The Chinese government continues to show no mercy in its campaign to silence Ai Weiwei. Even after lifting his bail conditions, and a year after he was released from prison, they continue to prevent him from traveling outside of China and exercising his basic human rights to speak out. I don't think it's going to work. He's written an impassioned editorial for The Guardian where he lays out the timeline leading up to the news of his continued persecution, and boldly states: "To live your life in fear is worse than losing your freedom: A year after my release, I am more convinced than ever of the need to stand up to China's monstrous machine."
Alison Klayman, director of the forthcoming documentary, Ai Weiwei Never Sorry (whom we profiled back in March), released the following statement: "This week, the whole Never Sorry team has been glued to Twitter as we waited to find out whether the 'bail conditions' imposed on Weiwei this year would be lifted. This is not the news we had hoped for. Ai Weiwei's extended travel ban and the continued threat of various unsubstantiated charges against him are simply prolonging the state of limbo that he has been in since his detention. It shows the authorities are not ready to let Ai Weiwei live as he did during the years that Never Sorry was filmed. Yet he is clearly not deterred. He continues to inspire all of us to use creativity and courage to express ourselves and bring about the change we want to see in the world."
Ai Weiwei also made news yesterday, when he was banned on Tuesday afternoon from attending a court hearing on his lawsuit against the Beijing Tax Authority. Authorities have charged that his design company owes $2.4 million in back taxes and fines. On Tuesday night, Liu Xiaoyuan, Ai's legal consultant, disappeared. Xiaoyuan was kept under watch during the trial and forced to board a plane to Jiangxi yesterday morning. Supporters of Ai Weiwei as well as foreign reporters were not allowed to go near the courthouse on Tuesday, and local bus routes were even re-routed to avoid the courthouse.
Now a global celebrity, his message, creativity and determination will prevail over time. We continue to wish him the best in his campaign to hold his country's leadership accountable for their misdeeds. As China continues its quest for legitimacy on the world stage, Ai Weiwei will be there to remind us that all isn't as it appears to be.