Netizens Laud Shoe Protest

The founder of China's system of Internet controls is hit by a shoe thrown during a university lecture.
Email story
Comment on this story
Print story
A man surfs the Internet in Beijing, June 15, 2009.
A man surfs the Internet in Beijing, June 15, 2009.

Chinese netizens applauded a shoe-throwing protest on Thursday by a university student and Twitter user aimed at the man credited as the father of Chinese Internet controls.

"Student@hanunyi at Wuhan U hit Fang Binxing, father of China's Great Firewall, with a shoe during his lecture," tweeted veteran blogger Isaac Mao.

"Netizens cheering online now."

The student, who studies architecture at another college in Wuhan, was the subject of a city-wide manhunt following the shoe attack, which he reported on Twitter before and after the event.

Fang, president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, is widely regarded as the "father of the Great Firewall" and is hugely unpopular among Chinese netizens.

"The egg missed the target. The first shoe hit the target. The second shoe was blocked by a man and a woman," @hanunyi wrote.

He described running away from the scene.

Later, he sent another update: "Thanks to all Twitter friends ... I haven't managed to get back to you individually."

"Actually I thought this was a pretty small affair, and it was purely to express my own anger," he added. "Maybe if you were there, you would have thrown things too."

"Maybe you would have done a better job, a more accurate job, and not wasted that egg," he quipped.

Student sought

Chinese police said they were looking for the student, who has remained unidentified so far.

Searches for Fang Binxing's name on the popular microblogging platform Sina Weibo were blocked following the incident.

Instead, searches resulted in the following message: "We were unable to display the search results according to relevant laws and regulations."

Fang was swamped with sarcastic and abusive messages last year, shortly after opening an account with the service, which was later deleted.

Twitter users posting to the hashtag #GFW, for Internet censorship and circumvention posts, appeared jubilant on Thursday.

"If there are 'enemies of the people' in this day and age, then Fang Binxing is surely one of them," wrote user @cxzj.

"It doesn't matter what your politics are. It is the bounden duty of every citizen who doesn't want to be a blind donkey to pelt Fang Binxing with rotten eggs and tomatoes."

Meanwhile, a joke was circulating which purportedly described Fang's ire following the protest.

"How come you didn't take preventive measures?" he is said to have asked the event organizers. "They were talking about this beforehand on Twitter."

"Well," comes the innocent reply. "We can't get onto that site because it's been blocked by the Great Firewall."

Controls may tighten

Earlier this month, China set up a nationwide command center to oversee the country's 477 million netizens and to "manage information" on the Internet, prompting fears that online controls will get tighter still.

The State Internet Information Office, directly under the control of China's cabinet, or State Council, will "direct, coordinate, and supervise online content management," official media reported.

It will also handle administrative approval of businesses related to online news reporting.

China imposes a complex system of blocks, keyword filters, and human censorship known collectively as the Great Firewall, or GFW.

The most recent crackdown on dissent in China began following anonymous online calls for a "Jasmine" revolution, inspired by recent uprisings in the Middle East.

Rights groups say dozens of activists, lawyers, and cyberdissidents have been detained, sent to labor camp, or sentenced to jail terms for subversion.

Reported by Ding Xiao for RFA's Mandarin service and by Bi Zimo for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





More Listening Options

View Full Site