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China Eastern Airlines Chair reads off script during crash press conference

Netizens angered by Sun Shiying’s ‘feeble attempt at deflecting’ reporter’s string of questions

China Eastern Airlines Chair Sun Shiying (right) is criticized for deflecting questions and reading off a script during a press conference about ...

China Eastern Airlines Chair Sun Shiying (right) is criticized for deflecting questions and reading off a script during a press conference about ... (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China Eastern Airlines Chair Sun Shiying (孫世英) has angered Chinese netizens after he responded to a reporter’s series of questions regarding the recent crash by reading a curt answer off a script during a first press conference.

In a video clip of the event published by Phoenix New Media on Chinese social media platform Weibo, a Reuters reporter asked, “What is the repair record of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft like? Has there been any problem lately in terms of repairs? How many hours has the pilot flown? What was the weather like at the time of the incident?”

He added, “I also want to ask, before the crash, did the flight crew contact air traffic controllers? If so, what did it say? Before the plane crashed, was the aircraft intact?” He also asked if China plans to invite an investigator nominated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (USNTSB) to assist in investigations.

When the press conference’s moderator asked Sun to answer the questions, Sun responded with his eyes looking down at a document: “The airplane was in a phase of level flight cruising at the time.” After a pause, he said: “Secondly, China Eastern is conducting an overall safety risk inspection; right now, our flight capacities are relatively full, and the inspections we arranged also include some provisional and preventative measures.”

Sun concluded by saying, “We shall adhere strictly to civil aviation safety regulations and carry out relevant tasks in an orderly manner. Thank you.”

The moderator then hesitantly added, “Just now…you asked a series of questions, and he, well, according to his knowledge…Chairman Sun answered according to his knowledge.”

Under Phoenix New Media’s post, a top comment by AnfieldQi read: “Other people answered with professionalism, but Chairman Sun’s answers were completely off-focus. Even the moderator felt awkward. What a master of deflection, how worrisome." Brother Yuki (雪哥 Yuki) responded: “But he didn’t even deflect well…It’s too awkward to watch…”

“Obviously he is reading off a script, so no matter what he is asked he’d probably answer the same thing,” commented “Caesar’s Skyline” (凱薩de天際線).

Other netizens commended the reporter’s questions, calling them “on-point” and “hardcore.”

Weibo user “Blockchain-Little Prince of the Metaverse” (區塊鏈-元宇宙小王子) wrote, “Only the questions by Reuters really count as questions, the others…” Fangyuanshishi (方圓十事) responded, “The others are all planned questions and just have to be read. What’s the damn point of the press conference, we’re better off without it!”