The Treasury has said it "deeply regrets" any offence caused by an e-mail mistakenly sent to journalists.
The e-mail was sent to dozens of journalists
The e-mail, sent by junior clerical officer Robbie Browse, was entitled "Advantage of being Chinese", under a heading of "this is brilliant!".
It encouraged recipients to "try pulling the corners of your eyes as if you were Chinese" to decipher a message which read "no sex causes bad eyes".
On realising his mistake, Mr Browse sent out a recall of the e-mail.
He then sent a "sincere apology" to its dozens of recipients.
The distribution list contained some of the biggest names in British journalism, including Observer editor Roger Alton, Sunday Telegraph editor Sarah Sands, Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror, and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips.
A Treasury spokesman said: "We are taking the incident extremely seriously. We deeply regret any offence that has been caused and appropriate action is being taken.
"The Treasury has a detailed and strict policy on the acceptable use of e-mail systems and a clear commitment to promoting diversity throughout the organisation and beyond, with all staff undertaking diversity training."
Mr Browse's e-mailed apology read: "Dear All, Please disregard the earlier e-mail, sent to the standard Treasury press list in error, and please accept my sincere apologies for any offence it has inadvertently caused.
"My job is to e-mail out press notices and I regret that I have accidentally sent a personal e-mail to you. Please accept my apologies again. Robbie Browse."