China Power

Depressing on Ai Weiwei

An editorial by the Global Times is a depressing example of the lack of self-reflection by China’s government.

The state-run Global Times has an editorial up today that might be amusing in its vagueness if it wasn’t so depressing an issue.

Commenting on the detention of activist artist Ai Weiwei, Global Times, which is produced under the auspices of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, trotted out the familiar line that foreign criticism of China’s actions is based on ‘ignorance’.

In an editorial entitled ‘Law Will Not Concede Before Maverick’ the paper thunders: ‘The West's behaviour aims at disrupting the attention of Chinese society and attempts to modify the value system of the Chinese people.

‘Ai Weiwei is an activist. As a maverick of Chinese society, he likes “surprising speech” and “surprising behaviour.” He also likes to do something ambiguous in law.’

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It goes on to talk repeatedly of red lines, suggesting that the celebrated artist may finally have crossed one. The problem with all this being that there is no indication of what line might have been crossed that would have led to his detention. The only specifics the article mentions are that: ‘On April 1, he went to Taiwan via Hong Kong. But it was reported his departure procedures were incomplete.’

It hardly sounds like grounds for disappearing someone, but by now the Chinese government appears immune to the growing international criticism of the decision.

China spent years trying to cultivate an image as a friendly giant. But whatever protestations the Global Times makes about the progress China has made on human rights, a series of international disputes in 2010 and a widely condemned domestic crackdown this year suggest that for now, at least, China’s leaders couldn’t give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks.