Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not in photo) at the Great Hall of the People on Feb. 4, 2015 in Beijing.
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By Noah Rayman
February 4, 2015

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, embattled by controversy at home, might have been expected to be extra careful on her visit to China where she’s looking to boost investment in her country’s sputtering economy.

But the Argentine President, who met with President Xi Jinping on Wednesday and joined a meeting of 1,000 Argentine and Chinese businessmen, sparked a flurry of online outrage when she posted a tweet mocking the Chinese accent by replacing r’s with l’s:

“Are they here only for the lice and petloleum,” she said in Spanish, in a tweet that has been shared more than 1,500 times since she posted it Wednesday:

Fernández, who has more than 3.5 million followers on Twitter, followed up the initial tweet a minute later with another post that appeared to respond to the commotion over her earlier comment:

“Sorry, do you know what? The levels of ridiculousness and absurdity are so high they can only be digested with humor,” she said.

Fernández’s government has been rocked by the death of Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. Nisman’s body was found the day before he had been expected to testify before Congress that the President had covered up Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack.

On Thursday, the lead investigator into Nisman’s death said that a warrant for Fernández’s arrest signed by the prosecutor had been found in the garbage in his apartment.

 

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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