The biggest flashpoint for the world's largest superpowers lies in the world of technology, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told CNBC.
The former leader said that for U.S.-China relations, this issue eclipsed an escalating trade spat and the ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
There is an "undeclared new Cold War on technology," between the U.S. and China, Rudd, now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, told CNBC Monday. This refers to "information technology in particular," he added.
He cited U.S.-imposed regulations on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE and mobile manufacturer Huawei, and a subsequent "retaliatory" speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping as recent examples of the tension.