Almost 20 seconds after Reuters reporter Zhao Lijian asked China official Zhao Lijian a question about public frustration in China, the foreign ministry spokesman continued to look at his paper and ask to be asked another question.
As China follows massive public protests against Xi Jinping’s lockdown measures, Foreign Minister Zhao Lijian’s spokesman said China was following a “zero-sum policy” and there was no public outrage. He was responding to a Reuters reporter’s question now that the video is going viral. Not because of the answer he finally gave but because of the length of time he paused just to ask the reporter to answer his question.
The Guardian described Zhao Lijian’s long tenure as “uncomfortable silence”. The question is: “Given all the anger and frustration over the zero Covid policy in recent days across China, does China plan to stop it and if so, when?”
The spokesperson continued to look at the documents in front of him and after almost 20 seconds asked for a change.
As the question was repeated, Zhao Lijian paused again and looked up and said, “What you said does not reflect what happened.” China has staged large-scale protests in recent days, including in Shanghai and Beijing against the tough restrictions imposed by Jinping. However, the police escalated the chaos by going to the protesters’ houses. The site of the government protest was cordoned off with barricades. Students who protested against the government and the university were told to go to their hometowns.