Former Australian Prime Minister to Head New York-based Asian Think Tank

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by Jonathan Gordon
A fluent Mandarin speaker, Kevin Rudd has long advocated for closer relations between China and the West. Image: Asia Society.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been announced as the first President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, an offshoot of the New York-based think tank, Asia Society. The new institute, recently established by the Asia Society, is designed to bring Asia to the forefront of global policy making. Mr. Rudd’s appointment will come into effect in January 2015, after he finishes his current role as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, where he has been researching the future of US-China relations.

The Asia Society Policy Institute was launched in 2014, bringing together business and civil society leaders to develop policy for the advancement of prosperity, security, and sustainability across Asia.

Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010, and Foreign Minister from 2010-2012. In his time within the Australia Government, Mr. Rudd, a fluent Mandarin speaker, played an active role in expanding the East Asia Summit to include the US and Russia, and worked tirelessly to deepen Australia’s political ties with China.

Mr. Rudd is also a longtime advocate of closer US-China relations. In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Rudd claimed the central question facing Asia in the coming century will be “How do we ensure that we manage the rise of China in a manner which provides a long-term peaceful and stable relationship with the United States?” At an Asia Society conference in 2012, the former Prime Minister outlined his thoughts on what he called “Pax Pacifica,” a cooperative future for the region in which no one nation is dominant.

Mr. Rudd said that he was honored to be appointed to “a world-class institution dedicated… to advancing the understanding of complex Asian realities in the U.S. and across the West.” Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an Honorary Counselor for the Institute, praised Mr. Rudd as a key strategist on the future of the Pacific community as one who can “fill an essential gap”.

Kevin Rudd’s appointment is a clear reflection of the importance of building stronger ties between Asia and the US, in addition to Australia’s central role in this process.

Jonathan Gordon recently graduated from the University of Sydney and is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.