No Air China, your racist advice was not needed

Published: September 18, 2016

The fact that Indians and Pakistanis, two very bitter enemies, were lumped into one category shows= how pointless the enmity between the two countries is. PHOTO: TWITTER

Pak-China relations have always been formidable mainly because China is Pakistan’s closest ally and staunch business partner in large-scale infrastructure projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The two countries often express loud protestations about their eternal friendship and cooperation in light of India’s anti-Pakistan aggression and sentiment. So it would seem the overtly favourable sentiment expressed by the diplomats of both countries would be mirrored by the inhabitants of China. 

However, this wasn’t the case when a seemingly innocuous statement mentioned in Air China’s in-flight magazine offered travel advice about living in London. The statement was splashed over social media for all the wrong reasons.

The advice clearly states that areas inhabited by ‘Indians, Pakistanis and blacks’ should be avoided and females walking around these areas shouldn’t be unaccompanied late at night. The fact that Indians and Pakistanis, two very bitter enemies, were lumped into one category shows just how inseparable and pointless the enmity between the two countries is.

What’s worse is how racist the post clearly is by singling out these three ethnic minorities from the thousands that populate such a vibrant and diverse city as London. The advice was in extremely poor taste and disturbing considering Air China is a big player in the aviation industry and reflects poorly on China’s attempt at becoming a serious contender in world politics and international development.

Regardless of Pakistan and China’s friendship, it seems underlying racial issues and stereotypical behaviour are thorny issues that Chinese people haven’t addressed appropriately. There is still the perception that people from South East Asia and black people are somehow inferior to the rest of the world. These perceptions are perpetuated by mainstream media portraying Pakistanis as terrorists and black people as criminals.

Even the British Pakistani mayor of London couldn’t prevent such inflammatory statements and such negativity seriously undermines a strong relationship between the two countries.

I understand that Pakistanis, both at home and abroad, need to work extremely hard to shed the negative perception associated with Pakistan but ‘friendly advice’ like the one published in Air-China’s magazine certainly doesn’t help an already fragile relationship.

It also abhorrently misrepresents what London is like. It is no longer acceptable to hold such views in the globalised world we now live in and I hope Air China takes this into consideration and issues a sincere apology in next month’s publication.

Faiza Iqbal

Faiza Iqbal

A law graduate from King's College, London Nottingham Law School. Having worked at Mandviwalla & Zafar as an Associate, she now writes freelance articles and is trying to qualify as a barrister in Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ajeet

    China says jump, Pakistanis say how high.Recommend

  • ab1990

    in 2014 indians bought 1 billion pounds worth property in london. China is blind to factsRecommend

  • Kasturi K

    America says ‘China.’ India says, ‘yes sir, Give us and then tell us what needs to be done. We’ve been waiting for this opportunity since decades.’Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    No, it’s a matter of choice. BTW, what was that news few days ago that Sikhs invaded gurdawara in UK with sharp weapons where multi faith marriage was taking place? Oh, it’s called kettle calling the pot black. Recommend

  • Milind A

    That’s an exception in Hinduism/Sikhism etc, but a norm in IslamRecommend

  • Milind A

    Keep smoking… America says ‘India’, its President visited us twice… And yes, we don’t lend our shoulder to anyone else.Recommend

  • Sane

    Your racist mentality give some other name to racism.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    You keep yapping after a heady dose of favours from America. Like shallow people, you can’t digest the favours bestowed upon you from a super power and have to behave in an upstart manner showing your class.Recommend

  • Masrur Malik

    I found a lot of Chinese are patronizing and believe they are more intelligent to south asians. The rudest Chinese I have met are from Hong Kong.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Really so there’s no such thing as Achoot and Brahman in Hinduism?

    Even today an Shuder can’t even eat on the same table as a Brahman let alone marry. Atleast with Muslims they can marry other Muslims but you don’t get that in Hinduism and you say Islam is racist?Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    You forgot to name Afghanistan as centre of radicalisation. It will take time to undo whatever happened in afghan war. Remember, Pakistan was not ALONE to wage that war. US, once termed these today’s terrorists equal to fathers of American liberation war. But I have a complaint. It’s the Muslims and their countries which are being targeted by western countries. Their settled lives are being disrupted on lies (Iraq, Libya, Syria). Since you are not on the receiving end, so people like you have no sympathies with them. People like you want Muslims to get bombed and die without even a whimper from them. I’ve never seen India protesting or raising the issue of unjustified wars in ME. It’s been ages I heard the word ‘platestine’ from the mouth of any Indian leader. All I see is Hindus catcalling and booing Muslims on slight pretext, taking out their pent up emotions against them.Recommend

  • Asad Saber Janjua

    NOT RACIST Faiza Iqbal sahiba! It turns out that the areas mentioned are the high crime rate areas. Chinese tourist is also considered too naive to counter the usual tourist traps of London.Recommend

  • Asad Saber Janjua

    Anoop ji! We are fixing what went wrong and soon the terrorism shall all but disappear. Give us the enlightened previously silent majority to take back the reins from the fanatic mullahs. Just wait a bit a and cut us some slack. :)Recommend

  • Anoop

    Narendra Modi is from backward class, genius.. He is the Prime Minister of a country with 80% Hindus. Before that a Sikh was PM.
    India and especially Hinduism is an example of tolerance.Recommend

  • Asad Saber Janjua

    I understand your point of view and agree with it. However the difference will come from the decision if Pakistan wants to be an Islamic country ruled by religious edicts of a particular sect or a country of Muslims making their laws in reflection with Islamic values (which are similar all other religions especially ones of Abraham). Regards! :)Recommend