Ai Weiwei

Bailed Ai Weiwei breaks media silence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am


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A state-run newspaper published a feature-length interview with Ai Weiwei yesterday - the first of its kind since the outspoken artistactivist was released on bail in June - as tax evasion investigations continue into a firm linked to him.

Described as an 'exclusive' and headlined 'Ai Weiwei breaks his silence', the article in the English edition of the Global Times, a paper affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, said the six-hour interview took place in Ai's studio in the Caochangdi Art District.

Ai (pictured) confirmed speaking to the Global Times, but denied it was an interview because under the terms of his release he is not allowed to give interviews to domestic or foreign media.

Nonetheless, Ai told the South China Morning Post that he welcomed the article, despite saying not all the information in it was 'accurate or objective'.

'The Chinese version of the Global Times had previously written many negative articles about me. And no other mainland media has dared to report about my detention in a normal fashion. I'm glad the English version is now publishing something I say.' The article also quoted Ai as saying he had never called for a change in the mainland's form of government. 'Overthrowing the regime through a radical revolution is not the way to solve China's problems,' Ai reportedly said. 'The most important thing is a scientific and democratic political system.' But while he plans to be more cautious, Ai will not soften his stance. 'I will never avoid politics - none of us can,' he was quoted saying. Citing a source familiar with Ai's earlier detention, Reuters reported that police had interrogated Ai more than 50 times in two secret locations, focusing on his purported role in the online calls for 'jasmine rallies' in February, and his writings that could send him to jail for 10 years for subversion. This was contrary to government statements that the detention was about alleged economic crimes.

Another dissident was released yesterday into 'residential surveillance'. Blogger and writer Ran Yunfei was detained in February and charged with inciting subversion.

Prosecutors passed the case back to police, resulting in his release.