Netizen 24 SGP: NPC 2018: An eye-roll that went viral has Chinese censors scrambling to put a lid on it

By On March 14, 2018

NPC 2018: An eye-roll that went viral has Chinese censors scrambling to put a lid on it

Skip to main content

Thank you for reading The Straits Times.

Your account has timed out, login for full access to premium stories.

Login"; document.querySelector('body').innerHTML += noteHTML; document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area .close-button').addEventListener('click', function() { document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area').classList.add('hidden'); }); } } function timeoutNote() { var oneMin = 60000; var timeDur = 45; var timeoutDuration = timeDur * oneMin; setTimeout(timeoutEvt ,timeoutDuration); } NPC 2018: An eye-roll that went viral has Chinese censors scrambling to put a lid on it
Yicai financial news service reporter Liang Xiangyi sighed and raised a sceptical eyebrow at another journalist's query to a delegate at a National People's Congress press event on March 13, 2018.
Published59 min ago

BEIJING (AFP) - It was the eye-roll that launched a thousand gifs.

China's censors are scrambling to put a lid on a social media frenzy unleashed by a journalist's reaction to a softball question during the mostly scripted annual Parliament session.

Impeccably coiffed and sporting a bright blue suit jacket, Yicai financial news service reporter Liang Xiangyi sighed and raised a sceptical eyebrow at another journalist's query to a delegate at a National People's Congress press event on Tuesday (March 13).

As the question about China's Belt and Road infrastructure project dragged on for 45 seconds, Ms Liang grimaced, glanced sideways to give the woman dressed in red a disbelieving once-over, and concluded with a majestic, head-turning eye-roll.

Caught on camera by state broadcaster CCTV, the moment at the usually staid Great Hall of the People went viral and turned Ms Liang into an instant online celebrity.

Social media platforms were flooded with gifs, cartoons and parody reenactments, with people dressed in red and blue. Some began superimposing footage of her eye-roll on clips of celebrities spouting nonsense.

Ms Liang's image was plastered onto T-shirts and cellphone cases sold on Taobao, China's ever-reactive eBay equivalent.

But China maintains tight control of its Internet and is extremely wary of viral stories about politically sensit ive subjects like the NPC.

By evening, Ms Liang's name had become the most-censored term on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.

And on Wednesday, authorities released an "urgent notice" prohibiting all discussion of her in all mainland media outlets.

"Anything already posted must be deleted. Without exception, websites must not hype the episode," according to the US-based China Digital Times, which posted the leaked directive.

This year's NPC gathering has been historic.

A vote on Sunday abolished rules limiting heads of state to 10 years in power, setting President Xi Jinping on a course to potentially rule the country for life.

On Tuesday, the congress also unveiled plans for the biggest shake-up of government structures in at least a decade, including the merger of its banking and insurance regulators to better handle financial risks.

But Ms Liang's epic eye-roll has now grabbed the limeligh t.

"With this outfit and your meaningful expression, you've left a deep impression in the hearts of the whole nation's people," wrote one of thousands of commenters on her Weibo account, which had soared to over 200,000 followers.

Ms Zhang Huijun, the reporter who posed the long-winded question, works for American Multimedia Television (AMTV), a Los Angeles-based company whose website describes itself as a CCTV partner.

Reporters from media outlets based abroad but with ties back to China's state media apparatus are often called on at government events so that Beijing can appear to cede the floor to "foreign" journalists - who will nonetheless toe the party line.

Leaked screenshot of an Yicai group chat showed Ms Liang explaining herself.

"Her question was even longer than the answer," she said, using a colourful obscenity to describe Ms Zhang and calling her "stupid".

Yicai Media declin ed to comment and the NPC press office said they did not know anything about rumours that Ms Liang's press credentials were revoked.

AFP journalists did not see Ms Liang or Ms Zhang during a session on Wednesday of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory board that holds its annual session at the same time as the NPC.

Online commenters were sympathetic to Ms Liang.

"Sister, if you've lost your job," one fan told her, "you can always work in social media."

Topics:
  • CHINA
  • NPC 2018
  • VIRAL VIDEOS

Branded Content

Sponsored Content

art1-smu-300x200.jpg

Skills activate your knowledge

art2-smu-300x200.jpg

Putting universities to the test

a127702_sports_li_2018feb28_300x200_nativead_td_r.jpg

HereĆ¢€™s how to keep fit without breaking a sweat

uob-am-outlook2018_11mar_300x200.jpg

UOB Asset Management: Why China holds promise

We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. But a log-in is still required for our PDFs.

Source: Google News

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »