Warning as Government plays down South China Sea tension

There are concerns that New Zealand's huge military spend, announced this week, was designed to appease military allies.

Conflicts between our closest defence allies, America and Australia, and trade partner, China, have experts concerned. Source: 1 NEWS

Tensions in the South China Sea continue, New Zealand's official position is staying right out of it, but we may yet be forced to pick a side.

Professor Alexander Gillespie of the University of Waikato says New Zealand already has a de facto ally in any dispute.

"In terms of strategic allies, we recognise Australia as our number one best friend, but Australia recognises the United States as their number one best friend, which means if push comes to shove we're much more likely to follow Australia and the United States than we are China," Mr Gillespie said.