NYT on Ai Weiwei

Saturday’s New York Times had a must-read article on Chinese artist and political dissident, Ai Weiwei. Ai was the primary architect of China’s Olympic Birds Nest stadium, yet became an outspoken critic of the Chinese government leading up to the Olympics in response to the government’s repression of petitioners and rights advocates. Ai has faced increasing efforts to silence him and censor his artwork, which the piece boy Michael Wines reveals. So far the efforts by the Chinese government to shut their most famous artist up have not worked. If anything, Ai seems emboldend.

In a 90-minute interview in his minimalist studio in north Beijing, Mr. Ai called the government unimaginative, prevaricating, suspicious of its own people and utterly focused on self-preservation.

“They don’t believe in liberty. They don’t believe in China before the Communists,” he said. “There is only one simple, clear task: to protect their control, to maintain their governing. Which is such a pity.”

All of this he has said many times before. China’s nationalists often accuse him of shilling for the West, and in fact, Mr. Ai ended his chat with a plea to President Obama to call for greater freedom in China, saying “we still need the moral support of the Western leaders” to press for more uncontrolled space in a still-closed society.

All together it is an amazing piece of reporting on an artist-dissident whose publication will clearly anger the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Michael Wines of the Times provides detailed reporting on the ways the government is trying to intimidate him into silence. Give it a read.

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