Reporter's eye-roll steals spotlight at Chinese parliament

BEIJING (Reuters) - A TV reporter's theatrical eye-roll during another journalist's question at a news conference stole the show this week during China's annual parliament session, exploding on Chinese social media before censors intervened.

The incident unfolded on live television during a media session on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC), where high-level officials field often pre-approved questions, mostly from domestic media.

Liang Xiangyi, a TV reporter from financial news outlet Yicai, seemed to find a fellow journalist's long-winded question on China's state asset management too much to bear.

Liang, standing next to the questioner, Zhang Huijun, rolled her eyes, looked Zhang up and down then turned away with another dismissive raising of the eyes.

Zhang works for American Multimedia Television USA, a Los Angeles-based organization which, according to its website, previously had ties to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Televised nationwide, the incident was seen by millions and quickly spawned GIFs, video clips and parodies across China's vibrant but tightly controlled social media before many of the postings were removed.

Many netizens declared it the most interesting moment of the tightly orchestrated and largely rubber-stamp NPC session, which has been the most significant in years as parliament voted to remove presidential term limits, enabling President Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely.

Some social media commentators praised the apparent spontaneity of Liang's show of frustration.

"Good job. A reporter who comes to the Great Hall of the People unscripted," cheered one commentator on Weibo.

An official at Yicai who was not authorized to speak to media, said Liang had been temporarily pulled from the channel's parliamentary coverage team.

Neither Liang nor Zhang could be reached for comment on Wednesday, and emailed inquiries to both reporters' employers went unanswered.

(Reporting by Pei Li and Tony Munroe; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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