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Be ready to deploy force in China: Rudd told US

Source: PTI
December 06, 2010 11:02 IST
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Australia's former premier Kevin Rudd had told the United States that it should be ready to "deploy force" if attempts to integrate China do not yield results, secret cables released by WikiLeaks have disclosed, prompting an embarrassed Australia to insist that it continues to have strong ties with Beijing.

According to a secret cable written by a US diplomat, Rudd told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year that Australia and the US should work to integrate China into the international community but be prepared to "deploy force if everything goes wrong".

Rudd also said his vision for an Asia-Pacific community was primarily an attempt to contain Chinese influence.

As the revelations surfaced, the Australian government on Monday stressed at its relationship with China will remain strong despite them.

According to The Australian, Attorney General Robert McClelland on Monday dubbed the new disclosures by WikiLeaks as "grossly irresponsible".

The opposition coalition in Australia said it was troubled by the revelations, and called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to clarify whether she supported Rudd's comments.

While declining to comment on the specifics of the cable, the first released by WikiLeaks in which Australia features prominently, McClelland insisted Australia's strong relationship with China would continue. "We have a very strong relationship with the Chinese government and the people of China, a strong business relationship, strong diplomatic relationships, strong government-to-government relationships, and that arrangement will continue," he said.

"All I can do is reiterate that we have a strong relationship with China at a number of levels, including law enforcement operation, including again when they have had emergencies to provide assistance," he added.

The attorney general said the Australian federal police was investigating the release of the cable. "It is grossly irresponsible of an organisation to even contemplate publishing such information. Free speech is one thing, we all respect that, but we also respect the freedom and rights of people to live without fear," he said.

He said it was fair enough that media outlets had published embarrassing material, but added, "I would again just caution people to come back and really see what's going on."

McClelland said there is every prospect that national security sensitive information will be published that will actually prejudice the safety of individuals who have done nothing more and nothing less than provide information to assist law enforcement and security agencies whose task is to protect our communities.

He also hit back at suggestions made by Julian Assange's London-based lawyer that the WikiLeaks founder had not received Australian consular assistance over sex charges he faces in Sweden.

Assange is entitled to assistance from the Australian government, McClelland said, but given the countries involved that was unlikely to be necessary. "Assange as an Australian citizen is entitled to consular assistance overseas in respect to any criminal allegations he may face. He is entitled to procedural fairness in respect to those allegations," he said.

And while Assange was welcome to return to Australia, the attorney general warned, "Australia has obligations pursuant to agreements that we have signed which ensure we will provide mutual assistance to countries that are investigating criminal law enforcement matters."
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