Chinese Detain CNN Reporter for Holding Up 'Oba Mao' T-Shirt on TV

Chris Ariens at TV Newser reports that CNN reporter Emily Chang was detained for two hours today in Shanghai for holding up a T-shirt depicting Barack Obama wearing a Red Army uniform. "Chang bought the T-shirt at a basement souvenir shop in Beijing and brought it with her to Shanghai as she covers President Obama's visit to the city."

The front of the t-shirt says "Serve the People" in Chinese. On the back, it reads "Oba Mao" in English. The shirts have been seen in Chinese shops for months, but were "banned" ahead of Obama's trip.

When Chang held up the shirt up for a live shot outside a Shanghai metro stop, she was approached by two security guards. She recounted the scene in her In The Field blog:

Bad move? Maybe. But it ended up being great television.

Two security guards happened to pass by at the moment I announced to the camera: "This is the T-shirt everybody is talking about." And that was it. They scrambled towards us and tried to pry the shirt out of my hands. I didn't give in.

There was a bit of yelling and quite a scuffle. My producer Jo Kent emphatically stated our case. Photographer Miguel Castro kept his cool. By this point, we had everything on tape.

We ended up being detained for two hours in the cold, maze of a market. A crowd gathered round. More security and then police showed up. They wanted our press cards, our passports, but most of all, they wanted the shirt.

They weren't the only ones. What do we make of this?

The shirt got attention on the air and sparked buzz online. In fact, some members of the White House pool and a few colleagues in Atlanta actually tried to bribe me for it.

Chang says the Chinese also make wallets and trading cards featuring the "Communist Obama" image.
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis