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Disbelief Over Wall Street Journal’s Use of Slur in Tweet

Image: China Holds Military Parade To Commemorate End Of World War II In Asia

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) prepares to review the People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops from a car during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Wang Zhao - Pool /Getty Images) g Zha / Getty Images

In posting a link to an article about Chinese President Xi Jinping, The Wall Street Journal tweeted, “A chink in his armor? Xi Jinping looks vulnerable for the first time,” late Sunday night.

Within two hours, the tweet was deleted, with the explanation, “We recently removed a tweet on our Xi Jinping article because a common idiom used might be seen as a slur. No offense was intended.”

When asked whether the Wall Street Journal planned to apologize, Ashley Huston, Senior Manager of Public Relations at The Wall Street Journal, directed NBC News to the above tweet and had no further comment.

But Asian Americans and others have been taking to Twitter to express disbelief that The Wall Street Journal would use the expression, containing a derogatory slur, in reference to a Chinese world leader.

Many continued to demand an apology, even recalling the frustration expressed in the recent #MyAsianAmericanStory hashtag.

Representative Judy Chu, Chairperson of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), wrote on CAPAC’s Facebook page that she was "appalled" and found it "disturbing" that “a respectable publication” like The Wall Street Journal would use the expression at all.

This is not the first time in recent history the debate has resurfaced over the use of the phrase.

Almost four years ago, ESPN used the expression twice—as a headline and in an anchor’s commentary— in reference to basketball star Jeremy Lin. One person was fired and another suspended. Two years later, a CNBC reporter used the expression in a discussion about Wendi Deng Murdoch’s divorce from News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Since 2012, there have been several calls from the Asian American community that the expression, which dates back to the 1400’s, simply be retired, especially when there is no lack for alternative phrases that don't carry with them the same history of offense and racism.

“As AAJA has repeatedly cautioned, this is a phrase that should be retired,” Paul Cheung, president of The Asian American Journalists Association, explained. “Despite the words’ original non-racial connotation, when used in conjunction with topics involving Asia and/or Asian Americans, it can call to mind a hurtful slur.”

The latest controversy, sparked by The Wall Street Journal's tweet, even inspired Jeremy Lin to weigh in.

Image: Jeremy Lin
NBA player Jeremy Lin is among those calling for an offensive phrase referring to Asian Americans to be retired. Wally Santana / AP