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Jeremy Hunt and his wife Lucia Guo attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 19, 2016 in London, England. (Jonathan Brady/Getty Images)


U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calls Chinese wife Japanese in ‘terrible mistake’

July 30, 2018

Twitter users have been having fun at the expense of  Jeremy Hunt, joking the U.K.’s new foreign secretary might be “sleeping on the sofa” when he returns home from an official visit to Beijing, after an odd gaffe in which he told an official meeting his Chinese-born wife Lucia Guo was Japanese — before quickly correcting the error.

“My wife is Japanese — my wife is Chinese,” he said. “That’s a terrible mistake to make.”

Aside from any offense caused to his spouse, the comment falls short of diplomacy, given China and Japan have been traditional rivals for centuries. It also tweaks reasonable sensitivities about conflations that Asians of diverse backgrounds “look alike”. The visit is Hunt’s first to Asia as foreign secretary, after taking office just three weeks ago following Boris Johnson’s resignation from the post.

“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,” he added.

Hunt said the confusion arose because he had earlier been speaking Japanese with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

Even famous British wit John Cleese weighed in.


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