A former New Zealand Defence Minister believes the chances of a major war between Western powers and China in the coming decade is fairly low, but says there is a risk of “incidents”.

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia on Thursday announced a new defence and security pact which will see the trio share information about technologies and coordinate their efforts to confront emerging challenges in the Indo-Pacific.

While none of the official statements made by any of the countries specifically mentioned China, it’s widely accepted the new tripartite group is looking to counter the superpower’s growing influence in the region.

“It’s obvious this whole deal is about China, no question about that, and that’s obvious to anyone who thinks about it,” Wayne Mapp, the former New Zealand Defence Minister under Sir John Key, told The AM Show on Friday.

“It’s a big deal. Australia is showing, and they have always wanted to do this, that they are stepping up. They are a middle power, but they want to see themselves at the top rank of middle powers.”