LONDON - A protester threw a shoe at Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, on Monday as he delivered a speech on the global economy at Cambridge University. Mr Wen was coming to the last part of his address when a young Western-looking man with dark hair stood up, blew a whistle and shouted: "How can the university prostitute itself with this dictator? How can you listen to these lies?" The man, who appeared to be in his early twenties, then took off his heavy shoe and threw it at the stage missing the Premier by a few feet. Stand up and protest, you're not challenging him," he shouted in a European accent as he was bundled out of the room by security staff. Mr Wen then reprimanded the protester as more security guards moved on to the stage before he finished his speech. "This despicable behaviour cannot stand in the way of friendship between China and the UK," he said. Shoe-throwing as an act of protest was popularised in December by Muntadhar al-Zeidi, an Iraqi journalist, who threw his brogues at George W Bush, the former US president. He missed with both attempts but was arrested by Iraqi security forces. Security was tight in the build-up to the speech with scores of Chinese secret service agents monitoring the audience. The guests who heard Mr Jiabao speech were searched and passed through metal detractors as they entered the room. Police kept demonstrators away from the Premier as he arrived to speak. A group of objecting to Chinese policy in Tibet and raising concerns about human rights in China were penned in a corner about 50 yards from the entrance. Mr Wen was in England for economic talks with Gordon Brown. Earlier, the prime minister said that the economic relationship between Britain and China would be a vital way of weathering the current worldwide economic storm. "The strength of the relationship between China and Britain will be a pivotal force in helping us through the downturn and a powerful driving force behind our future growth and prosperity," he said. Mr Wen was due to return home tonight at the end of a trip that has also taken him to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to Germany and the EU headquarters in Brussels.