Air China magazine apologises for London race slur

Image source, Haze Fan, CNBC
Image caption,
The comments were made in Air China's monthly in-flight magazine

The publisher of an Air China in-flight magazine has apologised after the airline became embroiled in a race row.

The magazine warned passengers to take "precautions" when visiting parts of London mainly populated by "Indians, Pakistanis and black people".

It was distributed on Air China flights in September.

Air China Media, which publishes the Wings of China magazine, said it wished to apologise to "readers and passengers who are feeling uncomfortable".

It added: "This inappropriate description... was purely a work mistake by the editors and it's not the magazine's views.

"We will immediately recall this entire issue of magazines and draw lessons from this incident."

Image source, Haze Fan, CNBC
Image caption,
The airline operates two flights per day from Beijing to London Heathrow

The offending magazine article was noticed by Beijing-based producer Haze Fan, from US news channel CNBC.

It said: "London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people."

It added: "We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling."

Air China and tourism

  • Air China is the country's national flag carrier
  • The airline operates two flights a day from Beijing to London Heathrow out of a total of 98 international routes
  • The traditional Chinese red of its logo symbolises auspiciousness, completion, peace and happiness
  • VisitBritain said the number of trips to the UK from China rose by 46% last year to 270,000
  • It added that Chinese tourists spent an estimated £586m in the UK in 2015.
  • The average visit by a Chinese tourist to the UK lasts 15 nights.

Air China said it had immediately removed the magazine from all its flights and demanded Wings of China completes a thorough check on future content to avoid similar problems.

London MP Virendra Sharma has written to the Chinese ambassador to the UK to demand an apology.

Mr Sharma said: "I am shocked and appalled that even today some people would see it as acceptable to write such blatantly untrue and racist statements."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
MP Virendra Sharma has invited representatives of Air China to visit his Ealing Southall constituency

The Labour MP for Ealing Southall, which has a high Indian population, said he had requested for the magazine to be removed from circulation immediately.

He added: "I have invited representatives of Air China to visit my constituency of Ealing Southall to see that a very multi-cultural area is safe, and would be of great value for those visiting London to see.

"I will await their response, and if an appropriate one is not forthcoming I shall feel forced to question whether Air China is a fit company to operate in the UK."

The Chinese government has previously raised concerns about how its citizens act abroad.

In 2013, a senior Chinese Communist Party official called for authorities to "guide tourists to conscientiously abide by public order and social ethics, respect local religious beliefs and customs, mind their speech and behaviour... and protect the environment".

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