In response, the government's internet censors reportedly quickly moved to deter people from searching Liang's name online in China. As for Zhang, her status as a "foreign journalist" was questioned by social media snoops, who claimed she pretended to be an outsider but was allegedly from China.
The eye-roll was filmed by state-run broadcaster CCTV and was even filmed on mobile phones by mainland netizens and shared online.
Reporters from media outlets based overseas but with ties back to China's state media apparatus are often called on at government events so that Beijing can appear to cede the floor to "foreign" journalists - who will nonetheless toe the party line.
Liang's expressive displeasure of the question instantly went viral, inspiring memes, parodies, and a variety of GIFs on Chinese social media. The journalist dressed in red, identified as Zhang Huijun from American Multimedia Television (AMTV), asked a long-winding question, laced with praise for government's initiatives.
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"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".
Unbelievable to see how these two ladies just exploded over Chinese social media in the span of a few hours.
By late Tuesday afternoon, however, that video had been deleted - with Liang's name becoming one of the most censored terms on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter - as unconfirmed reports emerged of authorities moving to formally revoke her official press credentials. On Taobao, the freewheeling online marketplace, vendors began selling T-shirts and cellphone cases bearing her image. "Without exception, websites must not hype the episode", according to the US-based China Digital Times, which posted the leaked directive.
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For the record, here is the question that started the epic eye-roll, with a punch line to boot. On Liang's Weibo account which quickly soared to 100,000 followers and kept climbing, supporters flooded her with jokes and comments of support.
According to South China Morning Post, questions from reporters are normally screened and Zhang's question was picked.
The whole press conference was controlled and highly staged, with only pre-selected journalists were allowed to ask already reviewed questions. More so, if you at all think of visiting China. "Please summarize for us, thank you".
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