Rudd warns of ‘war by accident’ between China and US
9th March 2023

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd says China would not welcome Australia’s AUKUS alliance and has warned of an “accidental war” breaking out between US and China.

Rudd voiced his concerns about mounting tensions between the US and China and said the relationship was at risk of escalating.

Rudd, Australia’s incoming ambassador to Washington, said Australia – as an “ally” of the United States and a “strategic partner” of China – should work to help repair relations between the superpowers.

His comments come after Chinese President Xi Jinping criticised the US this week, stating: “Western countries, led by the US, are implementing all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us.”

Rudd described Xi’s comment as “unusual” and “blunt”.

“The overall state of the US-China relationship is in bad strategic repair,” Rudd told the ABC’s 7.30 on Thursday night.

Kevin Rudd voiced his concerns about US-China relations during an interview with the ABC’s 7.30.Credit:Bloomberg

“In fact, I’ve been struggling for the last 24 hours to find a time when a Chinese paramount leader has attacked the United States by name.

“[We need] to encourage both Beijing and Washington to move in the direction of a new strategic framework of managed strategic competition.”

Rudd also disagreed with former prime minister Paul Keating’s long-standing assessment that the US was trying to contain China.

Former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating differ in their assessments of China.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“I’ve got a lot of time for Paul – he and I are friends and colleagues and I respect so much of what he’s done for Australia,” Rudd said.

“But I think I would suggest that it’s important for us also to analyse how the strategic environment in Asia and the Indo-Pacific and, for that matter, globally is changing because of China’s own military rise.”

“Certainly, what drives I think Australian strategic thinking is how do we deter our friends in China from taking a premeditated, premeditated military action against Taiwan, which would then be a fundamental destabilisation of the strategic status quo.”

Keating has long argued that Australia should not be pulled into a conflict over the future of Taiwan.

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