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Vol. 4 (2023): Panoply Journal

China and The West: What Explains China's Divergent Bilateral Relationships? The Case of Australia and New Zealand

17 October 2023


China’s rapid and continuous growth in the 21st century sets it on a trajectory to surpass regional hegemons politically, militarily, and economically. As China bolsters its global influence, some western nations are not easily influenced and charmed by China’s while other western partners are. Why is it that China’s relationship with certain western powers are considered strategic partners while others are considered strategic competitors? While the United States and their allies such as Australia create new policies countering China’s global influence, nations such as New Zealand have been showing growing support for the Chinese communist Party (CCP). As an example, when China introduces new economic policies in the region, New Zealand is typically the first western power to legitimize these policies by becoming a partner. Because of New Zealand’s positive relationship with China, the CCP has called New Zealand a model for western countries. In contrast, New Zealand's neighbor and strongest ally, Australia, has a relationship that is on course to being as competitive with China to the degree in which the US and China share. This paper will examine the reasons behind China’s growing governmental ties with New Zealand instead of Australia by using an economic approach. My finding is that China's foreign interference activities don’t have much effect on their diplomatic relationship, but rather the economy is a major factor that contributes to New Zealand’s diplomatic relations with China.

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