Argentina's President Faces Criticism After Tweet Mocks Chinese Accent

Argentina’s President found herself in a diplomatic firestorm Thursday, after apparently mocking the Chinese accent on Twitter during an official state visit to China.

Tweeting to her 3.53 million followers, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote: “Are they all with La Campola?” in reference to her party’s youth wing named Campora. “Or, are they only here for the lice and petroleum?” She asked.

International and Argentine media slammed her for switching the Ls and Rs in the words “petroleo and arroz,” petroleum and rice, seemingly making fun of the Chinese accent. As for the 1,000 people in attendance, back in Argentina, the joke goes that her supporters only attend events for the snacks. The tweet has been retweeted nearly 5,000 times.

But she quickly followed up with another tweet: “Sorry. You know what? There is too, too much craziness and absurdity, only humor can get you through it.”

That missive garnered more than 1,500 retweets. The tweets awkwardly came as she signed 15 agreements with Chinese President Xi Jinping – a sloppy move lacking political finesse, her critics say.

China is Argentina’s second largest trading partner after Brazil, with $17.5 billion in commerce in 2013, according to Bloomberg, and Kirchner can’t risk upsetting her benefactors in Beijing.

Argentina media was swift to pounce. "It's really unpleasant to see how our president behaves,” said one comment in the La Nacion, according to Agence France Press.

But the reaction from China’s Twitter-like microblogging service was even harsher.

According to AFP, one Sina Weibo user wrote: "Amazing she has the courage to beg for investment while at the same time ridiculing Chinese people.”

And another wrote: “You come to China to get money, but you aren’t even respectful. Don’t come to our country. You’re not welcome,” according to the New York Times.

Twitter is banned in China, but Kirchner was apparently using a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, allowing her to bypass the country’s censors.

The 61-year-old President is a prolific social media user, and after some 50 more tweets during the day, many about trade agreements, she met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and neither mentioned the earlier Twitter gaffe.