Throwing a Shoe at China's Great Firewall Creator

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM
[NOTE: This is the first of two China and authoritarian development posts.] In case you missed it, you should really get a hold of this. For some time, I've been fascinated with shoe throwing as a form of political protest [1, 2] and the lengths the PRC leadership goes through to maintain the Great Firewall of China (GFW)[1, 2]. So, it was inevitable that I would be most interested in the news that Fang Binxing--recognized as the architect of the aforementioned Internet censorship infrastructure--was pelted with eggs and shoes by a yet-unidentified protester:
Police in China say they are seeking a man who allegedly threw an egg and shoes at the designer of the country's Great Firewall of web controls. Fang Binxing was lecturing at Wuhan University, Hubei province, when the alleged protest took place. Reports of the attack spread quickly on Twitter after a user named Hanunyi posted his account of the incident.

Mr Fang is reviled by many Chinese web users for overseeing development of China's system of internet censorship. The computer scientist, who is Principal of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, has been dubbed the Father of the Great Firewall.
Alas for his critics, alike George W. Bush, Mr. Fang was reportedly quite nimble in dodging incoming projectiles:
An officer at Luojiashan Public Security Bureau confirmed police were investigating the alleged attack, AP news agency reported. Protester covers mouth Protesters accuse China's government of stifling its critics and restricting freedom of speech

Hanunyi posted a live account of the alleged shoe-throw on his profile page, including a picture of a hand clutching an egg. "The egg missed the target. The first shoe hit the target. The second shoe was blocked by a man and a woman," he tweeted.

The Great Firewall, also known as the Golden Shield Project, blocks thousands of websites, including those linked to the Dalai Lama and the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. It also filters keyword searches for sensitive topics such as Tibet or Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel prize-winning dissident.

According to some Twitter users, searches for "hanunyi" have also been blocked since the alleged attack on Mr Fang took place. China's government has invested heavily in controlling the internet, recently setting up a body to monitor censorship: the State Internet Information Office.
I myself have some questions. For instance, what was this guy lecturing about? Automatically filtering pornographic content by checking the amount of skin tone present in images? Certainly, this guy was never meant for public consumption. Yet as I always like to say, boys and girls, you're nobody in this world until people start throwing shoes at you (and maybe eggs too, for that matter). Dubya, Wen's pretty rarefied company ;-)