Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has been vindicated over a claim he attempted to punch a Chinese negotiator after the allegation was retracted.
Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown claimed in The Guardian last week that Mr Rudd had to be restrained from punching a Chinese negotiator at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, where Beijing took a hard-line stance.
Mr Rudd dismissed the claim as an “urban myth”, telling the Daily Telegraph he “left the shirt-fronting to (former prime minister) Tony Abbott”.
His denial was vindicated on Wednesday when the article was amended after Mr Brown retracted the allegation.
It now features an amendment that reads: “An earlier version included Gordon Brown’s recollection that Kevin Rudd ‘had to be physically restrained from punching the Chinese negotiator’ at the 2009 Copenhagen summit.
“The Australian Prime Minister was reported to have been very angry about China’s stance in the climate talks, but (Mr Brown) has confirmed that no threat was issued.”
Mr Brown has previously lauded Mr Rudd’s performance at the climate talks in the ABC’s 2015 series The Killing Season.
“We didn’t get the full treaty, (but) the fact that we got a Copenhagen declaration, which has now led to the next stage that will be worked through this year, is in no small measure due to him,” he said.
Mr Rudd reportedly worked overtime at the climate summit as he attempted to salvage talks in the face of stubborn resistance from Beijing.
“The bottom line is that I was vigorously prosecuting Australia’s climate interests at a time when China was aggressively resisting. I make no apologies for doing so,” he told the Nine newspapers.
He was reported to have described the Chinese negotiators as “ratf—ers” in a briefing to Australian journalists during the conference.
Mr Rudd later clarified he said “the Chinese are trying to ratf–k us”, saying the “colourful phrase” underlined his frustration with Beijing.