ASIAN VOICES

UK Foreign Secretary Really Just Called His Chinese Wife 'Japanese'

“My wife is Japanese -- my wife is Chinese,” Jeremy Hunt told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a bad flub on Monday during his debut visit to Beijing. 

Speaking to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Hunt was attempting to demonstrate his personal connection to the country by mentioning his wife, Lucia Guo, who is Chinese. But Hunt seemed a bit confused about his own wife’s ethnicity.

“My wife is Japanese ― my wife is Chinese,” he told his Chinese counterpart. “Sorry, that’s a terrible mistake to make.”

Hunt added: “My wife is Chinese and my children are half-Chinese, and so we have Chinese grandparents who live in Xi’an and strong family connections in China.”

The U.K. foreign secretary tried to recover from the incident with a lighthearted tweet, saying he’d had an earlier conversation in Japanese, which led to the mistake.

The flub is particularly frustrating as East Asian people of different ethnicities are often mixed up, grouped together or declared “all the same.”

Social media users swiftly skewered Hunt for the gaffe, with many comparing him to his predecessor, Boris Johnson, who was known for making diplomatic errors.

And, for the last time: Chinese 👏 people 👏 are 👏 not 👏 the 👏 same 👏 as 👏 Japanese 👏 people.

CONVERSATIONS