Three days after prominent Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei went missing, state-run newspaper Global Times broke the media silence in China by running an editorial, ‘Law will not Concede before Maverick', both in Chinese and English.
The article attacks Ai Weiwei as a ‘maverick’ (in the Chinese version, tèlìdúxíng, or ‘standing out and walking alone’) who consistently challenges legal boundaries. It also accuses the West of using human rights to violate China’s sovereignty and divert the attention of Chinese society.
Groundwork for arrest?
The article has raised fear that Ai Weiwei’s detention may not end soon, and that the authorities are possibly preparing the groundwork for a criminal arrest.
The Global Times is affiliated with the official Chinese Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily. Its Chinese version has often been accused of its strongly nationalistic tone, while the English version is more moderate.
Below is an extract from the English version of the editorial:
It is reckless collision against China’s basic political framework and ignorance of China’s judicial sovereignty to exaggerate a specific case in China and attack China with fierce comments before finding out the truth. The West’s behavior aims at disrupting the attention of Chinese society and attempts to modify the value system of the Chinese people.
Ai Weiwei likes to do something “others dare not do.” He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day.
The West ignored the complexity of China’s running judicial environment and the characteristics of Ai Weiwei’s individual behavior. They simply described it as China’s “human rights suppression.” “Human rights” have really become the paint of Western politicians and the media, with which they are wiping off the fact in this world.
The article has sparked repercussions and mockery among Chinese Twitter users; the following tweets are from April 6, 2011.
Ai Xiaoming, feminist literary scholar, documentary filmmaker and human rights activist (@xiaocao07):
Wen Yunchao, prominent blogger and activist (@wenyunchao):
Xu Zhiyong, prominent legal scholar and activist (@zhiyongxu):
Peng Xiaoyun, opinion page editor of Guangzhou-based Time Weekly Magazine (@Pengxiaoyun):
Ja Jia, Beijing-based writer (@jajia):
He Qinglian, United States-based Chinese academic (@HeQinglian):
Joshua Rosenzweig, of the Hong Kong-based China human rights group Dui Hua Foundation (@siweiluozi):
Galileo Cheng, Hong Kong media worker and columnist (@galileo44):
Mo Zhixu, prominent critic and writer (@mozhixu):
Lian Yue, well-known social critic and blogger (@lianyue):