Air NZ passengers on diverted flight to China touch down in Shanghai

The flight was not allowed to land at Shanghai airport

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

On another hand, this would not be the first time Taiwan-China question is causing a massive headache for airlines.

"I think it is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship", Ardern told a weekly news conference.

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".

During a press conference in Beijing Monday, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blamed the flight's temporary deployment hiccup as the reason it was not authorised to land in China, citing news reports she read online. DPA added that that the aircraft returned to Auckland about five hours after taking off and did not have permission from the Chinese authorities to land.

In a statement Air New Zealand said the plane was new to the company's fleet, and did not have the correct paperwork allowing it to land in China.

The incident marks yet another arbitrary move by Beijing to impose its ideology upon foreign companies, following the CAA order on April 24 of a year ago that forced airlines to refer to Taiwan as part of China on their websites, which the U.S. White House called "Orwellian nonsense".

The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington's Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China.

'New Zealand's relationship with China is deteriorating, ' says Simon Bridges.The National Party leader's comments comes as Air NZ flight was denied entry into China on February 10. "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.

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. "Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?" She said the two countries "continued to discuss dates" for a visit sometime in 2019.

New Zealand political journalist Richard Harman speculated on his website Politik that the rejection of flight NZ289 was China reacting to New Zealand's decision to ban Chinese telco Huawei from supplying 5G to New Zealand telco Spark.

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