It hesitated for hours over the sensitive footage of a British protester shouting “dictator” and throwing a shoe at. But finally, ‘s carefully controlled state broadcaster ran it Tuesday.
The move was a remarkable display of openness — but the footage already was leaking into China via satellite television and the Internet. Critics said it showed the increasing power of such media to erode strict information controls.
By HENRY SANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
“It is impossible for a country to shut out a piece of news,” said Shao Peiren, head of Zhejiang University’s communications research institute in eastern China.
The broadcast might also help the government by appealing to Chinese patriotism. Wen is the leadership’s most popular figure, and he emerged as the hero after last year’s devastating earthquake, calling himself “Grandpa Wen.” The nickname was embraced by some enthusiastic Chinese.
Still, incidents that could be seen as unflattering or insulting to the Chinese leadership have long been treated with the greatest sensitivity. The first Chinese reports on the protest during Wen’s visit to Britain’s Cambridge University left out key details, including that a shoe had been thrown.
But the China Central Television broadcast had it all. The evening news showed the footage among the first stories of its half-hour broadcast, leading into it with a report on Wen’s speech itself and his return to Beijing.
Then the shoe-throwing footage was shown, with no commentary from the anchors, just a simple news setup.
The camera was fixed on Wen, but later cut to the whistle-blowing protester being removed from the hall, while the audience shouted “Get out.”
“How can this university prostitute itself with this dictator here? How can you listen … to him unchallenged?” the man — who has yet to be identified — could be heard shouting.
The sound of the shoe hitting the stage, away from Wen, could be heard as well.