Artist Ai Weiwei's six wishes for Xi Jinping
Asked for a list of his top 10 wishes to present to the newly installed leadership of Xi Jinping, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who fell foul of the government of Hu Jintao many times, said he had thousands.
“I have too many,” he said. “Ten wishes is too many, no one will want to read that many. How about five?”
Mr Ai, who collaborated with Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron on the design of the Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics, was arrested in March last year as part of an overall crackdown on dissent. He was held in solitary confinement for 81 days before being released without charges.
He offered the the following – not five wishes but six.
1. Do not believe those who want to control the internet.
“They cannot even allow people to have their opinions on TV or in the newspapers. They have already blocked lots of international sites with the Great Firewall of China, but leave the domestic sites alone.
“Please, as a Chinese citizen, allow me to use the internet. Show the courage of a big nation.”
2. Please let artists express themselves.
“Accept different forms and colours from artists and poets and writers and musicians. It’s their job to offer a colourful landscape.”
3. Please introduce an independent justice system.
“Having an independent justice system lets everybody respect the law. And also have open trials for any crime. We have to have moral trust.”
4. Set out a schedule for high officials to reveal their assets.
“Say one or two years from now for senior officials to reveal their property. Every five or 10 years you have a big meeting and you say you will fight corruption. You have to give a schedule so that people will believe that what you are saying is true.”
5. Treat China’s ethnic minorities fairly.
“Give them some chance to have their own dignity. Their traditions. Their beliefs.”
6. Please let the government learn to tolerate people with different opinions.
“Set up some kind of communication, show you can tolerate different opinions. Not to see those who have different opinions as attacking the state power. Not to make different-thinking people disappear or put them in jail, or fabricate charges against them.”