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Geopolitical analyst Geoffrey Miller says the importance of the China-New Zealand relationship is enough to justify a back-up plane.
A second aircraft was sent ahead of Chris Hipkins' flight- positioned on standby in the Philippines, just in case the first broke down.
Miller says it might seem expensive, but we send $20 billion worth of exports to China every year.
"The relationship is on slightly rocky ground. This visit has been heavily delayed, it was meant to be at the start of the year. I think if you're going to go, it's probably worth doing the trip well and that's what Hipkins is doing, I guess, by making sure he gets there."
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