Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Protester throws shoe at Chinese PM in Britain
A young protester hurled a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as he gave a speech at Britain's Cambridge University on Monday, in a dramatic end to a five-nation tour of Europe.
In a clear echo of the Iraqi journalist who threw his footwear at then US president George W. Bush in Baghdad in December, the Western-looking man shouted "This is a scandal" as he interrupted Wen from the back of the auditorium.
"This dictator here, how can you listen to the lies he's telling? You are not challenging him," he said before blowing a whistle and hurling the sports trainer at Wen, who had been discussing China's role in the globalised world.
The shoe landed about a yard from the Chinese premier, who glanced sharply to one side to watch it hit the stage, but did not appear frightened. A security man moved across and kicked the shoe off the stage.
As the protester was bundled out, he shouted to audience members: "Stand up and protest," to which some of the spectators -- most of whom appeared to be Chinese students -- retorted: "Shame on you, shame on you."
After the interruption, Wen reproached the demonstrator.
"This despicable behaviour cannot stand in the way of friendship between China and the UK," he said, receiving a round of applause from the audience.
The incident -- following the protest by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who gained global fame by throwing his footwear at Bush on December 14 -- came after Wen gave a largely anodyne speech in Cambridge, southeastern England.
Security had been tight for entry to the concert hall where the speech took place in front of about 500 people. Outside some 200 demonstrators, apparently mostly pro-Chinese, were kept at bay in two pens on the pavement.
Before the event began supporters waved red Chinese flags, while some banged drums and there was a colourful paper dragon -- although one banner from a protester said: "Remember Tiananmen."
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