China vs America – The true cost of an Independent NZ Foreign Policy


China is hacking us while Japan is demanding America protect Taiwan.

We don’t want to be trade reliant on a brutal and authoritarian regime like China, nor do we want to be a slave to the American Military Industrial Complex.

If we are serious about an Independent Foreign Policy, we have to accept it is going to cost us a lot more.

I believe that the climate crisis means we need a vastly larger military to cope with civil disasters and if we are attempting to distance ourselves from China and America, we need to make a decision to dramatically lift what we spend on the military for purely defensive capacity.

How would we go about defending the realm of NZ and all our economic exclusive zone?

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Currently we spend 1.1% of GDP on our entire military, to defend the full realm of NZ and pursue an independent foreign policy, I argue we need to push that up to 3%.

Note – NZ should only build up its military to defend our full territory (NZ islands, EEZ, Ross Dependency, Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue). Any upgrade of our military is for purely defensive purposes, not for military adventure or invasions.

We can’t pull away from America and China and pretend there is no cost to being Independent.

With the climate crisis now here, we need that debate today.


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  1. The sad reality is that the only way we could defend our islands from an aggressive super power is to rely on aid arms ammunition and man power from another super power ( as did north korea and vietnam) or to take to the hills and grind out 20 years of guerilla warfare (Afghanistan). Perhaps we need more assault weapons not less.
    And if we are to be an ark then we actually have no way to defend our extensive coastline from hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of determined refugees.

    • If it turns out that The Brass pull another Afghanistan with there new toys, I’ll be the first to cancel NZDF procurement.

  2. Increasing the size of the military as a way of opening to an independent New Zealand foreign policy is putting the cart before the horse. So long as the Realm of New Zealand remains one of the Five Eyes then any increase in military capability will only bind it closer to its partners in evil. The military who have their own Five Eyes linkages independently of the government will be empowered and emboldened, and at the same time will become more valued as an asset of the Five Eyes.
    Anyone who sincerely wants an Aotearoa independent of the Five Eyes will first sever the Five Eyes connection along with the constitutional subordination to London, and then set about building a new military capacity which will look nothing like the present royalist military forces.
    In the present circumstances to call for increased military capability for the Realm is in effect to call for New Zealand to be even more closely aligned with the Five Eyes in their policy of confrontation with China.

  3. You could take NZ relatively easily, but like Afghanistan, you could never keep it. Too many guns in the hands of civilians & too far away from anywhere for resupply.

    Admittedly why would anyone actually invade, when it way cheaper to just buy the bits you actually wanted, we’ll sell it to you cheap, let you import your own labour, hey we’ll even give you tax breaks & subsidise your business. New Zealand, we’re good like that we’ll happily screw our selves over as long as someone makes some money.

    • why would anyone actually invade, when it way cheaper to just buy the bits you actually wanted,

      Which is exactly what they have done.
      By one estimate, eg, China now owns around a million hectares of AO/NZ.

      • In terms of overseas ownership of New Zealand land, I believe that China comes well down the list, after the US, Australia, UK, Canada (the “Five Eyes partners”) Malaysia etc.
        The policy of the Lange-Douglas Labour government, and indeed of colonialist governments in general, was to sell off as much of New Zealand as they were able to foreign interests.
        So pointing the finger at China makes no sense. It is New Zealand’s colonial masters who have decreed that the land should be alienated. China has taken advantage, but to a very limited extent compared to New Zealand’s Five Eyes overlords.

      • By whose estimate, Kheala?

        The Overseas Investment Office reports that the Americans, the Swiss and the Australians are well ahead of the Chinese when it comes to buying up New Zealand land and business.

        Just a wee bit of Sinophobia there, I’m thinking. But don’t feel too bad, there’s a lot of it about.

        • Sigh… Yes, Chris, I made a mistake.

          Two of my ‘offspring’s offsprings’ would probably disagree. When they visit their Mum’s family they go to Guangzhou. (Pre-covid.)

    • @Richard Slade, exactly.

      NZ is already largely occupied by foreign millionaire buy ups and our government and ministry occupied under Chinese soft power tactics. While millionaires and billionaire might be nice people for the most part, their efforts are mostly for their own gain not NZ these days.

      NZ seems to actively encourage migrants to rip off NZ (how many deportations of those who break NZ laws and exploit people) and select people who don’t feel the need to give anything back to NZ.

      There is even the new phenomenon of bringing in your own low cost work force to run your estates and golf courses and retail investments. It kinda reminds me of the slaves in the cotton field mentality of the US but back now in 2021. Only the slave owners don’t pay for the slaves they get the NZ tax payers to pay for their workers health care, schooling, and welfare top up’s instead.

