Austria’s foreign minister meets with China activist Ai Weiwei
Posted by Author on February 24, 2011
VIENNA — Austria’s Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger met with Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei Thursday during an official visit to Beijing.
The 45-minute talk with Ai, one of China’s most famous artists and a bold political activist, was initially kept under wraps by the Austrian delegation, which was also meeting with China’s leadership during the three-day visit.
Ai however made the meeting public in a posting on the Internet.
During the encounter, the artist spoke of the repressive measures taken against him, Spindelegger told the Austria Press Agency from Beijing.
“He thanked us for standing up for human rights,” he added.
The meeting with Ai could prove “awkward” as the Austrian delegation met with high-ranking Chinese officials, Spindelegger admitted.
But this should “not surprise” Beijing, as he had already brought up the issue of human rights in talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, the minister added.
Following a wave of anti-government protests in Arab countries, Ai insisted that “the situation was different” in China and “comparisons with the Middle East were inappropriate,” Spindelegger also reported.
On the agenda of the visit, which ends on Friday, were talks with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiaobao and Finance Minister Xie Xuren, among others.
Spindelegger was accompanied on his China visit by Austrian Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Josef Proell.
A frequent critic of China’s Communist Party leaders, Ai has run into problems with authorities, which he says is linked to his activism.
Earlier this month, he cancelled his first large solo exhibition in mainland China after organisers said the timing was too politically sensitive while in January, his newly built Shanghai studio was demolished in apparent retaliation for his criticism of city policies.
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This entry was posted on February 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm and is filed under Activist, Artists, China, News, People, Politics, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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