Spokeswoman Hua Chunying offers rare glimpse of laughter

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying came into the spotlight as she misheard a question from a Japanese reporter and laughed after she realized her faux pas.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying came into the spotlight across Japan’s press on December 20 after she broke into a rarely seen hearty laughter when she realized she had misheard a reporter's question at a daily news briefing.

At a briefing held on December 19, when giant panda “Xiang Xiang”, who was born this June, officially met with tourists at Ueno Zoo, a Japanese reporter asked Hua, in English, if she had any comment to make about Xiang Xiang's public debut at the zoo in Tokyo.

However, Hua misheard “Xiang Xiang” for “Shan Shan”, the Chinese pronunciation of the surname of Shinsuke Sugiyama, Deputy Chief of Japan’s Foreign Ministry. Hua then responded with a serious take on Sino-Japanese relations.

When a Chinese reporter pointed out that she had misunderstood, Hua burst into laughter.

She then answered again, “The adorable giant panda serves as little ambassador to promote friendly exchanges between China and foreign countries. We believe that Xiang Xiang will be treated with great hospitality in Japan. We also hope it will enhance the feelings and friendship between Chinese and Japanese people and play a positive role in pushing forward the sound and stable development of bilateral relations.”

Japanese netizens commented that Hua's smile is unexpectedly cute, especially since they always think of her as poker faced because she seldom laughs. 

One Chinese netizen jokingly compared the incident to failing to catch a conversation in the listening comprehension part of a national English proficiency exam.

Clicks on the story ranked high on the international video news chart of Yahoo Japan.

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