Air NZ Flight to Shanghai Turned Away on Taiwan Reference

Members of the Uighur community living in Turkey participate in a protest in Istanbul

Air New Zealand Flight 289 from Auckland to Shanghai was about four-and-a-half or five hours into its journey Sunday when a "technicality" was discovered that meant the plane was not registered in China, the airline said. The plane, which has not yet been confirmed, returned to Auckland about five hours after it took off and that it did not have permission from the Chinese authorities to land. 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.

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 airline said on Monday that China denied the plane landing permission due to an administrative error.

It is understood Flight NZ289, carrying about 270 passengers, was operated by a newer Boeing 787-9 aircraft not yet been entered in a database of planes allowed to land in China.

There is no doubt that the relationship is in a hard state, and many in media and foreign affairs circles are on the lookout for any sign that China is punishing New Zealand.

Air New Zealand did not immediately respond to further questions on the incident.

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"We've got a situation right now where the Prime Minister is seeking meetings in China and she can't get them and there is a relationship problem here, " he continued.

As to when she would be visiting Beijing, Ardern failed to give a specific date.

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".

"This issue relates to a particular aircraft which is not yet certified to operate to China but was unfortunately assigned to operate our Shanghai flight on Saturday night", the spokesperson said.

"We've not received any communication of this nature", an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said at the time. "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.

"Air NZ wishes to sincerely apologise for the return and subsequent retiming of your flight, NZ289".

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