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

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday