Foreign Policy is running some quotes from an interview they did with Kevin Rudd in December. On speaking Mandarin, Rudd argues that:
As a Mandarin-speaking prime minister, I got double the time with Xi because we didn't need an interpreter. It might be an old-fashioned view, but language is important. It conveys respect, familiarity, and some knowledge of where the hell you're coming from.
And on the East China Sea, the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister says that 'anyone who thinks there is a neat negotiating point to bring these guys together on this question is probably smoking something':
There's a long historical toxicity to the Sino-Japanese relationship. The challenge is to stabilize the dispute and create new political ballasts in other domains, like economic and commercial affairs, as well as political and security engagement. The key issue is to get both sides to concur that a status quo is being preserved, so that the relationship can develop in other directions and dimensions.