Tax evader Ai Weiwei released on bail

[Note: Whatever you do, don't miss Math's classic comment to this post.]

As you all know by now, Ai Weiwei is out on bail and has confessed to the crime of tax evasion (the usual charge against dissidents). I heard him interviewed by the BBC today, and all he could say, sheepishly, is that he’s home now and cannot comment on anything. Released, despite what my friend from the Global times told me eight weeks ago:

“Let Ai Weiwei go? But Richard, how can we do that? How can China admit to the world it is being defeated, it is bowing to international pressure and not doing what is right for China? How can we humilate ourselves like that?”

Well, apparently China has bitten the bullet and humiliated itself. Maybe global outrage really can work, at least in high-profile cases like this. To me, this biting of the bullet makes China look better, at least a little bit, than if they’d kept Ai Weiwei hidden away under lock and key. It is less humiliating for China than appearing weak and terrified by an activist artist. From today’s NY Times:

The release of Mr. Ai, 54, who is widely known and admired outside China, appeared to be a rare example in recent years of China’s bowing to international pressure on human rights. Mr. Ai was the most prominent of hundreds of people detained since China intensified a broad crackdown on critics of the government in February, when anonymous calls for mass protests modeled after the revolutions in the Middle East percolated on the Chinese Internet.

China’s move to douse any flicker of dissent was the harshest in many years outside restive ethnic regions in the far west, and the vast majority of those detained in the crackdown were, like Mr. Ai, held in secret locations for weeks with no legal justification.

Chinese officials announced in May that the authorities were investigating Mr. Ai on suspicion of tax evasion, after police officers took him from the main Beijing airport on April 3 as Mr. Ai prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong. Supporters of Mr. Ai said the tax inquiry was a pretext to silence one of the most vocal critics of the Chinese Communist Party.

Right, they arrested him and held him in a secret location for three months because he evaded taxes. The tax evasion thingy is kind of droll, considering China’s hyperbolic response 8 weeks ago to the international outrage over Ai’s disappearance. Remember the Global Times rant in response to the international outcry? [Update: Wow, it looks like this link has gone dead! Wonder why.]

It is reckless collision against China’s basic political framework and ignorance of China’s judicial sovereignty to exaggerate a specific case in China and attack China with fierce comments before finding out the truth. The West’s behavior aims at disrupting the attention of Chinese society and attempts to modify the value system of the Chinese people.

Ai Weiwei likes to do something “others dare not do.” He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day.

Tax evasion indeed. I am thrilled he has been released. Let’s not forget, however, that there’s a long list of other less high-profile “tax evaders” who remain in custody.

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of Ai Weiwei’s four associates Wen Tao, Hu Mingfen, Liu Zhenggang and Zhang Jinsong, who all disappeared into secret detention after Ai was detained.

Ai Weiwei is one of over 130 activists, lawyers, bloggers and tweeters detained since February in a sweeping crackdown on dissent prompted by government fears of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ inspired by the Middle East and North Africa.

Let’s hope the CCP’s sweet forbearance and beneficence continue, and that the rest of the detainees are soon freed. (And no, I’m not recommending you hold your breath.)

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 56 Comments

Whatever you think of the BBC, it was first with this news, and it took about 30 minutes before this information began to light up the google china news search.

Tax evasion. What can you say! Are the authorities trying to dirty his name by aligning him with the wealthy to ultra wealthy population percentile?

June 23, 2011 @ 7:04 am | Comment

The Life and Deeds of Ai Wei Wei

The arrest of Ai Wei Wei was everywhere on the internet. Some support him, but many more support his arrest. From an engineering mindset, I will analyse the life trajectory of this democracy activist.

Impregnating women without marriage. Ai Wei Wei is the son of the famous poet Ai Qing, the junior brother of the painter Ai Xuan, and the senior brother of the writer Ai Dan. Ai Wei wei’s wife is Lu Qing. It is rumored that his wife is the child of Gao Ying (Ai wei wei’s step mother) and a metal worker. Gao Ying was widely referred as a “slut” in artistic circles in China. Ai Wei wei, while married to Lu Qing, also fell love with Yang Jia, female gangster yan, etc. Ai Wei wei’s private life is extremely libertine. According to insiders, Ai Wei Wei, while married, lived together with his former assistant Wang Feng (Female, born in 1978 in Nan Chang, Jiang Xi province). Wang feng gave a birth to a baby for Ai Wei Wei in September of 2009, that baby is now 2 years old, his name is Ai X. From Chinese legal code, imgregnating women without marriage is definitely illegal.

