Footage of China Business News journalist Liang Xiangyi looking rather exasperated by a question lobbed by fellow reporter Zhang Huijun from American Multimedia Television USA was beamed live on national television for a country of 1.3 billion people to see. As Zhang Huijun went on and on for almost 40 seconds, Liang Xiangyi didn't hide how unimpressed she was, as she dramatically rolled her eyes and looked away with disgust.
Within an hour, the video clip had gone viral on Chinese social media sites, a GIF of it posted and reposted until the meme took on a life of its own, inspiring copycats to post their own videos. On paper, this seems like a simple enough question, only Zhang took 45 seconds to ask it.
While some netizens proclaimed Liang "my new hero", others slammed the reporter for her lack of professionalism and not realising she was being filmed. This year, it has drawn heightened attention for a constitutional amendment that abolished term limits for President Xi Jinping.
But in an autocracy, the empire usually strikes back: By the end of the day, Liang Xiangyi's name had been censored on China's largest search engines, the video deleted from Chinese websites and millions of Chinese netizens were suddenly anxious about what would become of their newfound hero. T-shirts and mobile phone covers celebrating Liang's inadvertent and flamboyant show of dissent were selling on online stores such as Taobao. The questioner, Zhang Huijun, wore red, the colour of China and the Chinese Communist Party.
This spectacular eye-roll that has set the Chinese social media space ablaze. Rumours swirled that she had been fired; the journalist's Weibo account had also been closed.
The supposedly pro-government question that resulted in the sensational eye-roll was, "The transformation of the responsibility of supervision for state assets is a topic of universal concern".
According to South China Morning Post, questions from reporters are normally screened and Zhang's question was picked.
"2018 is the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up", Zhang rambled at one point before declaring: "China will open wider to the outside world".
"With the One Belt One Road Initiative, state-owned enterprises have increased investment to countries along the route of One Belt One Road, so how can the overseas assets of state-owned enterprises be effectively supervised to prevent the loss of national assets?" What mechanisms have we introduced so far, and what's the result of our supervision? Will you please explain this to all of us?