Ai Weiwei regrets contribution to Olympics

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has told a Japanese newspaper that he regrets helping the Communist Party to stage a successful Olympic Games with his design of Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium.

Ai, who is under state surveillance at his home in the Beijing, told the Yomiuri Shimbun that the 2008 Games were just propaganda for the ruling party.

“The Beijing Olympics have oppressed the life of the general public with the latest technologies and a security apparatus of 700 000 guards, he told the paper.It was merely a stage for a political party to advertise its glory to the world,” he added.

“I became disenchanted because I realised I was used by the government to spread their patriotic education. Since the Olympics, I haven’t looked at [the stadium],” he said.

Ai, whose activism has made him a thorn in the side of China’s communist authorities, disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as police rounded up dissidents and lawyers amid online calls for Arab-style protests in China.

Upon his release in June, he was charged with tax evasion, charges he maintains are politically motivated attempts to silence him.

He told the Yomiuri that the Chinese government was “pursuing a one-sided pragmatism without freedom of speech and thought, and is in a desperate state in which it has become ethically bankrupt”.

The interview, which the paper said was carried out on Wednesday, was published in English on its website on Monday.

“The biggest crime of a dictatorship is to eradicate human feelings from people,” said Ai.

“I can endure this situation because I experienced many hardships as a child and I have many supporters,” he said. “However, I doubt the average person could maintain a normal state of mind.” — AFP

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