Argentina President Cristina Fernandez meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang a day after she posted a tweet that garnered criticism. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment. (Reuters)

The only thing worse than mocking an accent heard in another country is doing it publicly, via Twitter, when you're the president of Argentina, while you're in that other country on a high-stakes diplomatic visit.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner made a strange attempt at humor Wednesday morning when she took to Twitter during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Rather than chronicle the discussions, which were centered around the South American economy's need for foreign investment, Kirchner instead made light of the situation by poking fun at the Chinese accent.

"Vinieron solo por el aloz y petloleo," Kirchner wrote, replacing rs with ls in both instances. The English equivalent would look something like this: "Did they only come for lice and petloleum." Here's the full tweet, which, as you can see, has been eagerly retweeted and as of 12:30 p.m. still hadn't been deleted:

Kirchner, to be fair, did follow up with a half-apology, which blamed "ridiculousness" and "absurdity" for the need for humor. "If not, it's very, very toxic," it said.

But what Kirchner seems to misunderstand is that her sense of humor is questionable at best. It was in poor taste for her to mock an Asian accent, especially while sitting with the Chinese president, negotiating with him, no less, for money.


Diplomacy can be complicated. (Rolex De La Pena/pool photo via European Pressphoto Agency)

Argentina has been working with China to secure a currency swap, which will help Argentina boost its dwindling reserves. And that's on top of the billions Argentina already receives from China each year. Why make fun of the hand that feeds you? Who knows.

Kirchner's tasteless tweet comes on the heels of a separate and much more serious public relations problem. A leading prosecutor investigating the bombing of a Jewish Center in Argentina in 1994 turned up dead shortly after accusing the Argentine government of working to cover up the inquiry. Kirchner originally called the prosecutor's death a suicide before backtracking on her suggestion and saying instead that the death was part of a plot to undermine her government.

Kirchner's approval rating has fallen by seven points since November and now stands below 40 percent, according to a poll conducting Wednesday morning by Carlos Fara and Associates. It's hard to imagine this latest gaffe will help reverse that trend.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is in Beijing to bolster ties, attends a welcome ceremony hosted by her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. (Reuters)