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龙信明 Blog: “Ai Weiwei – ‘China’s Conscience’ And Another Dissident Bites the Dust”

The following article is sourced from the 龙信明 Blog.

Ai Weiwei – “China’s Conscience”
And Another Dissident Bites the Dust

The Western media are once again having a field day about the detention of yet another “dissident”, this time the artist Ai Weiwei.

To hear the New York Times tell it, “Ai Weiwei Takes Role of China’s Conscience”. We could legitimately ask if Bradley Manning or Julian Assange are taking the role of “America’s conscience”, but perhaps we’ll leave that one for another time.

Ai Weiwei, Whom the NYT Rather Inappropriately calls "China's Conscience"

An Error in Fact

First, let’s clear up a few misconceptions – starting with Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, the Bird’s Nest.

According to the NYT, “… the Chinese government asked Mr. Ai to collaborate with the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the Olympic stadium, known the Bird’s Nest. He did so. The result was a triumph.”

Or, according to the LA Times, “The 53-year-old Ai, designer of the “Bird’s Nest” stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics …”

Or The Economist, who wrote, “.. a lasting legacy in the shape of the “bird’s nest” stadium in Beijing built for the 2008 Olympics …

Ai Weiwei did not design Beijing’s Olympic stadium. In 2001, even before Beijing had been awarded the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city held a bidding process to select the best arena design.

Of the final thirteen evaluated designs, Li Xinggang of China Architecture Design and Research Group (CADG) exhibited a model of the bird’s nest, and this design became official in April of 2003 – fully five years before the Olympics began.

The innovative structure was designed by Herzog & De Meuron Architekten, Arup Sport and CADG, and was nicknamed the “bird’s nest” due to the web of twisting steel sections that form the roof.

Ai Weiwei was not involved in any way in the building’s design. He made repeated attempts in 2006 and 2007 to become part of the design team, but without success. The Chinese government did invite him much later to offer his suggestions and opinions to the architects, but it appears his many suggestions were not implemented.

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

The WSJ had it a bit closer to the truth; “Mr. Ai (helped to design) the Bird’s Nest stadium … but then boycotted the Opening Ceremonies. He has since become increasingly politically active, prompting frequent confrontations with Chinese authorities, who demolished his studio in Shanghai in January.”

The house that Jack did NOT build.

It would seem Ai was so bitter at the rejection of his design suggestions that he not only boycotted the Olympics but made great efforts to sabotage them in print. Some examples:

“An Olympics far from the will of the people and the spirit of freedom, a national ceremony without the inspiration of the citizenry, a myth so far away from modern civilization, the end result will be endless nonsense and a bore.

No one can win the people’s support through deceit and betrayal.”
As to the Olympic slogan of “One World, One Dream”, Ai had this to say: “What world? No justice or equality, only deceit and betrayal. What dream? More corrupt officials, more shady deals, continued lies and questionable prosperity.” All this while presenting himself as the co-designer of the Bird’s Nest.

Let’s back up a step and take a look at Ai’s earlier career.

Ai and his parents were caught up in China’s Cultural Revolution and were sent off to some rural area for a time, returning to Beijing in the 1970s. We might argue that the family had some reason (as did others) to resent that intrusion into their lives. However, Ai appeared to specialise in venting his bitterness in ways apparently designed only to create animosity.

Ai in Tianmen Square. If I felt this way about my country, I'd move to the US where "dissidents" like this are apparently treasured.

Ai in Tianmen Square. If I felt this way about my country, I’d move to the US where “dissidents” like this are apparently treasured. Politically, he was coming to be known to the Chinese authorities as a loose cannon with a suspect history: a late-1970s free-speech agitator, and later a member of renegade art movements. He fairly quickly managed to antagonise almost everyone in the government.

The New York Times put a cute twist on it:

“When the ideological climate grew icy again, he left for the United States. He had no American career to speak of — New York wasn’t looking at contemporary Chinese art in the 1980s — but he circulated widely in the downtown art world and learned a lot.”

That’s another way of saying that Ai bummed around NYC for almost 15 years, doing nothing, but “learning a lot”.

According to the NYT, “He took this ‘knowledge’ with him when he returned to China in 1993.
There is an article available on Ai Weiwei’s almost 15 years in NYC from 1981 to 1994. He was basically a street rat with no purpose in life, despite the elegant way western media try to portray him.

  • In 1983, he was expelled from a New York design school for chronic absenteeism
  • He forfeited his visa due to the expulsion, and was an illegal immigrant in the US for much of his stay.
  • The US government later rewarded him with a permanent Green Card, for his willingness to protest against China.
  • He was charged with doing construction work without a license
  • He worked as a “tourist guide” in the 42nd Street Red Light district – apparently earning commissions by acting essentially as a pimp.
  • He spent two years gambling in Atlantic City; some say he was actually just buying free chips from bus tourists and reselling them.
  • He also apparently spent several years drawing sidewalk portraits.
  • In his own words, he spent “every day waiting for darkness to come, then waiting for the night to become bright again. It was always waiting, without any purpose.”

And how much sympathy does he have from the Chinese people?

One commenter noted that “if you look at the life detail of the ‘hero’, it isn’t surprising to find that, like most Chinese dissidents, he is no good.”

Another noted that “It seems to me that the west in its bid to create problems for China, is having difficulty recruiting intelligent and decent Chinese persons to go against the Chinese government. The selections have degraded to lowlifes, losers and psychopaths. This by itself reveals much regarding the nature of these western countries and their motives. This has gone as low as when Chinese were sold and forced to consume opium.”

Another commenter stated, “No Chinese is going to bother him if he keeps his lifestyle and his insanities to himself. Nobody is going to bother him for being a lowlife. But if foreign powers are using him to contaminate China, his rightful place should be in jail. If he is going to use his prominence and foreign support to spread his “lowlifeness” and disrespect for his country, then he should either be jailed or live in the US which is a more suitable place for that kind of bum.”

A Deranged Artist?

“In Beijing he helped spearhead new, radical, often conceptually based underground movements.”

“To anyone familiar with China’s hardball official politics, Mr. Ai’s aggressive words sounded suicidally aggressive … His attacks on political authority grew sharper, more persistent, more amplified. The noble Confucian model of the morally grounded intellectual speaking truth to power in a single dramatic confrontation was called on so often as to become, seemingly by intention, an unnoble and relentless insistence. And as a result, whatever immunity from reprisal he might once have enjoyed was soon gone.”

But it went farther than that. Ai’s writings appeared increasingly bitter and wide-ranging. There was no simple ‘political dissidence’ involved, no pleas for fairness or justice, or more freedoms or a greater say in government. His comments were hateful, vicious and contemptuous, claiming China had no hope, no dreams, no future. Even before the Olympics, he was calling China “a broken vehicle” that would soon disintegrate.

Even trying to wear a kind hat, it truly seemed Ai was either stoned or had flipped out, because much of his ranting wasn’t even coherent. He seemed to be lashing out at anything and everything. He claimed that China had made no progress of any kind in the past 30 years, that the country had more poor people today, that everything was worse now, that government leaders were (in some way) stealing all the money from all the citizens in the country.

Ai Weiwei's wonderfully charming, "artistic", video about his country.

My other strong recollection was the feeling of hatred that this man must feel toward his country, to have made many of his comments that were astonishingly bitter, while personally slandering some government leaders.

His hate was directed everywhere, with wild generalisations that slandered pretty much everything from the Olympics to prices to pollution to the people. He ranted about “the incompetence of the regime”, the “increasing poverty”, essentially condemning everything about his country.

Another of Ai’s “artistic works” can be seen in a YouTube video that was widely promoted by him in Germany; click here. You will need someone to translate the Chinese for you, but you won’t be impressed. The title of the video is “F*** You, Motherland”. Hardly the sort of thing we might expect from what the New York Times chose to call “China’s Conscience”.

The world has no shortage of flaky artists, but Ai stirred things up again in 2000 during the Shanghai Bienniale, when he and Feng Boyi co-curated a show called “F*** Off,” a show packed with provocative works, including one installation that included the bodies of two dead babies. That show was closed rather quickly.

