29 Jul 2013

Controversial new Chinese plane to fly in Tonga this week

5:30 am on 29 July 2013

A controversial new Chinese aircraft gifted to Tonga that prompted New Zealand to suspend tourism aid is to be put into operation this week.

Earlier this month, the New Zealand government said it would suspend more than eight million US dollars of aid until the MA-60 aircraft's safety was certified to an international standard.

Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, says the aircraft meets international standards because MA-60s are still flying in China.

He says the aircraft will be used by the airline Real Tonga to fly to Vava'u.

"Go and talk with China on the Chinese Standards. New Zealand should do that with China. We are doing it with China, and New Zealand should do that with China and not us. I am not worried about New Zealand."

Mr Vaipulu says New Zealand cannot just give money to Tonga, then tell it what to do.