Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back over Taiwan reference

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

In a statement late on Sunday, China's civil aviation regulator quoted the airline as having said the issue was due to "temporary improper allocation of the aircraft".

Air New Zealand apologized for the inconvenience experienced by its customers and was "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the situation", reported AP.

The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on August 24 past year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.

China refuses to have diplomatic ties with governments that recognise Taiwan and has been cracking down on airlines that do so.

However, a publication by Stuff explains further that "multiple sources" claim "paperwork for the Air NZ flight 289, which returned to Auckland after several hours in the air included reference to Taiwan which China took to be an acknowledgement that the island was independent".

New Zealand's Minister for Transport Phil Twyford said his staff told him of the diversion once the issue became public.

'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.

Dismissing such conjectures as "irresponsible", Ardern accused the opposition of spreading "misinformation".

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

This was a plane flying in the middle of the night, on weekend, to a country which only a few years ago blocked all meat imports from New Zealand for more than a week because the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had been rebranded the Ministry for Primary Industries, meaning export paperwork changed slightly.

The prime minister asserted that despite complexities in ties, Auckland's relationship remains robust. It sometimes will have its challenges.

Exactly how much the difficulties in the relationship with China can be blamed on the Government is hard to know.

New Zealand yesterday said Beijing had postponed an event to launch the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 in Wellington next week. The exhibition runs until April 22, 2019.

She said yesterday it was likely that although the airline would have filed for an aircraft to land, a different aircraft was suddenly listed to land on the other side - something Chinese authorities would not have accepted.

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