Ai apparently believed that his country, and China’s art, were somehow pathetic and illegitimate unless they were ‘Westernised’. He made a bizarre point in saying that all China ever did, in all of its history, was to produce cheap labor. He claimed there was “nothing, absolutely nothing, creative, nothing which shares the ideology of the other parts of the world”.

It was unfortunate that he used his public status in ways that may have caused considerable damage. In a recent interview with the Economist magazine, Ai addressed himself to all the Chinese people born in the 1980s and 1990s: “Prepare your English, and leave this nation. This will be your best choice.” A rather pathetic endorsement from “China’s Conscience”.

The Demolition of Ai’s Studio

The Western media have made great fuss over the demolition of Ai’s studio in Shanghai. According to the NYT, “in 2010 … a newly built studio in Shanghai was razed by city authorities on the pretext of having been built without proper permits.”

As with most stories, there is often more than one side, and such is the case with the demolition of Ai‘s studio on the outskirts of Shanghai.

It is unfortunate that these accounts paint a very different picture than the narrative being presenting by the Western media sensationalist China reporting. These disproportionally one-sided narratives, twists of facts and half-truths, have greatly contributed to America’s resurging anti-Chinese sentiment we are now witnessing.

The construction of Ai’s studio was not at the invitation of the Shanghai city government, but by a Jiading District official named Sun Jiwei. It appears neither the district nor township government that proposed this construction had made the relevant building permit applications. Ai was notified of this, but construction continued to completion nonetheless. Meanwhile, the other eight artist’s projects in the same complex were unaffected because they had obtained proper building permits prior to construction.

Efforts were made to save Ai’s building. The government suggested that Ai could donate it to the village collective that owned the land, and it would then qualify for public project exemption. In this event, the Jiading District offered Ai 50% more compensation for the studio, but Ai refused to accept the offer and instead chose to criticise the authorities for ‘selective enforcement’. When negotiations broke down at the end of October, 2010, the building was demolished according to the regulations.

It would seem it was more important to Ai to thumb his nose at the government and to resist any form of authority, than to accommodate the rules and have a happy ending. His choice.

Once Again, Follow the Money

Readers would have noted that his earlier brief article had almost two dozen live links to the China Digital Times (Hong Kong) which, as I’m sure most readers know, is funded by the CIA (through the NED). And whether you like China or don’t, much of the Times’ content is a rather dirty piece of work.

The glorious CIA; always ready to help destabilise your country or overthrow your government - even if you don't want them to.

For those of you who still feel like defending the downtrodden, try to keep in mind that China does not have NGOs in the US, spending huge amounts of money trying to stir up the Tea Party or the Black Panthers, or even crying for Bradley Manning’s release.

But the US, through the NED and other similar NGO fronts, spends a lot of money financing “dissenters” and does a great deal of work to try to stir up trouble, dissention, insurrection, sedition and worse.

The US did the same with Liu Xiaobo, financing a high life style and stoking his seditious rantings until he finally went too far and got himself tossed into prison. I suspect the same has happened again.

And then of course, the US can santimonioulsy crow about how China is being brutal by harrassing an “innocent” dissenter.

If you’re a good Christian or a cocky American you might easily dismiss all this as just good clean fun. But it isn’t fun, it isn’t good, and in truth it is dirty as hell.

If I were China I wouldn’t be happy about the CIA financing unrest on my doorstep either. This is a very dirty political game that is being played, and there is almost no way for China to deal with it in a way that won’t let the US claim yet another propaganda victory.

Maybe the US Should Mind its Own Business

I think it would be appropriate to remind readers (AND the US media) that we wouldn’t be having this discussion if not for the extensive foreign meddling in China’s internal affairs.

It is only because of the US-sponsored subversion that any of this has happened. If it were not for the US government, the NED, the CIA and its financing, we wouldn’t have had an issue with any of these “dissidents”. It is only due to their CIA financing and NED encouragement that these people obtain public attention and eventually get themselves in trouble.

Nor would we have had US Ambassador Jon Huntsman sneaking around WangFuJing like a weasel, looking to admire the handiwork of his “Jasmine Revolution”.

Nor would we have had the riots in Xinjiang that were organised by the NED-financed and guided World Uigur Congress of Rebiya Khadeer. Nor would China have had the Olympic birthday gift of the externally-financed riots in Tibet the year prior.

Why is the Focus on China, Rather Than on the US – Where it Belongs?

This is typical schoolyard bullying. I provoke and provoke until you retaliate in some way, then point all the fingers at you while I walk away with my halo intact.

Why aren’t we having a discussion about the US, about its pathological determination to interfere with and meddle in the internal affairs of so many other countries?

In all of this, why are we studiously ignoring the clear fact that the US, the great protector of freedoms and human rights, has instigated all of these troubles? Why are we in fact blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator?

You won’t like this, but here we have a perfect example of American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy in action. That’s the root of it; make no mistake.

Read also: “Noble, Noble, Nobel” – A touch of hypocrisy, anyone?

  1. April 10th, 2011 at 02:08 | #1

    Chinese reactions here:

    ESWN’s Translation:

    [Comment from Sima Nan: It requires a significant amount of money to produce this kind of art which carries a nasty taste. After someone produces such crass famous pro-American [note: 带路党 is a derogatory name for the Chinese who would volunteer to show the way for the American soldiers invading China] works of art, does he now have exemption from Chinese law? Can he do anything that he wants in China? If not, does it become “deterioration of human rights” in China?]

    The basic concept of “human rights” has been positioned to be something completely incompatible with the tremendous economic and social progress in China. This is a huge joke, and it is the reason why the Chinese people are disgusted whenever the west applies pressure on China overs these so-called “human rights” issues.

    The “avant garde” artist Ai Weiwei was recently “taken away” by the Chinese police. Certain western governments and “human rights organizations” immediately interceded and demanded the release of Ai Weiwei. This matter was raised to represent “the deterioration of human rights situation in China” with Ai Weiwei being called a “Chinese human rights warrior.”

    There was no attempt to learn the truth. Instead, a specific judicial case in China is being magnified in order to criticize China viciously. This is an ill-considered intrusion on the basic political framework in China as well as utter disregard of Chinese sovereignty over its own judicial system. The west is deliberately lifting a simple judicial case up the level of national politics (even international politics) in order to distract the Chinese people and modify their value system.

    In recent years, Ai Weiwei has been active as a “performance artist” and “avant garde artist.” He is a unique loner in Chinese society. He opposes traditional art and he likes to come up with “astonishing words and acts.” He likes to tread on the “margins of the law” and do things most people don’t know for sure whether it is “legally permissible.” On April 1, it was reported that “he failed to complete the procedures” on his way to Taiwan via Hong Kong.

    Ai Weiwei ought to know that his independence and his propensity to do “what others don’t dare to do” has gathered a number of like-minded persons around him. He often goes right up to the red line in Chinese law. Perhaps he likes that feeling. Objectively speaking, China does not have much experience dealing with people like him. There are not many legal precedents. But if Ai Weiwei continues to charge ahead, it is a matter of time before he “steps on the line.”

    There are 1.3 billion Chinese people and it is normal that there should be a few stubborn and unruly people like Ai Weiwei. In art, exceptions are the rule. In law, exceptional behavior is to be restricted and regulated. It is unrealistic and impossible for China not to set up legal boundaries for people like Ai Weiwei.

    The west glosses over the complexity of the Chinese judicial system as well as that of the individual activities of Ai Weiwei. They reduced the matter of “Ai Weiwei being taken away” down to a simple political slogan: “The human rights situation in China is deteriorating.” “Human rights” is like a bucket of paint — the western politicians and media can use that paint to smear anything that they see. They are erasing the detailed differences of everything in this world.

    It is a huge joke that the west should make out a basic concept such as “human rights” to be something thoroughly incompatible with the economic and social progress in China. This is the fundamental reason why the Chinese people are disgusted whenever the west applies pressure on China over these so-called “human rights” issues. In China, people’s livelihood is improving. Meanwhile the government/party is coming under more supervision and scrutiny than before as it is the trend for the public to express their opinions on the Internet. Can this be denied? The experience of Ai Weiwei (as well as certain other independent activists) should be not be put on the same scale as if they represent the development and progress of human rights in China.