Corrupting decent women. In the summer of 1981, Ai Wei Wei, along with his dream of becoming a paitner, went to California with his wife Lu Qing. But he was rejected by several painting organizations, and was reduced to wandering on the street. Forced by the realities of life, Ai Wei Wei induced his wife to “stand on the street”. This of course was not hard for his wife, because back in China, Lu Qing was a libertine “social butterfly”. Doing such things comes naturally to her. After a while, this brought in ample income and stablized their finances. But Ai Wei Wei’s career did not take off. To make matters worse, his wife was infected with several strains of libertine diseases. This state of affairs continued for 10+ years, in Ai Wei Wei’s heart, he no longer treated Lu Qing as his wife, and often, after binge drinking, would call her “slut”.

Playing with others emotions. After returning to China, Ai wei wei was like a fish back into the sea. Using painting as a pretext, Ai wei wei beguiled and emotionally entrapped several innocent women. Many women who worked as models for him described him as “looking very gentlemanly on the surface, but a beast on the inside.”. Playing with women became Ai Wei Wei’s strong suit. One friend advised Ai Wei Wei, “if you continue like this, your wife Lu Qing will lead a hard life”. Ai Wei Wei laughed and said “Who cares about Lu Qing, she’s just a vain slut, there’s no way I will stay with her for long. Yang Jia will not necessarily be my final partner either”. Ai Qing’s work influenced many generatinon of Chinese, and was a masterful poet. Who could’ve imagined what a nightmare his son has become.

Sexually seducing women. Ai Wei Wei, wearing the clothes of an “artist”, went around sexually seducing women and propagating lewd materials (the number of self portraits with his genitals exposed are too many to count). Ai Wei Wei’s assistant reveleaed that he often had sex with women in his art studio, and often times strange noises can be heard from his studio.

Dishonestly fishing for fame. After the Wenchuan earthquake, Ai Wei Wei went to the disaster area, not to help with the relief work, but to count dead bodies, and called himself “a funeral performance artist”. After coming back from the disaster area, he posted these pictures of victims’ bodies on his blog for entertainment and “artisic” purposes, causing public outrage.

Profitting from illegal businesses and tax evasion. Ai Wei Wei took copied versions of the Animal Head sculpture from the Summer Palace, and sold 2 of them, pocketing 12 million dollars. He is also selling 100 million pieces of pottery sunflow seed, pocketing 5 dollars each, and 10 million pieces have already been sold. You can still find them on Taobao.com. But he has repeated evaded taxes from such rackets, and hired accountants to help him fake expenses. Not only was he never investigated, but hired thugs to beat taxation officials from the government who was raising questions about his filings. According to Chinese law, tax evastion of 10% or more is a jailable offense.

In conclusion, it’s laughable that there are those who try to lable Ai Wei Wei a “democracy activist” or an “artist”. If China’s power is handed to those people, then it’ll truly be a tragedy for the Chinese people. Ai Wei Wei does not dare to say the word “revolution” in front of the CCP, because he knows that he’s still a “princeling” – withotu his father’s name, he’s less than a dog in China, no CCP official would blink twice before beating him to a pulp and farting on his face. In his continuously degrading life, he befriended a group of similarly degraded people, and seek ugliness as their hobbies. They claim themselves as the vangard of Chinese art, yet have no classical artistic work and achievements other than genital-exposing self portraits. This dying dog, who uses his father’s name to wreak havoc in the world, is getting a lot of loyalty from even lesser dogs fed by the Western interests. If I had a metal stick, I would’ve beaten all of them to death.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:10 am | Comment

Math writes another smear job. This one’s a little more hateful and vitriolic than usual, I have to say.

