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CCTV Reporter Taken Away by Police after Screaming & Slapping at UK Conference on Hong Kong Autonomy

CCTV and the Chinese embassy condemn how the Chinese journalist was treated.

Manya Koetse

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A video in which a female CCTV reporter is seen screaming and lashing out at a pro-Hong Kong democracy event during the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, has triggered controversy on social media. A spokesperson of the Chinese embassy has since condemned the UK Conservative Party for its “interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”

Video footage of a CCTV reporter shouting and refusing to leave during a Birmingham conference on Hong Kong is making its rounds on Twitter and Weibo today (For the 2.00 minute Weibo video check here).

The incident occurred on Sunday, September 30, during a Hong Kong-focused event of the annual Conservative Party Conference. The fringe event was themed around “the erosion of freedom, the rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reports that Enoch Lieu, a Hong Kong-born British graduate from Keele University, was slapped in the face twice by the female reporter while volunteering at the event in Birmingham.

On his Twitter account, Lieu (@enochcafe) writes that the event was focused on “China’s continued suppression of Hong Kong, human rights, and China’s breach of the Joint-Deceleration,” and that the female journalist shouted from her seat, accusing people in the panel of “trying to separate China,” saying they were “puppets” and “fake Chinese.”

Lieu says the woman had a press pass, and that he later learned she works for the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

When Lieu, as he writes, told the woman she was no longer welcome at the conference and tried to escort her out, she allegedly turned violent and slapped Lieu in the face. When other people intervened and tried to get her to leave, she allegedly continued shouting and slapped Lieu again.

The woman was eventually removed by police, HKFP reports.

 

“I love my country, and this CCTV journalist is great.”

 

On Weibo, one post that included the video of the incident was reposted more than 500 times at time of writing (and is quickly attracting more attention).

Blogger ‘HuanYa SYHP’ (@寰亚SYHP) writes: “This CCTV reporter is great! At a conference on Hong Kong issues held by the Conservative Party in Birmingham, she slapped a ‘Hong Kong independence poison [political ]element’ (港毒分子). At the conference hall, she criticized ‘HK independence poison elements’ saying: you are traitors, you are anti-Chinese. You want to separate Hong Kong from China, you are not Chinese, you are traitors.”

The online slang term ‘Gǎng dú fēnzǐ’ (‘港毒分子’) literally means ‘Hong Kong-poison-members’ (or ‘[harmful] political elements’) and is a derogatory term for those supporting Hong Kong independence. The characters for ‘Hong Kong poison’ (港毒 gǎngdú) have exactly the same pronunciation as those for ‘Hong Kong independence’ (港独 gǎngdú).

“Let’s organize an event in Beijing to discuss Birmingham independence, too,” some commenters jokingly say.

Author Xicheng Jiezi (@西城誡子), who has more than 800,000 fans on Weibo, wrote about the incident: “I love my country, and this CCTV journalist is great.”

Although the journalist is praised by some on Weibo, there are also commenters that call her behaviour “shameless.”

“The job of a journalist should be to do unbiased reporting of the news, and pay attention to their neutrality,” an anonymous commenter wrote: “But this reporter deliberately put herself in the middle of the news, she is not a genuine journalist.”

 

“Puzzling that the Chinese journalist should encounter obstruction in such a way.”

 

On Monday, October 1st, CGTN (formerly CCTV International) published a response to the issue from a Chinese embassy’s spokesperson, who was quoted as saying that “In a country that boasts freedom of speech, it is puzzling that the Chinese journalist should encounter obstruction in such a way,” and that “The Human Rights Committee of UK Conservative Party should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs.”

The spokesperson further said that the organizer of the fringe event should apologize to the Chinese journalist.

Financial Times correspondent Ben Bland posted a response to the Chinese embassy’s statement by human rights activist Benedict Rogers, who helped organise the Birmingham event, on Twitter (@benjaminbland):

State media outlet China Radio International published another article today that discloses the name of the reporter as the Europe correspondent Kong Linlin (孔琳琳). It further states that a CCTV spokesperson condemned the behavior of the people at the event towards their correspondent as “inacceptable.” Just as the Chinese embassy, they demand an apology from the UK Conservative Party.

Kong Linlin describes herself as a Chinese TV journalist mainly focused on “Brexit UK” on her Twitter account. On Weibo, she has more than 60,000 followers on her account.

