Looking Up from Down Under: New Zealand’s best options amid China’s rise and the U.S. foreign policy rebalance to the Asia-Pacific
With the rise of China and the United States (US) foreign policy rebalance to the Asia-Pacific meeting in international space, small states like New Zealand have decisions to make about how to manage their balancing act between the two major powers. This research is the result of an extensive literature review of the available material coming from international relations scholars, diplomats, governments, and news media. The focus of this thesis is on the options a small state like New Zealand has amid China’s rise and the US foreign policy ‘pivot’ to the Asia-Pacific since late-2011, but some attention has been given to how the US rebalance has been rolled out and New Zealand’s position therein. The findings point to a spectrum of options available to New Zealand which goes between choosing a China-centric economic focused set of foreign policies on one end, and backing US interests both in economic and security terms on the other end. It is clear New Zealand has chosen a middle ground and has adopted a hedging strategy designed to optimize its relationship with both the US and China. The task ahead for New Zealand is to use what influence it has to foster an environment where the likelihood of conflict between the two major powers is reduced without giving up too much independence in foreign policy decision making.