$1.6 billion purchase of US military aircraft announced
New Zealand seeking to help counter China’s buildup in South China Sea
China hits back over ‘groundless accusations’
(CNN)New Zealand announced a $1.6 billion purchase of US military aircraft on Monday as it seeks to integrate its forces with US and Australian allies that are trying to counter a Chinese military buildup in the Pacific.
The purchase of the four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft “strengthens the coalition Government’s Pacific Reset by providing a maritime patrol capability with the significant range and endurance needed to assist our partners in the region,” a statement from New Zealand Defense Minister Ron Mark said.
New Zealand’s announcement comes on the heels of the release Friday of its Strategic Defense Policy Statement for 2018. In it, New Zealand warns of China’s increasing influence in the Pacific, including its expanded military presence in the South China Sea, where Beijing is fortifying islands near some of the world’s key shipping lanes.
This is a modal window.Something went wrong during native playback.
Why it’s so tense in the South China Sea 01:17
The 40-page document says China is challenging the existing order in the region while also increasing its involvement and investment in Pacific island nations where New Zealand’s influence has long held sway.
New Chinese policy priorities could potentially damage “human rights, arms control and non-proliferation efforts,” it says.
Meanwhile, Australia and the US are trying to reinforce regional peace and stability with a focus on “maritime security and freedom of navigation,” the document says.