Don't take on China alone, says ex-Australia PM Kevin Rudd
Countries should unite against China's growing economic and geopolitical coercion or risk being singled out and punished by Beijing: former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr Rudd said governments in the West should not be afraid to challenge China on issues such as human rights.
Around the world, countries are navigating a new geopolitical order framed by the rising dominance of China.
"If you are going to have a disagreement with Beijing, as many governments around the world are now doing, it's far better to arrive at that position conjointly with other countries rather than unilaterally, because it makes it easier for China to exert bilateral leverage against you," Mr Rudd told the BBC's Talking Business Asia programme.
His comments come as relations between Australia and China have deteriorated to their worst point in decades. The relationship has soured following a series of economic and diplomatic blows dealt by each side.
Australia has scrapped agreements tied to China's massive infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative. It also banned Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from building the country's 5G network.
But it was really Australia's call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that set off a new storm between the two sides.
China retaliated by placing sanctions on Australian imports - including wine, beef, lobster and barley - and has hinted more may come.
Beijing has also suspended key economic dialogues with Canberra, which effectively means there is no high-level contact to smooth things out.
A new battleground
Mr Rudd, who led Australia twice between 2007 and 2013, has criticised the current government's approach to China, saying that it has been counterproductive at times.
"The conservative government's response to the Chinese has from time to time been measured - but other times, frankly, has been rhetorical and shrill," said Mr Rudd, who is now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.
The former Labor party prime minister believes it could risk the fortunes of a key Australian export to China: iron ore.