New Zealand framing China as ‘the devil’ insincere, says Pacific lecturer

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Victoria University's Nanai Anae Dr Iati Iati
Victoria University's Nanai Anae Dr Iati Iati . . . New Zealand "caught . . . between China on one side, and let's say the Anglo-American Alliance." Image: VUW/RNZ

An international relations lecturer says New Zealand’s framing of China in the perceived Pacific geopolitical struggle is “disingenuous”.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Nanai Anae Dr Iati Iati said one example was the lack of substance behind the notion that China was militarising the Pacific region.

He said NZ’s National Security Strategy framed Beijing within a “threat” narrative.

“There are no angels in geopolitical competition,” he said.

“But to frame one country in particular as the devil, that’s disingenuous, especially because the Pacific island countries know that is not the case,” Dr Iati said.

“So unfortunately, New Zealand is caught within this tension between China on one side, and let’s say the Anglo-American Alliance on the other side.”

Massey University associate professor Dr Anna Powles said Pacific leaders had been calling for cooperation in the region which did not undermine Pacific priorities.

However, she said there were clear examples where China had been a “disruptive actor” in the Pacific security sector, particularly in Solomon Islands.

“At the heart of what the Pacific Islands Forum and Pacific countries and scholars are saying is that geopolitics in general is disruptive.

“Therefore, the solutions need to be Pacific led,” Dr Powles added.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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