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Argentina's president makes fun of the Chinese accent - while on visit to China

China’s government did not comment on the incident but there were plenty of other critics both at home and in China.

Image: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/PA

ARGENTINA’S PRESIDENT CRISTINA Kirchner was criticised home and abroad today after a pretty undiplomatic tweet during a state visit to China.

Kirchner, who is on a mission to expand trade and political ties with China, seemingly poked fun at Asian difficulties pronouncing the letters L and R.

One tweet, in which she switched the two letters in words, read: “Did they only come for lice (rice) and petloleum (petroleum)?”

A few minutes later, after the immediate backlash, she said: “Sorry. You know what? There is too much craziness and absurdity, only humour can get you through it.”

Her original tweet was an attempted play on a political joke from home. Critics of the president say her supporters only attend party events so they can get a free sandwich and a soda.

The Argentine president is already under the spotlight at home after the suspicious death of a prosecutor.

Her tweet was prominently covered in Argentine media and was picked up on by Chinese social media users.

“How about you say two sentences in Chinese so I can hear your pronunciation?” asked one.

Another user on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, added: “Amazing she has the courage to beg for investment while at the same time ridiculing Chinese people.”

But China’s government-run news outlets carried no mention of the gaffe or commented on its diplomatic implications, and foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei declined to comment Thursday.

- © AFP 2015 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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