Audrey Young interviews John Key:
How many leaders have you met withduring the Pacific Islands Forum in the Marshall Islands, Britain and France and the United Nations last month and Apec in Bali and and the East Asia Summit in Brunei this week?
[Calculates aloud] Seventy. In my time as Prime Minister, this has been the most intense.
That’s a busy month!
Who made the strongest impression on you this week and why?
Xi Jinping [China’s President] has a lot of presence about him. He has a very different style to Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao was less communicative – he stuck to the script whereas Xi Jinping, you feel like you are developing a relationship with him. It’s actually very true of Li Keqiang as well [China’s Premier]. They [have] quite a different style to the previous Chinese leadership and they interact with you. You get feedback on how things are going.
Xi Jinping is relatively young (just turned 60). He has been a consistent advocate of attracting investment and boost a free market economy.
Which of the leaders you’ve seen this week are you text buddies with?
Aquino in the Philippines, definitely. Najib in Malaysia, obviously Tony Abbott in Australia.
I think people would be surprised how often various national leaders text each other.
You’re an elder statesman at Apec now.
If I was to reflect back to the first Apec in Peru in 2008, in a sense it shows you how much you learn in five years in the job. There’s always things you don’t know and always things that change but you get so much more comfortable and familiar. Five years ago, Kevin Rudd was the Australian Prime Minister and he went around and introduced me to a lot of the leaders because I really didn’t know anybody. This time I introduced Tony Abbott to people. Funnily when I was chairing the TPP meeting I didn’t feel at all nervous. We took it really seriously but I wasn’t nervous. It was a fun part of the job.
I’m not sure being introduced by Kevin Rudd to people would be an advantage!
Perhaps you’d like an international job like Helen Clark after politics.
I’m touched, but no thanks.
I’d be picking after politics, Bronagh gets to pick what they do next! 🙂