Asia-Pacific

Australian PM Kevin Rudd 'sought tough China policy'

Image caption Mr Rudd described himself as a "brutal realist" on China

Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd said the West should be prepared to use force against China if it acted irresponsibly, a cable leaked by Wikileaks alleges.

In talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, Mr Rudd also said Chinese leaders were "paranoid" about Taiwan and Tibet.

Mr Rudd, now foreign minister, refused to confirm details of the leaked cable.

However, he has defended Australia's relations with China as "robust".

"It's a robust relationship and diplomacy's a robust business - sometimes there are agreements and sometimes there are disagreements. That's life and that's normal," he said on Monday following the revelations.

"The business of diplomacy is not just to roll over and have your tummy tickled from time to time by the Chinese or anybody else; the business of diplomacy is to be firm about your national interest."

'Quiet conversation'

In a March 2009 cable published in The Guardian newspaper, Mr Rudd called for "multilateral engagement with bilateral vigour" to help China to integrate effectively into the international community and allow it to demonstrate greater responsibility.

But he said preparations should be made to use force "if everything goes wrong".

The former Australian prime minister also suggested that Mrs Clinton have a "quiet conversation" about a possible autonomy deal for Tibet with relevant Chinese officials after the "furore" over the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's exile had subsided.

Meanwhile the cable said Mrs Clinton "affirmed the US desire for a successful China, with a rising standard of living and improving democracy at a pace Chinese leaders could tolerate".

But she also noted the challenges posed by China's economic rise and its increasing hold on US finances, asking: "How do you deal toughly with your banker?"