China’s Media Campaign Against Ai Weiwei
Posted by Author on April 21, 2011
Chinese media smear campaign against acclaimed dissident artist Ai Weiwei reflects the regime’s fear and need for stability maintenance according to a political Chinese commentator.
Artist Ai Weiwei was taken away by police at the Beijing Airport on April 3. Since then, several of his colleagues have also gone missing and their whereabouts remain unknown.
Lately, the Chinese regime’s army of undercover “Fifty Cent Party” Internet commentators and regime-controlled mass media have been spreading propaganda to smear Ai, saying he is suspected of economic crimes and tax evasion, among other things.
Challenging the Regime
Renowned U.S.-based political commentator He Qinglian believes Ai poses a genuine challenge to the regime. In a recent article she said that 99 percent of Chinese officials should be indicted based on the standards Chinese authorities are imposing on Ai. Ai’s so-called “economic crime” was only an excuse to prevent Western media from making the connection that Ai’s arrest was based on human rights or political issues, she added.
He said Ai has challenged the communist regime’s political power in his own unique, idiosyncratic ways. That’s the reason why Ai has such a wide range of followers in China and has attracted international media attention.
“Now that the dictators in the Middle East and North Africa have been toppled one after another, Beijing feels an imminent political crisis. At this moment, the need for maintaining an international image has taken a back seat, while ‘stability maintenance’ has become the primary, or even only, need,” He said.
Toeing the Party Line
On April 15, the Chinese edition of the Deutsche Welle published an article titled “Chinese media continue to vilify Ai Weiwei.” The article said that after Ai went missing, Chinese authorities accused him of economic crimes. The article quoted from two state-run Global Times articles, and said an army of “Fifty Cent Party” bloggers was posting articles attacking Ai.
Hong Kong-based newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po have also published similar articles. Ta Kung Pao’s editorial, however, said to Radio Free Asia that some articles “came directly from the government.”
Richard Burger, author of the China blog “Peking Duck” and former editor at the Global Times, said in an April 13 blog that Global Times staff was told to “toe the Party line at all costs.”
Burger said Hu Xijin, editor in chief of The Global Times, gave the following orders at a closed-door Chinese staff-only meeting on April 4:
“They were to go to their desks and seek out any Chinese comment threads, any discussions on Chinese BBS’s and portals and blogs—any discussion on the Internet at all—about the detention of Ai Weiwei and counter them with the party line, as expressed so clearly and ominously in a recent Global Times editorial, namely that Ai Weiwei is a self-appointed maverick who deserves to be detained, and who is being used by hostile Western powers to embarrass, hurt and destabilize China. This was not a request, it was a direct order. It was compulsory.”
No Legal Procedures
Despite the various accusations reported against Ai by media, Ai’s family has had no contact with him since his detention two weeks ago. Ai’s sister Gao Ge told NTD Television that so far the family has not received any official notification of his detention from the government, and that all the accusations made by the state-run media did not officially come from the authorities.
“So we have kept silent about it all. We ask that the government follow legal procedures,” Gao said.
Lu Qing, Ai’s wife and CEO of Ai’s company, told NTD that the Department of Taxation has taken away all of the company’s accounting documents, which is a violation of the law.
Liu Yanping, Ai’s assistant, said the company’s accountant has gone missing for seven days. She also said the Domestic Security Division had previously told Ai that high officials have offered him a membership in the Political Consultative Conference, one of the CCP’s highest national committees; but Ai turned them down.
Ai is the designer of the Beijing National Stadium, commonly known as the Bird’s Nest, especially built for the 2008 Olympic Games. His disappearance has caused an international stir.
On April 15, fellow artists in Beijing tried to organize a gathering in support of Ai, which they called “going out in the sun.” However, the effort was thwarted by Beijing authorities, according to an April 17 report by Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.
The Chinese regime has taken more than 100 bloggers, rights lawyers, and activists into custody in recent days. And just like Ai’s family, their families don’t know where their loved ones are detained, the BBC said on April 15.
Meanwhile, Ai supporters turned out in cities around the world, to protest the artist’s imprisonment and demand his release. In Los Angeles, several dozen people gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate on April 17 as part of a worldwide sit-down demonstration dubbed 1,001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei.
Museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, have also signed a petition demanding Ai’s immediate release, the article said.
On the same day, around 150 Ai supporters in Hong Kong demonstrated outside the Chinese liaison office. They held banners and a large ‘goddess of democracy’ statue. Hundreds of police blocked roads and set up metal barricades, angering protesters who pushed towards the front gates, with at least one demonstrator being detained, according to Reuters.
– By John Zhang, Epoch Times Staff
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