China’s foreign minister lost his composure during a joint news conference with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.
The awkward moment ensued after Canadian journalist questioned Wang Yi about his country’s human rights record and the case of Kevin Garratt, who has been jailed in China on charges of espionage since 2014.
Wang appeared visibly outraged as he moved his face away from the podium for two seconds and turned back, pointing his pen in the direction of the reporter.
“Your question is full of prejudice and against China and arrogance,” he said through an interpreter. “I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable.”
Wang also asked the journalist if she had ever been to China.
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“Do you know that China has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty?” the angry Chinese official went on. “And do you know the China is now the second-largest economy in the world from a very low foundation? ... And do you know China has written protection and promotion of human rights into our constitution?”
Meanwhile, the Canadian minister of foreign affairs maintained awkward silence.
China has recently come under international criticism for intensifying its crackdown on free speech, including journalism. Most prominently, the country, which is already the biggest jailer of journalists, was accused of abducting five Hong Kong publishers, who were distributing books critical of mainland China, last year.
As a result of the restrictions, many Chinese journalists are giving up on their career and passion.
Since Chinese government officials are not used to getting grilled by journalists at home, it’s clear to see why Wang got so agitated.