Wife of Detained Chinese Artist Ai WeiWei Allowed Supervised Visit

Since he was detained by authorities at the Beijing Airport on April 3, the world-renowned Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has not been heard from. But according to his sister Gao Ge, on Sunday night Chinese authorities took Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, to meet the artist for a visit that lasted less than a half-hour says the Guardian. Ai was said to be in good health and taking medications for his diabetes and high blood pressure but is being held “incommunicado in a secret Beijing-area location,” according to Ai’s attorney.

The designer of the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium, Ai has been a controversial figure in China. He is an internationally acclaimed artist who has long been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government and its human rights violations. Indeed, he has used his renown as an artist to criticize China’s social and political conditions, including government corruption. Ai has supported Liu Xiaobo, the political prisoner who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year; he has demanded democracy for China and criticized the government for the death of schoolchildren in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In January, Ai arrived at his studio in Shanghai, only to find workers and heavy machinery knocking it down. Shortly before his detainment in April, Ai had told the German TV station ARD that there were two surveillance cameras at his gate entrance, his phone was tapped, and every message he sent on his microblog was censored by Chinese authorities.

Lu Qing had been told to be present at a police station after which she was taken to another location (she did not know where) to meet her husband. At the meeting, Ai asked about the health of his mother and family, but was not able to discuss how he is being treated or other details. Says the New York Times:

Ms. Lu said that Mr. Ai was not being held in a hospital or a jail but did not further describe his living conditions. “It appears he’s not in handcuffs, he was not wearing prison clothes and he was allowed to move freely within where he is living now,” Mr. Liu said. “So I guess it’s a form of house arrest, under supervision.”

Lu Qing also said that “many other people” were present at the meeting, some of them taking notes, says the BBC.

According to Chinese authorities, Ai’s case has “nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression” and is rather about suspected economic crimes. He has yet to be charged with a crime; his lawyer reports that his family has not been informed about what the status of the investigation against Ai is.

Many other human rights activists, artists, lawyers and others have been detained in the past few months in China; it’s speculated that authorities, alarmed in the wake of the popular uprisings throughout the Middle East, have imposed a harsh crackdown on any dissendent voices.  Among those still missing are Ai’s friend Wen Tao, his driver and cousin Zhang Jinsong, his accountant Hu Mingfen and his colleague Liu Zhenggang. 

Artists and human rights activists around the globe have called for Ai’s release. Hong Kong artists have started a graffiti campaign, painting a graphic that says “Who’s Afraid of Ai WeiWei?” throughout Hong Kong. Ai’s artwork continues to be exhibited in the West, in New York and Berlin where the Neugerriemschneider Gallery has hung a giant banner asking “Where is Ai WeiWei” at the front of its building.

Take Action: 

Sign the petition for the immediate release of Ai WeiWei.

Related Care2 Coverage

Who’s Afraid of Ai WeiWei? Graffiti Campaign Challenges Chinese Artist’s Arrest

Ai Wei Wei’s Family Rejects China’s Charges Against Him

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


Photo with "Free Ai WeiWei" graffiti from Wikimedia Commons


Betsy M.
Betsy M7 years ago


Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers7 years ago

Pray for his safety and release.

Lynn C.
Past Member 7 years ago

Have already signed, but am relieved to hear his wife was able to visit.

Carol Kemp
Carol K7 years ago

Perhaps China likes the attention it gets from it's anti humanitarian attitudes!

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan7 years ago

Seems very suspicious not confirming a reason for the arrest, at least his wife can see him and maybe tell him the outside world is watching and hoping for his relaease.

Lilithe Magdalene

Free Ai Wei Wei!

Loo Samantha
Loo sam7 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Bette-Ann L.
Bette-Ann Libin7 years ago

Colbert Report May 16, Watch It NOW!

Fight for Weiwwei...he has done nothing to deserve this hideous, inhumae treatment, he is simply...an artist with a gift, a voice and a following...leave the poor guy alone and focus on bigger issues...like how China will get the USA too pay it's debt???Now that's some serious business.

Eug F. supporting democratic freedom in the USA and China are not mutually exclusive...but on another note, isn't Bradley Manning a sports figure? How did he get involved with a Chinese artist who has a global following?

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

Signed. He needs to be freed!

Valerie G.
Val G7 years ago

Petition already signed.