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PM urges calm on troubled China relations -

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ELEANOR HALL: Just a day after trumpeting the Gorgon gas deal the Australian Government is now on
the defensive over its relationship with Beijing.

Australia's Foreign Minister is urging restraint but admits that China is unhappy and that
Australia's Ambassador to China has returned to Canberra for talks.

The Opposition says Australia's relationship with China is near crisis point and the Shadow Foreign
Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is now questioning whether the government should have granted a visa
to the Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer saying it has soured an already troubled relationship.

Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: It's a less than easy relationship at the moment. Ministerial meetings have been
cancelled, a major contract signed behind closed doors, even the state-run media saying Australia
only has itself to blame for the souring of relations.

Australia's ambassador to China is now back in Canberra for talks with the Government.

On Radio National the Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has denied the ambassador has been
rushed home for crisis talks.

STEPHEN SMITH: He comes back on a regular basis. He speaks to officials.

FRAN KELLY: The reporters in Beijing said events were cancelled at late notice.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well there may well have been events cancelled in Beijing because Ambassador Raby
came back to here but the long term nature of our relationship with China is much more important
than whether a media briefing was held or not held.

Let's not get all very excitable about what's occurring.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Prime Minister who may also speak with the ambassador was playing the matter
down too.

KEVIN RUDD: Our ambassadors are quite regularly returning from abroad for leave and consultations
but obviously it is a good time to take stock of the relationship and how we move forward. And
assuming it all works out time wise then I would hope to spend some time with him as well.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Both men believe the only way to repair relations is through calm perseverance.

STEPHEN SMITH: Our approach is we take a long term positive view of the relationship. These things
need to be managed in a careful, cautious, sensible way. We are always best off avoiding getting
excitable or excited.

KEVIN RUDD: And therefore it's important for us to have a calm, measured, proper framework for
handling and balancing all of the above. There could well be further bumps in the road ahead. Our
challenge in managing these relationships is simply to negotiate those bumps in the road as they
occur.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But the shadow foreign affairs spokesman Julie Bishop is ramping up the rhetoric
saying that the relationship is near crisis and she says Mr Smith should admit the ambassador has
been recalled.

JULIE BISHOP: Stephen Smith should not try and hoodwink the Australian people into believing that
it is anything other than a recall to discuss the deteriorating relationship.

LYNDAL CURTIS: While the Opposition Leader earlier this year accused Kevin Rudd of acting as a
roving ambassador for China by seeking an increased role for the Asian giant in the International
Monetary Fund and saying Australia shouldn't just fall into line with China, Ms Bishop now says Mr
Rudd has antagonised China throughout his prime ministership including on the handling of the Stern
Hu matter.

JULIE BISHOP: What he chose to do was lecture China through the media and this is the consequence.
What would have been a far more productive course would have been for the Prime Minister to make
personal direct contact with high levels within the Chinese Government - behind the scenes, not
publicise it, not grandstand. But he chose to grandstand.

LYNDAL CURTIS: You also say Australia bungled the granting of a visa to Rebiya Kadeer. Should the
visa have not been issued in your view?

JULIE BISHOP: My point is that the visa issue is the culmination of a series of bungles on the part
of the Rudd Government.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But in what way was it bungled?

JULIE BISHOP: Because the Government had already made so many mixed messages to China that by
granting a visa in these circumstances when the Prime Minister had not even discussed personally
with the Chinese leadership our concerns about Stern Hu, our concerns about defence matters, there
was the incident where the Prime Minister tried not to sit next to the Chinese ambassador to
Britain; a whole series of incidents.

And then without having personal and direct discussions, we then grant a visa to Rebiya Kadeer. We
should never have allowed the relationship to deteriorate so that that became an issue. But the
Government...

LYNDAL CURTIS: So under those circumstances should the visa have not been granted?

JULIE BISHOP: That's not the point. The fact is the Government through a series of mismanaged
bungles has got the relationship to such a point where we can't even have a productive discussion
about contentious matters.

LYNDAL CURTIS: In between Mr Rudd's first visit to China where you say he lectured the Chinese in
Chinese and the Stern Hu and Rebiya Kadeer matters, Mr Rudd also sought to get China greater
involvement in the IMF. At the time he was doing that at the G20 meeting, the Opposition was
accusing him of being too close to China.

JULIE BISHOP: It's the mixed message he sends. Now those confusing mixed messages can be quite
offensive to other countries .And my contacts in China tell me that that is one of their major
concerns - that the Prime Minister is grandstanding on one hand about his relationship with China,
his special expertise in China and yet on the other hand he is treating the relationship with
contempt.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop ending that report
from Lyndal Curtis in Canberra.