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China's Xi wants to be party saviour: Former Australian PM

Published on Mar 19, 2014 1:53 AM
Former prime minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, who was in town on March 18 to give a public lecture on China's future under Xi Jinping's leadership, at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. -- PHOTO: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Chinese President Xi Jinping is a party idealist who sees himself as the saviour of the Chinese communist party, said former Australian prime minister and noted sinophile Kevin Rudd on Tuesday.

The Australian politician in turn sees the Chinese President as a born leader, given his personality and upbringing as the son of former vice-premier Xi Zhongxun who spearheaded China's open-door policy, is deeply familiar with the history of his country and the party, and very comfortable with exercising the power in his hands.

"He, like many Chinese leaders, is a nationalist, he wants the best for his country, wants his country to return to the position of global prevalence," added Mr Rudd, 57. "But underneath that, he wants to be the saviour of the Chinese communist party. Xi Jinping is a party idealist, in my view, and that explains a large part of the current anti-corruption campaign which he believes is necessary to save the party."

The two men first met and held talks in Canberra in 2010, when Mr Xi was China's vice-president and Mr Rudd was Australia's prime minister. They also discussed bilateral relations over the phone after Mr Xi became president last year, and Mr Rudd's Weibo post about the 30-minute call in putonghua (Mandarin) went viral.

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