It is not the first time Kong’s name comes up in an online controversy. In 2016, she accused a BBC correspondent John Sudworth of creating “fake news” and spreading “hate propaganda for BBC” on Twitter, as the blog China Change reported at the time.

By Manya Koetse

Editor’s Note: for those interested in how Chinese foreign correspondents work we recommend this thoroughly researched and nuanced book by Pal Nyiri: Reporting for China – How Chinese Correspondents Work with the World.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    R. A. Kapp

    October 1, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Mistranslation of 分子here reveals – what? Use of machine translation app that doesn’t know the term? Simple unfamiliarity of a basic political term on the part of a human translator? Either way, this mistake, in this mistake, in this context, does not reflect well on Whatsonweibo. Keep up the fine work generally, though; this is a great site.

    • Avatar

      admin

      October 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      Many thanks for pointing that out, Kapp. As our article clearly says, we always appreciate people telling us when they spotted a mistake. Having said that, saying that one misread of fensi vs fenzi of me personally “does not reflect well” on the entire website isn’t really helpful or motivating at all. Frankly, it also comes across as arrogant and mean. I’m working hard to try and provide readers with very timely updates on the latest news; I run the site by myself and am my own editor in doing so. I am nonstop reading about 粉丝 on Weibo. I am not a machine. Small misreads or typos are normal. If you want to help, I appreciate it very much, but I would also appreciate some more consideration. Happy you enjoy the website! Best, Manya

      [Clarification: in this article 港毒分子 was accidentally transl. as 港毒粉丝: HK Poison/Indep. ‘Elements’ vs HK Poison/Indep. ‘Fans’.]

  2. Avatar

    Adam

    October 3, 2018 at 3:56 am

    The Chinese abroad really are outdoing themselves lately. The fact the embassy seems to go out of its way to condone this sort of outburst reflects very badly.

  3. Avatar

    HAOYU

    October 3, 2018 at 11:32 am

    每次看到這樣的新聞真的都很氣憤。香港之所以和英國有關係,難道不是因為多年以前他們侵略了我們國家嗎?為什麼現在總有一些恬不知恥的香港人去給英國人當孫子。人家祖先是怎麼對你們祖先的?他們當年來香港的目的是為了讓你們過上幸福美好的生活嗎?這麽基本的事實心裏沒點數嗎?這樣的香港人就應該讓他永遠留在英國,不要回來啦,祖先如果泉下有知,會為有這種的子孫而自責的!

  4. Avatar

    Patriam

    October 4, 2018 at 6:17 am

    I have a question.
    On precisely what grounds does the embassy “condemn how she was treated?”
    A slap is an assault, and she committed this assault not once but twice, on video.
    And for these two counts of common assault, she was arrested.
    Does the embassy labor under the delusion that the Chinese have the right to go around the world attacking whoever they want? I realize the rank and file of the general population are arrogant enough to believe that, but where does the embassy get the cheek to think that kind of excuse can fly internationally?
    They have been emboldened recently. When Chinese squatters were thrown out of a Swedish hotel, the Chinese embassy called it an “outrage” and expected an apology. When a Chinese punk got in the face of a Thai airport security guard and got slapped, the Chinese government demanded that the guard be fired and offered no apology for their citizen’s assault.
    The country is not even pretending to be civilized anymore. They truly think that the Sinocentric model has been reborn, and that all non-Chinese are “barbarian vassals” who must kowtow to them.
    The time to teach them a lesson is approaching, and fast.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Social Media Reactions to The New York Times Bad Review of ‘Wandering Earth 2’

A New York Times bad review of ‘Wandering Earth II’ has triggered online discussions: “China’s gonna save the world, the US can’t stand it.”

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This Chinese Spring Festival, it’s all about going to the movies. After sluggish years for China’s movie market during the pandemic, Chinese cinemas welcomed millions of visitors back to the theaters during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

Much-anticipated new movies attracted Chinese moviegoers this festive season, including Full River Red by Zhang Yimou, the suspenseful Hidden Blade, or the animated Deep Sea by Tian Xiaopeng.

But the undisputed Spring Festival box office champion of 2023 is Frant Gwo’s Wandering Earth II (流浪地球II), the sequel to China’s all-time highest-grossing sci-fi epic Wandering Earth (2019), which also became the fifth highest-grossing non-English film of all time.