Math, you must be scared shitless of this artist or you’d never go to so much trouble.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:19 am | Comment

I wonder who is math really….

June 23, 2011 @ 7:30 am | Comment

About Ai, I think the self embarrassment was reaching the too itchy level.

I wonder what part this issue has played between the liberal and conservative factions inside the CCP.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:35 am | Comment

@Richard – I can’t load the GT editorial either. Seems that one really has disappeared down the memory hole. Don’t worry, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:45 am | Comment

Ignorance is strength. Math must be very, very strong.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:59 am | Comment

I wonder at the real reason… Could be the favour called in by the Chengdu cops on their Beijing buddies expired, guanxi balance restored, and then there is cash involved, taxes, etc … I think biting the bullet is an assumption.

Maybe it took this long for bruises to heal. Maybe a year before we learn the story.

Maybe he’ll get popped again.

Math makes me worry about the mental health of educated people in china … :-)

June 23, 2011 @ 8:35 am | Comment

@ Eco. Math is not a human entity. Rather it is a computer program recycling the same smear-bilge everytime Ai is mentioned on a blog. The fact that this program focusses on Ai’s domestic relationships suggests to me that it wants to acquire human form and enter into a meaningful sexual relationship with a real girl. The inability of the program to make this transition explains its snarky, envious remarks about Ai’s sex life.

June 23, 2011 @ 8:37 am | Comment

Ah Math… hysterical.

June 23, 2011 @ 9:54 am | Comment

The one thing I know for sure about Math, aside from the fact that he’s a fanatical, jingoistic slanderer, is that he’s Ivy League-educated (he went to Columbia). He’s obviously smart, is probably an engineer, and is devoted to using the Internet to spread venom about anyone who makes the CCP look bad, like Ai Weiwei and Sun Zhigang. He’s bad news, but he does add some unintentionally comical color to the comments.

June 23, 2011 @ 10:09 am | Comment

@Math: “no CCP official would blink twice before beating him to a pulp and farting on his face”

This sounds oddly familiar. Didn’t you write exactly the same thing when Ai Weiwei was arrested?

June 23, 2011 @ 11:07 am | Comment

Gosh, it’s like a male, sexually-frustrated version of Tokyo Rose. I have to agree, though. Anyone caught selling 100 million pieces of sunflower seed has it coming. And you have to admire the structure and erudition of the piece, at least. “In conclusion” alone reveals a right proper schoolin’. Well done Math. 2+2 = -76

June 23, 2011 @ 11:15 am | Comment

[...] could be considered a sign of strength. Well-known China expat blogger Richard Burger writes in his Peking Duck blog, "Well, apparently China has bitten the bullet and humiliated itself. Maybe global outrage [...]

June 23, 2011 @ 11:31 am | Pingback

At least math has subsumed the life of the common people in China quite succinctly:

withotu [sic] his father’s name, he’s less than a dog in China, no CCP official would blink twice before beating him to a pulp and farting on his face.

You have to give math credit where credit is due.

June 23, 2011 @ 12:40 pm | Comment

[...] Peking Duck: Maybe global outrage really can work, at least in high-profile cases like this. To me, this biting of the bullet makes China look better, at least a little bit, than if they’d kept Ai Weiwei hidden away under lock and key. It is less humiliating for China than appearing weak and terrified by an activist artist. [...]

June 23, 2011 @ 1:06 pm | Pingback

Ivy leage? Glad to have gone to MIT instead of Harvard…

June 23, 2011 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

The Chinese government probably doesn’t view Ai as a high threat to its existence; if they did, it would have been more effective for them to launch a coordinated series of smear attacks in the media. Those attacks would have been easy, given his multiple cohabiting partners–lots of material–and status as one of the wealthiest artists in China–a public predisposed to being jealous of him.

On a sidenote, a lot of what Math said, while hyperbolic, is actually true–many, many artists who have known Ai since the 1980s have said that his personal life is a total mess and he’s quite a drama queen, a shock artist, “China’s version of Eminem”. But what surprised me a lot to hear was the claim that Ai doesn’t really do all that much for the democracy movement–that he merely uses the extra “space” other, less known folks have already sacrificed themselves to create. Of course, this could be simple jealousy from notoriously catty Chinese art circles, but it might shine some light on why the government didn’t really go all-out to take him down.

