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'Complexities' in NZ-China relationship, but they remain an 'incredibly important partner' - Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has hit back at talk of a relationship breakdown between New Zealand and China after an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Shanghai was turned back.

Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast today the Prime Minister accused the National Party of "spreading misinformation" after the party blamed a strained relationship between New Zealand and China for the plane being turned around on Sunday.

Ms Ardern said the Air New Zealand flight was turned around because of an "administration error" rather than a politically motivated act from China.

"I think it would be wrong to confuse administrative and regulatory issues as signals on our relationship," Mr Ardern told  Breakfast.

"Them [National] spreading misinformation around issues like this flight, I have to say, I see as irresponsible and a real departure on what we've seen on foreign policy before," Mr Ardern said. "Personally, I think that's disappointing."

But Ms Ardern admitted the relationship between the two nations was a complex one.

"There is no question, speaking more broadly of our relationship, that our relationship with China is a complex relationship - it sometimes will have it's challenges - but they remain an incredibly important economic and people to people partner."

Both this and last year, Ms Ardern cancelled plans to head to China and to meet the Premier.

However, she told Breakfast her invitation to the nation remains open and says plans to organise a visit are ongoing.

"These are not binary issues in foreign policy," she said. "Yes we've had some complexities, some of the issues of Huawei has been raised a couple of times."

The rollout of 5G in New Zealand would be done over a process that will make sure the best interests of New Zealander's data and security were at the forefront. "As a Government, we're tasked with protecting New Zealanders information" Ms Ardern said.

The Prime Minister spoke about the issue on TVNZ1’s Breakfast today. Source: Breakfast