Debate over China's role in the Asia Pacific region and how New Zealand and Australia should respond to it continues to bubble after the Prime Minister's visit to the United States.
During a White House appearance, Jacinda Ardern signed up to a joint statement that nailed New Zealand's colours squarely to the US mast on security and strategic concerns.
"We note with concern the security agreement between ... China and the Solomon Islands," it said. "The US and New Zealand share a concern that the establishment of a persistent military presence in the Pacific by a state that does not share our values or security interests would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and pose national-security concerns."
Since then has come news that a Chinese fighter jet buzzed an Australian surveillance plane over the South China Sea just days after the country's election.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said during his tour of Pacific islands that a reset in the two countries' interactions required "concrete actions" and that a "political force" in Australia that views Beijing as a rival and threat has caused a deterioration in that relationship.
On Sunday new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese jetted off to Indonesia, having described it as "about to be a superpower" and saying Canberra needed "to really strengthen the relationship" with Indonesia because "we live in a region whereby in the future we will have China, India and Indonesia as giants".
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on top of the fallout between China and Australia over the pandemic, the introduction of Aukus, and Beijing's security pact with the Solomons, have changed the geopolitical outlook in the past two years.
While that has resulted in New Zealand noticeably working closer with traditional allies, particularly over Ukraine, there is still value in the country treading a more careful, independent path on China than Australia does.
New Zealand has been able to maintain a good relationship with Beijing and it is best to keep up a constructive dialogue, even with the ongoing need to diversify trade options.
Competition and rivalry can harden into an entrenched position that's hard to step back from and can encourage further escalation.
China is not where Russia under President Vladimir Putin is in its dealings with other countries and has maintained a political distance during the Ukraine war.
Beijing works on its own interests and development internationally but mostly in a pragmatic and trade-focused way. It is used to co-operation and deal-making. It is in part responding to increased security interest by the US in the Asia Pacific.
In the now 100-plus days of the Ukraine war, the Kremlin has shown itself capable of aggression without provocation, displacing millions of people, slaughtering civilians and trying to cover up evidence, threatening use of nuclear weapons, cutting off badly needed food supplies to poor countries, allegedly kidnapping thousands of Ukrainians, and reducing towns to rubble.
Both the long-term dangers of allowing Russia to get out of this war with extra territory and the strategic benefits to the West of having Ukraine in the EU camp should it push its neighbour out have now become clear.
The outside world will have to manage the danger as long as Putin is in power, but better relations with Russia will now have to wait for new leadership.
That isn't the situation with China. Long-term scenarios can be prepared for but regular trade contact and political engagement are the best ways to keep the peace.