China is pouring millions of dollars in aid and low-interest loans into the South Pacific, many think they are looking for a "window" to peer into New Zealand and Australia.
New Zealand's deputy premier has spoken of "strategic anxiety" in the Pacific in a seeming allusion to China's increasing clout in the region. But Australia says it welcomes any "productive" investment.
The decision comes as Western governments are increasingly wary about possible Chinese espionage through Huawei. New Zealand mobile provider Spark said it would still roll out 5G by July 2020.
Through a series of major investment funds and development aid projects, Australia and China are trying to outbid each other to create networks of power and influence in poorer Pacific nations.
Tropical Cyclone Gita, which recently devastated Tonga, has tracked south and brought damaging winds and torrential rain to New Zealand. A record hot summer has warmed ocean surfaces.
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