    The truth about “Ai Weiwei being taken away” will become clear soon. Generally speaking, given that Ai Weiwei chose to have a different attitude towards the law than common people, the law will not compromise for such a “special person” just because of western public opinion. History will pronounce judgment on people like Ai Weiwei, who will sometimes have to pay a price for their choices. This is true in any society. Even as China moves ahead as a whole, nobody has the right to demand that the entire Chinese people must satisfy the personal preferences of one person or the other. This has nothing to do with respecting the rights of a minority group.

  2. April 10th, 2011 at 02:40 | #2

    Oh, and I’ve been so looking forward to the article that Charles Liu has written on this topic. Where is it? Can we see it soon?

    I’m sure that the HH crew will find all this very convincing. Me, on the other hand, I prefer stuff that is reliably sourced and isn’t just a long series of non-sequiturs ending with the proposition “let’s all hate Americans, because they’re racist”, but then I guess I’m crazy like that.

  3. xian
    April 10th, 2011 at 08:02 | #3

    I have a hard time taking bearcanada seriously, the guy is nationalism bordering on conspiracy. Sima Nan is nationalism under the guise of debunker. Not that there’s anything wrong with nationalism, it’s just not material for serious debate.

    The important thing to take away from this is the trend that Ai Weiwei sets. As countries develop, more and more “activists” of this sort begin to emerge. I don’t think Ai is a bad person, but like activists everywhere, his motive is more geared towards antagonism than whatever issue it is he’s using to promote that antagonism. Even if his cause is just, ultimately it is a show he’s putting on for his followers. Same with Han Han. This kind of showbiz/audience mentality is manifested in virtually every activist and dissident there is. As China grows wealthier, more and more people will lose sight of what’s good for the nation, and focus instead on what rights they themselves are entitled to. The real question is, how should China deal with people like this in the future?

  4. pug_ster
    April 10th, 2011 at 08:18 | #4


    “let’s all hate Americans, because they’re racist”

    Where does it say that? There’s a difference between hating the American government, media and its people.

  5. raventhorn2000
    April 10th, 2011 at 10:07 | #5

    I certainly don’t hate Americans.

    But I like to stay far away from Americans who thinks dried turd on paint canvass qualify as “art”.

    Frankly, it’s the smell. No offense, I’m sure they are nice people, but no thanks.


  6. D858
    April 10th, 2011 at 14:46 | #6

    There’s a difference no matter which country we talk about.

    With the exception of Israel, where hating the Israeli government, media, people, and religion are all equivalent.

  7. April 10th, 2011 at 18:12 | #7


    Your 2nd paragraph is a totally legitimate comment from your perspective. You should refrain from labeling people ‘nationalistic.’ You will need to point out specifically where in the article you disagree and what lead you to think the author is nationalistic.

  8. pug_ster
    April 10th, 2011 at 20:13 | #8


    This is an interview 2 years ago, and in which he wants democracy. I’m not against people protesting against government policies but certain people who are there to somehow try to subvert the government and he probably just crossed the line with the recent pbs documentry.

  9. hehe
    April 10th, 2011 at 20:28 | #9

    Nobel Peace Prize please!

  10. Lime
    April 10th, 2011 at 22:16 | #10

    This would be a lot more convincing if there were citations. Also it would help if the author could actually “follow the money” and show there was some connection between Ai Weiwei and the US government. As it is, this is a pretty weak attempt at character assassination.

  11. xian
    April 10th, 2011 at 22:39 | #11

    Eh, I don’t wanna start a huge debate. Point is what people say about you is a matter of pride, not practicality. There will always be a torrent of ill informed, biased crap spewed at any country, especially important ones. For the sake of reputation it’s fine to use the same tactic in retaliation, but it’s entirely different when people start to believe their own flaming. Of course the average person cares mostly about what outside media thinks of them, but IMO the truly important stuff is how a country runs itself and reacts to competitors.

  12. Charles Liu
    April 10th, 2011 at 22:50 | #12

    Here’s an oped on a thousand antique chairs Ai Weiwei used in an overseas exhibition that may shed some light on the econimic crime Ai is being investigated for, which got virtually no airing in Western media:


    “Will The Ming-Qing Dynasty Chairs Return?

    [former Swiss ambassador to China] Uli Sigg is also a prominent collector of Chinese art, helped garner 30 million RMB donation from from a Swiss foundation. Such large sum, on one hand shows overseas art market’s interest in Chinese art. On the other hand, it leaves an unsettled feeling — will these chairs ever return? According to the new regulation on exporting of cultural artifacts, these Qing era charis are protected artifacts subject to export regualtion.”

  13. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 11th, 2011 at 00:25 | #13

    “Why aren’t we having a discussion about the US, about its pathological determination to interfere with and meddle in the internal affairs of so many other countries?
    In all of this, why are we studiously ignoring the clear fact that the US, the great protector of freedoms and human rights, has instigated all of these troubles? Why are we in fact blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator?
    You won’t like this, but here we have a perfect example of American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy in action. That’s the root of it; make no mistake.”

    If you want to read about or discuss US interference and meddling in other countries’ affairs, you can easily do that in the US itself or anywhere else in the West. You can see this openly discussed on television shows, on movie screens, the subject of many books, on radio programs, in school and university classrooms, in open street protests. No one is ignoring what the US does – the Western media is full of criticism of the US and the volume of that criticism reaches far beyond the criticism levelled at China, if only because the US has been centre stage for longer.

    If anything, it’s a case of Chinese Exceptionalism that China thinks that it is should not be criticised at all by the media or by other nations – even if that criticism is based on errors.

    China needs to learn that becoming a leading nation means being subject to criticism and that responding to criticism like little children is neither becoming of a leading nation nor noble.

  14. Charles Liu
    April 11th, 2011 at 02:14 | #14

    @Fong, Chinese media and bloggers critize their government all the time, just look on Baidu.

    The ones advocating jasmine revolution are acccused of subversion (Jasmine revolution manifesto contains plan to esclate to violent mass incidents dibilitating society and government, even transitional government overseas) and distrubing peace (just like those hundreds Iraq protesters recently arrested in DC). Even US have similar law (US Code Title 18, Chapter 115).

    BTW Ai is being investigated for economic crime. He probably forgot to pay taxes on the antique chairs or silver coins he exported for exhibition in violation of China’s relic protection law.

    Here’s citation on Ai Weiwei choosing not to accept more compensation to save his studio with permit problem:


    (by your last name I’ll assume you ain’t some unlearned hick that don’t know Chinese…)

  15. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 11th, 2011 at 03:00 | #15

    @Charles – I’m focusing not so much on Chinese media and blogger criticism of the Chinese government and CCP, but on criticism of them by government, media and people in the West.

    Being a leading power in the world means you will inevitably be criticised. For example, the US has been heavily criticised by various media, people and (to a lesser extent) governments for its treatment of Muslims after the 9/11 event, detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of Bradley Manning. While there have been cases of bad tempered responses to this (eg politicians seeking to rename “French fries” as “freedom fries” when France opposed the Iraq invasion), generally the criticism has been tolerated and met with a dignified response, at least at an official level.

    It is the more dignified response China needs to cultivate as it seeks to a leading nation. To give credit where it’s due, at least foreign office spokespeople have stopped using the phrase (in English) “XXX has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” – or at least I haven’t seen that used lately.

    Many Westerners fear a rising China not because it is becoming powerful, but because it is becoming powerful while still demonstrating a strong propensity to act like a petulant child. Many Westerners still remember the images of the Cultural Revolution, where China did not demonstrate that 5,000 years of civilisation always leads to mature, civilised behaviour. China does not help itself grow out of that image by responding to accusations by claiming conspiracies and racism or accusing other nations of being just as bad.

    Of course, many Westerners do fear a rising China for more simple racist/xenophobic reasons – I don’t deny that.

