source: Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
Rights advocates say the detentions are an ominous sign that the Communist Party’s six-week crackdown on rights lawyers, bloggers and dissidents is spreading to the upper reaches of Chinese society. Mr. Ai, 53, the son of one of the country’s most beloved poets, is an internationally renowned artist, a documentary filmmaker and an architect who helped design the Olympic stadium in Beijing known as the Bird’s Nest.
Jennifer Ng, an assistant who accompanied Mr. Ai on Sunday morning, said he was taken away by uniformed officers as the two of them passed through customs at Beijing International Airport. Ms. Ng said she was told to board the plane alone because Mr. Ai “had other business” to attend to. She said Mr. Ai was planning to spend a day in Hong Kong before flying to Taiwan for a meeting about a possible exhibition.
Although not totally unexpected, it seems the west/east rift in growing wider and wider as even more well-known dissidents are being called into question their patriotism and personal rights. Ai Wei Wei’s detainment is the most recent incident in a recent spat of unnecessary and unwarranted inquisition from the national government over Wei Wei’s attempts at revealing the government corruption that resulted in premature structural failure during the Sichuan earthquake. As part of an issue ordered in late 2010, the artist’s studio was demolished in Shanghai, both as a personal attack and to set an example for the more free-thinking and bohemian area of the city.
Luckily we do have a writer at Ennui that knows Mandarin, which meant zipping over to Ai Wei Wei’s Twitter to pull some details.
This tweet from 21 hours ago was posted by one of Wei Wei’s assistants, reads that roughly 22 hours ago, police from Beijing’s Chaoyang district posted guards around the art compound after detaining 8 assistants that were taken in for questioning. Currently, there is no communication between any detained parties.
source: Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
Ai Wei Wei, you have our best hopes and well wishes for you and your assistants’ safe release from custody. To be honest we do have somewhat high hopes as Wei Wei does have pretty significant sway as a cultural figure and revolutionary bulwark to the current administration, however, therein lies the other edge of the sword: the Chinese government is particularly ruthless and unpredictable toward high profile anti-Communist party individuals and groups.
We’ll try and update this situation if anything appears over Wei Wei’s Twitter or other sources.