A Few Words of Mandarin Go Far in Sydney

Opposition leader upstages hosts, score huge points with Chinese at summit
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2007 11:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The man tipped to be Australia's next prime minister has scored a major diplomatic coup at this week's APEC summit in Sydney, upstaging PM John Howard. Opposition leader Kevin Rudd spoke to delegates in fluent Mandarin and so impressed Hu Jintao that the Chinese president issued a personal invitation to the Beijing Olympics, The Age reports.

Rudd's fluency in Mandarin, developed during his time as a diplomat, has attracted attention in both Australia and China. The private meeting with Hu strengthens the sense that he is now PM-in-waiting: His Labor Party is on course for a crushing victory in upcoming elections, which Howard might be forced to call as early as next week.