Global Insight: Role for NZ in US-China power games


New Zealand has a specific role to play as tensions between the United States and China increase, Professor Robert Patman says.

This week, China's foreign minister warned the United States it would face ‘‘conflict and confrontation’’ if it did not change its attitude towards China.

Speaking on Global Insight, Prof Patman rejected some commentators’ assertion the world was headed for another Cold War. But the situation did require New Zealand, and other small and medium powers, to work to shape the world for the better, the University of Otago international relations specialist said.

In contrast to the four decades-long Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union, the tension between China and the US is not backed by the same military alliances and has a starkly different economic context, Prof Patman said.

‘‘China is a very successful participant in the world capitalist economy and depends on access to Western markets.’’

Watch the full interview

Despite that, Prof Patman said New Zealand needed to work with other influential countries to ‘‘shape the world order’’.

‘‘We’d like to see United Nations reform — the end of the veto in the UN Security Council.

‘‘We’d try to make the United States a more inclusive and less exceptionalist super power.

‘‘And indicate to authoritarian powers that we... won’t take a backwards step on our core values, such as our commitment to human rights and democracy.’’

Prof Patman also outlined competing views within the US about its aims in relation to China and he described the world view that underpins China’s ‘‘wolf warrior diplomacy’’. 



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