VIDEO: Jeremy Hunt calls his Chinese wife ‘Japanese’
New foreign secretary apologises for ‘terrible mistake’ on Beijing trip
Jeremy Hunt has started his visit to China with an awkward gaffe, referring to his Chinese-born wife as “Japanese” in front of his confused hosts.
The newly-appointed foreign secretary began his first official trip on an inauspicious note, telling dignitaries in Beijing: “My wife is Japanese.”
Realising his error, Hunt quickly corrected himself. “My wife is Chinese, sorry,” he said, adding: “That is a terrible mistake to make.”
Lucia Guo, who has been married to the former health secretary since 2009, hails from the central Chinese city of Xi’an.
The pair met in 2008, when she was working for the University of Warwick as part of a project to recruit students from China. They have three children.
Hunt appeared to have brought up his wife in an attempt to strengthen ties with his hosts, on a visit designed to bolster relations with the superpower ahead of Brexit.
He continued: “My wife is Chinese and my children are half-Chinese and so we have Chinese grandparents who live in Xian and strong family connections in China.”
The gaffe drew comment not only as a marital misstep, but also as a geographical howler at odds with his new post as foreign secretary.
Hunt’s error was compounded by the fact that the two countries are “traditional rivals”, says the South China Morning Post. “Although relations have improved somewhat recently, they remain touchy due to issues such as Japan’s bloody occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and ’40s.”
Hunt will doubtless be hoping that the rest of the talks proceed more smoothly. Aside from trade, planned topics of discussion include “climate change, development, security and non-proliferation and enforcing UN sanctions on North Korea”, according to the foreign office.