Kevin Rudd has arrived back in Australia minus a road map on how to extricate Stern Hu or his own government from the messy unravelling of the relationship with Australia's most important trading partner. Beijing is clearly less interested in solving the problem or even limiting the fallout than it is in making a very brutal point.
Now I don't think these events occur in isolation. I don't think this is just one event. I think this may well have been a build-up of concerns on the part of China about the way the Australian Government has been treating China.
It's interesting that he can raise the human rights of the Tibetans but not the human rights of an Australian citizen.
The upshot? The crew were returned only after America was forced to issue a note of apology, stating:
"Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures. We are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance."
And the plane itself? It was thoroughly gone through by the Chinese, and shipped back to America in crates in a Russian cargo plane.
That's how China dealt with a major international incident involving military personal and a secret aircraft from the biggest superpower in the world. You think Rudd coming out and say he has rang up President Hu Jintao and demanded Hu be returned is going to work?
Look the Govenrment does need to be involved, but the opposition needs to also shut up and let diplomacy have a chance. The big words need to be said behind closed doors, not in the media.