The narrative of the follow-up movie Wandering Earth II actually takes place before the events of the first film and focuses on the efforts by the United Earth Government (UEG) to propel the Earth out of the solar system to avoid planetary disaster. This so-called Moving Mountain Project – which later becomes the Wandering Earth Project – is not just met with protest (the majority of Americans don’t believe in it), it also bans the Digital Life Project, which supports the idea that the future of humanity can be saved by preserving human consciousness on computers (backed by an American majority). The film is all about hope and resilience, human destiny, and geopolitics at a time of apocalyptic chaos.

Outside of China, the sequel was also released in, among others, North American, Australian, and UK cinemas.

Although the film, featuring movie stars Wu Jing and Andy Lau, received an 8.2 on the Chinese rating & review platform Douban, a 9.4 on movie ticketing app Maoyan, dozens of positive reviews on Bilibili, and was overall very well-received among Chinese viewers, a bad review by The New York Times triggered discussions on Chinese social media this weekend.

Chinese media outlet The Observer (观察者网) initiated a Weibo hashtag about “The New York Times‘s completely sour review of Wandering Earth II” (#纽约时报酸味拉满差评流浪地球2#, 6.2 million views at time of writing).

The New York Times review of Wandering Earth II, titled “The Wandering Earth II Review: It Wanders Too Far,” was written by Brandon Yu and published in print on January 27, 2023.

Yu does not have a lot of good things to say about China’s latest blockbuster. Although he calls the 2019 The Wandering Earth “entertaining enough,” he writes that the sequel is a movie that is “audaciously messy” and has lost “all of the glee” its predecessor had:

“(..) the movie instead offers nearly three hours of convoluted storylines, undercooked themes and a tangle of confused, glaringly state-approved political subtext.”

The topic was discussed on Chinese social media using various hashtags, including “The New York Times Gave Wandering Earth II a 3″ (#纽约时报给流浪地球打30分#, #纽约时报给流浪地球2打30分#).

Instead of triggering anger, the bad review actually instilled a sense of pride among many Chinese, who argued that the review showed the impact the movie has made. Some commenters pointed out that the movie is a new milestone in Chinese cinema, not just threatening America’s domination of the movie industry but also setting a narrative in which China leads the way.

“We’re gonna save the world, and America just can’t stand it,” one commenter replied.

That same view was also reiterated by other bloggers. The author and history blogger Zhang Yi’an (@张忆安-龙战于野) argued that The New York Times review was not necessarily bad; it actually shows that Americans feel threatened by the idea of China’s important role in a new international world order, and by the fact that China actually will have the capacity to lead the way when it comes to, for example, space technology innovation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Zhang argues that if a similar movie had been made by India as a Bollywood blockbuster – including exploding suns and wandering earths – The New York Times would have been more forgiving and might have even called it cute or silly.

But because this is China, the film’s success and its narrative plays into existing fears over China’s rise, and it clashes with American values about what the international community should look like.

Zhang writes: “The China in the movie doesn’t boast itself as the savior of the world, but in reality, China really is capable of saving the world. The United States is no longer able to do so (电影里的中国没有把自己吹嘘成救世主,现实中的中国真的有能力做救世主。而美国却已经不能了).”

One popular Film & TV account (@影视综艺君) also summarized the general online reaction to the bad review in the American newspaper: “Whenever the enemy gets scared, it must mean we’re doing it right. Our cultural export has succeeded.” That post received over 120,000 likes.

On Zhihu.com, some commenters also attached little value to the review and showed how the overseas reviews of Wandering Earth II widely varied in their verdict.

Meanwhile, a state media-initiated hashtag on Weibo claimed on January 28 that Wandering Earth II has actually “captured the hearts of many overseas audiences” (#流浪地球2海外上映获好评#), and that the film’s “imaginative” and “wonderful” visuals combined with its strong storyline were being praised by moviegoers outside of China.

On IMDB, the movie has received 5.9/10; it has gotten a 70% Rotten Tomatoes score. The Guardian gave it 2/5. Meanwhile, on Weibo, one reviewer after the other gives the film 5/5 stars.

