The Beijing-born artist Ai Weiwei has been such an outspoken critic of China’s human rights violations that he landed in government custody back in 2011 and endured years of surveillance afterward. But now he’s turning his critical eye toward the West, as tensions escalate between the US, Canada, and China.
In an extensive statement released today via the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, where a large-scale exhibition of Ai’s work will open on February 28, the artist chastises the West as “the hidden force behind China’s rise” and accuses it of “profiting from the status quo.”
The statement arrives at a particularly fraught moment during Western negotiations with China. The recent arrest of telecom giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada (at the behest of the US) has been met with apparent retaliatory detainment of Canadian citizens by Chinese officials. A resolution doesn’t appear to be at close hand.