Ai Weiwei: “They Are Weak”

German magazine Der Spiegel interviews artist and dissident Ai Weiwei about his current status, following the rejection of his appeal in a tax evasion case:

SPIEGEL: You’re expected in Washington for the opening of a major show of your work, and in Berlin to begin the professorship that the Academy of the Arts has offered you. But there is no mention whatsoever in the Chinese state media about you, your case and the fact that you’ve been barred from leaving the country.

Ai: Strange, isn’t it? Not a word about me in the gossip columns, and not a word on the political pages, and yet in a single night there were more than 500 articles about me in the rest of the world.

SPIEGEL: But with your lawsuit, aren’t you practically challenging the authorities to lock you up?

Ai: I don’t want to be trapped by that logic. Of course they’ll win against me in the short term, but not in the end, because they are weak. In fact, they’re so shy that they don’t even dare to discuss my case in public. I’ve seen shy girls, and shy little boys, too — but have you ever seen such a shy government?

Ai also expresses hope for the new generation of leaders set to take power early next year:

SPIEGEL: A new group of men will assume China’s leadership in a few weeks, the fifth generation since Mao, the generation of the princelings. It’s also your generation. Xi Jinping, the designated party leader, is only four years older than you.

Ai: And I became aware of that recently. I came across a photo showing my father, the poet Ai Qing, next to the father of Xi Jinping, the politician Xi Zhongxun. For quite some time, both followed similar life paths, both were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps we, their sons, could share a few experiences with each other. I believe that the new leaders know that they have to make great changes in this country. It’s impossible for things to remain the way they are.

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