Former Australian prime minister and foreign minister Kevin Rudd on US, Australia and China (Chicago Council on Global Affairs)

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Chicago, 19 July 2012

Australia’s former prime minister and foreign minister Kevin Rudd addressing the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 19 July 2012 (photo: Illuminant)

CHICAGO, 19 July 2012. Today, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted a breakfast featuring former Australian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, MP.

Mr. Rudd has an extensive experience, history and background in China, and remains the only fluent Chinese-speaking national leader outside of ethnic Chinese nations.

It was good to see a friendly face and old supporter of Illuminant here in Chicago. We have not seen Mr. Rudd since April 2008, when as Australian prime minister, he graciously agreed to support Illuminant and help launch our client SmartTran’s Olympic transportation technology in Beijing.  We’re still very proud that Mr. Rudd’s appearance for Illuminant was the sole commercial endorsement he made during his first visit to China as the Australian leader. (YouTube CCTV report on Mr. Rudd’s appearance)

At this morning’s event in Chicago (which we’re grateful for the opportunity to attend), Mr. Rudd spoke initially on the on the US – Australian relationship. The minister declared the bilateral relationship as  ”strong”, with a shared interest in free trade, and over US$38 billion in trading and almost US$2 trillion in mutual investment. Mr. Rudd highlighted a the foundations of the healthy trade relationship as similar guiding principles and each with a vibrant democracy. Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy and the 4th largest in Asia,  and is proudly independent.

Mr. Rudd also shared his insight on China in which he pointed to a shift from a western-dominated global economy to that of an Asian-centric world. He emphasized the importance to manage a peaceful rise of China over the coming years, saying “it will require sustained intellectual effort, unprecedented diplomacy and great statesmanship from us all.” China’s growth over the near term will, for the first time since George III, said Mr. Rudd, present a non-western, non-democratic state as the world’s largest economy.

China’s leadership has many challenges and their “in-box remains full”, according to Mr. Rudd. We agree with the minister that China’s rise as a people, a nation and a friend will provide challenges for the west if we fail to understand, interpret and view the world through their eyes.

Illuminant’s presence and start in China in 2003 has served us well, but the China Road rarely presents an easy journey. As an award-winning China-specialist agency, we help our clients in the public and private sectors to provide the insight to achieve their objectives and to succeed in China.

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