No deterioration in NZ-China relationship - Ardern

Lester Mason
February 12, 2019

The pilot later told those on board that "Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around", passenger and American academic Eric Hundman told the New Zealand Herald. Officials in Beijing warned the airline to remove reference to any paperwork which suggested Taiwan was a state back in 2018, but the issue was not resolved, according to the report.

Ties with China have been tense under Ardern's government which has openly raised concerns about Beijing's growing influence in the South Pacific, and rejected Chinese telecoms giant Huawei's first local bid to build a 5G mobile network.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said the Chinese let the government know a few weeks ago that there was a scheduling issue, and the event would happen eventually.

China's approach to Taiwan is well known, as is its strict approach to paperwork.

An Air New Zealand flight bound for Shanghai was forced to turn back on Saturday (Feb. 9) by Chinese authorities because it referred to Taiwan as a country, reported Stuff.

She conceded that China and New Zealand have a "complex relationship" which has "its challenges".

Air New Zealand did not respond to questions about a Taiwan link but said "as is required, the application includes a list of destinations the airline operates to, including Taipei".

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".

Relations between the two countries have become increasingly strained in recent months, following a recommendation from New Zealand's spy agency that the roll-out of 5G by Huawei posed "significant national security risks".

The turn-back attracted worldwide attention and comes after the New Zealand carrier recently withdrew its latest safety video after heavy criticism.

Last year, New Zealand issued a defence policy statement in which it said China's rising influence in the South Pacific could undermine regional stability, and alluded to tension in the disputed South China Sea, sparking complaint from China.

While New Zealand was right to hold its line on an independent foreign policy, that did not mean ministers should not be careful in their remarks, he said.

The Boeing 777-219 Flight NZ296 from Auckland was due to land at the Faleolo International Airport at 2:10pm (Samoa Time) this afternoon and for passengers to disembark.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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