(CNN)At best, it was a failed attempt at humor. At worst, her tweet was deeply offensive.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was in China on Wednesday, seeking investment for her recession-hit economy.
She took the opportunity to mock the accent of her hosts while making a reference to those in attendance.
Fernandez posted a message on Twitter, replacing the letter "r" with the letter "l," so it sounded like she was saying lice and petloleum, instead of rice and petroleum.
Her post, written in Spanish, was retweeted more than 4,000 times.
The President quickly followed up with an apology, of sorts.
"Sorry. You know what? It's just that things are so excessively ridiculous and absurd. They can only be digested with humor. ..."
No Chinese official has commented yet on the Argentinian leader's tweet.
But some users on China's Twitter-like Weibo were none too pleased.
"A head of a state desperately in need of economic rescue from China, while on Chinese soil, still exudes a racial superiority out of nowhere," writes one.
Another pointedly asks President Fernandez: "Why don't you try Mandarin Chinese?"