New Zealand is becoming caught between two world superpowers and their South Pacific aspirations, a leading security expert warns.
On one hand the government appears happy to heel to the call of American desires about the copyright concerns of Kim Dotcom, yet are prepared to accommodate Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications firm who has been flagged as a security risk and a copyright violator by the US.
Former intelligence consultant to the US Government, Paul Buchanan believes New Zealand is "straddling the emerging competition of Chinese and American diplomatic goals in the South Pacific."
"We are straddling the fence - a barbed wire fence - it's an uncomfortable position to be in."
The Pacific Rim is in the beginning phases of what is going to become much deeper strategic competition in the South Pacific, according to Buchanan.
Despite being a private company, Huawei is a projection of Chinese power in a communication industry the country has labelled a strategic priority, according to Buchanan.
"Huawei is staffed by Chinese intelligence services and the army and the lack of checks and balances on the Chinese regime has given rise to Western concerns that they serve as some form of front for Chinese intelligence."
Buchanan says New Zealand's choice to use Huawei communications will raise eyebrows with our intelligence partners, many who have flagged the Chinese firm for its security breaches.
"The entire security network that NZ is a part of have raised concerns," he said.
"We have chosen to ignore them. This is a dangerous place for such a small place."
If Huawei was to provide communications in New Zealand, this country could become a potential back door for cyber espionage in the international network, he said.
This could lead to New Zealand being excluded to international intelligence flows.
Buchanan says the latest concern emphasises New Zealand's growing appearance of amateurism in relation to security concerns.
"We have people in positions in the security apparatus who are a bit out of their depth when playing with the big boys."
"And you have one person who is clearly out of his depth," he said in reference to Prime Minister John Key.
New Zealand will eventually have to choose sides as the the ascending power of China overlaps the superpower of the US in the South Pacific, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News