A clip from President Donald Trump’s Monday night coronavirus briefing has been making the rounds on social media today. Not for any information or insight, mind you, but because he badgered a Hong Kong-based reporter about her employer’s ties to the Chinese government.
During the briefing, Phoenix TV reporter Youyou Wang asked the president, “Are you cooperating with China?”
He retorted, “Who are you working for, China? Do you work for China or are you with a newspaper?” Ah yes, the only two options.
Trump grills a reporter from Hong Kong about who she works for and in an accusatory fashion asks if she works for the Chinese government (she says she doesn’t) pic.twitter.com/c9GJhckVDr
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 6, 2020
When Wang informed him that she worked for Phoenix TV, Trump repeatedly asked if the broadcaster was “owned by China” and “owned by the state”. After Wang said Phoenix TV was a “privately owned company” and “based in Hong Kong”, Trump finally responded to her initial question, saying that he’d “give [her] a good answer in a few months”, before proceeding to give a non-committal answer right then and there.
“It’s time for China to help us. Hopefully they do. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. But we signed a deal, it was signed in- with great goodwill and spirit,” he concluded.
For what it’s worth, many Hong Kong netizens have taken to social media to decry Phoenix TV as a state-backed outlet.
While Phoenix TV is a privately owned company with headquarters in China and Hong Kong, its CEO and founder Liu Changle was a journalist for the state-owned Central People’s Broadcasting Station and held the rank of colonel in the People’s Liberation Army. In recent years, the broadcaster has been criticized for airing “confessions” from people detained under mysterious circumstances in mainland China. In 2016, Lee Bo, a bookseller who went missing from a Hong Kong warehouse, resurfaced in a Phoenix TV interview three months after his disappearance to refute claims that he had been abducted.