Shoe-thrower causes cerebral haemorrhage

Saranyah Sukumaran - News Reporter 4 March 2010

The Chinese State media have reported that the mother of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage last year, as a direct result of seeing television footage of a student throwing a shoe at her son during a speech at Cambridge University.

In an online chat, Wen revealed his mother’s illness, saying that she still had difficulties with walking and her vision.

The Chinese transcripts of his question and answer session were ambiguous as to whether his mother, in her late eighties, suffered the haemorrhage when seeing the incident on the television or once her son returned to China.

However, Xinhua news agency’s said the haemorrhage was connected to the shoe-throwing incident.

A GP told The Cambridge Student (TCS), “In an elderly lady, stress can cause the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.

“Hence, it is plausible that the haemorrhage could cause a disability that is still persisting.”

A University spokesman told TCS, “The incident last year during the Premier’s visit to Cambridge was regrettable as the Vice-Chancellor made clear in a personal letter of apology to Premier Wen.”

He added, “We are very sorry to hear of Premier Wen’s mother’s illness and wish her a speedy recovery.”

The incident occurred whilst Wen was delivering the prestigious Rede Lecture. Martin Jahnke, a senior post-graduate student from Darwin, shouted as part of a human rights protest: “How can the University prostitute itself with this dictator?” Subsequently the student took off his shoe and threw it towards the podium, missing Wen by a few feet.

The protestor was then escorted out of the auditorium by officials and police. Footage of the event has proved popular on the internet, with YouTube videos receiving over a million hits.

During the incident, Wen remained calm and told the audience, “This despicable act will not obstruct friendship between the Chinese and British people.”

He also publicly urged Cambridge to be lenient towards Jahnke. In a statement released by China’s foreign ministry he said, “Education is the best help for a young student. It is hoped that the University will give the student the opportunity to continue his studies at the University.”

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court cleared Jahnke of committing a public order offence.

Jahnke’s lawyers failed in their attempt to argue that the Chinese government influenced the Crown Prosecution Service and police to prosecute.

Following his arrest, Jahnke told police that his actions were “legitimate” given the “crimes” of the Chinese communist government.

Saranyah Sukumaran – News Reporter