    What surprised me in the Ai Weiwei incident was that the authorities apparently did not anticipate the reaction of the West to his detention and have information about the charges ready to counter suspicions. Perhaps they did, but the Western media was slow to pick up and translate that information. If instead, as it appears, the authorities only released information about the detention being for economic crimes in response to the West’s attention, it suggests that either (a) the authorities are unsophisticated or (b) the detention was forced to be done quickly because Ai was leaving the PRC for HK. Perhaps it was (b). More people would be willing to believe that if the authorities generally acted more maturely and openly.

  16. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 11th, 2011 at 03:08 | #16

    @Charles – I had to redo my response, as I forgot to enter the code. I forgot to add this bit about Ai – it’s too early to tell whose accusations are correct and we’ll probably never know. However, my instinct/prejudice is to assume he’s like most headline grabbing artists – he’s more interested in getting in the headlines than checking whether he is complying with laws that apply to everyone.

    However, if China was more transparent in its law enforcement, the Western media and governments would be less inclined to assume evil purposes in this sort of detention. By comparison, the US has not been transparent in the detention of people at Guantanamo Bay (eg people detained without being charged) and that is one of the key reasons the US has been criticised so much for that.

    Developing a more transparent law enforcement system is a big cultural challenge that think will take China generations to deal with and I don’t see any solutions that can be easily implemented. While it remains a problem, China will be criticised – just like the US is for Guantanamo Bay.

  17. pug_ster
    April 11th, 2011 at 05:15 | #17

    Tiu Fu Fong,

    Pssh, give me a break. Acting like a petulant child. You mean what US did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitzmo, and Libya is not acting like a petulant child? You can say that if China was this or if China was that all you want, but it seems to me that US acting like a petulant Child has no right to call others the same name.

  18. April 11th, 2011 at 07:44 | #18

    Ridiculous article. Fact: Ai Wei Wei was censored for what he **said**! Civilized nations do not imprison people for what they **say** – unless it involves the incitement of explicit violence. In the US and the UK there are many people who are well known troublemakers. Civilized nations accept that troublemakers have the right to exist and to say what they want.

  19. April 11th, 2011 at 10:39 | #19


    Patriot Act (US) makes it illegal to “say” things as material support for terrorists, even if for peaceful purposes.

    So who are the supposedly “civilized nations”?


  20. Charles Liu
    April 11th, 2011 at 11:56 | #20

    The hypocrisy of “do as I say not as I do” is plainly evident.

    US code on Treason, Sedition, Subversive Activities cited previousely would similarly subject anyone to investigation and prosecution for advocating jasmine revolution to overthrow the Obama administration (not to mention majority of Americans would also reject such undemocratic, violent assult against society.)

  21. Charles Liu
    April 11th, 2011 at 12:23 | #21

    BTW, search on Baidu will yield latest reporting on Ai, uncensored:

    “艾未未涉嫌经济犯罪被公安机关依法调查 搜狐 2011-4-9 14:36
    艾未未涉嫌经济犯罪被公安机关依法调查 艾未未因涉嫌经济犯罪,公安机关目前正在依法对其进行调查。 12条相同新闻 – 百度快照

    〔港报社评〕拘控艾未未,政治勿凌驾法治–经济日报4月8 … 路透中国 2011-4-8 09:36
    中国艺术家、异见人士艾未未被中国警方以涉嫌经济犯罪,带走调查,国际社会甚为关注.中国政府在处理艾未未事件上,万勿政治凌驾法治,否则将违中国政府近年强调的依法治国、公平正义,于社会稳定、大国崛起有害无益. 中国政治大吹冷风,… 百度快照 ”

    These are the first two entries from news.baidu search:

    “Police investigates Ai Weiwei’s economic crime according to law” (administrative dentention during investigation is allowed under China’s law, similar to Taiwan)


    “Do not allow politics to hijack rul of law in charging Ai Weiwei”

  22. raventhorn2000
    April 11th, 2011 at 14:14 | #22

    Undoubtedly, Ai Weiwei’s “economic crime” is related to his receipt of NED money under the table.

    That’s not just what he “says”, it’s how and where he gets his money from.

    I would say also without a doubt, that I believe any Chinese citizen who takes money from NED, directly or indirectly, should be investigated.

    NED has a long history of sponsoring violent overthrow of governments around the world.

    (Undoubtedly, any US citizen who takes money from the Chinese government are also investigated constantly. So do so at your own risk. No one should be surprised.)

  23. SilentChinese
    April 11th, 2011 at 15:06 | #23

    steve :Ridiculous article. Fact: Ai Wei Wei was censored for what he **said**! Civilized nations do not imprison people for what they **say** – unless it involves the incitement of explicit violence. In the US and the UK there are many people who are well known troublemakers. Civilized nations accept that troublemakers have the right to exist and to say what they want.

    That is your standard of “Civilized Nations” isn’t it? oh I can see that you guys hasn’t changed a bit since the victorian days.

    why does your western norms must prevail up on the world? there are 7 billion people in this world and all of their cultural norms are worth shit in front of your “civilized” western norms? what if their norm tells them saying “f*ck motherland” is not allowed and goes to jail?
    In Germany denyng holocaust land you in jail. where is the freedom of speech huh?

    *f8ck you*

    and that’s allowed in my freedom of speech and social norms so don’t get mad.

  24. SilentChinese
    April 11th, 2011 at 15:10 | #24

    on Mr Ai.

    My theory stands. that many in that (born in 60s, grew up in 70s) generation of chinese has no confidence in China and has almost completely capitulated to the west.

    it is a function of their up bringing and what they went through.

    In contrast, the post 80s generation and the new post 90s is much more confident.

    it seems US government has a less than steller record at hand picking chinese dissidents…. almost every single one of them that they highlighted are really not that effective.

  25. Charles Liu
    April 11th, 2011 at 16:48 | #25


    This is the part I’m gonna have to disagree with a little. I’ve not been able to find the smoking gun. So take it from someone who finds parity with the OP, maybe changing the NED paragraph to opinion or supposition (like what CDT & GVO do with ‘?’ trick), beyond that there’s nothing wrong.

    The nearest I can find is the exporting of antiques thru his exhibition that usually end up in auctions (export regulation, income repatriation, tax.) Saw a blip about him sending old silver coins overseas couple yars ago, still trying to track this news down.

  26. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 11th, 2011 at 19:19 | #26

    @pug_ster Even if the US government has acted as a petulant child, it has been criticised by many others eg media in the US and other nations, citizens of the US and other countries, other governments. China should get used to being subject to similar criticism and develop more sophisticated, mature responses.

  27. pug_ster
    April 11th, 2011 at 19:54 | #27

    Tiu Fu Fong,

    At least China responds to them, unlike the US usually ignores criticism coming from other countries. Do you think that’s sophisticated and mature?

  28. colin
    April 11th, 2011 at 22:09 | #28

    I didn’t know too much about Ai Wei Wei. From the western media, he seems to be some kind of artist superstar. Now that i know more about him, he seems more like a prick. I mean, seriously, you have the opportunity to help your motherland showcase itself to the world, and all you can do is blow raspberries during her hour of triumph. He’s a spoiled brat that needs to be spanked. Good for him.

    And yes, I did search out his art on the web. Nothing impressive at all. All the more adds to the suspicion he’s a puffed up western puppet.

  29. Citizen
    April 12th, 2011 at 03:23 | #29

    Lots of laughably wrong stuff in this article.

    He talks about ‘Errors in Fact’ with regard to Ai’s role in the Bird’s Nest, but the errors are all the writers. He says ‘Ai was not involved in any way in the building’s design’. In fact Ai was in partnership with the Swiss Architects and the Chinese group right from the beginning, as any history of the project will tell you. They all worked on the initial design, Li Xinggang recently saying that Ai was the most inspiring person in the world. He called Ai ‘ an artist as well as a thinker, a philosopher, an architect, a writer and a craftman; a man of full awareness, with independent judgment based on his distinguished perspective’. Herzog and De Meuron are also still very close to Ai, working on art installations and publications together.

