Global Insight: How NZ can contain China

China's ‘‘dictatorship’’ can be contained more effectively by defeating Russia’s ‘‘barbaric’’ invasion of Ukraine than by joining Aukus, Professor Robert Patman says.

The University of Otago international relations specialist made the comments in an Anzac episode of Global Insight exploring the Aukus military alliance and the conflict in Ukraine.

‘‘If we're worried about the Chinese threat, what better way to deal with it then make sure Vladimir Putin - China's ally - is roundly defeated in Ukraine. That would send a big message to China,’’ Prof Patman says.

Ragged Ukranian flags flutter in front of an apartment building heavily damaged by Russian...
Ragged Ukranian flags flutter in front of an apartment building heavily damaged by Russian shelling in Orikhiv, a small town in Zaporizhzhia region. Photo: Getty Images
In the interview, Prof Patman says he believes the Aukus agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States - an element of which, pillar 2, New Zealand has been invited to join - plays into the Chinese narrative that it is becoming the victim, once again, of Western powers.

‘‘There are multiple threats to the international rules-based order, China's one of them. We should have no illusions about China. China's a dictatorship.

‘‘[But] rather than fixating on pillar 2 of Aukus, we should be looking to do more to support a liberal democracy, which is non-nuclear, to resist a brutal and barbaric invasion by an authoritarian state, which is its neighbour, Russia.

‘‘It would be a much more direct way of telling the Chinese that we are opposing their assertiveness and we're prepared to do something about it.’’

Watch full episode here

Prof Patman believes New Zealand should supply desperately needed weapons systems to Ukraine.

‘‘I'm not saying we're going to make a huge difference. But countries much smaller than ours are doing much more... to bring about the crucial victory that we need in Ukraine.’’

In addition to threats from China and Russia, the world order faces a threat from US ‘‘great power exceptionalism’’, Prof Patman says.

‘‘The fact that the United States has persisted in its unconditional support for Israel after the appalling terrorist atrocity of 7 October last year... despite the fact that the United States laments the number of people killed in Gaza.’’