By NICK PERRY
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Reflecting on her five years as New Zealand’s leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says China has undoubtedly become more assertive in the region over that time. But she cautions that building relationships with small Pacific nations shouldn’t become a game of one-upmanship. In a joint interview with The Associated Press and the Australian Associated Press, Ardern says China has changed in recent years under President Xi Jinping. China this year made some bold geopolitical moves in the Pacific, including signing a security pact with the Solomon Islands, which worried some Pacific nations and Western democracies. But Ardern rejected criticism that New Zealand didn’t make its presence felt enough this year.