So what was the purpose behind the imprisonment then? Speculation in Chinese art/media circles is that it wasn’t really to send a message to Ai or even send a message to the rich and famous who are “dissenting”; rather it was probably done because of internal bickering over Ai’s pile of money. Someone, somewhere probably thinks that he (or she) deserves a slice of Ai’s art gains over the past few years, and isn’t above calling in a few favors or planting something on him to get it. The flat-footed response by the central government days later suggests that Ai’s imprisonment may have not even been ordered by them.

June 23, 2011 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

Also, there’s a fair bit of hate for Ai in Chinese art circles because of what his dad did, too. Ai Qing provided a lot of testimony in the Cultural Revolution that directly led to imprisonment for lots and lots of Chinese artists. There’s definitely some bad blood there and a lot of it actually surfaced in this most recent episode (lots of people saying what goes around comes around etc).

June 23, 2011 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

Further to what WKL suggests, I think Math reposted a previous submission, or perhaps the majority contents of a previous comment. Most of it sounds eerily familiar…and let’s face it, as CCP apologist wing-nuts go, Math stands alone. One could say that he is “out standing” in his field.

It also amuses me when he tries to suggest that he is an engineer. So with a supposed engineering mindset, he has traced Ai’s life trajectory into 6 parts. 4 of those concern varying degrees of loss of pecker control. Somehow, a wandering pecker leads one to go to visit an earthquake scene. That then somehow segues into tax evasion. From there Ai can be deemed as an unworthy “democracy activist”. I don’t know if those things can be linked with the aid of an engineering mindset, but I suspect it would fit nicely with a schizophrenic one.

Anyway, enough with Math. He isn’t good for much more than a laugh.

It’s not the first time that the CCP has exhibited special laws for dealing with dissidents. And it probably won’t be the last. It is interesting to wonder whether the CCP is bowing to international pressure. But i think it is more likely simply borne of political expedience, since Wen is going on his European tour and he would’ve been dogged with questions about Ai’s continued detention. And we wouldn’t want Wen to be embarrassed, now would we? If that is the case, I wonder if Ai’s bail will be revoked upon Wen’s return. Also, Ai did plead guilty (I wonder in which courtroom he did such a thing). So he may yet be looking at some quality time in the big house. I wonder what the sentencing guidance is for political dissidents convicted of, or pleading guilty to, tax evasion. There should be no shortage of precedents. Man, if I was a political dissident in China, i would be really careful about who I hire as my accountant and tax lawyer, since this tax evasion business really has a tendency of disproportionately biting dissidents in the ass.

June 23, 2011 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

lots of people saying what goes around comes around etc

If that was true, there’d have been civil war in China ever after Mao’s death. Nope – Ai Weiwei is being “investigated” for political reasons.

June 23, 2011 @ 1:51 pm | Comment

Many human-rights groups were established as “companies”, too, Cheung. That has provided the CCP with a nice operating handle to close them down more recently, for “unsettled tax bills”.
The reason for this constellation seems to be that you can’t register a civil rights group without a department within local authorities that would act as a guarantor for your “good behavior”.

June 23, 2011 @ 1:56 pm | Comment

Civil rights groups need to provide guarantees of “good behaviour”? How uniquely CCP!

June 23, 2011 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

“Ignorance is strength. Maths must be very, very strong.”

Awesome, “War is Peace” is shown by his pieces about Mao, and “Freedom is Slavery” by his ones on the CCP – so now we have the full set!

@t_co – You have to love the traditional one-two of the smear job:

1) Someone throws wild-assed crazy allegations at a hated target, most of which are beside the point even if true.

2) Someone else comes along trying to sound all reasonable ‘explaining’ that there is a kernel of truth behind the craziness, or otherwise hinting that there’s no smoke without fire when in fact the only smoke being produced is the stuff they are trying to blow up our behinds.

Basically, I’m still going to disregard everything Maths says because it is only by accident that he ever writes anything true, and to be frank, I am not interested in Ai Weiwei’s personal life.