    Even the writers own account of Ai’s role makes no sense . He was speaking very negatively about the Olympics by 2007, so its hardly likely that, as the writer claims, he was ‘much later’ invited by the Government to offer opinions to the architects.

    I could go on about factual nerrors and non-sequiturs but I guess if you are genuinely concerned, as the writer appears to be, by the fact that Ai was ‘personally slandering some government leaders’, and impressed by the fact a ‘commenter’ wrote of Ai that ‘like most Chinese dissidents, he is no good’, I would be simply wasting my breath.

    And what to make of the writer’s deafening silence about the specific reason he’s labelled China’s conscience – his engagement with the child victims of tofu construction. Bit of an oversight there BearCanada?

    Colin -Are you seriously looking to artists to ‘showcase their motherlands to the world’? I mean, seriously?

  30. April 12th, 2011 at 05:11 | #30

    “China’s conscience”.

    Oh, I think Chinese people have enough “conscience”, only a few choose to market themselves upon their “conscience” for a living.

    Well, Ai’s “conscience” have better kept very clean accounting books, because his “conscience” is being investigated.

    And that’s what happens when you are the “conscience”, you get a big bright conscience spotlight on you.

    Let’s see about “conscience” and how much he’s got.

    “Tofu construction” eh? Let’s see if Ai had any “Tofu construction” on any of his projects and studios?

  31. April 12th, 2011 at 05:38 | #31


    Seems like a tax related investigation.

    But of course, it’s always a frame-up if you are a celebrity under investigation. The almighty Simpson-Chewbacca defense.


  32. Rolf
    April 12th, 2011 at 05:51 | #32

    This is a good one:

    Detained: Ai Weiwei, Con Artist
    By Yoichi Shimatzu | April 11, 2011

  33. April 12th, 2011 at 06:03 | #33

    “A series of property scandals, triggered by mass evictions of long-time residents, eventually led to the arrest of Chen and his associates. Land titles transferred under hi0s regime have since been reviewed, and hundreds of prosecution cases filed. Ai Weiwei’s new studio, which was among the questionable properties was torn down like many other illegal structures. There’s nothing extraordinary about this sort of corruption, except for its politicized defense by Ai Weiwei and his foreign sponsors, including the American ambassador to China.

    As the Shanghai case illustrates, Ai Weiwei is not only an artist, architect, filmmaker, curator, social critic and dissenter, he is also a low-end property developer with an apparently sloppy ledger book, rife with shady accounting practices. To some he’s a great artistic talent, but as a businessman he’s known for skirting the rules. His loosely administered property dealings have long raised eyebrows among academic artists and municipal officials in Beijing.”

    I thought as much. Figured Ai’s “conscience” has a price, just like most “artists”.

  34. jxie
    April 12th, 2011 at 08:46 | #34

    Gosh, Rolf, this is a fantastic one, for the writing style alone.

    “A discussion of such gravity in a neo-Confucian society, which accords the highest esteem toward education, the school issue had to be handled with utmost propriety and rationality, and not as a controversy-stirring art statement aimed at foreign audiences.”

    — Exactly.

    “[T]he physically large artist pushed a local policeman, who responded with a light warning tap from a billy club to the assailant’s head. Soon the artist’s skullcap showed signs of swelling. Instead of going to a clinic in China, Ai Weiwei flew to Munich for treatment. His flight abroad, which risked a contusion from low cabin pressure, raised medical suspicions with a Hong Kong physician who told me that the brain swelling might have been symptomatic of a recreational vice from his bohemian lifestyle.”

    — Ouch. I would start with “the ponderous talentless hack assaulted a local policeman,” but it probably goes a bit overboard.

    “By uncritically defending an egocentric bully like Ai Weiwei, the arts community shows its spinelessness in failing to question his nihilistic stance on art and life. A double standard is also at work here, when it comes to artistic freedom in China and the West. The critics are not exactly rushing out of cafes on the Left Bank or East Village to defend the free speech rights of John Galliano.”

    — Charlie Liu, take notes. This is how you say it.

    “At the end of this transitional reform era, one must let go of the forms of the past, since parodies of the Cultural Revolution are now trite. The challenge now is for artists to find a new way of seeing through the eyes of the individual.”

    — Bravo. I, for one, am eagerly waiting for more of those truly artistic works.

  35. colin
    April 12th, 2011 at 10:53 | #35


    Ok, so do you want to site your sources? And please nothing from the likes of NYT, WSJ, Guardian. Nah, I didn’t think so…

    As for his participation on the birds nest, what else is the birds nest if not a showcase to the world. Surely he knew it was going to be showcased. Why did he participate and then badmouth it and the Olympics later? Why didn’t he just refuse to participate if he was so set politically against it. Pretty suspicious to me. yinyang’s explanation that his contributions were scorn and left on the cutting room floor makes more sense to me.

    And more generally, who says artists need to make political statements. This is a core fallacy of western culture. Much like every western journalist hack that was expecting Dylan to make some kind of political declaration in china. No, art and a politics are two different things. These charlatans like Ai Wei Wei using politics to gain notoriety speaks of their lack of real talent and questionable ethics. All the more reason to think that his wasting time in NYC led him to some suspect people and organizations, turning him into the puffed up figure he is now. Never underestimate the long and well hidden tentacles of organizations like the NED, CIA and political NGO.

  36. April 12th, 2011 at 19:37 | #36

    I firmly agree! Ai Weiwei is a menace, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a radical counterrevolutionary running dog of the disgusting imperialist West. He’s done nothing in his life except connive to undermine the China’s harmonious society. While I fully agree with your article down to the last letter, I feel that you have left out something very important, something that truly reveals Ai Wei Wei’s rotten core – his despicable artistic attempt to name the children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. What kind of monster is this? How dare he cast aspersions on the government for allowing shoddy construction that led to dead children! Those poor government officials, how bad they must feel! For this outrageousness alone, Ai Wei Wei should be reeducated for 10,000 years! With Ai Wei Wei detained, China is once again a harmonious socialist paradise.

  37. mz
    April 12th, 2011 at 21:40 | #37

    @Hank Peters Don’t really see the necessity of trolling… are you really that bored and conceited to think that people enjoy your overly done tirade? I mean, does it get you off or something? There really is no point to adding this. I understand if you don’t agree with what the PRC does, but there’s really no reason to be rude here or ala your page.

  38. hehe
    April 13th, 2011 at 00:18 | #38


    Civilised nations like Germany and Austria imprison you if you dare to say (peacefully) Hitler didn’t kill 6 million jews. Civilised nation like France says that you break the law if you wear a certain dress.

    Stop this “civilised” crap please!

  39. hehe
    April 13th, 2011 at 00:26 | #39

    @Tiu Fu Fong

    Tiu Fu Fong :
    @pug_ster Even if the US government has acted as a petulant child, it has been criticised by many others eg media in the US and other nations, citizens of the US and other countries, other governments. China should get used to being subject to similar criticism and develop more sophisticated, mature responses.

    Until every foreign politician visiting the US becomes some sort obliged to perform a rountine show of “raising the issue of human rights problems in the US” with the President/the US officials, I don’t think that what you say above stands water.

  40. Citizen
    April 13th, 2011 at 01:10 | #40

    mz – I firmly agree with you! Fancy being ironic or expressing a contrary view about the PRC! And on the internet too! There’s no reason to be rude here – Hank Peters is no better than Ai ‘slandering some Government leaders’ !

    Colin – Sure I’ll ‘site my sources’:

    Ai’s role in the stadium is detailed in this film:

    In this book:


    In this book;

    In interviews with the architects like this (from 2004):

    Here’s the interview with the Chinese architect, praising Ai:

    And it even crops up in Xinhua, if you prefer:

    And your sources? This article’s brain dead (but malevolently motivated) misreading of the chronolgy of the stadium taken from a wikipedia article?


    Are you even aware that this article is not by yinyang? Do you even know how to spell the word ‘cite’?

    Fact is that Ai played a role in the design that all the other designers considered very significant. The article, in trying to deny this, is just another sickening smear, like the charges of plagiarism that State media tried to drum up before, now firmly refuted by Yue Luping himself:


    Here’s another fact – at the time of writing Ai has simply disappeared. There have been weird smear pieces and commentaries popping up in the media, but no charges, no statements, no explanation to family or friends, simply nobody has any idea where he is or why. In most countries that would be considered abduction.

