Released from detention, Ai WeiWei still fights authority

JISHOU, HUNAN — Despite a lengthy detention, a crushing tax bill and continued harassment by Chinese authorities, dissident artist Ai WeiWei remains undaunted. Ai was arrested in April for “economic crimes” and held in an undisclosed location for more than two months. Authorities claim Ai owes $2.4 million in back taxes, an accusation he disputes but is paying with the help of his fans. Now, he says one of his associates is being investigated on child pornography charges. Technically, Ai and his wife are under house arrest; he cannot leave Beijing, cannot write anything critical of the government and cannot talk to the media. But he did anyway. Newsweek magazine carries an essay by Ai in which he describes Beijing as a “prison,” without referring specifically to his own quasi-imprisonment. We know what he means, though. Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor ...
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