George W. Bush earned kudos for speaking Spanish when he ran for president in 2000, and while it turns out his language skills are, at best, “halting to conversational,” having the confidence to use another language on camera in America probably still counts for something. Other heads of state are more legitimately bilingual, and a foreign president conversing in English on a visit to the White House is not all that uncommon (Nicolas Sarkozy is a notable exception).
But let’s see Xiao Bushi, or most any world leader, do this:
That’s Kevin Rudd, or 陆克文, as we’ll likely hear a lot in the future. Australia just elected him prime minister, and while he’s no Dashan (thankfully) the Chinese seem to be going gaga over him. Global Voices rounds up some of the gushing.
An interesting corollary to the 我们爱陆克文 line is an old question: Will Rudd’s longstanding ties to the Middle Kingdom bring Australia closer to China?
Most bloggers seem to be strongly affirmative. Huang Xiaoyu called Rudd’s election “a sweet dream for Sino-Australian relations.” There’s a strong case to be made. Many note that Rudd’s son is studying at Fudan University, his daughter is married to a Chinese-Australian. The new PM served as a diplomat in Beijing in the 1980s and received a personal invite from Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics next year. So the guy is down with the Zhong.
But Gong Xuezhong, a Sina blogger, calls the whole discussion “infantile:”
I was looking through some Chinese websites, they’re all cheering; the way they all see it, now that Australia has a Sinophile as head of state, this just indicates how much more to China’s advantage Australia will be from now on.
I laughed and laughed, so hard I couldn’t speak, all I could get out was—”childish!”
What kind of country is Singapore? It’s an ethnic Chinese country. Is it pro-China?
Israel’s Prime Minister grew up in Harbin, his father’s grave is in Harbin. Is Israel pro-China?
When Bush was young he followed his dad (who was director the the liaison office in Beijing) to Beijing for a few years. Is he pro-China?
Korea, from race to culture, has roots in China. Is Korea pro-China?
Japan, from race to culture, has roots in China. Is Japan pro-China?
Taiwan…shall I stop now?
(Translated by Global Voices)
“Love doesn’t just come without a reason,” he goes on to say. But Rudd seems to have found something to love about China, and the Chinese, for the most part, look like they’re reciprocating.
Isn’t love all we really need?