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Ai Weiwei And Dissent In China

A crackdown on dissent in China and the latest on detained superstar artist, Ai Weiwei.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei poses with some seeds from his art installation 'Sunflower Seeds' in London in 2010. (AP)

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei poses with some seeds from his art installation 'Sunflower Seeds' in London in 2010. (AP)

China is in the midst of its biggest crackdown in years on free speech and dissent.

The “jasmine revolutions” in Egypt and Tunisia amazed most of the world; they struck fear into the Chinese Communist Party. What if that model of Twitter-driven human rights-seeking unrest made its way into the streets of China?

In recent weeks, political critics, lawyers, journalists, activists, bloggers, artists have been threatened, detained, arrested and “disappeared” on a remarkable scale.

This hour On Point: we’re looking at the crackdown in China, and the artist Ai Weiwei.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Evan Osnos, China correspondent for The New Yorker. Check out his profile of Ai Weiwei.

Alison Klayman, independent filmmaker and freelance journalist. She reported and directed a PBS Frontline episode called Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei? She’s also working on a longer film. You can see more of Ai Weiwei’s art here.

Jerome Cohen, one of the world’s top authorities on China’s legal system and Chinese human rights. He is a professor at New York University School of Law, where he is co-director of the US-Asia Law Institute, and a senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

You can read some of Ai Weiwei’s blog postings in a new book from MIT Press: Ai Weiwei’s Blog:Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants (2006-2009), edited and translated by Lee Ambrozy.

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