Beijing: China's flag carrier Air China, which is at the centre of a racism controversy, on Thursday withdrew its in-flight magazine that advised London visitors to be cautious in areas populated by "Indians, Pakistanis and black people" with the publisher apologising for the "editing mistake".
The airline withdrew the September issue of the "Wings of China" magazine after the government asked it to conduct a probe into the episode. Air China's 'Wings of China' carried a long feature on visiting London. After a section on transport options and lifestyle and cultural activities in London, Wings of China has offered some "Tips from Air China".
"London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people," China's flagship carrier advised in the magazine. As the article containing the created furore, the state owned airline in an email to news outlets here said it has removed copies of its in-flight magazine containing the controversial article.
It said the September issue of "Wings of China" used "inappropriate" language and that the article did not represent the airline's views. "After discovering this problem, Air China immediately removed this magazine from all flights and demanded that the publishers of 'Wings of China' seriously learn from this lesson, strengthen their content review and avoid making similar mistakes," the airline said.
The contents came to light after a journalist tweeted the snippet. The airline also forwarded an email from the magazine's publisher apologising to Air China and stating that the fault lay with an "editing mistake".
Indian-origin abour MP for Ealing Southall Virendra Sharma had tweeted on Wednesday, "This is offensive and I hope AirChina will remove this magazine and apologise immediately."
Sharma had demanded an apology from Air China for "blatant racism".
In its apology to Air China, the China Aviation Media Co Ltd, the publisher of the magazine, said the article ran "counter to our original intention to promote the beautiful scenes of London".
"It has brought about misunderstanding from some media outlets and readers and also a huge negative impact on your company's business operations and image. We deeply apologise for that," its statement read.
An embarrassed Chinese Foreign Ministry asked Air China to investigate the racial comments while clarifying that Beijing has never issued such an advisory to Chinese visiting London.
"I have seen the report but I have no specific information on that," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said while replying to questions on the Air China magazine's comments at a media briefing here.