China's annual "two sessions" meetings are as serious as they come when it comes to political affairs.
Taking place in Beijing, the event predictably gets extensive coverage in China. Yet a viral eye roll by reporter Liang Xiangyi has upstaged the stony-faced gathering, leading to her being censored on social media.
Liang, who works for Chinese business outlet Yicai, has swiftly become the subject of memes and parodies after she dramatically rolled her eyes on camera at Zhang Huijun, a reporter for U.S.-based American Multimedia Television.
Zhang, in red, asks a rather long-winded question to officials from China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, while Liang is on the left in blue.
— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) March 13, 2018
According to a leaked WeChat conversation published by WhatsonWeibo, a colleague at Yicai told Liang that the moment was broadcasted live. Liang's response to why she rolled her eyes so dramatically? "Because the woman next to me was being an idiot."
The moment inevitably spawned imitators, who shared parodies of the moment via social media.
Yes, there were memes.
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) March 13, 2018
And even phone cases for sale.
Found my cell phone cover for the spring season on Taobao pic.twitter.com/wTjgndsfDx
— Lulu Yilun Chen (@luluyilun) March 13, 2018
Liang's eye roll became the talk on Weibo, China's biggest social media platform, where people argued over whether the moment was disrespectful, particularly as she was "foreign" media — or if it was just plain funny.
As of now "Liang Xiangyi" (name of the eye-rolling Chinese reporter in blue suit) has overtaken "constitutional amendments" and "constitutions" to become the No.1 most censored Weibo word.https://t.co/YgTUSp5iEy pic.twitter.com/hTZAroS9iF
— KurikoC (@kuriko_c) March 13, 2018
The viral moment also led to Liang's press accreditation at the event being revoked, and her personal Weibo page was taken down, according to the South China Morning Post.
For those interested, here's the lengthy question that was asked by Zhang as translated and published by the New York Times.
The Global Times, the English-language component of state publication People's Daily, said there was "nothing to see" in the incident, in regard to discussions about whether it reflected the country's political landscape.
Earlier in the week, China's parliament decisively approved the removal of presidential term limits, with only two votes against the change.
It's a matter that has seen rare dissent against the country's president Xi Jinping on social media, forcing censors to step in against Winnie the Pooh memes, which have been used to represent Xi.