Sydney, June 28 : Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposal for an Asia-Pacific community will be endorsed and supported only if it champions democracy, Republican presidential nominee John McCain has said.
Experts say that McCain's views on the issue have the potential of exacerbating tensions between the United States and Communist-led China.
Senator McCain's lead adviser on Asia, Mike Green, said that while the Republican nominee supports the concept, "it's a mistake to set up something like this and give a 'pass' on democracy".
He told The Herald in an interview: "If it says, 'We will have an Asia-Pacific community by 2020 and we won't have common values', it's a mistake because it slows the change we need to see.
"I don't think Kevin Rudd is afraid to articulate this part of the vision. It would be a mistake to try to be more Asian than the Asians and to embrace the values-neutral language the Chinese are comfortable with."
Mr Rudd did not mention the promotion of democracy or shared values in his speech proposing the community. It is a condition that nations such as China, Vietnam and Burma would be unlikely to accept.
The outgoing Bush Administration nevertheless has given Rudd's proposal its initial approval.
The Prime Minister's special envoy for developing the community, Dick Woolcott, said that he discussed the concept with the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, in Washington this week.
"He was, by and large, well disposed to the idea," Woolcott said.
Mr Negroponte's tenure will expire with that of the Bush Administration in January.
The US attitude to the idea would then depend on the view of the new president - either Senator McCain or the Democrat Barack Obama. Mr Woolcott had not discussed the idea with either campaign.
Professor Green, of Georgetown University and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there were two broad options for Asia-Pacific integration:
"There is the Chinese model, which is Westphalian and is all about nations having complete control within their borders, and diversity of systems should be celebrated even if it means Burmese generals cracking monks on the head.
"Then there is the Japanese model, which is shared by the US and Australia. That model is about narrowing differences and establishing a community based on norms including democracies and human rights.