Labour defence spokesperson Phil Goff says New Zealand's close trading and diplomatic relationship with China puts pressure on the country's ties with the United States.
He made the comment at the United Nations Association conference in Wellington this weekend.
Mr Goff said the United States already distrusts China's growing strength and influence in the region.
He said it is vital both these super powers put aside any differences for the sake of economic and global security.
But Mr Goff lamented there were very few discussions in Parliament about what he called United Nations issues.