“Reports that China will seek a deal with Pacific Islands covering policing, security and data communications cooperation next week is hugely concerning for New Zealand’s security and peace in the Pacific,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“It follows the presence of a Chinese spy ship off Australia’s coast last week and a security pact with the Solomon Islands.

“China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit eight Pacific Islands within the week.

“Our Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta needs to answer the question: where has she been?

“Why will China’s Foreign Minister tour the Pacific Islands before our Foreign Minister?

“Since the borders opened, Nanaia Mahuta should have already toured the Pacific meeting leaders and delivering messages from New Zealand.

“Unfortunately, the Government has not taken the threat to Pacific security seriously. We are a small nation, but we should be a leading democracy in the region.

“Labour agrees that the world is changing but it doesn’t know what to do and it’s too busy wasting money on poorly targeted spending.

“ACT says we should follow the NATO target and methodology. It would see $7.5 billion in extra capital expenditure over the next four years on Defence.

“ACT has committed two per cent of GDP for Defence expenditure, focusing heavily on capital investment so that we have the capability to defend ourselves and send a message to our allies and to those less friendly that we are here to stand up for liberal democracy.

“The target of two per cent of GDP is what all of our traditional allies, including Australia, are committed to and would demonstrate the seriousness with which we take our defence obligations.

“This is the kind of valuable spending that government should be doing, protecting our country, aligning us with our allies, and sending a message to China that we will police the Pacific.

“Nanaia Mahuta should cancel her plans for the next month and show New Zealand’s presence in the Pacific.”

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Brooke van Velden