Australia may or may not be about to confront a full-blown diplomatic conflagration with China over the arrest of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu. Whether it blows up will almost certainly be influenced, and probably determined, by the precise manner in which the Rudd Government communicates with its Chinese counterparts.

These are the kinds of words and phrases that should describe the Australian Government's approach to handling this crisis-in-waiting: sensitivity ... finesse ... cool-headedness ... calmness ... careful judgement ... quiet diplomacy ... apolitical ...