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February 4, 2009

China's Leader gets shoes thrown at him

POLITICS - We all laughed when the reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi in Iraq threw his shoes at George W. Bush. Bush deserved it and yet made light of the incident.

Yesterday Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had his speech interrupted when a 27-year-old European man at England's Cambridge University hurled a shoe at him. Unfortunately the footwear sailed past Wen Jiabao with neither the force nor the accuracy of the Iraqi shoe, thumping on the stage metres away.

So are Iraqis better at throwing shoes than the Europeans? Evidently.

Back in Beijing, China is awfully upset about the incident. Britain has assured China the young man will be punished "according to the law."

So what exactly is Britain's laws against throwing shoes or insulting foreign leaders?

The European man's identity has not been released. He will appear in court in Cambridge Tuesday on charges of committing a public order offense.

In China the ever-vigilant Central Propaganda Department (not a joke, that is really what it is called) is keen to suppress any news in which Wen Jiabao might be shown in an unfavourable light, state-controlled newspapers avoided the shoe-throwing incident yesterday altogether.

Chinese state-broadcaster CCTV originally featured a truncated report of "the disturbance," as it was called and later was allowed to run film footage showing security men dragging the shouting man, while Wen Jiabao recommenced his speech, dismissing the protester and receiving applause.

Unfortunately none of the cameras in the room caught the thrown shoe on film in mid-air. Evidently when you throw a shoe at a foreign leader you should always make sure the cameras are on a good angle to catch the attempt.

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