Den 53-årige Ai Weiwei er ikke alene Kinas mest berømte kunstner, han er også kendt i Kina for at være en skarp kritiker af regering, parti og myndigheder. Hans forsvinden er en markant optrapning af den kampagne mod kritikerne, som Beijing begyndte i februar.
Du kan læse tidligere artikler om sagen og Ai Weiwei her på Kinablog.
Her er opsamling og links:
Ai Weiwei var en god ambassadør for Kina. Han var beviset for, at kunst og kreativitet også kunne trives i Kina. Men desværre for partiet begyndte han også at blive stadig mere kritisk. For eksempel da han efter jordskælvet i 2008 lavede sit projekt, der viste, hvor mange børn, som egentlig omkom i de sammenstyrtede skoler. Fordi korrupte embedsmænd havde sparet på byggematerialerne. Læs Jerome Cohens – som altid – glimrende analyse på Council on Foreign Relations, hvor han også spår om, hvad der måske kommer til at ske med Ai, hvis han bliver formelt arresteret:
Arrest virtually assures indictment, conviction and prison time.
Eventually, Ai’s lawyers will be allowed to visit him, although it may not be until the investigation has concluded, possibly after many months of incommunicado detention. During investigation, such visits are of limited significance, since at this stage lawyers are not yet deemed to be “defenders” but mere “advisers”, who are not permitted to learn about the case and can offer only modest assistance. Moreover, meeting time is restricted, and lawyer-client conversations are monitored by police. Yet such visits offer the suspect his first contact with the outside and a chance to report torture or other abuse.
It is possible, in view of foreign protests and the transparently spurious nature of the charges, that Ai will be released instead of formally arrested. To save official face and confine his activities, he may be released under guarantee, which would allow him to remain relatively free but still monitored within the precincts of Beijing while investigation nominally continues for one year. This was done, for example, in the case of the admired lawyer/activist Xu Zhiyong.
If, on the other hand, Ai is arrested and indicted, his trial will further illustrate the unfairness of the criminal process in a country where “troublemakers” cannot be protected by law.
Sagen om Ai Weiwei giver i den grad dårlig omtale for Kina. Men hvor bekymret er regeringen egentlig over sit internationale omdømme, udlandets reaktion og Kinas soft-power? I forhold til at bevare den sociale ro og orden i landet, så kommer det langt nede på listen. Men de senere år har Beijing forsøgt at arbejde på sit omdømme. Blandt andet ud fra det gamle argument om, at Verden ikke forstår Kina. Et af initiativerne er den engelsk-sprogede avis Global Times. Og det er måske ikke alt for smart at lade dem føre ordet – de kom som det første kinesiske medie med en reaktion på Ai Weiwei – for det er en nationalistisk avis, der så nogenlunde svarer til en kinesisk udgave af Fox News. Richard Burger har en privat samtale med en af redaktørerne på avisen, som han skriver om i denne artikel, der bestemt er værd at læse:
“Don’t you realize the entire expat community here in Beijing and many others around the world are buzzing about this editorial, shocked at its belligerence, its snide and strident tone, its implied threats and its undercurrent of violence? Maybe, as you keep saying, the West truly doesn’t understand China. Well, you are focusing now on soft power. The Global Times itself is actually an outgrowth of China’s thirst for soft power, for global reputation and respect. And look at how you’re failing. You are driving away foreign talent and making China look worse, not better — in precise contradiction to the paper’s stated goals. If your media and leaders could articulate China’s point of view as clearly and calmly as you just did in this conversation maybe then China could get somewhere in fostering understanding. But railing against Ai Weiwei at the top of your lungs — a man seen as an artist and a celebrity — is exactly what you should not be doing. Why not throw the West a bone and let him go, declare an amnesty and then explain why he was detained in the first place.”
Læs også James Fallows, der har gode kommentarer til Richard Burgers artikel.
Men overreagerer de udenlandske medier og omverdenen på Ai Weiweis forsvinden? Nej, mener Evan Osnos fra New Yorker:
The “mainstream” problem: In an English editorial last week, the state-backed Global Times declared, “Ai once said China was living in a ‘crazy, black’ era. This is not the mainstream perception among Chinese society.” A version of that argument, circulated among foreigners, holds that “none of my Chinese colleagues in our office have heard of Ai Weiwei,” so treating his detention as front-page news is out of proportion to the overall improvement in Chinese standards of living. But this definition of the Chinese mainstream is thin. The collapse of schools in the Sichuan earthquake was an event that captivated Chinese national attention, but when Ai undertook a campaign to publicize the names of the children who died in those schools—or his myriad other political-art projects in recent years—the Chinese press was largely barred from writing about his work. (I discussed Ai’s activism at length in a Profile in The New Yorker last year.) It should come as no surprise that he is not a household name, even if the issues he addresses resonate broadly.
Har centralregeringen i Beijing droppet enhver tanke om politiske reformer? Det har de ved første øjekast. Men rundt om i provinserne sidder der flere kadrer, som er utilfredse med, at det konservative Beijing i stigende grad kommer med flere politikker, som de vil have provinserne til at følge uden at stille spørgsmålstegn ved. Og det kan give grobund for reformer, når Xi Jinping kommer til magten næste år, mener Russell Leigh Moses i Wall Street Journals kinablog:
These officials have been content to let the conservative wing of the party push and punish. Now, these same cadres would like to see more reform, instead of more overreaction. They are already the proponents of experiments in transparency, accountability, and public supervision, in provinces as diverse as Jiangxi and Jiangsu. Some would like those tryouts to be extended and expanded. And they have to be looking for Mr. Xi and his allies to emerge as transformational leaders, who want to explore alternatives to the present way of doing political business.
Whether Mr. Xi or any of his comrades wish to explore that route is not clear. But they may have to start to be, for the desire by some in the Party for a return to real reform is not going away. The coming challenge for the Communist Party is not how it handles revolt, but what does it really want to do with reform.
Hvordan er det egentlig, at blive arresteret af politiet i Beijing? Det fortæller Liu Anjun, der var i politiets varetægt i 45 dage i denne artikel fra Reuters:
Liu, a gravel-voiced, charismatic agitator for petitioners’ rights, was taken from his family on 18 February. Police bundled him into a van and locked him in a hotel room in south Beijing. For six days, police interrogators showed him pictures of dissidents, human rights lawyers and activists, seeking information about their mutual contacts, beliefs and plans, Liu told Reuters at his home in Beijing where he was recovering after his release from 45 days in detention.
The police have been hunting for evidence of a web of conspiracy bringing together domestic and foreign foes that the Chinese government believes are behind Middle East-inspired calls for “jasmine revolution” protests against the party.
“They took out picture after picture, mainly of democracy activists and rights defenders, and asked about each of them,” said Liu who walks on crutches after a leg injury sustained in a protest over the demolition of a former home. “They were trying to build up links among everybody, trying to get me to tell them who was supporting what.”