      Not sure why they can’t encourage more moral millionaire/billionaires to come to NZ via the character assessment and ensure they really help people here for long term. aka Owen Glenn came to NZ as a boy and has contributed a huge amount, aka tried to help Family violence victims, donations to tertiary education and Earthquake victims here, as well as bought some sense of justice, to all the victims of Eric Watson. He was also the first that bought attention to NZ’s failure to properly comply with political donations. That is probably why NZ neoliberals and woke don’t seem to like him! Too much a sense of morality.

      NZ handed our security over to 5 eyes a long time ago, but obviously similar has happened in the UK and US with policy to intentionally divide people and foreign buy ups allegedly led by Russian and Chinese interests. NZ Security for 5 eyes is not exactly going to be the first priority apart from the embarrassment of losing the Pacific, along with Asia, and Africa. US is now a mess with the Trump situation, Covid and Meth just like the UK. Spot where a lot of that is coming from.

      Both countries have done the same as NZ in terms of high immigration to suppress wages and not invest in educating their people to higher levels or having enough high paid jobs by outsourcing/gig economy the jobs out. They now have the same results like NZ, aka low wages with high prices of assets like property from incoming people and the difficulty under the neoliberal model to get anything done without corruption or some fights over identity politics which is all the middle class and poor have left now.

    • As to boosting our “defence” capabilities, we currently use our military mainly for disaster relief (and we don’t need sophisticated weapons technology for this) or for killing peasants in foreign countries far from our shores or national interests, to keep our allies happy.

  4. I agree that a move to 3% defence spending makes a lot of sense and sooner the better . . it is too late to look to your defences when you can see the light glinting off the weapons of your enemies.

    • For those who know would it make sense for our to order 50 of the latest ‘block’ F-16’s to equip 3 squadrons of the RNZAF?

  5. With only five million people, Martyn, and no arms industry of any consequence, New Zealand will forever remain dependent on the willingness of other nations to defend it from foreign military aggression.

    Building up the NZDF would only increase that dependence. Modern weaponry leaves its possessors in the hands of those who supply it with the necessary ammunition, software upgrades, and spare parts. This technological dependency more-or-less forces them to integrate their weapons systems with those of their suppliers.

    Self-sufficiency – at massive cost – is not the route to take.

    New Zealand has only two defence options. 1) Relying on the “international community” – i.e. the UN – and international law. 2) Becoming a small part of a much bigger military alliance.

    Standing alone is not a viable option.

    • I beg to differ Chris. Standing alone is an option. Switzerland has done it for centuries and through two world wars. That option does not preclude your own option of “relying on international law”. So long as the nation of Aotearoa dissociates itself in word and deed from the colonialist policies of the Realm of New Zealand, refuses to join the Five Eyes in their diabolical assaults upon the freedom and sovereignty of other nations, and follows a policy of global goodwill then any aggression to which it might be subject will be in violation of international law and would invite international sanctions against the aggressor. Having said that, we will always be responsible for our own defence. By “we” I mean we the people of Aotearoa. The colonialist military could not and would not defend us from invasion, but as a free people we have the power to repulse any invader. Cuba, Vietnam and Afghanistan are examples of small nations which have seen off powerful invaders. We can do just as well, if not better.

      • the nation of Aotearoa

        It begins with our absolute respect for and appreciation of this incredible land on whom we live. Aotearoa cannot be carved up and sold off to foreign interests. The land and the water… this is Aotearoa. To carve up the land and sell off the aquifers, or to in any way turn the water into a for-profit product, is absolute treason, as I see it.

      • Quite right Geoff. Stand alone, give up 5 eyes. China would then be less likely to launch an invasion of us because they would know that if they did, that would be all the excuse the eyes would need to invade us themselves. Without the excuse of an imminent Chinese invasion it would be very difficult politically for the eyes to invade us. A delicate balance perhaps but since we could never militarily prevent an invasion it is our best way forward.

    • @ Chris, New Zealand has only two defence options. 1) Relying on the “international community” – i.e. the UN – and international law. 2) Becoming a small part of a much bigger military alliance.

      Yep and we are already part of both I would have thought.

      1)AKA part of the UN
      2) part of 5 eyes.

      There might be a big stoush coming up in the Pacific, but Covid has shown NZ actually was better off when we shut ourselves off with Covid. NZ needs to bump up our self sufficiency and de-couple from sourcing everything from China in particular because when a fight happens (military, trade war or both) like Covid NZ will be better off than most. Maybe the Chinese owners will lose their dough here, but that could be a good thing!

