THE parlous state of Australia-China relations has dropped off the front pages of China's Communist Party mouthpieces and shifted to China's most popular media platforms.

Eclectic and occasionally soul-searching views have emerged as Chinese readers are introduced to a broader range of Australian perspectives and the basics of democratic politics.

China's biggest selling paper, the Reference News, on Wednesday devoted its front page to a conciliatory commentary by Greg Rudd, brother of the Prime Minister.

The significance of Greg Rudd's public thoughts were hugely magnified in China, where fraternal ties and family discretion can be all-important.

A Chinese intellectual told the Herald the placement of the commentary, under the headline ''Kevin Rudd's brother strongly stands up for China-Australian friendship'', was ''terrible'' for Mr Rudd's reputation because it suggested to Chinese readers that his own brother thought his more confrontational policies were ''crazy''.

Public policy discussion in China is frequently driven by China's internet intellectuals rather than the mostly state-controlled print media.

A blogger, Yang Hengjun, yesterday wrote that Kevin Rudd's perceived unfriendliness was in response to a new undercurrent that Australians would call ''anti-Communist Party'' but Chinese described as ''anti-Chinese''.

He explained that Mr Rudd's foreign policy was a response to China's popular image being damaged by the Olympic Torch relay in Canberra last year and the Rio Tinto ''spy'' case.

''Kevin Rudd cannot help but heed the turnaround in the Australian electorate and media towards China,'' he wrote. Dr Yang is a former Chinese diplomat and popular spy novelist, whose family lives in Sydney and who this year received his PhD in political science from the University of Technology, Sydney.

His PhD supervisor, Feng Chongyi, said Dr Yang ''is in the top three or five bloggers in China''.

Dr Yang counselled those calling for all manner of retribution against Australia to first take a hard look at themselves.

There were Australian articles criticising China, he said, but they did not make ''personal or humiliating attacks'' on China's leaders.