New Zealanders living in China could become caught up in brewing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Newstalk ZB this morning revealed the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, which was meant to be launched at Te Papa museum next week, was postponed by China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also been unsuccessful in attempts to schedule a diplomatic visit to China, although she said officials are still working on nailing down dates.

On the weekend, an Air New Zealand aircraft was turned around mid-flight on its way to China.


The airline took responsibility and a spokeswoman said the problem was the aircraft was new to the route, and hadn't gained the necessary approval.

Geopolitical and security analyst Paul Buchanan told Larry Williams that it is not the fault of the current Government, as the tensions go back to our trade deal with America.

He says that a deal to trade with Asia in the 1990s clashed with the need to increase security ties with America and the United Kingdom after 9/11 has put us in the middle of the trade war between America and China.

"That position put us squarely in the middle, the meat in a very uncomfortable sandwich."

Buchanan says that these are very light-handed responses, and we should not think too much into it. He says it is China's way of "virtue signalling" that they are not pleased with some of the Government's decisions.

"In particular, I would imagine it is the GSCB decision to advise against using Huawei equipment for the 5G rollout has them most unhappy."

He says that China could take a stronger response if New Zealand flat out banned Huawei products, which would follow the wishes of the rest of our Five Eyes partners.

Buchanan has already warned his clients to avoid going to China, and he says that the threat of backlash is very much on the table, as we have seen Australia and Canadian citizens punished.


"When Canadians arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei on a extradition request from the United States, within days two Canadian citizens living in China were arrested on national security charges"

He says this is known as "hostage diplomacy", a way of a country punishing the citizens of another country that they are clashing with.

"If we continue down an inevitable path towards banning Huawei, then I would simply say that if you are doing business in China, if you are a New Zealand resident in China, you need to be cognisant of the fact that there could be a knock on your door and you could be taken away on corruption charges or turpitude charges."

Buchanan says that tourists likely don't need to be concerned, but any residents should be wary.

He also doubts that our Free Trade Deal will be upgraded any time soon. Buchanan says it is easy for China to take actions against us as we are the most vulnerable of the Five Eyes partners.

"The US and UK are too big for the Chinese to deal with. The Canadians might have some vulnerabilities. Australia has strategic minerals that the Chinese need. What do we sell China? Milk product."

Buchanan says we have put all our eggs into the basket of China and if we are cut off, the ramifications would be severe.