Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei held incommunicado for 43 days, allowed to see wife for 20 minutes – Ai in ‘good physical health but mentally conflicted’Monday, 16 May, 2011
The following are some news of Chinees artist Ai Weiwei after he was held incommunicado for 43 days where his family and lawyer have no idea of his whereabout.
To give you some context about “criminal justice in China”, I took time to first post the entries “Criminal Justice In China: An Empirical Inquiry” (an entry about a research study 16 years in the making) and a BBC Chinese report & more “獨立調查：中國沒有司法公正” (machine translated to “Independent Study: There is no justice in China”).
“Red-eyed and tense, the usually uninhibited and irreverent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei seemed a different man in custody as he sat for what his wife says was a brief, monitored meeting — his first contact with the outside world in 43 days.
Authorities have still not detailed why the avant-garde artist and government critic was detained April 3 and held incommunicado, in a case that has prompted an outcry in the art world and among U.S. and EU officials, who have called it a sign of China’s deteriorating human rights.
The burly, bearded 53-year-old appeared conflicted and his eyes were puffy when his wife Lu Qing was allowed to visit him Sunday, though he seemed healthy, Lu told The Associated Press.
“He has changed. His mood and demeanor are so different from the simple and spontaneous Ai Weiwei I know,” Lu said Monday. “It was obvious that without freedom to express himself he was not behaving naturally even with me.”
Lu said she sat face to face with her husband during the meeting in a room at an unknown location and that they were watched by someone “who seemed to be in charge of Ai,” and another who took notes. Ai repeatedly assured her he was physically OK: “My health is good. I am fine, don’t worry.””
* UK Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei limbo shines a light into the shadows of China’s police state“
* UK Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei allowed to see family – The controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been granted his first family visit 43 days, appearing stressed but otherwise in good health, his wife has said.“
* UK Guardian, “Ai Weiwei in ‘good physical health but mentally conflicted’“
* For those that are not too familiar of Ai’s work, BBC has a good video “Celebrating the artwork of Ai Weiwei“
Torontoist, “Scene: Where is Ai Weiwei?“
Protest pictures, details and comments posted onto the worldwide 1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei Facebook group. Pix from New York City here, here, here. Pix from Munich here.
This Sunday, at Chinese embassies all over the world, protesters are planning a global sit-in to protest the detention of the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Ai was taken into custody by Chinese authorities nearly two weeks ago for what government officials now say are questions about his finances.
The protesters will be bringing chairs to sit on. They aren’t worried about getting tired. The design of the protest is a homage to a piece by Ai that was exhibited in 2007 at Documenta 12, a major arts festival in Kassel, Germany. Read the rest of this entry »
“Demonstrators all over the world were sitting outside Chinese embassies on Sunday demanding the release of the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Hundreds of protestors brought chairs onto the street tocall for the immediate release of Ai, and in support of the rights of all Chinese artists.
In Hong Kong there were scuffles as 150 protestors came up against lines of police, with reports of at least one detention. In Berlin, about 200 people took part in a largely silent protest. There was also a gathering outside the Chinese embassy in London.”
* Al Jazeera, “Protest in Hong Kong over Ai Weiwei detention“
You have spent a lot of time with Ai Weiwei over the last couple of years, during which time he has been increasingly publicly critical of the Chinese regime. Could you describe the issues about which he has been most vocal?
Ai’s denunciation of the Olympic Games and the Olympic stadium as the “false smile” of an authoritarian regime shed light on Weiwei’s activism in China, but the issue that he was most vocal about — and where he inserted himself into the Chinese conscience — was his citizen’s investigation into the deaths of more than 5,000 schoolchildren in poorly constructed schools during the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Over his Twitter feed, Ai solicited over 70 volunteers to independently record the names, ages, classrooms and villages of the dead. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s human rights crackdown – interactive guide, UK Guardian
“Chinese authorities have made their biggest move against dissidents and activists for years, including artist Ai Weiwei. The crackdown followed an anonymous online call for protests inspired by Middle Eastern uprisings, although it is unclear if any of those held or missing were connected to the appeal. Information is from human rights groups and inquiries by the Guardian”
From BBC News “HK launches world’s first yuan IPO outside China“,
“The world’s first Chinese-currency shares to trade on a stock exchange outside mainland China will be listed in Hong Kong on April 29.
Hui Xian, a real estate investment trust, is selling yuan-denominated shares to investors in an initial public offering (IPO) at the end of the month.
The offer comes at a time when demand for investment products in the Chinese currency has been growing.
Hui Xian is controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.”
From Apple Daily,
“下周一登場 計及升值息率逾 7厘 匯賢招股不宜短炒” – 2011年04月09日
【本報訊】本港首隻人民幣計價房地產信託基金匯賢房託，市場消息指，每份基金單位定於 5.24至 5.58元（人民幣．下同），計劃發售 20億個基金單位，息率介乎 4至 4.3厘，最多集資約 111.6億元（約 132.67億港元）。證券界人士認為，博短炒獲利的投資者「買唔過」。 記者：陳健文
從長實（ 001）分拆出來的匯賢房託，市場消息指，按每手 1000份單位計算，不計手續費的每手入場費約 5580元（約 6633.39港元）。彭博資訊引述消息人士指，匯賢房託今次將發售 40%權益，上市後市值達 280億元。中銀國際、滙豐及中信證券為保薦人。 Read the rest of this entry »
The lawless Chinese government has detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei but his family, friends, and supporters have no idea of his whereabout.
