A remarkable moment during a media conference of the 13th National People’s Congress has ignited a social media storm. On the morning of March 13, a female journalist attracted the attention of Chinese netizens when she disapprovingly glanced at the woman next to her posing a question, and then rolled her eyes.
The incident sparked online discussions and a ‘human flesh search‘ into the matter, with people wondering who the two female journalists are and what the story behind the moment is.
See video below:
The blue dress journalist named Liang Xiangyi (梁相宜) works for the Shanghai-based financial media outlet Yicai.com (第一财经), whereas the reporter in red (Zhang Huijun
张慧君) works for a US-based news media channel named AMTV (全美电视台).
The moment happened during the National People’s Congress press conference when journalists are expected to ask short and concise questions. When the AMTV reporter poses her question relating to China’s One Belt One Road initiative in a somewhat stylized and long-winding way, it apparently greatly annoys the Yicai reporter, who then cannot contain her contempt for her colleague.
In screenshots of an Yicai chat group later leaked online, one colleague told Liang Xiangyi that her eye-rolling moment was broadcasted live, to which she replied: “Because the woman next to me was being an idiot.”
Screenshots of a WeChat conversation between reporter Zhang Huijun and a friend also made it online, with Zhang commenting: “What the heck was she doing looking at me like that?!”
The scene made the term ‘Question-Asking Bitch’ (提问婊) emerge on Chinese social media to make fun of self-important women working in the media industry. It also launched the term ‘Lianghui Elegant Sister’ (两会气质姐), which is a nickname Zhang Huijun uses for herself on WeChat and Weibo.
“Today these two beautiful women are breaking the internet – red or blue, which one do you like more?”
Some people from Chinese media circles spoke negatively about both reporters in their Weibo posts. Guangzhou Daily staff member Dai Bin (@戴斌) commented: “This is a serious occasion, and people have to pay attention to the time they use asking a question – after all, it’s the National People’s Congress. As for the woman who rolls her eyes, perhaps she is forgetting that she is being filmed, and forgot about her manners. May this be a lesson for her.”
Other commenters are less earnest about the matter, saying: “Today, these two beautiful women are breaking the internet! The red beauty reporter is asking an intelligent question, and the blue beauty looks charmingly stupefied! Such a difference between red and blue, which one do you like more?”
The remarkable moment is a huge change from the usual proceedings during these type of happenings. China’s annual parliamentary sessions (lianghui 两会 ‘Two Meetings’) are a very serious political event that makes headlines every single day over the course of two weeks. Generally, nothing really exciting happens, making lianghui-related news quite dull and dry for many netizens.
The vivid eye-rolling scene brings a personal and saucy touch to the otherwise unemotional occasions, making the story an instant viral phenomenon that generated dozens of memes today.
People are even acting out the scene and posting videos of it:
While “eye-rolling” (翻白眼) became one of the keywords of the day on Chinese social media, the name of blue-dress reporter Liang Xiangyi had become one of the most censored words by Tuesday night (Beijing time).
For many netizens, the incident was also a reason to further investigate the media channel red-dress reporter Zhang Huijun works for. American Multimedia Television USA (AMTV) describes on its website that it has a 5.6 million household reach and 18 million potential viewers in California, while some on Weibo point out that its viewer ratings and online fans seem to be quite low.
They question Zhang’s apparent status as a “foreign journalist.” “She pretends to come from outside, but she is actually an insider,” some Weibo users write.
But for the majority of netizens, the incident is just a juicy detail of an otherwise monotonous event. As the trend has gone beyond viral, some social media users now say that today can officially be called a Weibo’s “roll your eyes” day.