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.
DPA said that China refused to allow the aircraft land because there is no permission from the Chinese authorities.
An Air New Zealand flight bound for Shanghai was forced to turn back on Saturday (Feb. 9) by Chinese authorities because it referred to Taiwan as a country, reported Stuff.
The airline apologized for disrupting the travel plans of customers and said it knew they would be "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the situation".
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The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on August 24 previous year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.
China has postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's visit to Beijing has been further delayed as concerns mount of strained ties over China's growing influence in the Pacific. "A permitting issue, supposedly", one passenger, Eric Hundman, told the New Zealand Herald.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.
"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, " he said.
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Visitors view terracotta warriors during the preview of the exhibition "Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality" at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 13, 2018.
Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges blamed Ms Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters for "steadily deteriorating relations" with China, and said ties were at the worst point ever. "That was a outcome", she said. "Look, there are no questions speaking more broadly... that our relationship with China is a complex relationship".
The exhibition - featuring eight warriors standing 180 cm tall, and two full-size horses from the terracotta army, as well as two half-size replica bronze horse-drawn chariots - opened to the public on December 15 in the run-up to the beginning of 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism.
"I have been issued with an invitation to visit China, that has not changed. Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?"
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