Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Ultimate Eye-Roll

Liang Xiangyi (left) encapsulated how reporters feel about the Two Sessions
For journalists covering the Two Sessions (NPC and CPPCC) in Beijing these two weeks, it's a tedious event to cover. Even though important decisions are being made as to how China will be run, ie Chinese President Xi Jinping can theoretically rule for life now, and how departments are being merged for efficiency, they are mostly bureaucratic measures.

And to ensure everything goes smoothly, the government plants questions printed on pieces of paper that are given to specific state media reporters. They are expected to raise their hands in the hopes of being chosen to ask the question so that the official knows exactly what to say and have license to drone on because he loves listening to his own voice.

So this is what happened the other day -- Zhang Huijun of American Multimedia Television USA asked a question to state assets chief Xiao Yaqing about the Belt and Road initiative and it seemed to go on for a while -- over 40 seconds in fact.

Next to her was China Business News journalist Liang Xiangyi, who couldn't help herself and did a major eye-roll. She forgot all the cameras were trained on not only Zhang but her too.

Liang's eye-roll and exasperated looks encapsulated what all journalists felt covering the Two Sessions in seconds.

"Nicely done! You gave an eye-roll on our behalf!" one commenter said.

"I am clapping for your honesty! Such questions are annoying and do not have any meaning," said another.

Her eye-roll immediately sparked memes, people copying her, or superimposing her on top of Xi giving a speech while she does her eye-roll. 

Memes like this cartoon picture of her cropped up online
Despite being praised by many, Liang was soon swiftly punished -- her accreditation to cover the NPC was revoked.

Not only that, but her personal Weibo page was taken down and search results for her name were censored.

Like that she was wiped out of Chinese cyberspace. Liang will probably have to change careers now that she's a persona non grata in the state media industry.

It's a sad and pathetic the Chinese government has to be so controlling of this event in particular, but that only reveals its deep insecurities and its weakness.

Regardless of what happens to Liang, she will be remembered for a long time, as the one who, with her eye-roll, summed up what it's like to cover the Two Sessions.

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