June 23, 2011 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

Great post, but I have a slightly different take on why he was released (http://seeingredinchina.com/2011/06/23/ai-weiwei-is-not-free-what-we-learned-about-china-from-his-imprisonment/) I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the gov’t can “free” Ai Weiwei and dodge the bad press, but will likely still keep him silenced, which was their ultimate goal.
International pressure helped some, but China’s leaders are still meeting with Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan next week who is wanted for Genocide.

June 23, 2011 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

As S.K. Cheung said, Ai’s release is to save Wen Jiabao’s face as he tours Europe. For those who believe in Zhongnanhai intrigue, you have to wonder what this has to do with the ongoing struggle between the “opening up” and hardline factions within the CPC.

June 23, 2011 @ 6:45 pm | Comment

You guys were right: sure enough, Math’s comment is a repeat of this. He must be busy with his engineering work.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:48 pm | Comment

Tom, you might have a point there. Apparently Ai Weiwei can’t even leave Beijing, let alone China. A Chinese government spokesman also said that he was still under investigation, which sounds like he’ll be “disappeared” again if he does anything the CCP doesn’t like.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

Mick

For those who believe in Zhongnanhai intrigue, you have to wonder what this has to do with the ongoing struggle between the “opening up” and hardline factions within the CPC.

About this “opening up faction”, does anyone really know who’s a member? It’s arguable that Wen is just a smiling face for the tougher boys, so that they can pretend there are people who are advocating a softer touch.

I’m more inclined to believe there’s:

1. A very hardline faction
2. A hardline faction
3. A middle of the road faction that struggles to keep the above in check

These are the strongest players at the moment in my (overwhelming uninformed) opinion. Ok, there probably is a “reformist” faction, but I don’t think they’ve got any big guns who aren’t retired or otherwise have significant influence.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

To Richard #27:
Math’s little rant was a piece of crap the first time. Obviously, it’s no better the second time around. I wonder if recycling junk is a significant component of his “engineering mindset”.

June 24, 2011 @ 2:31 am | Comment

@Raj: I believe there was a struggle between hardliners and reformers last year and the year before that, otherwise you wouldn’t have seen the weird praise for Hu Yaobang by Wen Jiabao, or his claims about political reform in Shenzhen. I don’t think it was only intended for international consumption.

Now, the reason I think this is what happened is because there was a clear endpoint to it all, apparently missed by most of the international media: a long article in the People’s Daily about political reform that stated something like “there should be political reform, but first of all the political line must be correct.” When I saw that I thought “the hardliners won” and that was that. I’ll try to see if I can find it.

June 24, 2011 @ 10:28 am | Comment

About tax evasion accusations used to jail uncomfortable individuals, companies, ONGs and/or dissidents,

First they prevent taxes to be regularized , and then they make an accusation of tax evasion.

It is brilliant!!

No separation of powers is the way to go for authoritarian regimes, can do what you like and still brag of doing it 100% legal.

June 24, 2011 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

[...] 北京烤鸭– “逃税分子”艾未未交保获释——“还记得当初《环球时报》的编辑8星期前是怎么说的吗?” [...]

June 24, 2011 @ 5:00 pm | Pingback

Wukailong, but what do the “reformers” want? How do we know they want anything approaching democracy and not just better rule of law to make their position more stable?

June 24, 2011 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

@Raj
“.. and not just better rule of law to make their position more stable?”

Given the current start point, that would be quite an improvement.

I would sign right away for a sort of “Bisckmarkian” China.

An authoritarian regime with strong rule of law.

In the international arena, they could play the PR card of a loving thought rather authoritarian paternalistic regime.

Right now it looks more like a mobsters regime, like an edition of the Soprano TV series…. witch Chinese characteristics of course… and in reality show mode.

June 24, 2011 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

By the way, we have the “Confucius” movie on the theatre right now here.

They have spent quite a bit in advertisement placards on the street.

Nope, I am not going to see it… :-P

June 24, 2011 @ 6:05 pm | Comment

Maybe you are referring to this one, Wukailong?

June 25, 2011 @ 12:56 am | Comment

next try to link: this one?