    In one post, Colin you condemn Ai for passing up ‘the opportunity to help your motherland showcase itself to the world’. In the next you say the idea that artists need to make political statements is a ‘core fallacy of western culture’. So you want Ai to ‘showcase his motherland’, but not ‘make political statements’. Is that right? I mean, seriously?

    Raventhorn2 – You are obviously interested in the tofu construction issue, but I would have thought that the earthquake was a more significant event than the durability of Ai’s art, and more worthy of comment, being a matter of life and death for children at 7000 schools? Is that right?

  41. pug_ster
    April 13th, 2011 at 09:16 | #41


    Looks like Richard from that hate blog is complaining Globaltimes Senior Editor of the ‘unfair’ treatment of Ai Weiwei. Typical Ugly American Stance, complaining about why that con artist is a saint while ignoring human rights problems at home. Seriously, people like him should call their congressman about Bradley Manning first and see what happens before complaining to an Editor about this loser.

  42. April 13th, 2011 at 09:27 | #42

    Man, where is Charles Liu’s piece on Ai Weiwei? You guys can’t bait and switch like this!

  43. raventhorn2000
    April 13th, 2011 at 10:13 | #43

    “You guys can’t bait and switch like this!”

    We call that “democratization”, ie. say one thing, do another.

    You have just been “democratized”.


  44. Charles Liu
    April 13th, 2011 at 10:58 | #44

    BTW, just heard from a journalist friend in China that Ai is being investigated for unpaid taxes on his overseas art auctions.

  45. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 13th, 2011 at 19:09 | #45

    @Charles Liu
    Why don’t the authorities just state publicly why he has been detained – or at least tell his wife?

    @hehe – You seem to be implying that, unless everyone criticises the US for everything, then no one can criticise China for anything. That is not logical. If A and B both perform different actions worthy of criticism, then any criticism of A or B is valid criticism, even if it is A criticising B or B criticising A.

  46. Wukailong
    April 13th, 2011 at 19:45 | #46

    @Tiu Fu Fong: Then there’s the fact that some people here aren’t Americans, and can’t be asked to know everything about a country they don’t live in. I think it’s a case of American exceptionalism even for those who often criticize the country – either the US is the best or the worst in the world, no gray scales.

  47. Charles Liu
    April 13th, 2011 at 20:03 | #47

    @Tiu Fu Fong

    Is China’s judicial process a little different, that administrative detention during investigation, prior to indictment, is legal? Like WKL said, some of us are American, please cite some credible evidence the detention is against China’s law (for our education).

  48. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 13th, 2011 at 20:11 | #48

    I agree. It doesn’t help the US that various people speaking from it – the government, media and everyday people – often hold it out as a beacon of freedom, democracy etc etc and believe in their own rhetoric. That makes it easier to deflect criticism from them with counteraccusations of hypocrisy, but claiming hypocrisy is a cheap defence – if I kill a man without reason, it does not make my crime any less blameworthy if a witness to the crime is also a killer.

  49. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 13th, 2011 at 20:28 | #49

    @Charles Liu I’m no expert on Chinese criminal law but, if anything, I’d assume detention pending charges is 100% legal in China, even for an extended period. It’s certainly legal in Western countries with an English common law system, although usually charges have to be brought in a 24-48 hour period unless there is legislation allowing longer detention without charge (eg national security and terrorism legislation).

    A problem I have with extended detention without charge and without disclosure of the reasons for detention (even just disclosing the nature of the likely charges) is that it doesn’t give people confidence in the legal system and those enforcing it. It relies on a very paternalistic response from people ie “trust the authorities, they wouldn’t do this unless there was some wrongdoing”. A system relying on that is wide open to abuse and has been abused so much in history.

    I don’t hold Western nations up as a beacon for this – while generally the nature of the investigation is disclosed unless national security is at stake or there is a risk disclosure will lead to serious further crimes, we can all probably find cases where this hasn’t happened.

    However, I believe any country – whether China or Western – should strive to develop a **transparent** and trusted legal system that does not rely on people just trusting the authorities to “do the right thing”. Surely this can only lead to a much more harmonious society that benefits China not only internally, but also in its relations with the rest of the world. The Ai Weiwei case certainly seems to be a great opportunity for China to demonstrate it can see the win/win potential of being transparent, so why not take it?

  50. Citizen
    April 13th, 2011 at 21:08 | #50

    Re detention pending charges: From South China Morning Post

    ‘Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said she would ask the relevant departments about Ai’s case.

    “The law stipulates that police have to notify a detainee’s family about his detention within 48 hours. Why wasn’t his family informed? I don’t know who Ai Weiwei is and whether he is a dissident’

    “But every Chinese citizen should enjoy the same legal protection,” she said.

  51. jxie
    April 14th, 2011 at 00:23 | #51

    A few points:

    * The bit about China’s conscience and dead children in the Sichuan earthquake. When Ai’s team barged into the grieving parents’ lives with video cameras, did they at least ask for permission of using their children’s names as props, and give full disclosure of the “artist’s” prior works such as the famous “f*** you, motherland” grand presentation? If you ask me, the real China’s conscience lives among those volunteers streaming to the earthquake site immediately afterward, those donating money and helping rebuild the towns and homes, those staying around to provide pro bono mental health service to the locals, those having been rationally discussing and striving to improve the construction quality… Ai’s using those children’s name as a grandiose political statement, by and large without the consents of their parents, is as unconscionable as it can get.

    * Ai was a consultant to the original Bird Nest’s designing team. Judged by the architectural quality of his own studios, he was probably to the team as a name with connections and leverage, which could be quite useful to win the final multi-billion yuan bid. Sure he might be the one to bring up “bird’s nest” as an artistic conception. But let’s get real, he was on the team not for his talents.

    *Ai has always got enough dirt on him, not the least including shady property deals, illegal drugs passing through his studios & seemingly tax evasions, any of which if not for his father’s old connections, would have been prosecuted by the authority long ago. My own little theory on why he is pursued now and why he has been detained for longer than the perfunctory 48 hours without notifying his family, is the fact that the American Ambassador with 2 marine bodyguards show up in a planned revolution by any account that failed to start, has made the authority paranoid over the foreign money sponsoring such “revolutions” might have got into China through Ai’s channels.

  52. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 14th, 2011 at 00:37 | #52

    “Ai’s using those children’s name as a grandiose political statement, by and large without the consents of their parents, is as unconscionable as it can get.”

    I’d suggest that acts such as diverting funds that the provincial and/or central government had given a local government to construct sturdy school buildings that may have withstood the earthquake or, as a teacher, telling a classroom full of students to stay put during the earthquake while you run out of the room are more unconscionable than Ai’s use of earthquake victims for, among other things, self-promotion.

    While I don’t admire the guy, I do think your sense of proportion is a little odd if you look at the entire earthquake affair and identify Ai Weiwei’s acts as the most unconscionable acts among all in question.

    I certainly agree with your point that the central authorities are paranoid and, although the US ambassadors acts would have added to that, they were paranoid to begin with.

  53. jxie
    April 14th, 2011 at 01:38 | #53

    Fong, since I am not aware of your stories, 1. funds specifically given for the purpose of contructing sturdy school buildings to a local government, were diverted; 2. a teacher ran out of the classroom while telling the students to stay put, you may want to provide me the backing of such stories.

    BTW, the authority can hold Ai for at least 30 more days without formally charging him, and not violate the existing Chinese legal code.

  54. April 14th, 2011 at 06:43 | #54


    HK paper say that Ai may also be investigated for “bigamy” (probably adultery).

    Technically, adultery is still a crime in mainland China, and so celebs watch out. 🙂

  55. jxie
    April 14th, 2011 at 10:26 | #55

    Fong, on second thought, I think you meant the #2 (a teacher ran out of the classroom while telling their students to stay put) as Fan Paopao (范跑跑) — still need the link to #1 though. Is Fan Paopao more unconcionable than Ai Weiwei’s using the dead students’ names to promote his political agendas, without the consents of their parents? It’s a tough call, but you may have a point.

