A Chinese airline has caused outrage after it emerged an inflight magazine warned London-bound passengers to avoid areas “populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people”.
London politicians have responded to Air China’s travel advice with fury, one London assembly member even declaring that the city doesn’t want “racist” visitors who won’t “embrace [London’s] diversity”.
The controversy erupted on Wednesday after Chinese journalist Haze Fan tweeted a photograph of a passage from Air China’s inflight magazine, Wings of China. The paragraph, which appears in a feature on London’s t0urist attractions, states that while the city is safe overall, visitors should take precautions when visiting ethnic enclaves.
“We advise tourists not to go out alone at night, and females always to be accompanied by another person when travelling,” the passage cautioned.
Ms Fan, a producer for CNBC, said she thinks the advice is “at odds with the London promoted by its Mayor Sadiq Khan”. The Chinese journalist noted also that her Londoner fiancé felt that the China Air paragraph is “rather insulting”.
Having seen the piece in its inflight magazine London politicians are demanding Air China remove its warning, asserting that ethnic diversity benefits London.
Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting — which has one of the largest non-native populations in England — 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?”
The MP, who replaced London’s Muslim mayor in parliament, declared: “I think it is offensive to all Londoners, not just the ethnic minorities mentioned.
“We pride ourselves on having a wonderfully diverse community, and this may mean people come here with a different idea, it is worrying that some may arrive concerned.
“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.”
London assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, Florence Eshalomi, could not believe the paragraph was published in the current year, and called for tourists who embrace ethnic diversity.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Ms. Eshalomi said: “I keep thinking, is this 2016?”, and stated “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.”
A spokesman from Soros-funded Hope Not Hate said: “If true, these comments are crassly ill-informed and offensive, and simply peddle to outrageous stereotypes.
“It beggars belief to understand how they could have been written in the first place.
“They should be removed immediately. Londoners deserve an apology.”