Australian Labor Party former premiers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard (R) attend leader Bill Shorten's address during the Labor Campaign Launch in Brisbane on May 5, 2019. (PHOTO / AFP)
SAN FRANCISCO – The so-called decoupling of the United States and China is "imprecise" and "dangerous," said former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday in Silicon Valley. "This (decoupling) is a very recent addition to the language about the US-China relationship. And my own judgment is that it is a dangerous and imprecise addition to the language about the US-China relationship," said Rudd, at a discussion organized by the Asia Society Northern California in the city of Palo Alto.
So when we start using the loose language like a new cold war, loose language like decoupling, I would urge everyone to start being more precise about what actually we mean, because that is not the current reality.
"I've been in politics and diplomacy long enough to know that in foreign policy words are bullets," Rudd, now president of the non-profit Asia Society Policy Institute, told the audience including local business and technology community members.
"The danger (of decoupling) is if we start rolling out this language with gay abandon, and believe that somehow it's useful for the current debate. But in fact, it can contribute to constructing those realities over time," he explained.
"For example, if one side convinces the other in the China-US relationship that decoupling is unfolding, what happens? Contingency plans are prepared," he said.
As a consequence of that, people would start to create the reality of decoupling, which those who work hard with the China-US relationship over many decades have sought to avoid, he added.
Calling the last 40 years "a comprehensive period of engagement" between the United States and China, Rudd noted that "a remarkable set of changes" have happened in their relationship since 1979 when the two countries established diplomatic relations.
"So when we start using the loose language like a new cold war, loose language like decoupling, I would urge everyone to start being more precise about what actually we mean, because that is not the current reality," said Rudd.
He urged those who seek to "unravel this relationship" to be careful of the consequences – whether intentionally or unintentionally – for the benefit of all and the wider global economy as well.
"We've had some decoupling there because of the tariff war between the two countries. But I think they're in the process of declaring a significant truce," said Rudd, noting that the "overwhelming mutual interests" ensure that a satisfactory outcome could be reached.
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