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Force may be needed to contain China: Australia

Canberra, December 6, 2010

Australian Foreign Minister  Kevin Rudd defended his country's  relations with China as  'robust' after a WikiLeaks report said he advised the US it may need to use force to contain China.

The WikiLeaks website last week started releasing US State Department cables exposing the inner workings of  American diplomacy. One of the cables refers to Rudd's March  2009 meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,  when Rudd was Australia's prime minister.

Rudd refused to confirm the cable contents, but said Canberra's relations with Beijing were open, and reflected his  view that there would be difficulties as China became more  integrated with the world.

'The business of diplomacy is not to roll over and have your tummy tickled from time to time, by China or anybody  else,' he told reporters in Canberra. 'This is part and parcel  of relations between states.'     

According to the leaked cable, Clinton sought private advice on dealing with China, whereupon Rudd advocated  'integrating China effectively into the international  community ... while also preparing to deploy force if  everything goes wrong.'         

In the cable written four days after their meeting, Rudd,  a Sinophile Australian who speaks fluent Mandarin, described  himself as a 'brutal realist' on China and revealed a more hawkish view on how to handle Beijing's ascendancy than  Australia's public foreign policy towards its biggest trade  partner.

'How do you deal toughly with your banker,' Clinton was quoted by the cable writer as asking, telling Rudd that China's growing economic power was causing 'deep anxiety' in  Washington.

Rudd went on to tell Clinton that Beijing's stance on  separatist Taiwan island was both 'sub-rational' and 'paranoid'.     
He also described his proposal for an Asia-Pacific community along the lines of the European Union as largely  aimed at limiting the growth of Chinese influence and keeping  the United States engaged in the region, the US cable said.

Australia's plan to build up its naval power with a new  fleet of 12 submarines over the coming decades was largely a  response to China's growing military power and reach, he said.

Currency and trade disputes are straining ties between Washington and Beijing. China could overtake the United States  as the world's major economy within a decade if current growth of around 10 percent continues. At the moment the $15 trillion US economy outstrips China's $5 trillion worth.

China is also critical to Australia's economy and its voracious resource demand has helped drive the Australian  dollar to US dollar parity, with two-way business worth some  $82 billion in 2008-09, and China buying more than $25 billion  worth of Australian iron ore and coal.

Rudd said the US should beef up security of information. 'There are deep lessons in providing proper protection for  such a large volume of diplomatic documents,' Rudd said.     

'Rule number one for our friends in the United States is,  how do you tighten things up a bit? I think that's a fair old  question. Maybe two million or so people having access to this  stuff is a bit of a problem,' Rudd said.

Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland said his  government, including police, was taking advice on whether  WikiLeaks and its Australian founder Julian Assange had broken  any laws by publishing the cables.

'I think the focus will ultimately be a United states law  enforcement action, and if that is the case the Australian  government will provide assistance there,' he said. - Reuters




Tags: China | Australia | Rudd | Wikileaks |

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