New Zealand’s Place in China-US Competition

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The political framework of Asia-Pacific is shaped by poles and alliances. As a matter of fact, the presence of states such as China and North Korea in the region draws the attention of the United States (USA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the region, especially within the scope of the global influence struggle with Beijing.

In this context, it can be argued that the global rivalry between the USA and China has many geopolitical, geostrategic, geoeconomic, military and geographical dimensions. However, Washington is trying to use the advantages of its political experience in its global power struggle with Beijing. The most obvious example of this is the USA’s attempt to retry the containment policy implemented against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the Cold War. Because the USA wants to implement the said policy against China within the framework of today’s competition.

The said containment policy has also added a regional framework to the aforementioned rivalry between Washington and Beijing. For this reason, it can be said that one of the most important pillars of the global competition between the two actors is the regional struggle over Asia-Pacific. In this context, the USA carries out a geopolitical competition with China over the region in question and tries to implement a containment strategy against China through alliances, cooperation and exercises.

At this point, it can be said that the actors with which the USA has developed regional cooperation are Australia, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. At the same time, there are alliances in the region such as ANZUS[1], which was implemented with the cooperation of the USA, New Zealand and Australia, the AUKUS Pact[2] signed in partnership with Australia, the USA and the United Kingdom, and the Quadruple Security Dialogue (QUAD)[3] formed by the cooperation of Australia, India, USA and Japan.

In this political conjuncture, it can be argued that New Zealand is an important actor in the containment policy that the USA and NATO are trying to implement against China. Because, as mentioned above, New Zealand is a member of ANZUS, which is a regional agreement with the USA and Australia[4]. ANZUS was signed between these three states in 1951. The agreement in question is very important in terms of expressing Wellington’s perspective, place and side in the Asia-Pacific Region in a concrete way. This situation clearly makes New Zealand a party in the regional geopolitical framework. As a matter of fact, there is a clause in this agreement stating that the use of harsh force and attack on any state that has signed the agreement will be perceived by other states as a threat to their own peace and security[5].

In this context, it can be clearly said that New Zealand is on the side of the USA and NATO, and therefore the West, in the Asia-Pacific Region. Moreover, current developments also reveal the situation in question. For example, one day before the meeting between Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on April 22, 2023, Albanaese announced its rapid citizenship follow-up plan for New Zealanders living in Australia.

Under this plan, New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for four years or more, or who have moved to the country since 2001, will be able to apply for citizenship from 1 July 2023[6]. As a matter of fact, following the introduction of a special category visa that restricts New Zealanders’ access to certain health and welfare support in 2001, these changes and the softening of the rules show that New Zealand has developed a positive dialogue with Australia, one of the most important allies of the West in Asia-Pacific. Because of these reasons, it can be said that the Wellington-Canberra convergence means the New Zealand-West convergence.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that New Zealand is included in the Commonwealth of Nations along with Australia. Because King III. On the occasion of Charles’ coronation, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with Albanese and Hipkins in London and announced that a new trade agreement would be signed between these three states on May 31, 2023. In his statement on May 4, 2023, Sunak said[7]:

“The entry into force of our new trade agreement marks a new chapter in the great friendship between the UK and New Zealand. This agreement will unlock new opportunities for businesses and investors in New Zealand and the UK, accelerate growth, increase employment and, most importantly, build a more prosperous future for the next generation.”

According to the agreement in question, more than 99 percent of exports from Canberra and Wellington to London will be exempt from tax[8]. This confirms New Zealand’s integration into the Western World and that it is one of the West’s important allies in the Asia-Pacific.

As a result, it can be said that New Zealand has an important place in the alliances that the USA and the West are trying to establish in the Asia-Pacific, in the cooperation that they are trying to implement, and in their aims at the point of containment of China. As a matter of fact, as the regional effects of the West-Chinese rivalry increase, it can be predicted that the West-Wellington rapprochement will increase as well.

[1] “The United States and Australia: A Vital Partnership for He Indo-Pacific Region and the World”, U.S. Department of State,, Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[2] “AUKUS Deal: United States, United Kingdom and Australia Agree on Nuclear Submarine Project”, British Broadcasting News,, (Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[3] “No Plans to Add New members to Quad Grouping Now: White House, The Times of India,, (Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[4] “Anzus: Celebrating 70 Years of the United States – Australia Alliance”, U.S. Embassy&Consulates in Australia,, (Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[5] S. Frühlıng, Is ANZUS Really an Alliance? Aligning the US and Australia. Global Politics and Strategy, 60(5), 2018, s. 199-218.

[6] “Australia to Fast Track Citizenship for New Zelanders”, British Broadcasting News,, (Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[7] Uinted Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia Tout Trade Before Charle’s Coronation”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Access: 08.05.2023).

[8] Ibid.

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten, 2021 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden “Amerikan Dış Politikası” başlıklı bitirme teziyle ve 2023 yılında da Anadolu Üniversitesi Açık Öğretim Fakültesi Dış Ticaret bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda Tezli Yüksek Lisans öğrenimine devam eden Gülten, lisans eğitimi esnasında Erasmus+ programı çerçevesinde Lodz Üniversitesi Uluslararası ve Politik Çalışmalar Fakültesi’nde bir dönem boyunca öğrenci olarak bulunmuştur. ANKASAM’da Asya-Pasifik Araştırma Asistanı olarak çalışan Gülten’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Amerikan Dış Politikası, Asya-Pasifik ve Uluslararası Hukuk’tur. Gülten, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.