'China thinks Donald Trump is bluffing on North Korea': Kevin Rudd
Chinese President Xi Jinping is a "hard arse" and US President Donald Trump should use clear, quiet diplomacy instead of tweets in dealing with China on North Korea, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd says.
Rudd, who has returned to the US from a trip to China, said "the Chinese baseline conclusion" is Trump's threat of unilateral military action against North Korea was just "one huge bluff".
China, because of this view, will only do a few things to try and talk North Korea into coming around to a more reasonable posture, Rudd told CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday (Monday NZ Time).
"This guy is a serious hard head," said Rudd, referring to Chinese President Xi. "He is a serious hard arse."
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"I mean, this guy has been around for a while and if there is going to be a serious conversation here about the future of the Korean peninsula, it has to be conducted in clear, bottom line, but quiet terms between one administration and the other."
Rudd said Trump was unique to past US presidents who have dealt with the North Korean regime because he sees a virtue in his own strategic unpredictability.
"At the end of the day, if the North Koreans evolve into a fully replete nuclear weapons state with ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) with miniaturised warheads on top then, well, the Chinese view is [that] the US will then just have to accept that reality," Rudd said.
"And what none of us know is whether President Trump will ultimately accept a position in history which says, 'I'm the guy and it was on my watch that this state finally crossed the threshold of constituting a threat to the US mainland.'"
The comments came as top Trump administration officials sought to re-assure Americans that the nation is not on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, despite Trump's recent threats.