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Chinese journalist censored over spectacular eye roll at scripted press conference

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 14/03/2018 14:00:00 Alexandra Richards

a couple of people that are talking to each other © Provided by Independent Print Limited The Chinese government has censored a journalist after she rolled her eyes at a TV reporter for asking a government official a "softball question".

Liang Xiangyi, a journalist for Shanghai-based Yicai.com, was filmed scowling at TV reporter Zhang Huijun for asking a scripted question designed to present a facade of transparency at a political summit

Ms Huijun, who was dressed in Communist Party red, asked a government official a long and rambling question at one of the heavily-scripted press conferences held on the sidelines of China's annual parliament, the national people's congress.

Xiangyi's reaction, which was broadcast on television, spread wildly on social media through a string of comments, GIFs and memes.

The Chinese government then censored her name on the microblogging platform Weibo and released a directive which said "all media personnel are prohibited from discussing the blue-clothed reporter incident on social media." 

Ms Xiangyi, who was wearing a blue outfit at the press conference, allegedly told a colleague that she thought that Ms Huijun, a reporter for a US-based channel with apparent ties to the Chinese Government, was "being an idiot."

The clip of her eye-roll became an internet sensation with many people posting videos of themselves re-enacting the moment dressed in red and blue to resemble the women.

A series of GIFs and memes swept the internet and thousands of people began to search for Ms Xiangyi's name.

Merchandise, including t-shirts and mobile phone covers, which depicted Ms Xiangyi's reaction went on sale at online stores such as Taobao.

But by Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese government stepped in to censor the use of her name on all social media platforms and searches.

The incident came at a delicate time in China's political history. On Sunday, XI Jinping announced that he will be China's leader for life, getting rid of presidential term limits. This was followed by a government overhaul on Tuesday.

In response to Ms Xiangyi's eye roll, Chinese authorities told journalists to pretend it didn't happen.

"Urgent notice: all media personnel are prohibited from discussing the Two Sessions blue-clothed reporter incident on social media," a leaked censorship directive said according to the China Digital Times.

"Anything already posted must be deleted. Without exception, websites must not hype the episode."

14. maaliskuuta 2018 16:00:00 Categories: Evening Standard

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