      China have never won any war and is unlikely to ever do that, because if you attack your own people and they fear their own government they will not risk their lives for a cause and leader that they do not like. AKA Dr Li Wenliang’s treatment.

      However the US, NZ and UK government ideology are presently trying to destroy alliance to culture and government and replace it with alliance to money, propaganda (free trips to China for key western individuals) and corruption. If this continues to happen with western money flowing to China and Chinese soft power growing, then China has more of a chance.

  6. It is enchantingly refreshing to have an opinion which is in the same vein as a respected journalist. I have been in support of increasing the amount we spend as a nation on the military to three percent of GDP since 2014.

    Likewise, I am in support of moving off of our reliance on China and the US. I was definitely in support of a free trade agreement with China under Helen Clark but also realised there would come a time, say in 2020 – 2022, where it would be better for us in the longer term to distance ourselves from them.

    Trade is delicate. Especially for a country such as New Zealand. You make a wrong move, and all your citizens are stuck with the consequences for years, possibly even decades. It is costly and time consuming to back out of a decision made on trade unless it is made from a short term outlook, which is rare. Politicians seldom think about the Pittbulls and Rottweilers they’re caging us in with when they sign trade agreements. No, it’s usually all smiles, handshakes, fancy dinners and first class travel.

    Canada, the UK, and India are three examples of countries I’d reckon might be worth looking into having trade agreements, or more comprehensive agreements, with. Also Scandinavian countries, another option. There’s many countries in Mainland Europe with developing markets, which is also a possibility.

    My understanding is that, due to factors including the coronavirus pandemic, the Euro is currently a stronger currency than the Greenback. This is what we want when deciding what countries should be our major, or future, trading partners, we want countries with a strong currency, countries with an emerging or developing economic market, and countries with a political outlook which is similar to us.

    The USA and China are too focused on their respective militaries and it hasn’t always been palatable for New Zealand. Furthermore, both countries have an aim of actively increasing the cost of wages in their countries in the next ten years, which wouldn’t work well for New Zealand from the perspective of trade.

    • …’ Canada, the UK, and India are three examples of countries I’d reckon might be worth looking into having trade agreements, or more comprehensive agreements, with. Also Scandinavian countries, another option. There’s many countries in Mainland Europe with developing markets, which is also a possibility’…


      Absolutely !!!

  7. “…Any upgrade of our military is for purely defensive purposes, not for military adventure or invasions. …”
    Oh don’t be so unadventurous – with sufficient increase in spending we could liberate Norfolk island and then later maybe New Caledonia!

    CHRIS TROTTER July 23, 2021 at 11:27 am writes some sense.

  8. If the CCP decided to take NZ by force, we wouldn’t have a chance. Because if they did it would mean they have the power to do so with impunity. But a war right now would put their own political and physical survival at risk

    By 2049 the CCP plans to be the most powerful government in the world. Then take Taiwan by force if necessary. After that, conquest will continue until they have oppressive control of the whole world. They aren’t called the Chinese >Communist< Party for no reason

    But a communist system, if it is a good design (extremely technologically advanced) and create a global utopia (as that's the point), should be and would be chosen democratically. A government that seeks to dominate us should go F*** itself

  9. Any comparison between NZ and Switzerland is meaningless. The geopolitical and historical differences are huge. A small nation in the SW pacificis going to be independently neutral? Like Switzerland in a landlocked continent.????

    • Switzerland obtained its independence from Austrian (Holy Roman Empire) rule over a period of time from the late thirteenth century but its neutrality was not recognized by other European states until the nineteenth century.
      At this date New Zealand remains a British Realm in alliance with the Five Eyes states. But Aotearoa is not shackled to the colonial state’s history of subservience to foreign powers any more than Switzerland or Ireland were doomed to remain prisoners of their own history.
      Aotearoa is small, but not much smaller than Switzerland, and size actually doesn’t matter. Think of Ireland, Costa Rica and dozens of much smaller states which are independent and neutral. Being surrounded by sea rather than by the armies of bellicose nations should not make neutrality any more difficult.
      Peter Sim, you are effectively telling us that Aotearoa cannot be a free, independent and neutral nation but seem to be short on arguments to justify that claim. Do you have anything more to add?

  10. 100% agree. I’ve always believed we should have a large/larger Navy to patrol our exclusive sea zones, complete with significant onboard aircraft capacity, and an Air Force that can back up that Navy via long haul flight. Combined with a reasonable sized Army that is kept up to date with equipment and not left to degrade like it has been in recent decades.

