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Fang Binxing, China's Internet Firewall Designer, Hit By Shoe

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BEIJING -- Chinese police were seeking the man who allegedly threw an egg and shoes Thursday at the computer scientist famous for designing China's Great Firewall of Web controls.

The attack – if true – is a particularly bold one for China and underscores how strongly people feel about the country's strict Internet censorship.

A Twitter user posting under the name "hanunyi" claimed that one of the shoes struck computer expert Fang Binxing while he was visiting Wuhan University in Hubei province. Fang, president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, is popularly known as the "father of the Great Firewall" and is reviled by many Chinese Web users.

An officer at the Luojiashan Public Security Bureau confirmed police were sent to the university to investigate a shoe-throwing incident that targeted Fang. The officer, who refused to give his name, said Fang was on his way to the airport.

"Hanunyi" posted a live account of the alleged shoe toss on his Twitter page, including photos of the door to the lecture hall where it happened, a hand clutching an egg in preparation and bare feet after he fled.

"The egg missed the target. The first shoe hit the target. The second shoe was blocked by a man and a woman," he wrote.

He described running away from the scene and three hours later expressed surprise at the huge online response.

"I didn't think this little thing would get such a big response," he wrote on Twitter.

Chinese Web filters routinely block searches for content that authorities deem too politically sensitive, such as the banned spiritual group Falun Gong or jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. Blogs and news websites are scrubbed of postings or articles that are overly critical of the Communist leadership.

Fang has felt the ire of the online community before. When he launched his own microblog in December, it was taken down within hours after anonymous posters peppered the Web journal with hundreds of caustic or sarcastic comments.


Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

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