In China, an eye-roll goes vi­ral, cen­sors put a lid on it

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

BEI­JING: 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.

As the ques­tion about China’s Belt and Road in­fra­struc­ture project dragged on for 45 sec­onds, 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 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.

Liang’s im­age was plas­tered onto tee- 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 sen­si­tive sub­jects.

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

Au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day 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 USbased China Dig­i­tal Times, which posted the leaked di­rec­tive. – AFP

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