Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a well-known and highly respected artist whose work has been celebrated all over the world. But to the Chinese government, he is a dissident and a threat. Ai Weiwei hasn't been seen since Sunday, when he was detained at an airport in Beijing. And his detention has a lot of people worried about a new round of crackdowns.


Ai Weiwei - Alison Klayman

We started this segment with part of a trailer for an upcoming documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Ai Weiwei is the world-renowned artist best known for his work on the Bird's Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics. He is also a vocal critic of the Chinese Government. He has been beaten, bugged and put under house arrest. And, this past Sunday, Ai Weiwei was confronted by Chinese authorities. And no one has heard from him since. Jennifer Ng, Ai Weiwei's assistant was traveling with him. We heard from her.

Human Rights Watch says as many as 25 other activists and government critics have also been arrested or detained or have simply disappeared. Many of Ai Weiwei's supporters see his detention as part of China's crackdown on what's being called the Jasmine Revolution.

Alison Klayman is an American film-maker who has spent the last two years following Ai Weiwei with a camera. Her documentary is called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. She is putting the finishing touches on it now and it will be released later this year. She was in New York City.

Ai Weiwei - Nicholas Bequelin

Reporters working in China are feeling the pressure as well. In fact, Debbie Mason, a freelance journalist in Beijing says things haven't been this bad for a long time. Debbie Mason traces the start of this crackdown to the time that imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. We aired a clip.

For some perspective on Ai Weiwei's detention and the Chinese Government's crackdown on other activists and journalists, we were joined by Nicholas Bequelin. He's the Asia Researcher for Human Rights Watch and he was in Hong Kong.

Ai Weiwei - Wenran Jiang

We wanted to hear the Chinese Government's perspective on this story, so we phoned the Chinese Embassies in Ottawa and Washington ... as well as several consulates. The lines rang and rang with no answer ... and our e-mails went unanswered as well. So we asked Wenran Jiang to help us understand the Chinese Government's motivation and mindset. He's a professor of political science and the McTaggert Research Chair at the China Institute. Wenran Jiang was in Washington this morning.

Last Word - Ai Weiwei

We gave the the last word this morning to Ai Weiwei. We aired a clip from a video presentation he made at last May's Technology Entertainment and Design Conference, which is funded by a private non-profit foundation with the goal of spreading ideas about science and culture.

Other segments from today's show:

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