Guardian, “The 53-year-old [Ai Weiwei] remains uncontactable more than 12 hours after officials held him at the capital’s airport. [...] His detention comes amid what human rights campaigners have described as the harshest crackdown on activists and dissidents in over a decade.“
The Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei stopped from leaving China“
The New Yorker by Evan Osnos, “Ai Weiwei Detained” – Highly recommended article.
Have a watch of the full PBS Frontline documentary: “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?“
“All of a sudden, these people who’b been standing on the sidewalk, milling around doing things, turned out to be people who had come to have dinner with him [Ai Weiwei]. And everybody there knew that, by simply eating dinner there, it was an act of defiance.”
P.S. When I saw Ai Weiwei willing to risk his life in “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?” in order to fight for a better China, I am ashamed of the low voters’ turnout in Canada. It pains me to see my fellow Canadians, young Canadians, adult Canadians, born with the rights to vote easily giving up their rights/privilege to vote and ignoring their duty to vote in elections.
BBC reporter in China set upon by thugs – Beijing mobilized 739,000 police officers, officials, security guardsSaturday, 5 March, 2011
Bearing witness and for the record: BBC reporter in China set upon by thugs (with video). [HT @markmackinnon]
“Beijing has mobilized 739,000 police officers, officials, security guards and residents recruited into local patrols to guard against mishaps during the parliament, reported the official China News Service.
Police have rounded up dozens of dissidents since online messages from abroad urged pro-democracy gatherings inspired by the “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia. Internet censorship also means that few Chinese residents are aware of the protest calls.”
President Obama and President Hu Press Conference - Good to see the full press conference posted online.
The Q&A starts at about 16:54
(note: This YouTube clip has a very useful interactive transcript function where you can use to jump to various time codes. Highly recommended.)
17:00 Reporter asked President Obama and President Hu about human rights.
25:06 Question Chinese reporter from China Central Television.
39:34 Bloomberg reporter asked President Hu about human rights which wasn’t answered by President Hu because of “translation problems”.
Jan 25, 2011 Update: I have some harsh words in this entry, “Embarrassed conference interpreters at President Obama and President Hu Press Conference“. See the comments section for other people’s different views.
From CBC radio program “The Current” about China’s Annual Migration. Highly recommended. The following are program info from CBC. See here, here, here, and my interview with Lixin for more info about Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home” (some have video clips).
“China’s Annual Migration
We are two weeks away from the Chinese New Year and the largest annual human migration on the planet. Nearly 150 million Chinese have migrated to cities in search of work. And the trip home for the holidays isn’t going to be easy.
China’s Annual Migration – Lixin Fan
We started this segment with the sound of the world’s largest annual human migration. It happens around Chinese New Year. Tens of millions of people who migrated to China’s cities in search of work leave those cities and go back home to their families in the countryside. There are at least 150 million rural migrant workers in China. And as you can hear, a lot of them pass through the Guangzhou train station in southern China.
In two weeks, that annual migration will begin again. Amidst the sea of humanity, it’s easy for individual stories to get lost. Lixin Fan is a Chinese-Canadian documentary film-maker who follows one family caught up in the move from the countryside to the city and back again in Last Train Home. The film has just been nominated for the Directors Guild of America prize. Lixin Fan was in New York City.
Last Train Home will be released on DVD on February 22nd.
While many Chinese migrate from the countryside to the cities, many others stay behind. We hear the story of one woman who lives in a small village called Hazelnut Valley or Da Jen Yu. It’s about an hour from of Beijing. She’s 58. All of her children have left home. Her son lives in Beijing and makes a living as a driver working for foreigners.”
Check out this extensive interview with Professor Ronald Coase conducted by Wang Ning on December 28 and 29, 2010 at Chicago. [Source: University of Chicago Law School] The following are excerpts that I found particularly insightful to me from the interview (with emphasis added). Read the full interview yourself. Highly recommended.
WN (Wang Ning): First of all, happy birthday, professor Coase. As you know, Chinese economists are now holding a Conference in Beijing, “Coase and China”, to celebrate your 100th birthday. To my knowledge, no other western economist, probably with the exception of Karl Marx, has ever been so honored in China. The reason is twofold. It first has to do with the powerful influence of your ideas. Second, you clearly have a special feeling toward China. In Chinese culture, reciprocity is a high virtue. The first question many Chinese people have in mind is, what got you interested in China?
RC (Ronald Coase): I don’t know why I am interested in China. I have been interested for a long time, too long for me to remember. I read Marco Polo many years ago, probably as a schoolboy. It was an impressive book. I don’t think anyone can read the book without being impressed by the Chinese civilization. It went back many centuries. It made great achievements long before the rise of the West. That impression stayed with me forever.
