Dissidents released just before Chinese premier visits the UK

JISHOU, CHINA — What a coincidence. Days before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited British Prime Minister David Cameron to sign trade deals worth $2.2 billion, Chinese officials released two prominent dissidents, Ai WeiWei and Hu Jia. Cameron, pro forma, gave some lip service to preserving human rights as he signed the trade agreements worth £1.4 billion, while Wen gave the usual Chinese reply — “MYOB” — though somewhat more diplomatically than my shorter version. Last week, Ai, an internationally known artist, was finally released on bail after being picked up in a Hong Kong airport three months ago and kept virtually incognito. He was charged officially with tax evasion, but he also has been a vocal political gadfly in China. Ai has been publicizing the names of students who died when their “tofu-construction” schools collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The state news agency reported Ai, 54, was released because he had confessed to his crimes and because he was in poor health. Prior to his arrest, Ai, his family and his associates denied any tax evasion. Hu, 37, was also released at the end of his a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence on Sunday, which apparently was his official release date. ...

Chinese authorities charge Ai WeiWei with tax evasion, bigamy

JISHOU, HUNAN — Take this news with a grain of salt, since it comes from official sources via The AP. Dissident artist Ai WeiWei, who has been detained for the last two weeks, has been charged with tax evasion, destroying evidence and bigamy. No figures were given regarding how much tax Ai owes (if any), and his family has denied the charges, anyway. “He has made the government unhappy by speaking up for ordinary people,” Ai’s sister Gao Ge told The Associated Press. “Now the government wants to get him back.” Ai has been openly critical of government officials, challenging them through China’s own legal system to uphold constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and equal protection under the law. He was a public supporter of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is serving a 11-year sentence in China for “inciting subversion of state power.” (As in co-authoring Charter ’08, a call for more democracy in China. Very subversive. Yeah.) The government newspaper Wen Wei Po, which is published in Hong Kong, has been smearing Ai as part of the government’s efforts to discredit him. In addition to the tax evasion charge, he is being held for allegedly ...

China charges Ai WeiWei with ‘economic crimes’

JISHOU, HUNAN — The BBC reports that Chinese authorities have confirmed they picked up dissident artist Ai WeiWei and are holding him for “economic crimes,” without providing any other details. Ai, the co-designer of the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium, has had several run-ins with Chinese authorities in the past, who don’t like his persistent questioning of the status quo. They reportedly arrested him Sunday at the Hong Kong airport, where he was planning to take a flight abroad. An exhibit of Ai’s work is at the Tate modern gallery in London. Foreign governments have protested the arrest and detention, but Beijing has basically said, as it always has, “MYOB.” Here’s a quote from the BBC report, so you can see what I mean. “China is a country ruled by law and will act according to law. We hope that the countries concerned will respect China’s decision,” [foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei] said. Since I know nothing about Ai’s supposed “economic crimes,” (a bogus charge, in my view) I can’t say if he broke any applicable laws. As for his dissidence, Ai has apparently been very careful to follow the strict letter of the law, as spelled out in the Chinese ...

Prominent Chinese dissident artist Ai WeiWei “disappears”

JISHOU, HUNAN — Chinese authorities have apparently detained artist Ai WeiWei, after they prevented him from flying overseas from Hong Kong’s airport on Sunday. His whereabouts remain unknown. Following the public protests in several Middle Eastern and North African countries, China’s political bosses have been rounding up dissidents left and right, in an effort to quell any similar movements here. Ai has had several run-ins with authorities already. He was blocked from attending the ceremony awarding Liu Xiaobo (who is in prison) the Nobel Peace Prize, one of his art studios near Shanghai was bulldozed, and in recent weeks, the cops have visited his offices and studios several times. The artist, who designed the Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium, had been keeping a running tally of dissident detentions on a Twitter feed that had 70,000 followers. I guess the politicos didn’t like that many people knowing what they’re up to. The AP has the story, though The Guardian has a more detailed one. Incidentally, the Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It’s just applied very selectively.
WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com