    And all of the above designed for purely defensive capacity and civil emergency’s. Added bonuses is the teaching of trades in the Armed services,…

    It is not in the average peace loving , easy going Kiwi to be inclined towards a growth in military presence and expenditure and that’s understandable, surrounded as we are by the sea and far from all the garbage that goes on overseas,…however it wise to consider doing so while also distancing ourselves from foreign pressures that seek to force us to take sides…

    Trade with Russia would help to offset one against the other as well helping our economy, in fact , we should become an aggressive trading partner globally. And that means developing diverse industry’s via initial govt funding both land and sea based. Our fisheries for example are way below our actual capacity. Development of primary industry with regards to ‘value added’ and not just selling the primary product for export as well as niche electronic componentry and assembly is another ie, IT and computers. There are many other fields that can be kick started by govt.

    And all of this means the buy back and renationalization of our once former assets and financial institutions. Yes, the repudiation of neo liberalism is what I’m saying. And putting the Reserve Bank directly back under govt control again. Because for the above to happen, it needs to be directed by govt to release the funds to do so and not be tied to and pandering to and subject to , offshore economic winds.

    Basically, and as far as we can do so,- a reasonably self sufficient and sustainable fortress NZ. Also there is one thing in which the former Pony Tail Puller was vaguely right but did so in the wrong way,… that we become a financial hub ( Switzerland ) of the South Pacific,… but without the tax havens or the Panama Papers. This act would also be partially geared towards remaining neutral in the madness of foreign aggression. Not many people want to burn their own bank down and credit cards as well…and that could help to avoid being a target.

    If we reach for the stars instead of always peering down the rat hole we can achieve this. And an end in future to rampant, uncontrolled immigration settings. Our population is sufficient as is for full employment if the above were to be implemented in a slow steady rebuilding of the nation.

    Finally, I used to listen to the older guys at work about the benefits of compulsory military training, thinking what planet are these guys from?!!?…Well , now I can see that if only a 3 months stint and not a massively disruptive time period to study, family or career, its not a bad idea. Its just an introductory thing and means people are not total rookies in the event of a national crisis. They know what to do. Many European nations still have it as a matter of course. It also has the added bonus that the rich kid from Remuera is mixing with the poor kid in South Auckland.

    And that cant be bad.

  11. Wild Katipo wrote: ” benefits of compulsory military training…means people are not total rookies in the event of a national crisis… has the added bonus that the rich kid from Remuera is mixing with the poor kid in South Auckland.”
    Actually, our tangata motu are not “total rookies”, even without having served the armed forces of the colonial state. Young men in Aotearoa learn how to fight and how to handle firearms, they know how to survive in the bush, and there is very little they have to learn of a practical nature from the colonialists. The danger is that in the colonialist forces they will be taught to submit to the malignant authority of the regime and to advance the evil goals of the Five Eyes alliance, and in so doing lose sight of their responsibilities to our God and our people.
    As for “the rich kid from Remuera … mixing with the poor kid in South Auckland.” we already see that across the spectrum of society. For example professional engineers directing labourers, market researchers interviewing solo mums, corporate HR people taking on teenage workers at the minimum wage, and well heeled lawyers for the Crown and the defense engaging in arcane arguments over the fate of the accused in courts across the land.
    Tangata motu on the other hand want an end to rich kids from Remuera and an end to poor kids from South Auckland. The last thing they want is “mingling” in a context where the colonialists remain in charge.
    Everything else that Wild Katipo asks for assumes a continuation of the evils of the colonial regime. A stronger military. Greater exploitation of the fisheries. A global financial elite dominating the process of production and allocating rights to consumption.
    “And that can’t be bad”? Depends on who you are and where you are coming from I guess.

    • Absolutely taken out of context time and time again. I wont bother paraphrasing them all. What you seem to have lost sight of is nationalism/unity. I presume you are afraid of that. Which, incidentally, is the thrust of the OPs article. What would you suggest?,… a disparate bunch of demographics trying to tear each other limb from limb politically? Well I can really see national unity coming together if we followed you idealism.

      Now, as an anti globalist I don’t give a sack of shit for all the nuances you care to suggest. And while seeing the effects of colonialism in the 19th century , – voila!- it aint the 19th century anymore. We have to deal with that reality. Id advise you to get off the white mans mid 20th century pop psychologists guilt trip and admit there are white people here just as bad off as brown people.

      Basically, I’m not a condescending patronizing arsehole, and I don’t subscribe to the B.S theory that all white people are racists. Yet I do acknowledge that numerically, the browns, in general , get the raw end of the deal from the whites.

      So regards you,…hiding behind the veneer of ‘moral superiority’,… whose side are you on son? Are you some sort of woke globalist or some sort of political ‘footballer’??

      Sure seems like it.


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