Australia's Mandarin-speaking Labor leader Kevin Rudd, who ended 11 years of Conservative rule after trouncing Prime Minister John Howard at national elections on Saturday, studied Mandarin in Taipei when he was young, diplomatic sources said yesterday.
The youthful-looking Rudd, 50, who likes to describe himself as a "farm boy from Queensland, " also studied Mandarin in Australia for three years at Australian National University.
His teacher, Anita Chang (
During that period, according to Chang, who now teaches at Macquarie University in Sydney, Rudd played the leading role as the landlord in the Chinese play The Little Cow Herd.
Chang said she also taught Rudd some Peking Opera, which he later performed in front of an audience.
Rudd, who vowed to be a "prime minister for all Australians" after Saturday's victory, presented himself as the leader of a new generation by promising to pull Australian combat troops out of the war in Iraq and sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Rudd has made the environment a top issue and pledged that if he won the election he would sign the agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
He was elected member of parliament in 1998 and had a lengthy career as a diplomat, including postings to Stockholm and Beijing, before becoming a Labor Party leader last year.