Air China removes in-flight magazines

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Air China, the nation's flag-carrier, has removed in-flight magazines that made an inappropriate safety suggestion to travelers after a London MP complained to the Chinese ambassador to the UK.

The airline has called on the publishers of the Wings of China magazine, to "reflect upon their negligence" and told them to improve their editing and language to ensure that the mistake is not repeated. The publishers have issued an apology in an open letter.

"Air China has resolutely upheld respect for different cultures and customs in the global community," the airline said in a statement. "Air China stands fully committed to providing premium air services and serving as a bridge that connects people of different ethnic groups and promotes equal exchanges between them."

A safety suggestion to visitors to the UK in one article reads: "London is generally a safe place to travel, however precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people."

The comments immediately caused a stir in the UK and prompted Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing Southall, to write to Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming complaining about the comments.

At a regular news conference in Beijing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Chinese government has consistently advocated for and supported the equality of all ethnicities without exception and opposed all forms of racial discrimination. "Our position in this regard is clear and definite," she said.

Hua also said that China has always encouraged people-to-people exchanges between China and the UK.

"We hope that the people of the two countries can better understand each other through close contact and enhance mutual understanding and have more cooperation," she added.

Sharma said he was pleased with how things were settled by the airline.

"I'm quite pleased that the airline has responded responsibly to the request made by me and many other people that these offensive comments should be taken out. If there are any other ways they want to advise their future visitors, I'm quite happy, along with others, to assist in that matter," he said.

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