June 25, 2011 @ 12:57 am | Comment

Math is a gaoji (advanced) wumao recruited by you-know-who. Math of the sort are everywhere and each of them wear different cloths depending on where they pop up – and you really need to know Chinese well to know about this. They don’t make 50 cents, but 50 cents multiple many 50 cents.

If it’s my blog, I wouldn’t let this wumao makes money out from my site. Richard you are too kind, and this can be fatal mistake dealing with evil CCP and its thugs.

Quote Ai Wei Wei:”This regime is supported by the most shameless liars; they’re backing up lies, disparaging people who are with conscious, & enjoying privileges handed out by the dictators. These people will be put on trial.”

June 25, 2011 @ 4:55 am | Comment

Agree with the above commenter. This key hole peeper Math has been given far too much oxygen. Basically Ai Wei Wei’s very circumscribed bail release (home detention, no twittering, etc) was simply a minor tactical retreat for the international audience within a larger domestic strategy of clamping down on dissenting or simply independent voices. Presently PRC govt spends more on internal population control than on national defence, according to figures bandied around.

Stepping back, this is a govt doing a pretty ratshit job of governance …housing prices, food inflation, flood mitigation schemes which are a total failure (exacerbating the situation in fact), routine uncivil behaviour, widening wealth divide with the wealthy decamping overseas with their bank accounts. For my last point, read these wealth figures I pulled together:

http://kingtubbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/will-boat-sink-water-yes-but-for-very.html

The ultra wealthy are not stupid – having grafted their way to the top, they want to stay there – and they can definitely see the writing on the wall.The social fabric is very brittle, and this helps explain all the Happy Shanghai/Quangdong, Red Anthem blather being mobilised at the moment. Here is a thoughful overview of the present state of play by Russell Moses:

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/05/23/pay-attention-to-chinas-marxist-revival/

June 25, 2011 @ 7:02 am | Comment

The faux return of Maoism aka Sino-Comedy Central.

Read this and choke on you toast:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/china-communism-anniversary-mao-zedong

No sauna or KTV gigs though.

June 25, 2011 @ 8:04 am | Comment

Thanks for the link, KT — I may try to blog it this weekend.

About Math: For all his craziness, he’s never broken the rules, never insulted anyone, never sock-puppeted or spammed, etc. So I let him comment. He’s been here for half a decade, and being irritating isn’t grounds for being banned.

June 25, 2011 @ 10:37 am | Comment

[...] 北京烤鸭 – “逃税分子”艾未未交保获释——“还记得当初《环球时报》的编辑8星期前是怎么说的吗?” [...]

June 25, 2011 @ 10:49 am | Pingback

Wish the CCP had your equanimity Richard.

June 25, 2011 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

@justrecently: Yeah, that’s the article I was thinking about. Thanks!

June 25, 2011 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

Hu Jia just got out of jail too. Yet another of the charming idiosyncracies of the CCP “justice system”. Not only do people end up in jail for simply disagreeing with the government in a public way, but they are also incarcerated for seemingly random periods of time, to be released not necessarily after a court-prescribed duration, but based more on whatever the CCP feels like. What’s not to like about a system like that, eh?

Interesting that Ai and Hu’s wife say almost identical things: can’t talk to the media right now, I hope you understand. They may be out of the slammer. But they’re not exactly free.

June 26, 2011 @ 9:38 am | Comment

There’s another aspect to Ai’s detention. According to sources in China he was tortured for several consecutive days to obtain his “confession” and part of that torture involved forcing him to watch horrific video of Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, who has been in custody almost 900 days now. That’s more than ten times longer than Ai, of course, and the torture Ai witnessed Gao suffering in the video was far worse than what Ai himself experienced. Although nowhere near as famous as Ai Weiwei, Gao is well known among the Christian house church community in China, which is also suffering a government crackdown. (Google “Shouwang church” for an example if you haven’t been following that story.) There is a movement outside of China trying to keep Gao’s memory alive, but they have far less influence than the forces which managed to get Ai released. There’s more on that angle over at DailyCristo:
http://dailycristo.com/arts/artist-ai-weiwei-freed-christians-still-imprisoned/

June 26, 2011 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

@Raj: “How do we know they want anything approaching democracy and not just better rule of law to make their position more stable?”

