China defers New Zealand tourism event amid concerns of a diplomatic rift

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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.

"Midway through our flight, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was questioned repeatedly, forced to defend the state of relations with New Zealand's largest trading partner.

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.

Air New Zealand began flying from Auckland to Shanghai in June 2006.

An worldwide flight from Auckland to Shanghai has turned around mid-air and returned to New Zealand, sparking concerns over increasingly frosty relations between the two countries and setting off a political war of words.

The airline said on Monday that China denied the plane landing permission due to an administrative error. The airline said all customers had since arrived in Shanghai.

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.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a cabinet meeting at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, January 29, 2019.

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".

Ardern said she would not characterise the relationship as having deteriorated, arguing the Government had been "incredibly consistent" in how it approached diplomacy with China and other countries.

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.

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.

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.

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