Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is Joe Biden telling China 'democracies aren't going to tip-toe around' authoritarianism - expert

New Zealand has joined an alliance of Indo-Pacific nations aimed at countering China's influence in the region.

More than a dozen countries have signed up to the 'Indo-Pacific Economic Framework', which was launched by US President Joe Biden in Japan on Monday night (local time).

"The future of the 21st-century economy is going to largely be written in the Indo-Pacific," Biden said. "We're writing the new rules."

International relations expert Robert Patman told AM the US' aim for the framework was to improve security - but New Zealand would benefit in other ways too.

"It's a ramping up of America's statement that the Indo-Pacific is crucial to its security and its wellbeing," said Prof Patman, from the University of Otago. "The Americans, over several administrations, have been trying to focus more on the Indo-Pacific."

The US saw Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific as a "major challenge", Prof Patman said.

"It is definitely a reinvigoration of the American determination to be fully involved in the Indo-Pacific," he told AM host Melissa Chan-Green.

The Russia-Ukraine war was contributing to the US government's evolving stance, Prof Patman said.

"Ukraine has changed a lot of things… First of all, Mr Biden took a lot of heat when he said, 'Mr [Russian President] Putin shouldn't stay in power' because critics said that was interference in Russia's internal affairs, but Mr Biden's people pointed out, 'Well, if you invade another country as the Putin regime did, then that's the sort of thing you have to deal with.' 

"I think the Americans have decided to indicate to China that democracies are not always going to tip-toe around authoritarian regimes."

China foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday warned against international leaders becoming an "enemy". After launching the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in Japan, Biden said he would be willing to use force to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. 

But Wenbin expressed China's "firm opposition" to Biden's comments, saying there was no need for external forces to interfere with its "internal affairs".