Professor David Kinley comments on Prime Minister Rudd and his approach to human rights and China

12 August 2008

In a recent interview with ABC Radio Australia, Professor David Kinley speculated on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's visit to the Beijing Olympics and the prospect of him raising the issue of human rights with China.

"Well I think there are various ways to skin a cat and I think that you can advance a cause by raising things privately and publicly and there are times and places to do these," Professor Kinley said.

"I think it's consistent with what the Prime Minister has said before that he raises these issues regularly, privately and publicly and this is an event (the Beijing Olympics) and an occasion which he believes he could raise things privately to some profit, and I would tend to agree with him on that."

Professor Kinley believed his position as a 'Mandarin speaking Sinophile' certainly assists him in this context.

"I think that there's no doubt that that opens doors and smooths some feathers.

"I think he's seen as a neighbour, as in the region well he's obviously from the west speaking with a western perspective, and the fact that he's bringing it in the local language cannot but help, and I think that the way in which he's approached this with the Chinese before and the way in which he's going to do so this time is appropriate.

"The fact that he is keeping to message, that he's going to raise these human rights issues and continue to do so, I think can only be seen as a good thing."

Professor Kinley suggested that the Prime Minister's overall approach is an appropriate one towards a nation such as China, regardless of the timing of the visit.

"This is a sovereign nation and a powerful one, and it is indeed involved in human rights abuses but there are various and many ways in which you approach that, and being bold at times is good, being more Machiavellian, more private is good at other times."

Contact: Greg Sherington

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