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The Lianghui “Question-Asking Bitch” Incident: Eye-Rolling Journalist Goes Viral on Weibo

One moment during a media conference of China’s Two Sessions sparked the “Question-Asking Bitch” (提问婊) controversy and is generating dozens of memes.

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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.”

The Yicai reporter that has become famous at once on Chinese social media for rolling her eyes at a “self-important” colleague.

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.

Durex meme: advertising the red as hot and sexy, the blue as being dynamic.

Shirts for sale on Taobao.

Made-in-China: Red and Blue.

The Eye-Rolling Woman in Blue Meme

The thug life meme.

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.

UPDATE: Check our latest vlog on this incident below for an overview and its aftermath:

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

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.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Maaz Kalim

    March 14, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Technically, she ain’t “her colleague” as both of them work for entirely different media outlets.

    ‘Fraternal-sibling’ could be a more appropriate term.

  2. Avatar

    Geeb

    March 14, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Hilarious! Love the Sas

  3. Avatar

    Jane Leggett

    March 15, 2018 at 1:43 am

    The dangers of living in a communist nation. Kiss her caboose goodbye. Freedom isn’t free. Complacent Chinese like being told how to live their lives I guess.

  4. Avatar

    MOQINGBO

    March 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    this says lot about the censorship in China now. i’m Chinese!

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China Media

Iran “Unintentionally” Shot Down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752

Despite the overall condemnation of Iran, there are also many pointing the fingers at the US, writing: “It’s all because of America.”

Manya Koetse

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Shortly after Iran’s military announced on Saturday that it shot down Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers on board, the topic has become the number one trending hashtag on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

In a statement by the military, Iran admitted that the Boeing 737 was flying “close to a sensitive military site” when it was “mistaken for a threat” and taken down with two missiles.

Among the passengers were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

Earlier this week, Iranian authorities denied that the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner in Tehran was caused by an Iranian missile.

The conflict between US and Iran has been a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media, also because the embassies of both countries have been openly fighting about the issue on Weibo.

Although many Chinese netizens seemed to enjoy the political spectacle on Weibo over the past few days, with anti-American sentiments flaring up and memes making their rounds, today’s news about the Iranian role in the Ukrainian passenger plane crash is condemned by thousands of commenters.

“Iran is shameless!”, one popular comment says. “This is the outcome of a battle between two terrorists!”

“Regular people are paying the price for these political games,” others write: “So many lives lost, this is the terror of war.”

The Iranian Embassy in China also posted a translated statement by President Hassan Rouhani on its Weibo account, saying the missiles were fired “due to human error.”

Despite the overall condemnation, there are also many commenters pointing the fingers at the US, writing: “It’s all because of America.”

Meanwhile, the American Embassy has not published anything about the issue on its Weibo account at time of writing.

The hashtag “Iran Admits to Unintentionally Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane” (#伊朗承认意外击落乌克兰客机#) gathered over 420 million views on Weibo by Saturday afternoon, Beijing time.

Chinese state media outlet CCTV has shared an infographic about the US-Iran conflict and the passenger jet news, writing they hope that these “flames of war” will never happen again.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Media

The Weibo Battlefield in the US-Iran Conflict: Iranian and American Embassies ‘Argue’ on Chinese Social Media

The US-Iran conflict has extended to Weibo, where Chinese netizens watch the online ‘battle’ unfold.

Manya Koetse

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“Don’t know if you all have discovered it yet, but the Iranian Embassy in China and the American Embassy in China have started to fight on Weibo,” prominent Chinese media outlet 21st Century Business Herald (21世纪经济报道) writes on Weibo on January 10th.

The Iranian and American embassies have been all the talk on Chinese social media this week. While US-Iran tensions are dominating international media headlines, the embassies of Iran and US have been taking their conflict to the Chinese social media platform.

Ever since January 3rd, when the head of Iran’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq, the Beijing embassies of both the USA and Iran have engaged in an online argument over the conflict between their two countries.

