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Air China, Asia’s third largest airline, has found itself in the middle of a racism storm since its inflight magazine began advising tourists to avoid London’s ethnic minority neighborhoods.
A feature article on the British capital that appeared in the latest edition of Wings of China told its readers: “London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people.”
The piece, written both in English and Chinese, added: “We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling.”
Chinese journalist Haze Fan was travelling back to China when she first saw the article, which she described as “racist” and“rather insulting.” She tweeted a picture of it to London Mayor Sadiq Khan asking for his advice.
Some politicians have since demanded an apology and explanation from the airline, many of whom want the section deleted from the piece altogether, given the number of travellers boarding Air China’s twice-daily Beijing to London Heathrow flights.
“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,” said Labour MP Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, who represents south London’s Tooting neighborhood, an area with a predominantly south Asian demographic.
“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.
“I am going to be writing to the Chinese Ambassador to invite him to visit Tooting in London, where all races live side by side. Then they can see how we live and our wonderfully diverse community,” the MP said.
Air China has failed to comment on the article so far.