START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
2,485,354 people care about Human Rights

China Detains Artist Ai Wei Wei, Designer of Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium

China Detains Artist Ai Wei Wei, Designer of Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium

China’s crackdown on dissent continues: On Sunday, Chinese authorities reportedly detained the country’s best-known artist, Ai Wei Wei, the Guardian reports. Ai, who designed the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium, was approached by police at the immigration control at the Beijing Airport as he was to board a flight to Hong Kong for business. Police have searched his studio, confiscated computers and questioned his assistants.

According to the BBC, “China’s authorities appear on edge over calls for a so-called Jasmine Revolution, partly inspired by pro-democracy movements in the Middle East.”

Human rights activists say that the crackdown in China has been the harshest in decades with some 23 activists, lawyers, writers and others criminally detained in recent weeks on charges of incitement of subversion or creating a disturbance. Three more have been arrested and more than a dozen, including “high profile human rights lawyers,” have been missing.

The Guardian describes what appears to be investigation of Ai:

Uniformed and plainclothes police surrounded and searched his studio in Caochangdi, in the north of the capital. Power to the neighbourhood was cut off.

Men who appeared to be plainclothes officers grabbed the phone of a Guardian journalist who photographed the scene and deleted the image. A uniformed man said: “You are not allowed to be on this street. You must leave.”

A staff member told the BBC Chinese news service that officers had taken away eight of Ai’s assistants and volunteers.

A friend of the artist tweeted that most had been released but that his wife Lu Qing and two employees remained out of contact.

Police are thought to have searched two other properties relating to Ai and visited the mother of his two-year-old son.

…Ai’s assistant said, however that the artist appeared to have no particular concerns prior to his detention today. Ai’s mobile was not available and telephones at his studio rang unanswered. Posts about Ai on the popular Weibo microblog were deleted.

Ai is a controversial figure in China. He is a world-renowned artist and the son of a famous poet who is also an outspoken critic of the Chinese government’s human rights violations. In January, Ai arrived at his studio in Shanghai, only to find workers and heavy machinery knocking it down. Ai has supported Liu Xiaobo, the political prisoner who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year; demanded democracy for China; and criticized the government for the death of schoolchildren in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

The Chinese government has certainly been keeping watch on Ai. As he told German TV station ARD on Friday:

“There are two surveillance cameras at my gate entrance, my phone is tapped, and every message I send on my microblog is censored by them. Obviously, I am not free.”

Previous Care2 Coverage

China Crackdowns on Journalists, Closes Tibet to Foreigners

China Quashes Calls for a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ on Sunday

Chinese Truck Driver Sentenced to Life in Prison for Not Paying Tolls


Read more: , , ,

Photo of Ai Wei Wei in Manhattan in October of 2008 by Doctor Noe

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
4:31AM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

This is scary to read this kind of news.

Maybe things will turn out better for these people.

11:34AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

A dictatorship by committee has a hard time taking criticism. The government is changing for the better. But it'll take more time for the government in China to evolve into a true democracy that allows criticism. But don't think the the Western democracies have solved the problem of public opinion. The people in power still can't take it here too.

6:27AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

thanks for sharing

2:57PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

poor China, their government sucks!!!

2:52PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

China is so rich but to poor with human rights

10:55PM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

A previous comment refers to "not Western way". Liberty & justice are not western concepts but things to which all human beings aspire.Their government knows they have the upper hand; not only with their own people, but with the west (us), as we owe them billions in loans.If we were to delay payments until they offer greater freedoms to their people; perhaps that might help.Remember the old saying: "If you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you're in trouble. If you owe the bank a million dollars, they're in trouble."

10:47PM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

It is deplorable to think that almost everything in our homes today was made or assembled in China, while they treat their own people with such draconian disdain. Try to boycott goods from China. You can`t. The thousands of items around us come from that Communist dictatorship. This is no reflection on the people of China; just on their paranoid & ruthless government.

6:23AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

Free Ai Wei Wei, Liu Xiaobo, and all who are jailed for their opinions in China, and all over the world.

5:05AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

Thanks for the article.

9:16PM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

Fear works both ways - the Chinese authorities cling to power by (like most authoritarian states) trying to subject its people by fear - however, by, as in this case, arresting or detaining those subjects it deems to be dangerous to the state, show itself as actually weak and inherently fearful.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I'd have been more up to having Grant removed from the $50!!

It always makes my day when watching animals who have lived horrible lives finally get a chance to live…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!