RC: That wouldn’t happen. I was able to do my work at Chicago just as freely as I was at Buffalo.
WN: I think you were right. Given Steve‘s character, I don’t think anyone could stop him from developing his own thought.
RC: I am glad that I later strongly urged Steve to go to Hong Kong. I did not know how much good it would do. But given Steve’s influence in China, I think it was a good move.
If it wasn’t that sad and painful, China’s Confucius Peace Prize can be a good joke. Here is a video report of China’s Confucius Peace Prize by CBC.
Nobel crackdown in China. An insightful piece for the record.
Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan reports [note: links added]
“For the first time since 1936, the Nobel Peace Prize won’t be handed over to the winner himself, Liu Xiaobo, or a member of his family.
That year, it was pacifist Carl von Ossietzky living in Nazi Germany who couldn’t attend.
In 2010, Communist China is the obstacle.
An uncomfortable comparison.
Ever since the Nobel announcement, China has responded angrily.
Putting not only Liu Xiaobo’s wife under house arrest, but human rights activists everywhere.
Even limited discussions in the country about political liberalization have been censored since the Nobel announcement.“
Dai Qing, “We are trying to avoid a new rebellion and revolution. We hope for evolution. There has been so much suffering over the past 60 years. There are models for us, like Desmond Tutu. He says: show truth and show justice. Then people can work together.
This is the way to change China from a dictatorship to a new political system.”
“The list of 18 countries which will have declined invitations “for various reasons” to the ceremony in which the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo will be awarded this year’s Nobel peace prize tells its own story. There is only one reason – fear of displeasing a rising economic power. The foreign ministry spokeswoman of China, the 19th country to refuse, called the supporters of this year’s prize clowns perpetrating a farce.
The opposite is true. China is taking the snub implied by a man they have branded a criminal being honoured, entirely in earnest. Why else would they hurriedly concoct their own “Confucius peace prize”, a day ahead of the ceremony in Oslo? Why would they attack the choice of Liu as an attack on their sovereignty and an example of western ideological warfare? Encouragingly, India is not bending at the knees and will attend.”
Incidentally, what Chinese government has decided to do to “counter” Mr. Liu’s Nobel Prize has become practically farcical, see Huffington Post, “A Loyalist and a Tiananmen General Win China’s Peace and Harmony Awards“. Very sad.
Sunflower Seeds – 100 million sunflower seeds
And I am totally amazed by Ai Weiwei’s 100 million Sunflower Seeds at Tate and would love to see it. (Flickr photos here, here, here, here, and the warning) Here is an excerpt from Guardian (emphasis added),
It turns out that each seed is in fact a unique porcelain replica, hand-painted in Jingdezhen and fired at 1,300 degrees. Some 1,600 artisans worked for two years to make 100 million husks with a combined weight of 150 tonnes: a mass project, its collective spirit now abroad in London. The imagination runs fast from millions of tiny painted sculptures to thoughts of dismally repetitive labour.
Ai Weiwei chose sunflower seeds because they were a source of food and comfort during the famines under Mao; Jingdezhen was the porcelain capital of Imperial China; 100 million is five times the population of Beijing. Individual and mass, mass production and craftsmanship, eastern food, western consumption: associations inevitably form, but they are not – for me, at least – occasioned by the work itself.
There is the art; there are the facts; they converge in the artist’s eloquent statements, available in many different forms on the web (tate.org.uk/go/aww). But no matter how crucial the political context, I am glad I experienced the poetry of Sunflower Seeds first, with all its subtle nuances, before the wall-texts with their crushing insistence on statistics. Art – particularly this art, so open to all interpretations – cannot be read like data.
Ai Weiwei: Sunflower seeds – Created by Tate (highly recommended)
I love these questions:
Ai Weiwei House Arrest
Dec 7, 2010 Update: The following is a BBC Chinese news report posted Oct 14, 2010
I love the Tate documentary of Ai Weiwei: Sunflower seeds. Good art and good documentary make you think, make you question, and make you want to understand more.
I am a sentimental man at times and I got a bit emotional watching the Tate documentary, thinking about the plight of people living/working in Jingdezhen (景德鎮), Chinese people in general, and the Chinese political and economics systems.
See “Ai Weiwei, 100 million sunflower seeds, house arrest” for more.
More stills from documentary.
China has used Intel and Nvidia technologies to build the world’s fastest supercomputer Tianhe-1A, at the National University of Defence Technology in Tianjin.
“The title has gone to China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer that is capable of carrying out more than 2.5 thousand trillion calculations a second.
To reach such high speeds the machine draws on more than 7,000 graphics processors and 14,000 Intel chips.
[...] Tianhe-1A is unusual in that it unites thousands of Intel processors with thousands of graphics cards made by Nvidia.
The chips inside graphics cards are typically made up of small arithmetical units that can carry out simple sums very quickly. By contrast, Intel chips are typically used to carry out more complicated mathematical operations.
The machine houses its processors in more than 100 fridge-sized cabinets and together these weigh more than 155 tonnes.”
- China claims supercomputer crown, BBC News
- China builds world’s fastest supercomputer, UK Telegraph