The Iranian Embassy (@伊朗驻华大使馆), that has 254670 followers on its Weibo account, condemned the assassination of Soleimani on January 3rd by reposting and translating a Twitter post by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, calling it a “dangerous and foolish” act of “international terrorism.”

That post received over 23,000 likes and thousands of comments, with many of them showing support for Iran.

The US Embassy Weibo account (@美国驻华大使馆), that has over 2,5 million followers, also posted a response to the attack on January 4 by translating several quotes by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserting that the decision to kill Soleimani was the right one and that it made the world a safer place.

Although many of the thousands of netizens responding to the American Embassy’s post praised the attack, there was also a lot of criticism.

“The terrorist group ‘USA’ has claimed responsibility for this act of terrorism,” one popular comment said, with others also pointing the finger at the American government for behaving as ‘terrorists.’

With the deepening of the US-Iran crisis after the Iranian military launched missiles against US bases in Iraq earlier this week, the Weibo posts and comments just keep coming in.

On January 8, the Iranian Embassy wrote that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun,” a sentence also posted on Twitter by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

In between some light-footed Weibo posts about the Golden Globes, the American Embassy published various Weibo posts explaining its stance on the situation. One post of January 7 detailed the “bloody history” of Qassem Soleimani, writing about him as a terrorist and evil man who killed hundreds of people.

The online ‘battle’ between Iran and the US has led to various hashtags, such as “The Weibo Fight of the Iranian and US Embassy of China” (#美伊驻华大使馆微博互斗#), a topic that is receiving a lot of attention on Chinese social media.

The official accounts of two foreign powers’ embassies, discussing their conflict on a Chinese social media platform, in Chinese; it’s not common, and Chinese netizens talk about it while Chinese media write about it.

One sentence* has been reposted dozens of times by Weibo users over the past days: “Here’s the world’s largest imperialist country and the world’s largest theocratic republic, on a social media platform of the world’s largest socialist nation, using Standard Chinese to engage in a fierce diplomatic fight.”

“And we’re all watching and eating popcorn,” one commenter added [literal expression used is “Chī guā qúnzhòng” (吃瓜群众), online expression for “watermelon eating masses,” meaning clueless bystanders watching the situation unfold].

The Weibo battleground has seemingly also turned into a way for the embassies to win the favor of the Chinese public; the Iranian Embassy, for example, published a post on its Weibo account that invites Chinese tourists to visit Iran during the Spring Festival and pinned it to its main page to attract the attention of readers amidst the recent online upheaval.

The online presence of the US-Iran conflict shows the importance of ‘Weibo diplomacy,’ also known as ‘Weiplomacy.’ A large number of foreign embassies in China have a presence on Sina Weibo to engage with local audiences. It is a low-cost, convenient, and seemingly effective tool to promote their countries, political goals, and inform people about their latest activities.

Over the past week, it seems that the majority of Chinese netizens have sided with Iran and condemned the US. This public sentiment, however, might have more to do with the prevailing anti-American sentiments over the past year than a general pro-Iranian stance.

In a 2016 overview of most popular foreign embassies on Weibo, the US embassy scored a number three position with its 1+ million followers, while the Iranian account only came in at number 39 with a mere 6000+ fans on its account.

Although it is unusual for foreign embassies to use Weibo as an online battleground for their offline conflicts, it is not the first time it has happened. In 2014, What’s on Weibo reported how the Beijing embassies of Russia and Poland also argued on Weibo during the aftermath of MH17 crash.

This time around, some netizens conclude that the only one to really ‘win’ in online conflicts such as these is the Weibo platform itself. As the Weibo posts keep going, the ‘melon eating masses’ keep coming. “The Sina Weibo company must be secretly laughing at this ordeal,” one person writes.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

* Chinese sentence: “世界上最大的帝国主义国家,跟世界上最大的政教合一的神权共和国,在世界上最大的社会主义国家的网络平台上,使用标准的汉语进行激烈的外交缠斗”

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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