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Disruption of Wen speech slammed as 'despicable'
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11:35, February 04, 2009

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China voiced strong dissatisfaction Tuesday over an incident during Premier Wen Jiabao's speech at Cambridge University on Monday, labeling the interruption "despicable".

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Wen's speech, entitled "See China in the light of her development", was warmly welcomed by a packed and receptive international audience of more than 500 staff and students in the university.

However, media reports said a 27-year-old man tried to disrupt it by shouting and throwing a shoe. "The perpetrator was strongly condemned by both staff and students of the university, and was removed after the incident," Jiang said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers his speech at the University of Cambridge, eastern England February 2, 2009. [China Daily\agencies]

Britain apologized for the interruption, she said, and the man was charged with a public-order offence. The BBC reported he would appear before magistrates in Cambridge on Feb 10.

"This despicable behavior of the perpetrator proved extremely unpopular and can in no way stem the tide of the growing friendly relations and cooperation between China and Britain," Jiang said.

The University of Cambridge's website also mentioned the incident. It quoted the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, as saying: "I deeply regret that a single member of the audience failed to show the respect for our speaker that is customary at Cambridge.

"This university is a place for considered argument and debate, not for shoe-throwing." The protester's remarks and the sound of the shoe hitting the stage were audible in the news coverage of the speech on China Central Television.

Wen, remaining composed, paused and glanced sideways as the shoe hit the stage. "Teachers and students, this kind of dirty trick cannot stop the friendship between the Chinese and the British people," he continued to a round of applause.

He said once the protester was seized: "We come in peace. This is not going to obstruct China-UK friendship. History shows harmony will not be obstructed by any force, so would you let me continue?"

The incident came at the end of Wen's three-day visit to Britain. He returned to Beijing Tuesday.

Source: China Daily

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