06:20 GMT14 April 2021
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    New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a Thursday speech to the Institute of International Affairs in Wellington that his country’s security ties with China and the US are not “mutually exclusive.”

    According to the minister, despite the current dynamic between Beijing and Washington, New Zealand is not ready to sacrifice its security relationship with the major Asian state.

    Brownlee emphasized that China's contribution is crucial when it comes to maintaining safety in the Asia-Pacific region.

    He noted that the armies of China and New Zealand have enhanced cooperation in recent years, recalling last month's participation of People's Liberation Army engineers in the New Zealand-led humanitarian and disaster relief exercise, Tropic Twilight in Tonga.

    Earlier this month, Chinese officers also took part in a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise titled Cooperation Spirit, held in Wellington, along with representatives from other countries.

    The minister had high praise for China's significant peacekeeping contributions, including the force protection it has provided to New Zealand troops as part of the UN peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan.

    "Despite relative differences in our strategic outlook and in the sizes of our two defense forces, New Zealand and China are developing a constructive and resilient relationship," he said.

    The minister admitted the challenges brought by recently-escalating tensions caused by China's reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but observed that he is optimistic about the continuing military cooperation by both China and the US.

    "This issue will continue to test the international legal system. Continued China-United States engagement and cooperation is indispensable to security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond," he said.


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    security, military cooperation, South China Sea, New Zealand, China, US
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