(Reuters) – Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, on a tour of China to strengthen ties as the economy teeters on the brink of a recession, appeared to commit a diplomatic blunder on Wednesday by poking fun at how the Chinese speak.
While Fernandez’s remark on Twitter that the Chinese pronounce the letter ‘r’ as an ‘l’ will be taken by her supporters as a light-hearted joke typical of her folksy style on social media, she may have offended her hosts.
In her message, Fernandez suggested that the Chinese struggled to pronounce “rice”, “petroleum” and “Campora,” the Spanish name given to the youth wing of her political party.
“More than 1,000 participants at the event … Are they all from the Campola and in it only for the lice and petloleum?” Fernandez tweeted.
Argentina has turned to China for loans to bolster its thin foreign reserves and financing for energy and rail projects as it grapples with another debt default and a stagnating economy.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeatedly declined to comment on the matter at a regular press briefing on Thursday. But Chinese Internet users were quick to lambast the president for her breach of etiquette.
“China has Chinese. It’s a pity your country doesn’t even have its own language,” one person wrote on China’s Twitter-like microblog, Weibo.
“President Fernandez, how much money did you borrow on your trip to China? Can you pay it back on time?” asked another… see more