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 the US President, Barack Obama, the former prime minister Kevin Rudd says.
Mr Rudd, departing from the normal diplomatic discretion of politicians, speculated that Vice-President Xi has the “vast experience” and “inquiring mind” to tackle the economic and global security challenges that will shape the world order for decades to come, after he takes charge of the Communist Party on about November 15.
His glowing preview of the incoming Xi administration extended to its capacity to manage bilateral tension, prevent war and even carve out a new rules-based order with the US.
“My own instinct is that the new leadership will use its first term to both entrench and deepen China’s domestic economic reform agenda,” Mr Rudd said, addressing the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Sydney.
“This is a gargantuan task in itself. And any formal steps towards more political reform are more likely to be deferred to Xi Jinping’s second term.”
His optimism comes as faltering Chinese manufacturing and industrial output is puncturing the commodities boom that has been underwriting the Australian economy.
His views about the incoming Xi 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 predicted the reform and possible privatisation of state-owned firms, reform of the financial services sector, support for private enterprise and the liberalisation of currency and capital markets.
Mr Rudd, who has greatly lifted his public profile in recent weeks, was decried 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 Mr Rudd has been keen to share his views on China with foreign dignitaries and often has been taken seriously.
“The best read on Xi Jinping that I have had is from Kevin Rudd,” the then US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, told reporters in November 2010.
Mr Rudd’s optimistic take on Mr Xi and his hawkish views on China’s military development have heavily influenced Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, according to its diplomats.
His towering expectations for Mr Xi derive from his observations of Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power, which was a subject of his honours thesis, and also the time he spent with Mr Xi in Australia only days before he was sacked as prime minister in 2010.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.