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Former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd: The Rise of China as a Global Geopolitical Power

Kevin Michael Rudd AC (born 21 September 1957) is an Australian Labor Party politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, serving twice, from December 2007 to June 2010 and again from June 2013 to September 2013.

Born in Nambour, Queensland, Rudd graduated from the Australian National University with honours in Chinese studies, and is fluent in Mandarin. Before entering politics, he worked as a diplomat and public servant for the Goss Government. Rudd was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1998 election for the Division of Griffith. He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. In December 2006, he successfully challenged Kim Beazley for the leadership of the Labor Party, thus becoming Leader of the Opposition.

Rudd led Labor to a landslide victory at the 2007 election, defeating the Howard Government. The Rudd Government's earliest acts included action on climate change through ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and delivering the first national Apology to Indigenous Australians for the Stolen Generations. The Government also adopted a strategy of provided early economic stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis, resulting in Australia becoming one of the only developed countries to avoid the late-2000s recession. Other signature policies included establishing the National Broadband Network, launching the Digital Education Revolution and the Building the Education Revolution, dismantling WorkChoices, and withdrawing Australian troops from the Iraq War.

Despite a long period of popularity in opinion polls, a significant fall in Rudd's personal approval in the middle of 2010 was blamed on the sudden deferral of the Senate-rejected Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. With an election drawing close, growing unease at Rudd's prospects for victory prompted his deputy, Julia Gillard, to announce on 23 June 2010 that she would challenge him for the leadership the following day. Rudd chose to resign as Prime Minister, rather than contest the leadership. The speed of the leadership change took much of Australia by surprise, and was the beginning of a sequence of four Prime Ministers who would all be removed by their own parties before completing their full first term.

Rudd chose to re-contest his seat at the 2010 election, which resulted in a Gillard-led minority government. Rudd was promoted back into the Cabinet by Gillard as Minister for Foreign Affairs. He remained in that role until resigning on 22 February 2012, citing Gillard's failure to discipline colleagues who had publicly criticised him. In response, Gillard called a leadership spill, which Rudd lost by 71 votes to 31. Tensions over the leadership nevertheless continued; after a spill in March 2013, which Rudd did not contest, a further ballot was held in June 2013, which Rudd won by 57 votes to 45. His second term as Prime Minister lasted less than three months, as Labor were defeated at the 2013 election.

Rudd retired from parliament following the election. In February 2014, he was named Senior Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he leads research on the future of China–United States relations. In September 2014, he became Distinguished Fellow-in-Residence at the Paulson Institute within the University of Chicago. He is also Chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, Chair of Sanitation and Water for All, and Chairman of the Board at the International Peace Institute. In January 2021, he was appointed the 8th President and CEO of the Asia Society.

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