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In wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rudd also described Chinese leaders as “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet, and said that his push for a new Asia-Pacific body was designed to contain Chinese influence.
The State Department cable detailing a March 2009 conversation over lunch between Rudd, who was then prime minister, and Clinton in Washington states that the Australian leader described himself a “brutal realist on China”.
It said Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat who was once posted to Beijing, argued for “multilateral engagement with bilateral vigour” in China.
He called for “integrating China effectively into the international community and allowing it to demonstrate greater responsibility, all while also preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong”, the cable states.
Rudd, now Australia’s foreign minister, has not commented on the cable.
But Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the leak would not affect growing ties with China, which has become Australia’s largest trading partner as it imports natural resources to feed its booming economy.
“We have a very strong relationship with China … and that arrangement will continue,” McClelland told journalists.
There was no immediate response from Beijing.
Australia has a robust relationship with China, Rudd said Monday, and would not contact Beijing over the cable.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has also released a secret list of key infrastructure sites around the world whose loss or attack by terrorists, according to the State Department, could “critically impact” US security.
The February 2009 cable from the State Department requested overseas US missions to list infrastructure and key resources around the globe “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security and/or national and homeland security of the United States”.
It lists undersea cables, key communications, ports, mineral resources and firms of strategic importance in countries ranging from Austria to New Zealand.
The diplomatic cable detailing Clinton and Rudd’s conversation reveals Clinton affirmed Washington’s desire for a successful China, with “a rising standard of living and improving democracy at a pace Chinese leaders could tolerate”.
It said Washington wanted China to take greater responsibility in global economics, build a better social safety net for its citizens, and a better regulatory framework for the goods it manufactures.
But Clinton also questioned the challenges arising from Beijing’s growing economic clout, asking: “How do you deal toughly with your banker?” China is the single biggest holder of US Treasury debt.
Rudd reviewed Chinese leaders for Clinton, saying President Hu Jintao “is no (predecessor) Jiang Zemin” and opining that Hu’s likely successor Xi Jinping could rise above his colleagues, thanks in part to his family’s military connections.
On Taiwan, Rudd said the feelings of Chinese leaders were “sub-rational and deeply emotional” while hardline policies on Tibet were designed to send messages to other ethnic minorities.
Rudd told Clinton he had urged China to agree to a “small ‘a’ autonomy” deal with the Dalai Lama on Tibet but that he saw little prospect of this idea succeeding.
Rudd also revealed that the thinking behind his ambitious “Asia-Pacific Community” was mostly to ensure Chinese dominance in the region did not result in “an Asia without the United States”.
Pakistan and Afghanistan were also discussed at the lunch, according to the memo, one of some 250,000 US cables being released by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Rudd said Australia would be prepared to offer special operations and counterinsurgency help to Pakistan should it be requested, noting that success in war-torn Afghanistan would unravel if Pakistan fell apart.
The Australian government has previously condemned the release of all the cables and said it would support any US law enforcement moves against WikiLeaks, founded by Australian-born hacker Julian Assange.
Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, whose support is critical to the government’s narrow majority in parliament, said it was likely Rudd was posturing.
Following the advice in the memo was an “inconceivable notion”, said Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst turned Iraq war whistleblower.
Copyright © AFP