China: Shoe Hurled at Premier Wen Sparks Fury

Shoes thrown at a leader, but not G.W Bush this time

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was greeted by a shoe thrown at him during his speech in Cambridge University, England. The lecture was about building harmonic international relations.

The protester hurled a shoe at Wen, yelling, “How can the university prostitute itself with this dictator? How can you listen to these lies?” He then blew the whistle, and was shortly removed by security. The London Times described him as a “young, Western-looking man with dark hair”, a possible pro-Tibet or human rights activist.

Wen came back to his lecture soon, commenting on what happened: “this despicable behavior cannot stand in the way of friendship between China and the U.K.”

Wen's speech in Cambridge is one part of his 5-day European visit. The trip is considered an effort to repair the relationship with Europe which was damaged by Tibet riots and protests during the Olympic torch relays. On the other hand, with a stable and strong, though slightly slowed economic growth, China is trying to exert its influence and signal friendship in a time of global financial crisis.

Wen's lecture is also a call against protectionism, which may greatly undermine China's export-oriented economy. Wen has criticized the U.S and some enterprises for the cause of the crisis, blaming them as irresponsible and immoral.

France is not on the Wen's visit schedule. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, met with the Dalai Lama last year, which was considered a particularly unfriendly action by Chinese.

Protests accompanied Wen during his visit, most of them concerning issues about Tibet.

Pissed off by the shoe

Unlike the way many Americans reacted to their former president Mr. Bush's embarrassment in Iraq, it seems that this time the shoe thrown to Wen has really pissed off a great many people.

In Xiaonei, the Chinese copy of facebook, a post named “Britain, do you still wanna play?” showed up shortly after the incident. It aggregates a few furious comments.

吕洋 Ivan, a Xiaonei user, commented:

操他妈的藏独个王八羔子,早知道今天没课跟丫们干仗去,看谁鞋多。别忘了砸布什的鞋都是made in china的.

F–k Tibet-separatists, I'd go fighting with you jerks if I had known I had no class today. Let's see who has more shoes. Don't ever forget that the shoes that flew at Bush are both made in China.

In DWnews, an independent media publication, someone, obviously reminded of Bush, commented:

没有创意。

No creativity.

And another netizen followed:

呼吁人肉搜索,把肇事者暴露出来!

Call for human flesh search engine, find the man out!

On Youtube, the video gathered a group of comments written in both English and Chinese.

guanchyun applauded for Wen

没给中国人丢脸,牛

You don't lose face for Chinese, cool!

qujiahe felt sorry for Wen

这么慈祥一老头都被扔鞋,剑桥那哥们脑子坏了么

Even so benign an old man was thrown by a shoe. The guy in Cambridge has his brain going wrong?

ddream777 commented in English

Shame on this jerk. And it's such an ugly shame the Cambridge lecture hall is as sacred as a Baghdad tent.

siuhuen said:

Answer to your question – Cambridge Uni invited the Chinese PM.
Such a shame though – one student threw a shoe at the speaker just becoz he has a different political view, and the respect the entire world has for Cambridge Uni just came tumbling down.

But Jianghua2 replied to the comment above:

siuhuen, inviting Wen Jiabao to this university already lowered it s respect, come on CCP is known for it s genocide tendencies. Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao are both responsible for crimes against Humanity in China and Tibet (if you believe is not part of China). So Campbridge lost all it s honor already!

And in Xiaonei, not everyone is so much indignant. User 张胜蓝 commented on the news:

难道只能布什给人扔鞋子,轮到温家宝就气愤了?

So only can Bush be thrown with shoes? And when it's Wen's turn, we turn out to be so furious?

另外温家宝那番话讲得也太官话,这样都热烈鼓掌?怀疑剑桥里面都是些什么人……

And Wen's reply to the incident is all too official. Even clap for this? I doubt who are those in Cambridge.

Regardless of how the internet and overseas media react to the shoe, however, the state-media covered up the news determinedly. In discussion boards and blog servers, also, nothing related to the incident can be found. It seems as if the shoe has never been thrown in this harmonic world.

Follow-up: After a short time of black-out, the authority is likely to have approved the report on the incident on Chinese media. The delay can be interpreted as a necessary time for the top officials to assess the situation and public opinion, in order to determine in what way the story be told.

94 comments

  • alex

    This incident is not worth to get angry about. So a lunatic threw a shoe. It just shows that there is one rude person even in the “civilized” world. It does not mean every western person is rude. In fact it is quite the opposite in general.
    Maybe we will see a rude Chinese person throwing a show or something else towards a foreign dignitary down the road. It will just show that one Chinese person can get as rude as this lunatic. Do you want to get as low as this?
    So life goes on and politics goes on.

  • Typical over-the-top tantrum from Chinese government and Chinese people to a minor incident.

    Please grow up.

  • naive

    do British people agree Welsh to separate from UK and establish a new country?
    human rights do be respect.But who has ever concerned about the great number of lives of citizens in Lasa terrofied by series of bomb attacks from those small group Tibet-separatists? who guarantee those innocent people’s human rights? British or Frech goverment? Definitely not. The only responsible one is Chinese goverment , a goverment calls for congenial world, a goverment attaches to diplomatic method on settling conflicts.

  • Joslai

    To throw a shoe at anybody is ill mannered. So lets not get excited about a shoe thrower who is disrespectful, lack basic education and worst couldn’t even throw a shoe properly.

  • pERSUES

    固然每个人都有发表个人看法的权利,但是,此事件却是针对一个国家元首而发生的。正如历史上刺杀国君的事件一样,这次事件的性质是恶劣的。对一个人而言,这是对一位老人的不尊重,对一个民族而言,这是对中华民族的不尊重,对一个国家而言,这是对中国的不尊重。这样的事情,是令人失望的。

  • Jesse

    pERSUES: The CCP would like the Chinese people to think that an attack on CCP officials means an attack on all Chinese people, but these protests are directed mostly at the CCP leadership and their policies and not the people in general.

    naive: You should do more reserach. The UK government has in fact devolved many powers to the Scotish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments over the last 20 years, giving them a lot more autonomy. The counter example is how Serbia took away self-governing rights from Kosovo which lead to resentment, instability, war and death. Which example is better for China to follow?

  • angus

    什么叫尊重,什么以礼待人,我想这些素来瞧不起中国的西方人根本就从来没弄明白过。似乎西方领导人到中国访问还没有遭受到过为数众多的中国人的鞋子和公开侮辱。

  • WiseMan

    A bag of feces would be more appropriate than a Shoe !

    Wen and the whole Chinese Communist Party deserves WORST ! for its continues brutal occupation of Tibet !

    Chinese People WAKE UP ! and Smell the repression that has been going on in TIBET for more than 50 YEARS !

  • forrest

    A great many U.S. citizens were deeply offended when The President had a shoe thrown at him. Of course, the lapdog left media wouldn’t report what mainstream America thought of the issue. Citizens of the world must be aware that what they hear/see reported is simply some organization’s spin on the event.

  • david

    A great number of people in the West are too subjective in their views and by hiding behind the banners of democracy and free speech, they trumpet about their superiority and sheer arrogance. This is the most counter-productive way to try to win over doubters. By throwing shoes and shouting abusive slogans to a visiting foreign leader, this only confirms one thing: years of university education have hardly made any scratch on their crude nature and behaviour and they still expect international students to come to their country for \higher learning\?

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