Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is probably best known for his part in designing the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics. He's also an activist whose work has sometimes been critical of the Chinese regime. On Sunday, authorities put Ai under house arrest in Beijing to stop him from going to his own party in Shanghai. Hundreds of people gathered outside his new studio there, which is set to be demolished by authorities. Ai was released from house arrest shortly after midnight on Monday.
Recently Artist Ai Weiwei’s newly-built art studio in Shanghai became the target for demolition by local authorities. And on Sunday, Ai found himself under house arrest at his home in Beijing.
Ai and his supporters had been planning to eat a meal of 10,000 river crabs, whose name in Chinese “he xie” sounds similar to the word for “harmony”—a buzz word used by the Chinese regime. Under their policy of creating a so-called “Harmonious Society,” the Chinese authorities have continued to demolish homes, censor the press and persecute thousands.
Although Ai could not attend, almost 400 of his supporters gathered in his studio on Sunday to promote his message.
Carrying banners of Ai with his rock musician friend Zuoxiao Zuzhou, many chanted slogans of support. [18. CROWD POSING WITH RIVER CRABS AND CHANTING IN MANDARIN "IN A HARMONIOUS SOCIETY, WE EAT RIVER CRABS."]
Forty-five-year-old Nanjing resident Lai Hong, says Ai’s house arrest was unwarranted.
Authorities claim they are demolishing the $1.2-million U.S. dollar studio because it violates proper building standards. Ai maintains that the local mayor had personally encouraged him to build it two years ago.
Apart from his artwork, Ai is also known for criticizing the Chinese regime. He has never been officially arrested, but has had the odd brush with Chinese authorities. Ai says authorities were planning to release him from house arrest at midnight on Sunday night.