Global Times: Ai’s Release Not to Do with Foreign Pressure

Now that artist activist Ai Weiwei has been released from over two months detention on suspicion of economic crimes, the official Chinese media is defending the government’s actions. From China Daily:

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s release on bail conforms strictly with China’s legal procedure – just as his detention did. The reason for his release on bail cannot be clearer – good attitude in confessing to his crimes, the chronic disease he suffers from and expressing his willingness to repay the taxes he evaded, as the police explained.

Yet, Western media made the same fuss on his release as they did on his detention more than two months ago.

Their simple assumption is that Ai was released because the Chinese government had given in to the pressure exerted by some political forces in the West. Some media went as far as to say that the West should apply even more pressure on the Chinese government on human rights.

Some others interpreted Ai’s release as a move by the Chinese government to create favorable conditions for Premier Wen Jiabao’s trip to Europe.

It is not unusual for the Western media and some China watchers to always politicize or put an ideological face on any issue they think they can blow up.

And from Global Times:

However, what the West has been doing is sheer political interference. They are upsetting China’s attempt to build social order.

They are trying to raise the flag of Western ideology above China’s judicial system. They wish for Chinese judges to only recite US and EU political lines.

Ai was held about 80 days, not exceeding the limit of detention before prosecution, as Chinese law dictates. It is also in accordance with the law that a suspect of economic crimes can be released on bail for medical treatment.

Western media believe foreign pressures have worked. It seems that their interpretation will do no harm to China’s external relations.

But China will hold its judicial sovereignty in its own hands. The country will continue to stride forward, and it will not pay heed toward this inane chatter.

Ai Weiwei, like the rest of his countrymen, will keep living his life within the framework of Chinese laws.

The New York Times looks at the actual legal framework that Ai now finds himself living within:

Although Mr. Ai was released on a form of bail that imposes a yearlong restriction on his movement and prohibits him from interfering with what the authorities described as an investigation into tax evasion, Chinese law does not explicitly prevent him from speaking about his ordeal — or any other matter.

But Mr. Ai, 54, who in recent years had become a persistent and freewheeling critic of Communist Party rule, has most certainly been instructed that his freedom depends in part on his ability to censor himself. Until April 3, when the police whisked him away from Beijing International Airport as he sought to board a plane for Hong Kong, Mr. Ai was an avid user of Twitter and a readily accessible source for foreign journalists seeking a barbed anti-establishment quote. His artwork, showcased in New York, London and Berlin, also provided searing critiques of government neglect and malfeasance.

The question many of his friends and admirers were asking on Thursday was whether Mr. Ai’s seemingly genetic predisposition to thumb his nose had been beaten into submission. “He has a Damocles sword hanging over his head,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. “That means any time he opens his mouth, he puts himself in danger.”