We don’t know exactly, but there are books like 攻坚 that describes reform in that direction, including a more constitutional government, more checks and balances, and indeed better rule of law. I think it’s unrealistic to just hope for the party to relinquish its powers, step down and call for elections. Whatever reforms are decided on, at least for the short run, will be because they strengthen the party rather than the freedoms of ordinary citizens.

I don’t think the CCP is really that different from any other party in furthering their own interests. As long as they’re not cracking down on opposition they’re basically doing whatever any other party would do to stay in power, which is governing well. Now, I know everybody here wouldn’t agree that they do govern well, but I don’t see enough to make people really angry as of yet. Inflation, food security and the real estate market are problems, but not bad enough for serious instability.

June 27, 2011 @ 11:29 am | Comment

Wukailong, I actually tend to agree with you. In some ways the CCP governs quite well (as did several unsavory governments I can think of). Inflation, however, does have the potential to tear things apart if it gets to the point that the people’s hard-earned money is turned into confetti. Right now that looks like a distinct possibility, though it’s certainly not imminent or inevitable. But it’s the greatest threat to the CCP since they came to power.

June 27, 2011 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Will post this since I saw above you mentioned the Global Times rant was gone ; love always referral to the United States and of course I love this disclaimer:

“We wrote four editorials about Ai in a row. Maybe not every word was accurate, but the overall message was not wrong.”

Ok, the words might not be accurate but the message was not wrong. Two negatives make a positive??

http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/663853/China-is-complicated.aspx

Q: Your newspaper’s editorial on artist Ai Weiwei triggered lots of controversy.

Hu: Through our coverage, people knew about this incident, and we’ve expressed our opinions. This is progress, compared with not having a voice at all. We didn’t keep silent when we should speak up. This takes courage. We have been touching sensitive topics in recent years, which laid the groundwork for our prompt comment on the Ai Weiwei case.

There are diverse public opinions in China. Some people try to label everything and everyone. This is not healthy. I think GT has been trying to take an impartial position on sensitive issues. But I have to admit, it’s difficult. Take Ai’s case for example.

We wrote four editorials about Ai in a row. Maybe not every word was accurate, but the overall message was not wrong. If you have to pick a particular sentence and ask me what it means, then it’s like punishing people for their words. We can’t take things out of context. Any article would be problematic if taken out of context.

We wrote those editorials out of China’s interest. The articles reflect our overall understanding of the world. I don’t think we should single out the government. The Chinese government is part of China. Under most circumstances, the interest of the government is the same as the interest of the people and the nation. I don’t believe the US government cares more about the well being of the Chinese people than the Chinese government does. I don’t believe that.

June 30, 2011 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

That editor-in-chief is a logical and moral wreck.

July 3, 2011 @ 3:00 am | Comment

So when is Bradley Manning being released?

July 3, 2011 @ 9:31 am | Comment

A very good question, even though it is yet again a comparison. If CCP apologists didn’t have comparisons, they’d have nothing at all.

July 5, 2011 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

As we are at comparisons: when are the first whistle-blowers in the Chinese bureaucracy going to upload documents to wikileaks?

July 10, 2011 @ 4:05 pm | Comment

@justrecently:

If Julian Assange is to be believed, they have already, and Wikileaks has been sitting on piles of internal Chinese documents that they haven’t released yet- mainly because they wanted to hit America first so that nobody could accuse them of being a CIA front organization. Wikileaks has always claimed that many of the co-founders were Chinese dissidents, but they’ve been a bit mum about their identities.

Probably with good reason.

July 10, 2011 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

I’m aware of the genesis, Nicholas, and to be mum about Chinese identities is understandable – I understand that Wikileaks intended to be mum on Mr. Manning, too. But frankly, I expect no great revelations re China, simply because I don’t expect many Wikileaks uploads from there – neither in the recent past, nor in the near future. As for not being a CIA front org, they’ve long done their bit to provide proof.

July 11, 2011 @ 7:12 am | Comment

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