Reporter's viral eye roll causes trouble with Chinese censors

It was the eye roll that resonated with millions -- and broke the internet in China.On the sidelines of the co...

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 10:32 PM

It was the eye roll that resonated with millions -- and broke the internet in China.

On the sidelines of the country's annual parliament session, a Chinese journalist on Tuesday morning showed her contempt for a fellow reporter's softball question with such force that videos of her facial expression went viral.

Captured live on state television, Liang Xiangyi, a correspondent for the Shanghai-based Yicai financial news network, looked up and down at the journalist next to her, as the latter began questioning a government official on the subject of state asset supervision.

Liang appeared so turned off by what she was hearing that she rolled her eyes while turning her head away from the other reporter, whose fawning question lasted a whopping 44 seconds -- an eternity in live broadcast.

Within minutes, numerous clips, GIFs and recreations of the eye roll began to spread like wildfire across the Chinese internet, prompting censors to suppress its spread and banning Liang's name from online search results.

Rare moment

It was a rare moment of spontaneity at the highly choreographed two-week gathering of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's largely ceremonial parliament.

Its nearly 3,000 delegates on Sunday almost unanimously endorsed a controversial constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits, paving the way for Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely.

As Xi tightens his grip over the country, the domestic media coverage of the NPC has become more deliberately stale -- with questions at press events carefully screened and often going to outlets trusted by the authorities.

The journalist asking the question Tuesday introduced herself as Zhang Huijun with a US news outlet, American Multimedia Television -- though she kept referring to China as "our country" in her remarks.

On its website, the California-based station boasts close ties with China's state broadcaster CCTV, Zhang's former employer.

National mood

Chinese netizens across the country hailed Liang's honesty, with many saying the moment represented a collective national eye roll over the scripted news coverage of the rubber-stamp NPC.

As the story spread, Liang's employer, Yicai, posted a video of her at last weekend's commerce ministry press conference, ostensibly to contrast her more brief and substantive question to that of Zhang's.

By late Tuesday afternoon, however, that video had been deleted -- with Liang's name becoming one of the most censored terms on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter -- as unconfirmed reports emerged of authorities moving to formally revoke her official press credentials.

Quick-thinking Chinese entrepreneurs, though, went ahead with their attempts to cash in on the now-immortalized moment, with smartphone cases featuring Liang and Zhang already on sale on e-commerce sites.

As the NPC session stretched into its tenth day Wednesday, a widely shared online post seems to have summed up the public sentiment on the episode: "A huge production with thousands of actors had failed to top the box office for a week, until two extras on set suddenly captured everyone's imagination."

"There are no small actors, only small parts," it said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751826

Reported Deaths: 13811
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033581790
Lake557861011
Allen41721692
St. Joseph37001565
Hamilton36612417
Elkhart29416461
Tippecanoe22926227
Vanderburgh22559400
Porter19364326
Johnson18481389
Hendricks17692317
Clark13231195
Madison13166344
Vigo12629253
LaPorte12425221
Monroe12219176
Delaware10969198
Howard10343225
Kosciusko9636121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8172157
Warrick7862156
Floyd7814180
Grant7246179
Wayne7165201
Boone6976103
Morgan6764141
Dubois6222118
Marshall6211116
Cass6023110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502296
Lawrence4749122
Gibson445395
Clinton443255
Harrison441775
DeKalb440085
Montgomery438890
Whitley406643
Huntington403181
Steuben400559
Miami395669
Jasper388855
Knox377491
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332453
Daviess3033100
Wells295381
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273172
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246236
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234631
Starke228058
Fountain221448
Sullivan214643
Owen212258
Fulton203443
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175144
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120748
Newton114436
Brown104443
Benton102514
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84015
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109374

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1288561469
Cuyahoga1158492216
Hamilton814161251
Montgomery525741049
Summit484431006
Lucas43380824
Butler39066606
Stark33348930
Lorain25690506
Warren24607305
Mahoning22383602
Lake21216389
Clermont20133253
Delaware18873136
Licking16668225
Fairfield16582204
Trumbull16559483
Medina15615273
Greene15289248
Clark14240306
Wood13296200
Portage13251216
Allen11916239
Richland11610211
Miami10857225
Wayne9147225
Columbiana9038230
Muskingum8908135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8646139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6998133
Ross6946163
Geauga6843151
Scioto6536106
Belmont6159174
Union584849
Lawrence5739102
Jefferson5681159
Huron5550122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5323109
Athens524360
Auglaize502287
Mercer487585
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435897
Putnam4335104
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4045110
Brown402561
Logan387678
Preble3858105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359966
Williams348478
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318354
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285550
Hardin275565
Henry273667
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269260
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197448
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110024
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 73°
The warming trend continues into Thursday with highs reaching into the middle 80s.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events