Australia’s role on the international battlefield looks to evolve with the reinstatement of former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, after a tumultuous month in politics. Featuring the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at centre stage, issues of the leadership spill resulted in a ballot being cast last month with Rudd defeating Julia Gillard 57 votes to 45 in a bid to determine the leader of the ruling ALP.
Ruddy, as he is affectionately called by Chinese bloggers, is one of few Western leaders who can converse in fluent Mandarin, a fact reflective of Rudd’s consciousness of China as a major economic superpower.
It stands to be seen how exactly China-Australia relations will evolve in the future, but in Rudd’s case, and even that of former Prime Minister Gillard’s, there was and will be potential for advancement and growth. Rudd’s reinstatement as Prime Minister into a government with strengthened economic ties is due in large part to Gillard’s previous efforts in developing rapport with China. Such foundations in the face of Australia’s political alliance with the United States has been both fortuitous and advantageous, and Rudd’s second chance as leader presents an opportunity to cultivate both relationships without upsetting one party.
According to Xin Hua News, Rudd has quite a populace backing from Chinese audiences; he boasts a sizeable fan base on Sina Weibo, one of China’s more popular microblogging services (amalgamating the functions of both Twitter and Facebook), where his followers has exceeded 400, 000, and his family updates liked and reposted multitudinously across the Internet.
It is worth noting that despite differences in political systems, Chinese commentators express hope that Australia’s affiliation with both the United States and China serve not as adversarial fodder, but of mutual benefit and cooperation. One that can encourage stronger dialogue between Beijing and Washington and cease the perpetuation of China-US rivalry.
If China-Australia relations mature, Australia stands to gain a highly productive partnership not limited to the Asia-Pacific.