Balancing Act

Most Australians knew that if opposition leader Kevin Rudd was in a good mood, you could get him to say a few words in Chinese. But at a lunch in Sydney in September, he went way beyond party tricks. Welcoming Chinese President Hu Jintao, Rudd broke into fluent Mandarin. Prime Minister John Howard and Hu had just witnessed a $35 billion contract for Australia to supply natural gas to China. But it wasn't the historic deal that set news wires abuzz — it was the image of Rudd upstaging Howard and impressing his guest. Next day, Hu invited the...

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