One of the great side effects of spending a week in Hong Kong, immersed in trade policy, is the perspective it brings to New Zealand's global political dilemmas.
They seem relatively benign when you throw them against the sheer scale of the challenge facing a place like Hong Kong.
In New Zealand we worry about the prospect of having to make a strategic choice between our largest economic trading partner, China, and our traditional political and cultural friend, the United States.
But, while trade officials and diplomats are using increasingly careful language, the prospect of a "big choice" still sits in the background for Kiwis.
The tyranny of distance makes trading hard work for our exporters but it is also a political advantage putting us at the periphery of global conflict.
In Hong Kong the dilemma created by a clash of two systems is now painfully acute.
The city faces intense pressure to lean towards Mainland China because of its historic, cultural and geographic status.
It also makes economic sense.
Hong Kong is an open, free-trading economy and China is increasingly positioning itself as the champion of free trade.
But Hong Kong is also an economy based on an open, Western-style legal system and free press.
The people of Hong Kong don't want to lose those freedoms and have proved that they are prepared to fight to keep them.
Meanwhile, the actions of the US aren't helping the cause of liberalism.
In fact the unilateral policy direction the US has taken in the past two years is playing completely into Chinese plans to develop a new global trading bloc based around the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
When Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road idea in 2013 it was a big deal, but it was largely a plan to enhance infrastructure through the old Silk Road and Maritime trade routes through South East Asia.
It was about building railways and roads in developing countries, with a view to boosting their economies and, presumably, creating new markets for Chinese goods.
Now, it is expanding as an idea. It encompasses a broader definition of global connectivity - IT, professional services and finance.
With the BRI, China is very deliberately offering the world "a new pathway" for multilateral trade and globalisation.
I've borrowed those words from Wang Bingnan - China's Vice-Minister of Commerce.
Bingnan was one of five senior Communist Party officials that delivered key note speeches in the opening session of the Belt and Road Summit I attended in Hong Kong last week.
Their message was very, very clear.
"The global economy is at crossroad," Bingnan said.
"Belt and Road is the antidote to slowing trade growth," he said.
None of the Chinese officials mentioned the US by name but they talked of "one nation's bullying and unilateral" approach to trade.
"Get onboard the express train of Chinese development," Foreign Affairs Commissioner Xie Feng exhorted the 5000 delegates in the crowd.
In a later panel session, Hong Kong based fund manager Dato' Seri Cheah Cheng Hye explained how the Belt and Road idea had been boosted by US policy.
"It really took off in 2017 after Trump when many countries realised they can no longer rely on the US," he said.
It had emerged as "the right initiative for the right time," he said.
There are now 152 nations on board with the Belt and Road initiative. There are something like 1800 projects underway already.
There were 55 nations at the summit last week.
Strangely - given we were the first Western nation to sign up to the Belt and Road - New Zealand wasn't there.
Australia, Canada, South Africa and the UK were there, along with countries from South East Asia, Central Europe and North Africa.
Perhaps we're less focused on Hong Kong as a BRI hub.
New Zealand trade officials and business groups are certainly working to keep New Zealand in the BRI framework - specifically looking at our potential as a link from South East Asia to South America.
New Zealand isn't looking for Belt and Road infrastructure funding (although it could if it was politically palatable).
But we need to be on board as the BRI takes shape as something bigger than that.
That brings us back to choices.
China, a non-democratic, authoritarian, super power, now appears to carry the torch for multilateral free trade.
Meanwhile the US – defender of democracy and freedom is pushing nationalism, and protectionism.
New Zealand's has to avoid a hard choice. It needs to try and pick the best of both worlds.
Politically, we remain steadfast in our commitment to democracy, freedom of speech and a free press.
Economically we remain committed to a free and fair multi-lateral trading framework.
In a sane world that should be an obvious combination for human happiness and wealth creation - surely.
But we live in a mad world now.
New Zealand finds itself in a diminishing group of nations seeking to marry globalisation with liberal democracy.
We shouldn't buckle. We are right.
We should repeat our position firmly, proudly and so regularly that there is never any doubt among US or Chinese officials that our position is negotiable.
Thankfully we still have that freedom.
But to maintain that freedom we need to exercise it.
In Hong Kong the dynamic is more difficult. The city has become a flash point for the clash of two ideologies.
Here's hoping it can also chart a peaceful and positive path.
• Liam Dann travelled to the Belt and Road Summit as a guest of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administration Region