WASHINGTON — Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host heard by millions of Americans, came under fire from Asian Americans after he mocked the way visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao speaks.
The commentator lampooned Hu -- who he called the "ChiCom dictator" -- over his joint news conference Wednesday with US President Barack Obama that was marred by a delay in translation.
"He was speaking and they weren't translating. They normally translate every couple of words, but Hu Jintao was just going, 'ching chong, ching chong, chong,'" Limbaugh said, continuing his imitation at length.
Representative David Wu, the first Chinese American to serve in Congress and a member of Obama's Democratic Party, criticized Limbaugh for his "pathetic childishness."
"In doing so, he ridicules one of the world's oldest languages, insults the Chinese American and Asian American communities, and disrespects the 1.3 billion people of China," Wu said.
Representative Mike Honda, a Japanese American Democrat who heads the Asian American caucus in Congress, accused Limbaugh of trying to "outpace others on all things inflammatory, ignorant and inane."
Honda noted that House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, met "diplomatically" with Hu on Thursday despite US differences with China.
"If we are to outpace each other on anything, let it be statesman-like diplomacy, not grade-school incivility," Honda said.
Limbaugh, a fierce critic of Obama and his Democratic Party, is the most heard radio talk-show host in the United States. Trade journal Talkers estimates he has a weekly audience of more than 15 million people.
Limbaugh, whose humor frequently causes controversy, was critical of Obama's black-tie dinner for Hu. He noted that China is detaining Liu Xiaobo, the writer and rights advocate who won the Nobel Peace Prize last month.
"Imagine if we had Al Gore locked up in jail. I know, we can dream. But imagine," Limbaugh said jokingly. The Democratic former vice president shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for drawing awareness to climate change.