MCLC: Ai Weiwei and Global Times

Denton, Kirk denton.2 at
Tue Nov 22 08:45:13 EST 2011

From: martin winter <dujuan99 at>
Subject: Ai Weiwei and Global Times

Interesting. Ai Weiwei's strategies have a lot of effect. Global Times is
a split-personality newspaper. Their articles on Ai Weiwei before he was
put away are positive and encouraging. You could see that from the links
under the Maverick Must Bow Before The Law article (or how was it called?)
that appeared soon after Ai's disappearance. And after Ai was released,
Global Times was the first newspaper he was allowed to speak to. In fact,
this is the only interview until now that he was allowed to give. He has
in fact spoken to many foreign reporters since his release, but to be
called interviews, the conversations had to be about art. So apart from
art interviews, Global Times has been the only officially allowed media
channel for Ai Weiwei since his release. And to a certain extent, they
have allowed him a voice. Now he attacks them and groups them with those
who get 50 cents for every harmonious comment on the Internet. Global
Times is a newspaper for people who want to have their cake and eat it.
Every newspaper, every kind of media in China has to be like that to
survive, and still be interesting and profitable. When I spoke to Ai
Weiwei in early July, soon after he was released, he said that now he was
like any common person, he had to protect himself for a while, he could
not speak out openly. So he kept a comparatively low profile, until he was
ordered to pay a huge sum very fast, without documentation, because his
tax records and everything in his office was just seized and disappeared,
nobody seems to expect any kind of fair or even legal procedure. Ai Weiwei
was able to hit back very effectively, many thousands of people openly
donated money to him, and millions of people in China and abroad got to
know about or were reminded of his case. Now Ai Weiwei has made personal
attacks on Global Times editors, among others. This is not nice. They are
not the people who jailed him. One could even say they helped him. But
they also represent the system. It's like when a certain Peaceful Prize
winner from last year, not the little girl, and not the former one-party
enforcer, took on the academic establishment in the 1980s, and became
famous in certain circles. Or when a few writers started a survey called
Duanlie in 1998. Duanlie meaning split, rip apart. Everybody in the
writing business who wanted to participate was encouraged to negate any
positive role of established critics, established traditions and practices
of modern and contemporary writing, and so on. The critics and professors
that these writers and critics rebelled against have not jailed anyone,
not directly. They were just perceived to be symbols of a system that
prevented the rebels from being heard, and prevented an increased openness
in literature and philosophy, in publishing and in academics in general.
In fact, many people in the media and in publishing may encourage critical
minds and publish interesting material in many cases, but they will not
encourage free speech in general, and they will write or speak what they
do not believe in to protect themselves. Ai Weiwei is only one person in a
long line of people who have decided to fight the system. Because of his
father, because of his national and international standing in art and
architecture, and because of unique skills, he has been remarkably
successful. Personal attacks are not nice, just like exposing yourself in
public. But as others have pointed out, even in the comments of this
Global Times article, which seem to be remarkably uncensored, the reality
of politics and society in China is such that such acts seem comparatively
harmless, and even justified. See also Tom Lasseter's comment for
McClatchy Newspapers

and the latest developments in the nude pictures department:



Source: Global Times (11/22/11):

Lack of ethics is ruining Chinese Web
By Global Times

Artist Ai Weiwei published the private cell phone numbers of several
people on the Internet November 20, making them suffer from many prank
calls. The editor-in-chief and an editor of Global Times were among the
victims. This is a prominent case in which political dissent drives people
to take immoral activities. Unethical political struggles are more active
in China's microblog sphere now and even many intellectuals and social
celebrities are involved. This should not happen in a rational society.

The staff of Global Times have no personal grudge against Ai. Global Times
has published several commentaries concerning Ai's case since April but
has made no personal attacks against him. Besides, these comments were
conducted against the background of Western media and foreign governments
meddling in Ai's case. Global Times' response is normal work for a

Personal enmities also do not exist between intellectuals and journalists
who abused each other online. Differences in political values caused this
friction. To overwhelm the other side, they even adopted extreme means
that violate laws and morality.

In the modern history, ideological debate has seldom had a legal platform
in China as it was too caught up with real life-and-death political
struggles. Chinese society did not develop the tolerance to different
opinions. Since the reform and opening-up period, a diversified society
has gradually been formed and the rise of the Internet, including
microblogs, has provided an unprecedented platform for the expression of
opinions. It should be a good opportunity to enhance social

However, as many microbloggers try to attract more followers, their posts
veer radical, which causes violent opposition online and brings out more
negative influences on Chinese society. It is not teaching people how to
accept dissent and be tolerant to each other, but is demonstrating how to
become prejudiced and assert dominance.

Fierce disputes on the Internet mirror the cruelty of political struggles
in China's history through the ages. This also reflects that establishing
proper rules to regulate debate among different schools of thoughts and
ensuring they contribute to China's progress is rather hard to achieve.

Nowadays, many intellectuals and celebrities all speak out on the
Internet. They should bear the responsibility to enhance a diversified
society. Take Ai Weiwei, he should be cautious about his behavior, by
invading the privacy of his criticizers because of criticism against him,
he negated the expectations of those around him.

All games have their rules and so does the political game on the Internet.
If China refutes any regulation of the online world, its social morality
will be damaged. The Chinese government should take measures to regulate
the online order and curb the increasingly rampant violations on personal
rights, including invasion of privacy and death threats. The relevant
authorities should take actions to crack down on these illegal acts while
safeguarding the freedom of speech.

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