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China Unable to Keep Handle on Ai Weiwei's Twitter




Ai Weiwei's Twitter page shows him to be back in political action.

Ai Weiwei's Twitter page shows him to be back in political action.

When dissident artist Ai Weiwei — jailed by the Chinese authorities earlier this year for alleged "economic crimes" — was released on bail about two months ago, one of the conditions of his release was that he stay off Twitter "one year, at least." But as of the beginning of August, Ai is back on Twitter at full force, not only posting but speaking out against the P.R.C. government.

Ai seemed to have begun testing his boundaries when he suddenly appeared on Google+, and later when he tweeted "问个好吧。" ("What's up") and "嗯,抱抱。安" ("Hm, Hugs. Goodnight"), according to translations by @aiwwenglish.

He now is railing against the detainment of his colleagues and fellow activists, most recently tweeting about Wang Lihong, saying "如果你有母亲,如果你是女人,如果你是普通人,如果你不希望被消失、被诬告,关注王荔蕻。" ("If you have a mother, if you are a woman, if you are a common person, if you don't wish to be disappeared or falsely accused, follow Wang Lihong").

Ai also broke another condition set by Chinese authorities: he has begun speaking to the press, granting interviews to the Global Times and the New York Times, seemingly to the chagrin of the Chinese government.

“If I don’t speak out for them, this is not possible, even though it may bring damage to my condition,” the artist told the New York Times in English, explaining his return to Twitter.

Whether Ai is going to disappear again remains to be seen, but what is certain is that his New York exhibition — Asia Society Museum's Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs 1983-1993 — will be gone very soon, closing this Sunday, August 14, 2011.