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