Simon Bridges is questioning the "relationship" New Zealand has with China after an Air NZ flight bound from Auckland to China was refused entry yesterday.
The National Party leader told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that Air New Zealand had made "a mistake" yesterday but also said it was "true" that the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating and suggested the flight return might also be related to this.
The Air New Zealand flight was refused entry into Shanghai yesterday and had to turn back with airport officials saying the flight had no regulatory authority to land there.
Mr Bridges followed up the incident on Twitter yesterday, saying he wondered if the flight having to return was perhaps due to the ongoing breakdown in relations between the New Zealand and Chinese Government.
"Does the deteriorating relationship subtly have an effect on these sort of things?" he told Breakfast.
"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.
Mr Bridges said he believes foreign policy experts agree the two countries do not have a strong relationship and that questions need to be asked about "what is going on" and if the Air New Zealand incident was a direct correlation.