Kevin Rudd has accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of inconsistency in his approach to Australia's relationship with China, saying that it's the opposite of what's needed.
The former prime minister pointed out Mr Turnbull - then opposition leader - would regularly attack him for apparently being too hostile towards China.
At the same time, he took what Mr Rudd believed was a "deeply accommodationist view" on matters such as political donations and the involvement of Chinese telco Huawei in the national broadband network.
"Now it seems, for a range of domestic political factors concerning (former Labor senator Sam) Dastyari and others, he's lurched considerably in the reverse direction," Mr Rudd told ABC radio on Monday.
"It's consistency which is required over time, not simply a massive chop and change depending on the political circumstances."
Mr Rudd welcomed the appointment of US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris as the new American ambassador to Australia, saying he was someone who knew the wider region well.
But he cautioned the Turnbull government faced a big challenge in fully engaging with the US on security challenges in the region, particularly those involving China and North Korea, while always reflecting an Australian view.