A news reporter in China became an instant folk hero in China on Tuesday after her candid reaction was caught by news cameras and then spread like wildfire on social media. The reporter was seen reacting with open disgust on State TV while listening to a sycophantic fellow reporter’s fawning question to a Chinese official during the annual National People’s Congress.
Liang Xiangyi, a reporter for financial news site Yicai, could be seen staring down fellow reporter Zhang Huijun before dramatically rolling her eyes and even her head while Zhang’s nearly minute-long praise of the Chinese government — dressed in the guise of a question — dragged on. Video footage of the dramatic gesture swiftly went viral on Chinese social media, as the moment became the unquestioned highlight of the the intentionally dull and often scripted event — which is intended to lend the appearance of democracy to China’s autocratic one-party system, according to The New York Times. In particular, many equated Liang’s eye-roll as a larger reaction to the political situation in China, where presidential term-limits have been abolished in a move to further cement the power of President Xi Jinping.
As video and GIFs of Liang’s disgust began to spread, her name rapidly became the most-censored term on social media site Weibo. Liang’s own Weibo account gained a surge of followers, as supporters rushed to offer her messages of appreciation. Online, quick-thinking marketers are already monetizing Liang’s newfound popularity and selling T-shirts and cellphone cases that feature the reporter’s likeness.
Zhang, the reporter whose question prompted Liang’s epic eye-roll, is reportedly an employee of American Multimedia Television U.S.A., a Los Angeles-based broadcaster with ties to the Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute, according to The New York Times, is used to promote Chinese culture and propaganda overseas.
Watch the viral moment below.
Read the full story at The New York Times.