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Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has used an address to China’s National Defense University in Beijing to urge the North Asian giant to behave like a “big country” in the South China Sea, where its creation of islands to compete for maritime territory is causing tension with other regional powers and the United States.

“All big countries are made bigger, in every sense of the word, by recognising their strengths and confidently sharing and defusing concerns of smaller countries,” he said in a speech that hailed the creation of a five-year engagement plan between the New Zealand Defence Force and the People’s Liberation Army as “the first agreed between China and a Western military, demonstrating the unique nature of our relationship.”

New Zealand was also the first western nation to recognise China as a market economy and to sign a free-trade agreement with China, and safe, peaceful maritime routes were crucial to New Zealand, which sends 99% of its exports by sea, he said.

Read more: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/brownlee-urges-china-act-big-country-south-china-sea-b-179337

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