    The curious aspect of the Internet meme of Fan Paopao is that he is categoried with Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei as a JY (or Jing Ying 精英, elite) due to his previous stand on fighting for “freedom”. My only complaint is if nothing else, intelligence-wise they don’t strike me as elite-level.

  56. Tiu Fu Fong
    April 14th, 2011 at 20:11 | #56

    @jxie Yes, #2 was the famous Runner Fan.

    On #1, this is based on rumours that have circulated post-quake and I doubt I can find a credible link supporting the allegations. It’s an unfortunate situations where, in the absence of a legal system we can trust, we’re left relying on unsubstantiated rumours about what really happened. Somewhat like all the references to rumours about why Ai Weiwei has been detained in this thread, no?

  57. raffiaflower
    April 14th, 2011 at 22:33 | #57

    There is a difference btwn Fan and AWW: the former is about dereliction of duty to the students, the latter about shameless exploitation of the dead ones.
    As an individual, Fan has a right to personal choices. But in a profession such as teaching, the laoshi is dutybound to put the welfare of his charges before himself, especially in an extreme situation. This is a universal concept.
    If AWW really cared for the memory of the unlucky children, he would have used his prestige and influence to raise funds for their bereaved families. By tradition, children are “insurance” for parents in their old age.
    He could have ensured that the money went directly to these people, to avoid funds going into the wrong hands. This happened with tsunami relief money raised for certain countries in the Indonesian disaster.
    Instead, he exploited the ignorance and confusion of the families in the Sichuan tragedy, and used unsubstantiated rumour – as pointed out – to create a work to aggrandize himself.
    The bags installation would still get a pass if it was intended as, ahem, art or commemoration of the children. AWW used it instead as a statement about corruption to embellish his credentials as “dissident artist who dares to stand up to the oppressive regime”.
    Ai Weiwei’s greatest work of art may just be himself.
    There is speculation/rumour on this thread, and some of the points by the writer – and the Japanese man – may over-reach.
    Compare that with the stereotypes and hype in the “international” media: the certainty expressed by the FT that AWW is certain to be tortured in detention, or the NYT proclaiming him as “China’s conscience”. (It’s OK for a Western paper like NYT to speak on behalf on 1.3 billion. Anyone who bats for the Chinese side is wumaodang and brainwashed).

  58. Citizen
    April 15th, 2011 at 02:49 | #58

    So, to summarize – since his ‘arrest’, which is nothing to do with politics, Ai has emerged as, what, at the latest count?

    A lying, lazy, greedy, insane, lowlife, untalented, bitter, flaky, fat, tax evading, drug dealing, self-aggrandizing adulterous pimp.

    Did I miss anything?

    Oh, and Jxie I have no idea what legal code you are referring to that allows detention for another 30 days. Not one known to members of the NPCSC like Rita Fan apparently. Can you tell us more about it? – or I might think you’re making it up.

  59. jxie
    April 15th, 2011 at 06:41 | #59

    Here it goes the relevant legal code. If the authority wants, it can go through the motion to lock him up without a formal charge, practically indefinitely without violating any legal code. I highly doubt it’ll be nearly as long as those being held in the Gitmo though.

      第一百二十四条 对犯罪嫌疑人逮捕后的侦查羁押期限不得超过二个月。案情复杂、期限届满不能终结的案件,可以经上一级人民检察院批准延长一个月。

      第一百二十五条 因为特殊原因,在较长时间内不宜交付审判的特别重大复杂的案件,由最高人民检察院报请全国人民代表大会常务委员会批准延期审理。

      第一百二十六条 下列案件在本法第一百二十四条规定的期限届满不能侦查终结的,经省、自治区、直辖市人民检察院批准或者决定,可以延长二个月:





      第一百二十七条 对犯罪嫌疑人可能判处十年有期徒刑以上刑罚,依照本法第一百二十六条规定延长期限届满,仍不能侦查终结的,经省、自治区、直辖市人民检察院批准或者决定,可以再延长二个月。

      第一百二十八条 在侦查期间,发现犯罪嫌疑人另有重要罪行的,自发现之日起依照本法第一百二十四条的规定重新计算侦查羁押期限。

  60. jxie
    April 15th, 2011 at 07:52 | #60


    Good points. The Japanese man is Yoichi Shimatzu, who was formerly an editor of the Japan Times Weekly. There may be more to the story that you might overlook.

    First, some of his accusations/hints, which were previously not well known, corroborate the rumors I heard from a quite reliable source of mine, so I tend to give his piece a lot of credence. For instance, Ai’s shady property deals in Shanghai through the connection to Chen Liangyu.

    NYT’s “China’s Conscience” piece was penned by a NYC-based art critic named Holland Cotter. Shimatzu spent his early days in the NYC art circle as well. Chances are they might run across each other’s path in the past. Without that bit of background, the following line may be a tad strange: “when it comes to artistic freedom in China and the West. The critics are not exactly rushing out of cafes on the Left Bank or East Village to defend the free speech rights of John Galliano.” If you put all the pieces together, it’s really Shimatzu calling out the likes of Cotter.

    FT merely quoted some human rights groups and some associates of Ai — they didn’t say for certain Ai was tortured. FT is a far more reliable newspaper than NYT. NYT’s reporting on China by default I assume they make it up, until proven otherwise.

    In the English blogsphere centering on topics of China, between those being accused as Wumao and their accusers, I tend to think on average the former group very likely has higher IQ and higher income.

  61. krista
    April 20th, 2011 at 12:54 | #61

    Most of you probably have never traveled outside of your country and had real freedom. Every country has their issues, but human rights allow people to be happy, live and WORK in suitable conditions and provide a realm in which you are allowed to think for yourself. Ironically, China has more money invested in “quieting it’s dissidents” since the upheaval of authoritarian governments in the Middle East and the Chinese Regime is afraid of this happening to them. Odd right? Don’t you think it is weird to not have access to certain information that your government has firewalled? Don’t you feel ignorant? Isn’t is sad that you guys have to piss in cans in your sewing factories? Aren’t you sick of doing the grunt work? You guys deserve better and I feel bad for people who have conditions like these. I have never dealt with the pain and suffering you have had to deal with and I am so thankful for being able to pursue my dreams and my future and my career. The best of luck to the sad souls that will never have that opportunity because you are stuck under the iron fist of Communism. 🙁

  62. krista
    April 20th, 2011 at 12:59 | #62

    It seems that Chinese “Legal Code” is bullshit since it always stands in favor of the Chinese government. When Ai talks about being bored, it is because people don’t actually have any passion because the Chinese Government guts it out of all the people to fund it’s unethical system.

  63. krista
    April 20th, 2011 at 13:04 | #63

    The statement that “the west glosses over the complexity of Chinese law” is interesting because your laws are always in favor of your government. Your people DO NOT matter to the government. Social Agents of Change like Ai Weiwei are lift the world from mediocrity to greatness. Your Chinese law is a dead tree compared to the rest of the world. Too bad you can’t figure it out because you’re firewalled on learning more about the world than your government wants you to know.

  64. raventhorn2000
    April 20th, 2011 at 13:08 | #64


    Give it a rest.

    Freedom of information doesn’t make you less ignorant. Laws are meant to curb “individual rights” for the society, because absolute “human rights” is no rights at all.

    There are plenty of ignorant Westerners and plenty of firewalls and monitors in US.

    And a US astronaut who pissed in her diaper driving across state lines to kill a rival.

    And grunts work in McDonald’s in US.

    Did they choose this way? or they had plenty of “freedom”, but not many choices?

    “Freedom” doesn’t guarantee any kind of “opportunity”. Communism or no Communism.

  65. raventhorn2000
    April 20th, 2011 at 13:10 | #65

    “your laws are always in favor of your government”.

    That’s rather generalized. You can argue that all laws are designed by every government to keep themselves in power, including in the West.

    Which law is not “in favor of government”?


