Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner has risked offending her Chinese hosts, appearing to poke fun on Twitter at their difficulty pronouncing the letters "L" and "R" in Spanish.
Kirchner, already under the spotlight at home after the suspicious death of a prosecutor and on a mission to China to expand trade and political ties, tweeted in Spanish: "Are they all with La Campola?" She was referring to La Campora, her party's youth organisation, led by her son. "Or, are they only there for the lice (rice) and petroleum (petroleum)?" she tweeted.
It was a play on a political joke from home: her detractors say that her supporters only attend party events so they can get a free sandwich and a soda. After the tweets triggered criticism and accusations of racism, she followed up with another saying: "Sorry.
You know what? There is too, too much craziness and absurdity, only humour can get you through it." The 61-year-old, Argentina's first elected woman president, is a lawyer and former lawmaker who succeeded her husband, the late president Nestor Kirchner.
Kirchner said she had been determined to make the trip to China despite being advised not to travel by doctors because she is still recovering from breaking her ankle.