Air China race row: Precautions are needed when entering ethnic minority areas

Air China has been involved in a race row after telling its passengers ‘precautions are needed’ when entering areas with a high population of Indians, Pakistanis and black people.

The advice was giving in its bilingual inflight magazine Wings of China, which has a circulation serving millions of passengers.

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Haze Fan was the journalist who spotted the advice in the magazine and subsequently tweeted it: “London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people. We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling.”

Xiao Chen, who recently graduated from a British university with an engineering degree but has since returned to Shanghai said: “The statement has been blown out of proportion and not meant to be racist as such, although the wording is not acceptable by western standards. What they really mean is not to go out alone at night, in rough areas, but each person’s definition of a rough area in Britain may be different.”

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The Labour MP for Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma is not happy.

The Labour MP, Virendra Sharma said: “Today I have written in the strongest possible terms to His Excellency Mr Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China, to raise my concerns about reports of racism in their inflight magazine. I am shocked and appalled that even today some people would see it as acceptable to write such blatantly untrue and racist statements.”

The MP for Ealing Southall which has a high population of Indians and who once chaired a meeting for the Chinese Council of Great Britain said he had requested for the magazine to be removed from circulation immediately.

“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” he added.

Jackson Ng, a barrister who has acted on numerous discrimination cases said: “London is a multicultural and safe city and I am extremely proud to be a Londoner. Any statement like the one we have seen from Air China is unacceptable. All races are equal and everyone should work together to oppose all forms of racial discrimination. Parts of our community has worked very hard in combating racial discrimination and we should continue to do so, for all races.”

There has been a huge surge in Chinese visitors in recent years with nearly 300,000 Chinese visitors coming to Britain last year, each spending thousands of pounds on average.

Nee Hao Magazine has contacted China’s national carrier for comment, their media representation replied: “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.”

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