Ai Weiwei In Jail

Spring                                                                  Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

In all the tsunami/earthquake, nuclear crisis, air strikes in Libya, brother coming, dog biting haze I missed this story about Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident artist whose marble chair is in our Wu Family Reception Hall.  I’ve attached a summary from the Financial Times and a video interview with Dan Rather (see above).  Especially in the Rather interview I can see the problem he poses for an autocratic regime.  He gets the notion of freedom, of individuality, of free expression.  That’s frightening stuff to autocrats.

As a man who admires Chinese civilization, its arts, its literature, its inventiveness, its long, long history, I know China and Chinese civilization has room for Ai Weiwei and his kind.  Wandering Taoist sages, eccentrics all, the mountain poets, literati painters are just the ones who come to mind right now.

The more I read Chinese literature and history I do know that they inflect the dialectic rebel/government in a way not easily understood by Americans.  That is, the rebel is bad and the government good.  Or mostly, anyhow.  This has to do in part with the notion of the mandate of heaven.  As long as the government achieves order, the people are fed and happy, then the government reflects the will of heaven.  But, if the people are starving, crime and violence becomes rampant–see the Warring States period and the end of the Han Dynasty as examples–the government has lost the mandate of heaven and must be replaced.

I have also added a TED video (above) about China, one that defines it as a civilization-state rather than nation-state and speculates on the impact of China’s rise.  I think the idea is germane to this topic.

Enough.  I’m thinking about how to impact this man’s detention in a positive way.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

Fears grow for Ai Weiwei’s safety

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

Published: April 5 2011 15:22 | Last updated: April 5 2011 15:22

Fears for the safety of China’s most famous artist are growing amid international condemnation of his extralegal disappearance at the hands of the country’s increasingly repressive state security apparatus.

Family members of Ai Weiwei, whose “Sunflower Seeds” installation is currently on display in London’s Tate Modern gallery, said on Tuesday evening they still had no idea of his whereabouts after he was detained at Beijing airport on Sunday and led away by airport security.

Friends, family and associates have been warned not to speak to journalists and Mr Ai’s wife and eight employees were temporarily detained on Sunday after police raided his Beijing home and studio. Beijing police have refused to provide any information concerning his whereabouts.

A member of Mr Ai’s family said at least one of his associates remained in custody after being detained on Sunday but the others had been released.

Human rights groups and associates of Mr Ai say he is in grave danger of being tortured and is probably being deprived of medicines he needs to take regularly.

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