Tag Archives: Ai Weiwei

Poor Ai Weiwei a victim of politics

11 Nov

When I heard the news about the Chinese modern artist Ai Weiwei being under house arrest, I thought this was the end of the story and that he would fade away with the outdated agenda.

It turns out that the story finds itself a new lead as the British Prime Minister David Cameron visited China and Ai Weiwei asked him to put pressure on the Chinese government about human rights.

It is not surprising to hear someone “liberal” from China asking his government for more space for democracy. It is also not surprising to see British media to cover it. What surprises me is that I Chinese citizen urged a foreign government to press the Chinese government on human rights.

Ture, that democracy and human rights are problematic issues for China. But this time Mr. Ai was actually a victim of this saga.

An uneven business relationship

Mr. Prime Minister visit China for the sake of Britain itself. To specify, he went to China for money. This is a business trip.

When doing business, there is one rule that is fairly clear and simple: you do not mess up with the other party of the deal. Or there shall be no good bargain, or even deal being called off.

The current situation is slightly unfavourable for Britain in this commercial relationship with China. It is Britain who is struggling to survive the recession. While China, as one of the world’s biggest economies, although suffers as well, but the end of the world is not yet coming, at least later than Britain.

With a more eager mentality to achieve the business, Britain tends not to push China to the point that will make the deal fail.

Part of the plan

Right after David Cameron arrived in Beijing and started his visit, Ai Weiwei’s appeal started to occupy the frontpage.

It is hard to tell whether he was doing this in the advice of the British party, but in either way this will help achieve the deal.

Mr. Ai’s appeal seems to touch the danger zone of the Chinese government, it also gives China a chance to show it’s attitude towards democracy and human rights. The infamous case of arresting Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo will also inevitably be brought out. Again, this could be another chance for China to present a political show.China will be happy, and Britain, who stands in the middle will get the deal.

Sometimes it is wiser to accept the challenge and face it than avoiding it deliberately.

For Britain, certainly Mr. Cameron will not ignore Ai Weiwei’s plea. If not, Britain will taking the risking of irritating other parties of the international community, which is obviously unfavourable for it’s image on the world.

Ai Weiwei, in this story is utilised by the two parties of this business relationship. For him, the arts career in China can be declared dead as the Chinese government will never forgive a Chinese citizen trying to put pressure on it in such a public way.



Tell me you didn’t have an agenda in your mind, please

8 Nov

Being the world’s largest developing country and a rocketing economy, it is not surprising to see China on the news agenda of British media. But it IS a little surprising when I see a Chinese artist being under house arrest so easily finds its place on the news agenda.

Ai Weiwei was under house arrest on Friday at his home in Beijing. This story was easily picked up by British media like the BBC and the Times.

Continuity of the previous agenda?

There must be something to do with his recent work on display. Last month Ai has just filled Turbine Hall of Tate Modern with 100 million hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds. This is apparently news worthy for British media as it perfectly satisfy the criteria of proximity, supelativeness and to some extent quirky.

Especially after the picture with Ai holding his seeds has been displayed again and again by the media, some impression will be implanted in brains of British people. It is also understandable that it will ring their bells when something (especially bad) happens to this (crazy) modern artist.

But this is not enough to put him onto the news agenda again.

Beyond art

When we are talking about this, we must first know what kind of person our subject is.

The Times describes him as “an outspoken critic of the ruling Communist Party, and a man whose political activism is reflected in his art”. In other words, our subject is somehow in a tricky relation with the Chinese government.

Thanks to The Times pointing out the ruling party, I can hear Noam Chomsky reminding us of the “Propaganda Model”.

To put it in a simple way, the “Propaganda Model” refers to several factors that may influence media outputs. There are basically five filters within the news producing process. Ideology is one of them.

Putting this in mind, we can now to some extent understand why a Chinese artist with political activism could easily find its way to the agenda.

Because the news institution itself has an agenda in its mind.When bringing Ai Weiwei again to the news agenda, it is beyond just art.

Conspiracy talking

I must sound a little about conspiracy now, but so do British media.

Being an uprising economy also means an easy way of being demonized. Plus there is the ideological difference. These factors makes the Chinese government an easy target especially when coming to human rights.

In this sense, Ai Weiwei’s case is a perfect story of a Chinese political activist being in trap set by the evil government. He is one part of the long-term news agenda.

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