Weibo blogger Lang Yanzhi (@郎言志) writes: “Recently, we’ve seen a lot of attacks and slander directed at the China-made science fiction movie Wandering Earth 2, especially coming from Western media and pro-Western forces, because the film’s “Chinese salvation” narrative made them uncomfortable. This was already the case when the first film in the series was released. It is very clear that Wandering Earth is not just a movie: it is a symbol of great influence.”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Zilan Qian

 

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China Arts & Entertainment

Behind the Short Feature Film of the Spring Festival Gala

The first-ever ‘mini film’ of the Spring Festival Gala struck a chord with viewers for its strong storytelling and authentic production.

Manya Koetse

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This precious and powerful short film by Zhang Dapeng has touched the hearts of Spring Festival Gala viewers. But there is more to the short film than meets the eye. Here’s the noteworthy story behind the 7-minute Spring Festival Mini Film.

On January 21, 2023, China’s Spring Festival Gala, hosted by China Media Group, kicked off the Year of the Rabbit. The annual show, which featured forty different acts and performances, lasted over four hours and attracted millions of viewers worldwide (see our liveblog here, and see a top 5 highlight of the show here).

Traditionally, the Spring Festival Gala always shows several short public service ad films in between the performances, but this year was the first time the Gala featured a “mini-film” or “micro film” (微电影).

Titled Me and My Spring Festival Night (“我和我的春晚”), the 7-minute film was praised among viewers. On Weibo, one hashtag dedicated to the short film received over nine million clicks (#我和我的春晚#).

The film was directed by the Beijing director Zhang Dapeng (张大鹏). Born in 1984, Zhang is a Beijing Film Academy graduate who previously attracted wide attention for directing the Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year movie and the brilliant ad campaign that came with it. Titled What Is Peppa, that short ad film featured a grandfather living in rural China who goes on a quest to find out what ‘Peppa’ is. The promotional video became an absolute viral hit back in 2019 (see/read more here).

Still from ‘What is Peppa.’ 2019.

This time, Zhang’s latest Chinese New Year film is about a hard-working former military man from China’s countryside named Zhang Jianguo (张建国), for whom coming on the show to play the trumpet has been a dream for many years. By featuring his story, the film takes us from the Chinese 1980s, 90s, 00s – as we see him change jobs, move around, and start a family – up to the present.

The main idea behind the film was to honor all the ordinary viewers who have written – and are still writing – to the Gala ever since it first aired in the early 1980s, and to tell a story inspired by these personal letters and ordinary viewers.

Short Summary of “Me and My Chunwan”

At the start of the film, we see Zhang Jianguo dusting off his military honorary awards (光荣军属), putting on his jacket, grabbing his thermos flask and trumpet, and setting out on a journey in the midst of winter.

Riding an electric tricycle in the icy cold, his driver (actor Huang Bo 黄渤) asks him where he is going. “Can you keep your mouth shut?” Zhang replies (“你嘴严实不严实”). “I can,” the driver says, and Zhang then says: “So can I.”

The voiceover narration, a first-person narrative by Zhang himself, explains that he has always been busy: “I never had time for the Spring Festival Gala. My Spring Festival fate is all because of something my captain said.”

The film jumps to a scene showing Zhang as a young military man during the Chinese New Year’s Eve, working outside while people are watching the Spring Festival Gala on a small black and white television inside. As his commander (played by Wu Jing 吴京) hands him his trumpet, he says: “Go and play your trumpet on the television.”

“If the leader asks me to go on the Spring Festival Gala, it’s a task I must complete,” the voice-over says.

But in the military scene itself, duty calls and Zhang has to blow the trumpet to announce dinner time.

In the years that follow, Zhang is always busy during the Spring Festival Gala. Working in the factory, getting married, working on a train, farming cattle, taking care of his family, and always cooking. His trumpet is still there with him, to announce dinner time or hanging on the wall as a memory of times past.

As the years pass by, Zhang realizes that he has gradually forgotten about his commander’s words. Time moves fast. First, he had a son, then his son grew taller than himself, and then his son had his own son. “And I still had never been to the Spring Festival Gala.”

With his captain’s words back on his mind, Zhang, now an older man, sets out on his journey without telling anyone. By foot, by electric tricycle, by bus, and by train, Zhang travels all the way to the famous Beijing Studio 1 to perform at the Spring Festival Gala after being “too busy” for forty years.

