MPs seek apology from ambassador after inflight guide states ‘precautions are needed’ in ethnic minority areas
Last modified on Tue 28 Nov 2017 15.13 GMT
MPs have urged China’s UK ambassador to intervene in a row over racist comments reportedly issued by a Chinese airline about ethnic minority areas of London.
An image of text from an inflight Air China magazine posted on social media prompted outrage after it warned passengers that “precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people”.
The text, tweeted by Beijing-based producer Haze Fan of US news channel CNBC, added: “We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling.”
A piece of advice in Air China inflight magazine. What does @MayorofLondon think? @CNBCi @SeamusConwell @cnbcSri pic.twitter.com/u7SGfiyuXA
Air China magazine warns London visitors to avoid ethnic minority areas https://t.co/1xRVficoWn Not good. @CNBC pic.twitter.com/xP4Jyk8rpe
Two MPs have urged Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, to secure an apology to their London constituents.
Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall where 39% of the population is Asian, wrote to Liu to complain about “blatant racism” from the airline.
He said: “I am shocked and appalled that even today some people would see it as acceptable to write such blatantly untrue and racist statements.
“I have raised this issue with the Chinese ambassador, and requested that he ensures an apology is swiftly forthcoming from Air China, and the magazine is removed from circulation immediately.
“I have invited representatives of Air China to visit my constituency of Ealing Southall to see that a very multicultural 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.”
Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, which has one of the largest south Asian populations in London, said: “I think it is offensive to all Londoners, not just the ethnic minorities mentioned.”
Speaking to the Evening Standard she said: “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.”
In her tweet, Fan asked what London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, thought about the comments. A spokesman for Khan said the mayor’s office was drafting a statement.
Lambeth and Southwark London assembly member Florence Eshalomi also invited Liu to her constituency. She said this would show him “what an international city London is”. She told the Guardian: “London is a safe city with a lot to offer visitors from across the world. Air China is doing a disservice to its passengers.”
The article was published in Air China’s monthly Wings of China magazine.
Air China has not commented.
The airline is the country’s flag carrier and has two flights a day from Beijing to Heathrow. It operates a total of 98 international routes.
Figures from VisitBritain show the number of trips to the UK from China rose by 46% last year to 270,000. Total expenditure from these visits was estimated at £586m and the average length of stay was 15 nights.