Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back over Taiwan reference

The flight was not allowed to land at Shanghai airport

The flight was not allowed to land at Shanghai airport Credit Reuters

The issue has created a headache for the New Zealand government, with increasing questions about the true state of relations between New Zealand and China, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unable to say when she will visit Beijing.

A passenger plane flying from Auckland to Shanghai was forced to turn back after some five hours in the air because it did not have permission to land, officials said on Sunday.

Speaking to media, Bridges said the relationship between New Zealand and China appeared to be "steadily deteriorating", with Peters making careless remarks on issues such as the Belt and Road Initiative and Ardern failing to rein him in.

The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on Aug 24 previous year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.

Under the previous conservative government, New Zealand had fostered much closer ties with China.

An Air New Zealand flight was reportedly denied permission to land in China because the airline's paperwork referenced Taiwan as an independent country.

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If National leader Simon Bridges really wants to convince us things would be different if he were Prime Minister, he should deliver a clear statement that he would support Huawei playing a major role in the 5G network, putting New Zealand at clear odds with the rest of the Five Eyes network.

"In the past New Zealand has enjoyed a consensus approach to foreign policy, a unified front, that's in New Zealand's best interests".

Ardern's plans to visit Beijing previous year were also put on hold due to scheduling problems, with her office saying in late November it was "difficult to find a time that suits everyone".

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship, it sometimes will have its challenges, but they remain an incredibly important economic and people-to-people partner".

On the other, if China wanted to demonstrate its power to cause considerable pain to a country resisting its expansion, while causing relatively little pain to its own economy, New Zealand could be an attractive target. "Them (the opposition) spreading misinformation around issues like this flight, I have decided I see it as irresponsible and a real departure from what we have experienced on foreign policy before", she said.

Subsequently New Zealand telco company Spark said it would not use the company as part of the 5G roll-out, although justice minister Andrew Little has stopped short of calling it a ban.

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