Backstage at the Spring Festival Gala, Zhang sits down with famous Chinese Spring Festival Gala performers (Ma Li 马丽 and Shen Teng 沈腾). While unpacking his lunchbox, he tells them he was finally not too busy to come on the show: “I wrote a letter and here I am.” “It’s that simple?” Ma Li wonders.

The producer then rushes to come and get Zhang, who bravely walks towards the stage with his old little trumpet.

A female voice-over then reads out a message, while we see various scenes throughout the years showing Zhang – from young to old – writing letters to CCTV from wherever he is.

The female narrator says: “Dear Uncle Zhang, we’ve received your letter regarding your hopes to realize your cherished stage dream. In this age of emailing, and knowing that you’ve been writing us for 39 years, we’re moved and feel guilty. Our reply may be late, but not our sincerity..

Meanwhile, we see a flashback to a mailman pulling up to old Zhang’s home (the mailman is the actor Wang Baoqiang), and the old Zhang finally receives that much-anticipated letter from CCTV at his remote rural home.

The female narrator continues: “This year, we proudly invite you to be a guest at the Spring Festival Gala and to “ring the dinner bell” [play the sound announcing dinner]. Sincerely, the Spring Festival Director Committee.

In the final shot, we see Zhang blowing the trumpet at the Gala, with flashbacks showing him blowing that trumpet in all those decades before. He has finally made it to the big stage.

A Noteworthy Story

While Me and My Spring Festival Night received a lot of praise on Chinese social media, the story behind the film was not immediately clear to many viewers celebrating the Chinese New Year, but it was explained in several articles and interviews with director Zhang Dapeng.

During the live-televised Spring Festival Gala itself, the airing of Me and My Spring Festival Night was directly followed up by a shot featuring a person (a veteran) in the audience standing up and actually playing the trumpet.

Directly after, the song “Goodmorning Sunshine” began, representing multiple people from all kinds of professions and social groups. About one minute into the song, the camera turns to another audience member: the person who plays ‘Uncle Zhang’ in the mini-film. Later in the song, we can see he is wiping away tears, visibly moved.

Why was he so moved? The older man in the audience, the main ‘Uncle Zhang’ actor in the film, is Jin Changyong (金长勇), and he actually is not a professional actor.

Somewhat similar to the character Zhang Jianguo, Jin Changyong or “Uncle Jin” (金叔) is a hardworking veteran from Hebei’s Huailai County in Zhangjiakou.

Jin Changyong is a 63-year-old farmer who is also active at the Hebei Tianmo Film and TV Park doing security and logistics-related jobs. He served in the army for four years from the age of 19, as, among others, a military chef.

Director Zhang Dapdeng came across ‘Uncle Jin’ one day while shooting another film at the studio. While Jin was busy doing kitchen work, director Zhang saw him and, as he later recounts, was struck by his face that showed he had “lived through many changes” (“这种饱经沧桑的脸”).

Zhang later invited Uncle Jin to star in the movie, and he also made sure Jin’s own story played a role in the script.

Director Zhang Dapeng, image via CCTV.

This makes this short movie all the more special, something which has since been discussed on Chinese social media (#春晚微电影的主演是普通农民#).

The surprising twist in the story is how Zhang Jianguo tells other people he has just always been “too busy” to attend the Gala, while he had in fact already written to the show for 39 years with the hope of one day being invited.

Another noteworthy aspect of the film is how Zhang Dapeng chose to cast some of China’s most celebrated actors as supporting roles to lift up the main character and actor, Jin, who was inexperienced and learnt from his fellow players.

In an interview, Jin expressed that the entire experience of playing in this short film left his overcome with emotion. After the filming had ended, he told reporters that he had sleepless nights because he had not received an actual invitation to the Spring Festival Gala yet, something which he so very much hoped for. Just one week before the show, that invitation finally came.

The fact that Jin, in a way, played a man like himself in the short movie has added to the film’s popularity.

“I was sincerely moved by this film,” one commenter wrote, with others saying: “This was the best program I’ve seen on the Gala over the past decade.”

While some people also remarked that the short film seemed to have been influenced by The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson, others praised it for its originality.

“This was just the best part of the night,” several commenters said: “It made me cry.”

“Zhang Pengda – a name to remember,” others wrote.

You can watch the short film on Youtube here.

By Manya Koetse 

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