16 November 2011

Translation: "Elimination of 'Ai Weiweis' is the Trend of Society"

I'm not sure why I feel compelled to translate these things. As a piece of invective, it pales in comparison to this earlier example. But since there seems to be no shortage of interest in this story and I'm never one to back down from a diversion, here it is.

This is a very rough and sometimes loose translation the latest attack on Ai Weiwei to appear in the pages of the Global Times newspaper, in a commentary most likely penned by the editor, Hu Xijin. I didn't bother to check whether the Global Times already produced an English version of this masterpiece. If not, then I suppose I've just done them a favor. I hope they'll make sure to contact me so that I can tell them where to send their check.

Elimination of “Ai Weiweis” is the Trend of Society
“Shan Renping”

Ai Weiwei, who has been “borrowing money to pay his taxes,” recently told the foreign media that 30,000 people had “lent him” US$1.4 million (approximately 8.8 million yuan). The foreign media also quoted Ai Weiwei’s supporters as saying that this is the result of “official pressure” and that the response was much greater than donations to the Red Cross. It seems that Ai Weiwei really wants the outside world to believe that he has received the support of “all of Chinese society.”

Is 30,000 people a large number? China has a population of 1.3 billion, and it is said that there are more than 100 million people using Sina Weibo! Ai Weiwei hoped to “borrow” 15 million yuan; to date he has received just over half that amount. If the funds received had greatly exceeded 15 million and the “lenders” reached several tens of thousands or even a million, it would be a perfect bit of “political performance art” for Ai Weiwei to shout his “thanks” on the one hand while returning the excess cash on the other. It’s too bad that Ai Weiwei has to prove to the world that, even though he was only able to borrow half the funds, the money received is still really “a lot.”

Ai Weiwei symbolizes the “political dissident” that the Western world supports with all their might. All Chinese people who are interested in politics know who he is. Ordinary Chinese who never heard of him or cannot recall who he is mostly have no interest in his kind of games of political opposition.

The West has supported many Chinese “dissidents.” The Western press once widely called Wei Jingsheng “the father of Chinese democracy.” That “father” is now in some corner of the United States carrying out “small actions” that Western reporters don’t even bother reporting on.

Ai Weiwei is just the freshest name on a very long list of people who have mostly been forgotten. The West supports Ai Weiwei and the others on the list, so small circles of people who surround them form in Chinese society. People like Ai Weiwei shouldn’t think that the reason those small circles don’t extend to all of society is all because of “government repression.” True popular sentiment cannot be suppressed. Over the past 30 years, “Ai Weiweis” have periodically sprouted up only to crash to earth like a meteor. Contrary to their predictions, China has only continued its rise. Their elimination through this great progress is the true trend of society.

China is an amazing country, one in which everyone has a story to tell and opinions about the country are hard to unify. There are an infinite number of irritants along China’s overall path, any one of which can be easily magnified in the Internet age into a “sign of the times” so that it drowns out things of much greater significance. Ai Weiwei’s true market is overseas, so to avoid being drowned out within China he has to do these controversial things non-stop.

It must be said that without the support from foreign powers, Ai Weiwei would be “nothing.” The pressure Ai Weiwei’s actions face from Chinese realities is actually a reaction to external forces that use Ai Weiwei to push China around. Ai Weiwei is only willing to be a fulcrum for Western leverage against China.

Of course, Ai Weiwei and others like him are not completely without opportunities. If the Chinese government makes a huge mistake or Chinese society loses its judgment under the encouragement of outside opinion, then the future is up for grabs. Actually, the future of “Ai Weiweis” is linked to China’s misfortune.

I think it’s probably better that those “Ai Weiweis” be unlucky. Let their appearance serve as a warning to China in its flourishing period. As I said earlier, there will always be [those who] pressure a rapidly developing China to move in reverse, and they always represent their opposition to the people as “representing the people.” From Wei Jingsheng to Ai Weiwei, this effort never really goes anywhere, but it also never really stops. China’s hidden worries are eternal.

I wonder how many of those 30,000 people who lent money to Ai Weiwei were from inside China and how many were from outside. I hope that the Chinese among them really understood what they were doing and weren’t simply following some sensationalist slogans.


  1. this is not completely bogus ... i have seen zero, none, nada, reporting of the ai weiwei tax story by any western journalist writing from china, of which there are a lot

    first question, of course unasked .. mr. ai, have you ever paid ANY taxes? and has anyone pointed out how common it is to put things in the wife's name, especially wealthy and government elites?

    where is the reporting, beyond the side-taking?

    i am pro artists, pro ai weiwei, anti authoritarian governments, but i have to say there is very little writing in english from china that does not seem agenda-driven.

    i even got a tweet from one journalist who admitted she was trying to make the government look bad ..

    yes, the global times is wacko, but often so is the wall street journal or foreign policy or npr, all can be very pravda-like at times.

    we need global minds in journalism, not partisans.

    thanks for your time, enjoy.


  2. Agree on nobody really asked about the tax evasion. They should.

    But I don't see how even if Ai skipped on tax should get him disappeared and put under house surveillance? OK, he might have flight risk, just take away his passport then, why restriction of contacting with press?

    So if Ai evaded tax, that makes his treatment warranted? That it is such hideous crime that his right should be discarded and violated while we applaud at the decisive move by the government?

    And since when if WSJ writes stupid opinions, then we might as well just tolerate all lying propaganda?

  3. @GregoryLent
    "i have seen zero, none, nada, reporting of the ai weiwei tax story by any western journalist writing from china, of which there are a lot" Have you considered checking CNN, NYT, BBC, Al Jazeera, NPR or the dozen other sources who have reported on Ai's tax situation from the moment it was announced?

    "i even got a tweet from one journalist who admitted she was trying to make the government look bad ..." Really? Could you post a copy of that tweet? It seems like something like that should be exposed if it actually happened.

    @RedTidal sums up the real questions about the taxes. If this is simply a tax issue, is Ai's treatment inline with Chinese legal procedures? If his wife is in name the owner of the company, isn't she still the one who is legally responsible for the taxes instead of Ai?

    Regardless of how Global Times tries to spin the story, this is still a blatant abuse of Ai's rights under Chinese law.

  4. seeing red .. "reporting" to me implies "investigative" .. sure, there are stories, we all have read them for months