  66. raventhorn2000
    April 20th, 2011 at 14:30 | #66

    Does one thank freedom for one’s job? Does one blame freedom when one loses one’s job?

    Should Westerners hate their freedoms when their own corporations laid off 100,000’s of workers and outsourced those jobs to China or India, where people are pissing in cans and toiling like grunts?

    I would not think so. I would not think any of those things have any thing to do with “freedom” or lack of.

    But it is enlightening to see “freedom” becoming such a stereotypical catch phrase for Westerners.

    Don’t you think it cheapens the meaning of the word?

    “Freedom Fries” and “freedom toilets” for Everyone.

    (Now, that would be a good social activist statement, and why didn’t Ai Weiwei think of that?!)

    (Well, because while even many poor people may have the good sense and manners to piss in their own can, while living proudly toiling like grunts, some people would rather piss in front of their own house, call it art, and sell it to foreigners.)

    (And as a Chinese person, I would say without a doubt that my ancestors and the ancestors of many many Chinese people would be rolling over in their graves at Ai’s art).

  67. April 20th, 2011 at 16:50 | #67


    I am genuinely interested in where you get your information about China. I would really appreciate it if you could share with me.

    You might not comprehend raventhorn2000’s above response just yet, but over time you will.

    Let’s slow things down a bit. You said:

    Most of you probably have never traveled outside of your country and had real freedom.

    In your mind, what freedoms you think you have and to what degree the Chinese don’t?

  68. raventhorn2000
    April 20th, 2011 at 18:02 | #68

    I’ll add 1 more drink for the soul:

    Why do so many Westerners thank God for all their good fortunes, but blame the Devil for all their troubles?

    Seriously, I could never understand the logic behind it. (Sort of the same logic of calling your “freedom” great for good times, but blaming Communism for all your troubles).

    I mean, logically, if one is saying “freedom” is responsible for all the good stuff in the West, then “freedom” is responsible for all the bad stuff in the West too, such as huge prison population, declining education system, over burdened social security, corporate pilfering, outsourcing of jobs, “black gold” political lobby special interest groups.

    Frankly, all the media worshipping and propagandizing of “freedom” just cheapen the actual “freedoms” that people of the world already enjoy.

    I thought the tacky tele-evangelism craze of the 1980’s is over, but apparently, we just moved onto the God of “freedom” and the Gospel of Democracy.

  69. Wukailong
    April 20th, 2011 at 20:59 | #69

    I guess I should add that the US is in a very special country, unlike the rest (including “the West”) in many ways. Prison population, lack of gun control, social classes and even the way people talk about freedom all the time seem to be very American traits.

  70. April 21st, 2011 at 06:36 | #70

    France also harp on “human rights” quite often.

    But in France, it’s even more hypocritical, often masking state control as some sort of protection of freedom.

    France is Orwell’s 1984.

    It’s banning Muslim Women’s veils, and calling it “liberation”.

    It’s forcibly deporting undesirable Gypsies, and calling it “protecting the land”.

    *but then again, US just had a political lobby group putting up a mocking page of President Obama, depicting him as a Monkey (an overtly racist advertisement).

    I mean, seriously, if this is what “freedom” brings as “social activism statement”, It’s pretty damn ugly.

    *A US author recently published a book, comparing the extremist views of pre-Civil War US to today’s extremist views in US.

    His point, well founded, is that Americans (and I extend it to other Western democracies), consider political issues in terms of “moral” black/white.

    As such, all issues are broken down to Good vs. Evil. And there is no compromise, because one cannot comprise with sinners and evil doers.

    Look at Google for example, framing their motto as “Do no Evil”, which like political issues in West, again sets up the same Judeo-Christian dynamics of Absolute Good vs. Absolute Evil.

    Even Hitler justified every one of his conquests as some “liberation”, such as Liberating the Germans in Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

    It’s a classical historical Western propaganda pattern.

  71. Wukailong
    April 21st, 2011 at 08:24 | #71

    I think there are a number of issues here:

    * That the US is different in some ways from Europe doesn’t mean it’s different in all ways. The concept of human rights were after all invented in France, so it’s not that odd it keeps “harping” on it from time to time. And it’s not just France – it gets more reports because it’s well-known, and super powers in general don’t like the country. 🙂 But most of this stuff that I hear about the US simply is not the same in Europe – people laugh at the American penchant for “freedom,” for example.

    * There’s ugly nationalism in France, Italy and some other countries. This is probably the first time I heard it being caused by freedom, though (but I might be misunderstanding something). It seems these sentiments have been there far longer, and gypsies have always fared bad in Europe. Like I read somewhere last week, they have suffered as much as black people in the US but since they never had a Martin Luther King, it’s not as well-known.

    * From my experience black/white thinking is everywhere, not specifically tailored to the Western world. I actually find these clear distinctions between Chinese and Westerners quite black and white in themselves. I think the two groups share a lot of traits, but perhaps differing perceptions depend on whether we look for similarities or differences.

  72. Narnia
    April 21st, 2011 at 14:06 | #72

    krista :
    Most of you probably have never traveled outside of your country and had real freedom.

    You really make me laugh! At this day and age, you seem to be completely ignorant of the fact that many Chinese live, study and travel around the world, including some of the Chinese on this board. From what you have written, it is more likely that you are the one who has never travelled outside of your contry because all you have done is to repeat what your own media has said about China. If you had travelled outside of your country and had chance to read something different, you would have had a more objective comments on China.

    Here is some food for thought: John Pilger’s “The war you don’t see”


  73. Charles Liu
    April 21st, 2011 at 16:33 | #73

    @krista, “Most of you probably have never traveled outside of your country and had real freedom. ”

    I wholeheartedly agree I should travel more outside my country! BTW I’m American.

    And you should travel to places we’ve “democratized”, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, just so you can see if our brand of freedom “allow people to be happy, live and WORK in suitable conditions”.

    Who’s the ignorant one now? (BTW FLG sux.)

  74. May 15th, 2011 at 07:01 | #74

    When artists leave the safety of aesthetics, ideas can be powerful weapons….

  75. May 16th, 2011 at 08:43 | #75

    When artists leave the safety of aesthetics,…

    It’s like Engineers leave the safety of calculations, and start building bridges and roads from the seat of their pants,

    Or when scientists leave the safety of scientific methodology, and start “sciencing” using gut feelings and emotions.

    I’m sure these ideas would also be “powerful weapons”, when bridges start falling apart, science fictions become textbooks. People would indeed be fearful of such ideas. Normal people would be.

    Crazies would be laughing their head off, while heads are falling off.

  76. May 16th, 2011 at 14:16 | #76

    You were spot on regarding the number of holding days in the Chinese law.

  77. May 18th, 2011 at 11:39 | #77

    Head of IMF was arrested for sexual assault in US.

    I just hope US government isn’t going after him for some hidden political reasons!

    Quick, nominate him for Nobel Peace Prize!

  78. May 18th, 2011 at 11:56 | #78

    @Ben Gage,

    You wrote:

    When artists leave the safety of aesthetics, ideas can be powerful weapons….

    When artists leave the confines of art to play politics, they become politicians and should be treated as such. Same with religious leaders. You should not hide behind your previous career, your personal identity, or your personal following while playing with fire.

    Sure, one might argue that China should be more open about politics – let the trash talking fly and let the people decide (for an example of what political free speech is really about in the U.S., where the $ for political free speech is spent, see, e.g., http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20101010_1.htm, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/us/politics/10outsource.html, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Campaign-Attack-Ads-Take-Aim-at-China-105062199.html, http://ncp.pcaaca.org/presentation/highly-charged-political-rhetoric-trade-politics-scapegoating-china-during-2010-us-midt). But if China doesn’t want to, and chooses to internalize politics more “professionally” within the private halls of an inclusive CCP, that is the prerogative of the Chinese system.

    The likes of Ai wewei, if you want to affect change, do it effectively. Go join the CCP and do the hardwork of making and implementing change – instead of wallowing in the cheap highs of smashing Han vases and tearing the social fabric apart. (note the Time blurb about Ai weiwei credited him to be a “co-designer” of the bird nest, which we know, from the post here, is incorrect)

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