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Wen urges Cambridge to forgive shoe thrower
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-09 07:35

Premier Wen Jiabao has asked Cambridge University to forgive the student who threw a shoe at him during his speech there this month, the Chinese ambassador to the UK said on Saturday.

Premier Wen Jiabao delivers his speech at the University of Cambridge, eastern England February 2, 2009. [Agencies]

In a press release on the Foreign Ministry's website, Ambassador Fu Ying said: "I would like to convey the following from Premier Wen: Education is the best help for a young student. It is hoped the university will give the student an opportunity to continue his studies."

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Martin Jahnke, 27, a student in pathology from Germany, threw a shoe at Premier Wen and yelled towards the end of his lecture on February 2.

Wen was not hit and continued the speech.

The move irritated the audience and many shouted "shame on you" as Jahnke was escorted away by the police. And Fu said the inappropriate behavior was also met with strong indignation among the Chinese people.

"From the words and actions of this student, it could be seen how he lacks knowledge about China," she said.

"It has also affected the image and reputation of Cambridge in China."

Jahnke was charged with disorderly conduct and will appear before magistrates in Cambridge tomorrow. British authorities said he faces six months in prison or a 5,000-pound fine.

The student, who had been working on research into diabetes and arthritis, also faces suspension from the university, with China News Agency reporting some of his fellow students were "strongly demanding the university dismiss him".

According to United Press International, Jahnke has gone into hiding after footage of the incident was watched more than a million times on the Internet site YouTube.

On February 4, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally apologized to Wen for the incident in a letter, while the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University visited Fu Ying in London last Friday to offer a formal apology.

The university also forwarded an apology written by Jahnke. According to a press release by the Foreign Ministry, the student said in the letter "his behavior lacked the respect and courtesy due to a guest of the university".

"As a Chinese saying goes, it is more precious than gold for a young person to turn around and redress mistakes," Fu said in the press release on behalf of Premier Wen.

"It is hoped this student will see his mistake and seek to understand a real and developing China," she said.