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China angry with Britain over shoe-throwing incident

February 03, 2009

The Chinese government on Tuesday conveyed its 'anger and concern' to Britain over a protester throwing a shoe at Premier Wen Jiabao, but said bilateral ties would not be harmed.

The Chinese side has expressed its 'strong dissatisfaction' over the incident, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement. The Chinese said that the British government has expressed deep regret and informed that the police had arrested the 27-year old man, who hurled a shoe and shouted dictator at Wen, while he was addressing the Cambridge University in England [Images] on Monday. 

The government has expressed its 'strong feelings' about the incident to the British authorities, who have apologised for the protest.

"Facts have shown that the despicable behaviour of the perpetrator is extremely unpopular and can in no way stem the tide of the growing friendly relations and cooperation between China and Britain," Jiang was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

The shoe thrown by the 'young Western-looking man' missed by a few feet the Chinese leader, whose visit to London [Images] has been marred by pro-Tibetan protests, the Times had reported.

Wen was nearing the end of his address on global economy when the man stood up, blew a whistle and shouted: "How can the university prostitute itself with this dictator? How can you listen to these lies?"

 The act of shoe-throwing as a mark of protest was first witnessed in Iraq in December last year, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at former US President George W Bush [Images].

China's official media, which went to town to report when shoes were thrown at former US President George W Bush in Iraq, hastily blanked out any mention or image of a British student hurling a shoe at their Premier.

The Chinese media, like their Western counterparts, widely covered the incident of the Iraqi journalist throwing his shoe at Bush. But newspapers, television and websites in China failed to report the incident concerning their premier.

Though the media widely covered the speech of 67-year- old Wen, it had no reference to the shoe-throwing. Even the TV footage imposed self-censorship by not airing the incident, though international agencies were feeding it live.

The Communist nation's official CCTV network reported the Foreign Ministry comments, while merely acknowledging that disturbance had taken place during the speech, but there was no mention of shoe throwing.

In the live broadcast, the Chinese TV network cameras remained fixed on Wen, and did not show the hurling of the shoe or the face of the protester, but the sound of the shoe hitting something was heard.

Beijing [Images], which keeps a tight leash on the internet, blocking any officially unwanted content, did not allow any mention of the incident. The shoe missed its target and later one of Wen's associates picked it up and took it away.

Image: A security guard picks up a shoe that was thrown towards Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (inset) at the University of Cambridge.

Photograoh: Darren Staples/REUTERS

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