Ai Weiwei Update: 04.12.11

Installation of PLATOON's Free Ai Weiwei project in Berlin

China is "unhappy" that the international community is rallying around Ai Weiwei. "The Chinese people also feel baffled -- why do some people in some countries treat a crime suspect as a hero?" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. I suppose Ai, too, is "unhappy." What with being kidnapped without charge and prevented from contacting his family and all.

• The New Yorker's Beijing reporter Evan Osnos looks into "whether the world is paying undue attention to his case, in light of the fact, the argument goes, that the vast majority of the Chinese public has never heard of him. Does the fact that Ai’s professional impact is overwhelmingly felt abroad mean that the world is overstating the importance of his detention—and disregarding the more widespread, routine concerns of the Chinese people?" (It's true that Ai's detention has gotten far more attention than have disappearances of countless lesser known activists, writers, artists -- including photographer Guo Gai, who I'll have more on soon -- and regular citizens.)

• Chinese officials are now questioning Lu Qing, Ai's wife, and asking her to produce tax documents, more evidence that the government is looking into Ai's financial dealings. Trouble is, Lu couldn't produce the documents because law enforcement has already confiscated the family's papers.

• The Guardian also reports that Wen Tao, Ai's friend, is unaccounted for since he was detained at the same time as Ai. "On Monday assistants from the studio said Ai's accountant and driver, Ms Hu and Zhang Jingsong – also known as Xiao Pang – had gone missing." Finally, supporters say architect and designer Liu Zhenggang, a collaborator of Ai's, has also been missing since Ai was taken.

• Walker Art Center director Olga Viso, who gave us her comment on Ai's detention last week, follows up with a blog post in which she urges readers to sign the Guggenheim Foundation's petition, which at nearly 30,000 signers has "tremendous momentum."

• The Christian Science Monitor: Five famous jailed dissidents in China

Earlier: Ai Weiwei Update: 04.11.11

No comments: