IN China, the shoe that missed Premier Wen Jiabao did not hit national television screens and websites either.
On Sunday, just a day before the Cambridge protestor tossed his shoe at Wen, the State-run media Xinhua had carried photographs of the shoe monument in Iraq, erected and dismantled after a protestor recently flung his shoe at former US President George Bush.
But the Communist Party's controls on the media do not allow uncomplimentary reports of national leaders. "Chinese culture is a face culture. We want to give face to our Premier,'' Shi Anbin, a media studies professor at the Tsinghua University, told the Hindustan Times in Beijing. "This is the Chinese way of dealing with the incident, not censorship.''
Shi watched the speech telecast on China Central Television and heard the shoe thudding on stage while the cameras were fixed only on Wen. "The media does not want to compare Wen with Bush,'' Shi pointed out.
The foreign ministry in Beijing voiced 'strong dissatisfaction' over the 'despicable incident' but made no reference to the shoe. Chinese search engines and websites blocked details of the protest. State newspaper and television reports of Wen's 'successful' speech said nothing about the flying shoe.
"The Chinese side has expressed its strong feelings against the occurrence of the incident," said foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu. "Facts have shown that the despicable behaviour of the perpetrator proved extremely unpopular and can in no way stem the tide of growing friendly relations and co-operation between China and Britain.''
Since Tibetan activists disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris last May, French products have faced incessant calls for boycotts by nationalistic Chinese bloggers. This time, netizens who accessed the news through English websites and television, left notes supporting Grandpa Wen.
Several commented that the protest was a sign of a world jealous of China's development. "Are they afraid of the rise of China or just jealous?'' said a blogger at the popular Chinese portal sina.com. "Premier Wen is now the national hero!'' said another blogger.