Kevin Rudd has arrived (9 April 2008) in China on his first State visit and has wasted little time in telling students that he will be raising with government leaders the human rights issues concerning Tibet.
Rudd has been getting much kudos for giving his address in Mandarin and television networks have emphasized that the new Australian Prime Minister is the only western leader who is fluent in Mandarin and that this might give him a better hearing.
But what is Kevin Rudd saying and will he get it right?
When Rudd hears people say that he is fluent in Mandarin, he is quick to say that he is far from expert.
As a young diplomat in Beijing in the 1980s he was asked to translate a speech by Australian ambassador Ross Garnaut for guests at a banquet.
All went well until he got to the bit about relations between China and Australia being very close, which drew a reaction ranging from hysterical laughter to shocked disbelief.
Mr. Rudd discovered later that he had assured the gathering that the two countries enjoyed spectacular orgasms.
It was a lesson, he says, in not trying to do too much too fast.
Let’s hope on this visit the Aussie PM does not get lost in translation.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Kevin Rudd in happy mood.