China turns back jet after Taiwan 'insult'

Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight yesterday only to return about 10am today. — Reuters pic

NZ flight turns back mid-air after discovering it lacks permission to land in China

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".

In some circumstances it was possible for airlines to find a quick solution to an incorrect flight plan however, because the incident with flight NZ289 occurred over the weekend there was little chance of anyone within China's bureaucracy who would have been able to make an amendment to allow the flight to land, she said.

Air NZ flight 289, which was bound for Shanghai, was forced to turn back to Auckland after several hours in the air because Chinese authorities deemed that its application to land in China contained wording that indicated Taiwan is an independent country, according to sources cited by Stuff.

'A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China'.

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.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in comments aired on a television channel, dismissed concerns the returned flight was a sign of strains between the two countries, adding the temporary plane wasn't registered.

Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges blamed Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters for "steadily deteriorating relations" with China, and said the ties were at the worst ever.

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"In the past, New Zealand has enjoyed a consensus approach to foreign policy, a unified front".

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship and sometimes it will have its challenges", Ardern told TVNZ in an interview.

Ardern is left trotting out the line that this is a scheduling issue, and the only thing keeping her from an official visit is scheduling clashes.

Acknowledging that there are geopolitical tensions rupturing between China & NZ isn't being disloyal to Jacinda, it's the inevitability of forces well beyond our shores.

Relations between China and New Zealand have been strained in recent months after New Zealand's spy agency in November halted mobile company Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade. She said: "I have been issued with an invitation to visit China - that has not changed".

New Zealand yesterday said Beijing had postponed an event to launch the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 in Wellington next week.

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