China, Pacific security deals: Chinese politics specialist warns of NZ being 'blockaded' as Niue latest nation expected to 'deepen cooperation'

Niue appears to be the latest Pacific nation eager to sign a cooperation agreement with China after Samoa inked an economic and technical pact with Beijing at the weekend.

China foreign minister Wang Yi is currently on a tour of the Pacific, seeking a 10-nation deal on security and trade.

"Visiting state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi and Niue's Premier and foreign minister Dalton Tagelagi met via video on May 29, with both sides pledging to deepen bilateral cooperation including on the Belt and Road Initiative," China's official Xinhua news agency said.

"While pledging continued commitment to the one-China principle, the premier noted that his country expects to deepen cooperation with China in various fields and work together to promote peace, development and prosperity.

"During the virtual meeting, the two sides also exchanged views on the cooperation between China and Pacific Island countries and agreed to jointly work to ensure the success of the second China-Pacific Island countries foreign ministers' meeting."

Anne-Marie Brady, a Chinese politics specialist from the University of Canterbury, called China's strategy in the Pacific a "blitzkrieg".

"Things are moving very, very fast and China is doing exactly what our defence analysts predicted," she told AM. "Unfortunately, our Government does move slowly and same with the Australians - and our defence forces are simply not equipped… what we need to do now is defend our own massive maritime territory." 

Prof Brady warned China's strategy could see New Zealand and Australia as well as other Western powers cut off from defending Pacific Island nations.

Anne-Marie Brady.
Anne-Marie Brady. Photo credit: Newshub.

"A country that has an intention to change the strategic order, which has benefited from peace for more than 70 years… then that could be used to blockade and cut off Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States from defending the Pacific.

"That's the point of having control or dominance in these islands."

Prof Brady told AM host Ryan Bridge China was using its economy as an appeal to smaller nations - but is really after a strong security force amid growing tensions with Taiwan.

"[China is] pursuing a military agenda in the Pacific," she said. "It's just unfortunate for all of us that our geography is strategically important to China - as it once was to imperial Japan and the Soviet Union."

Prof Brady said China was looking to countries that fall in good geography for strategic security and militarisation. 

"Each time there's a power shift - a major power shift in international politics - you see the contesting power wanting to take control on those strategic islands."

Prof Brady's comments come after Samoa and the Solomon Islands already signed controversial agreements with China. 

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta refused an interview with Newshub on Sunday.

She has not fronted on the issue of China in the Pacific for four days.