Sat, May 21, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Footwear attack on China Web censor sparks online buzz

AFP, SHANGHAI

Internet users in China are hailing a student who claims to have thrown a shoe at the architect of the country’s so-called “Great Firewall” of Internet controls during a university appearance.

Police in central China yesterday refused to comment on the alleged attack on Fang Binxing (方濱興) at Wuhan University by a student who identified himself online only as “hanunyi” (寒君依).

However, the student has been hailed by Web users — posts that were later deleted by authorities under the very system that Fang designed to snuff out information or comment that the government considers a threat to its authority.

Supporters immediately offered the student cash, plane tickets, buffet dinners at five-star hotels, pornography and a virtual private network, or VPN, to help him scale the “Great Firewall.”

HAPPY THOUGHT

“When I think of the shoe hitting Fang right in the face, I’m so happy,” wrote one Twitter user identified as “gaodongmei,” who was presumably using a VPN to access the site which is officially blocked in China.

Some reports said eggs were thrown at Fang, but missed their mark. No photos or videos of the reported shoe attack were immediately available.

SILENCED

Thousands of Chinese Internet users vented their anger at Fang in December when he opened a microblog account on Web portal Sina.com, which operates a tightly-managed Twitter clone. Fang closed the account within days.

“He is the enemy of all netizens who are forced to scale the wall all day long,” said one typical comment, later deleted by Web monitors.

Fang’s name has been blocked from Internet searches in China since he was shouted off Sina.com.

Fang told the Global Times newspaper in a rare interview in February that he had endured “dirty abuse ... as a sacrifice for my country.”

He defended the “Great Firewall” as an urgent necessity and said the censorship technology should be made even stronger.

“Drivers just obey the rules,” Fang said, comparing Web controls to traffic controls. “So citizens should just play with what they have.”

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