Air China is facing accusations of racism after its in-flight magazine warned travellers headed for London to take precautions when entering areas populated by “Indians, Pakistanis and black people”.
The remarks in the latest edition of Wings of China, the official magazine of the state-run airline published in English and Mandarin, angered British politicians representing areas with large Indian and Pakistani populations.
“Safety: London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people,” the magazine said.
“We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling,” it added. The advice was repeated in Mandarin in an article on London.
The comments were spotted by Beijing-based news and documentary producer Haze Fan, who posted images of the magazine and the offending article on Twitter. In a tweet that tagged London mayor Sadiq Khan, who is of Pakistani descent, Fan asked what he thought of Air China’s advice.
British politicians had demanded an apology and called for the remarks to be removed from the magazine by Air China, which flies twice a day between London and Beijing, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.
Rosena Allin-Khan, the MP for Tooting, which has one of the largest Indian and Pakistani populations in London, said: “My initial thoughts were that the comments were outrageous.
“I think that it is offensive to Londoners and I would like to see it removed. I would also like to ask the airline why they thought these precautions needed to be taken.
“Why they feel they needed to warn people of something that is not reflective of London at all? I think it is offensive to all Londoners, not just the ethnic minorities mentioned,” she told the Evening Standard.
Allin-Khan said she would write to the Chinese ambassador to Britain to invite him to visit Tooting, “where all races live side by side. Then they can see how we live and our wonderfully diverse community.”
Lambeth and Southwark London assembly member Florence Eshalomi said “you couldn’t make up these outdated and near-on racist views”.
“We want people who embrace our diversity and different culture – that is the make-up of London. If airlines have a problem with that then we don’t want them in London. We would love to offer Chinese tourists a tour of areas like Peckham, Brixton and Newham where they would be welcomed with open arms by our diverse communities,” she said.