As China moves to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and New Zealand have opened talks on an agreement for "seamless” sharing of classified information, a step that could strengthen Tokyo’s case to eventually join the "Five Eyes” intelligence partnership among English-speaking powers.

An announcement of the negotiations, during a visit to Tokyo on Thursday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, came two days after the Solomon Islands said it had reached a security agreement with China, provoking unease among Western-aligned powers in the region. The deal, according to a leaked document, could allow Beijing to deploy troops to the Solomons, and perhaps even result in the first Chinese military base in the Pacific.

"The announcement speaks to both countries’ concerns about China,” said Anna Powles, a senior lecturer in security studies at Massey University in New Zealand, "which have been amplified over the past few weeks with the signing of the security agreement” in the Solomons.