It’s not surprising that an eye roll would be considered especially rude in China, where subversion is a necessarily subtle, disguised and veiled art form. It’s expected that if you want to slice and dice somebody, you do so with a smile and grace. You just can’t be so obvious about it.
Then it got more interesting. Quick trolling by China’s netizens uncovered the fact that the first reporter (Reporter with the Interminably Long Question, henceforth RILQ) was from an outfit called AMTV, or American Multimedia Television.
Ah, no wonder, China’s netizens decided: a pesky foreign reporter.
But wait, it gets even better than that.
The “American” reporter in question is, in fact, a Chinese national. And AMTV is American in name only. It boasts on its website of its links to China’s state-controlled CCTV.
In China, CCTV carries AMTV programming, which is considered obsequiously patriotic.
A reporter rolls her eyes, a video goes viral, and the next thing you know, an “American” reporter’s true role is laid bare on the internet.
Last week, a plea for signatures began circulating on the White House petition website, asking the administration to investigate AMTV: “Based on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, we ask to investigate its fund sources and cooperation with the (Communist Party of China) and shut it down if it is found to have violated the law.”
AMTV didn’t respond when CNBC sent it an email asking for a comment on the petition.
The petition had only about 1,200 as of Tuesday, well short of the 100,000 it needs by April 13.
But the cat’s out of the bag, as they say. And at the end of the day, it could be Beijing that’s left with the most egg on its face.