Australia’s Mandarin speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made a point of strengthening his country’s ties with China, but that has the Middle Kingdom’s neighbors worried, from the Christian Science Monitor:
… as economic and political ties between Canberra and Beijing strengthen on the back of the mining boom, alarm bells are ringing across other parts of Asia. India and Japan, in particular, feel that the Australians are paying far too much attention to China. Japan is acutely aware that last year it was eclipsed by China as Australia’s top trading partner. And while Australia had strong trading ties with China under former Prime Minister John Howard, ties have ratcheted up under Kevin Rudd, the only Western leader who speaks fluent Mandarin.
An Australian announcement earlier this month that it was unilaterally abolishing a quadrilateral security dialogue with the United States, India, and Japan, went down badly in New Delhi and Tokyo.
“As far as the rest of Asia is concerned, Australia has taken a very strong pro-China tilt under this new government,” says Richard Martin, managing director of IMA Asia, which analyzes international market trends. “The view in India and Japan and [South] Korea is that the Rudd government has been captured by the Chinese. They perceive us as having taken a giant step toward China.”