Woman dies on Air New Zealand flight on arrival in Samoa

The flight was not allowed to land at Shanghai airport

"Air New Zealand has been very open about the fact that there is a requirement from China's end for planes going into China to be registered".

The issue reportedly involved documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, which had been included with Air New Zealand's application to enable the plane to make a landing in China.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asserted that an incident involving a Shanghai-bound Air New Zealand flight turning back to Auckland last Saturday was an "administrative issue" and would have no impact on diplomatic ties with China.

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

Last year, New Zealand issued a defence policy statement in which it said China's rising influence in the South Pacific could undermine regional stability, and alluded to tension in the disputed South China Sea, sparking complaint from 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 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".

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"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.

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

An opening ceremony event was to be held at Te Papa on February 20, coinciding with the hosting of 2,300-year-old Chinese artefacts, the Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality exhibition.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges suggested the returned flight was indicative of increasingly tense relations between China and New Zealand.

Scheduling clashes happen - we all have to postpone sometimes. That's in New Zealand's best interest.

"Personally, I think, that's disappointing", she added.

She said it was most likely the aircraft registration filed with the Chinese authorities was different from the registration of the aircraft that was used on the flight. "Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?"

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