

Much of the academic international relations class in Australia has convinced itself that Rudd has made a dreadful blunder on China which has led to these problems, or that Rudd lacks a clear and integrated China policy, which would resolve these problems.

The opposition is ineffective against Rudd on China because it argues contradictory propositions: that Rudd is the Manchurian candidate, but that he has been insensitive and offended Beijing. He can't have done both. In fact, Rudd has done neither.

Your Comments:41 Comment(s)
Thinker 1:49pm today Regarding iron ore, it is simply an economical issue. China imports much more iron ore than Japan or Korea. As the biggest buyer, China is surely seeking their share of influence on setting the price. No doubt, RIO and BHP will feel more pressure from China on iron ore prices. For the visa issue of Kadeer, it seems few people here realize that Australia is slapping the face of China and Chinese people, because Kadeer is regarded as the leader of a terrorist group responsible for hundreds of death and injuries in July. How would you react if a country invites JI leaders for a speech?