Monday, 8 November 2010

River Crabs for All

It turns out people were not deterred by Ai Weiwei's impromptu house arrest on Friday and instead partied without him on Saturday.

About 600 people showed up at his soon-to-be demolished studio in Shanghai and did eat river crabs.

"We never expected that many," Ai said in Beijing. "After we announced it was cancelled, I thought maybe just 50 people would still come. But some people said it is not our building anymore, it's a building for the 'grass mud horses'. Young people showed the world that they are not going to be intimidated. They showed they can still enjoy the sunshine and listen to music without being afraid."

"Grass mud horse" refers to activists, a homophone in Putonghua for a strong swear word invented to counterbalance "river crab", a homophone for "harmony", a term the government frequently uses to justify many of its policies.

However, from the pictures it looks like not only the young came, but the elderly too, with many seniors holding up crabs and shouting, "Harmonious society, eat river crabs".

And it turns out Ai was released from his shackles of house arrest at midnight Monday; the van without license plates blocking his home in Caochangdi mysteriously disappeared as it had appeared Friday.

Ai hasn't stopped being vocal since being free. He spoke to the BBC today, urging British Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out on human rights because his country, as well as others are profiting from doing business in China.

"We have a government that, after 60 years in power, doesn't give its own people the right to choose its leaders," he said. "This is a society that sacrifices people's rights and happiness to make a profit."

Cameron arrives tomorrow for a two day visit, bringing the largest British delegation to China in 200 years, since Lord Macartney visited in the 1790s.

While British prime minister will probably be talking business with Chinese leaders, Ai wants Cameron to ask why they put people in prison simply because they have different opinions.

We'll all be watching, Mr. Cameron.

1 comment:

  1. it has been reported that david cameron did speak to hu gintao about liu xiaobo. but how successful is he remains to be seen. i am not very hopeful at all as witnessed by the irrational behavior of the government.