#China #Censorship – Chinese dissident goes `Gangnam Style` #mustread #mustwatch


OCTOBER 27, 2012 06:25
Ai Weiwei does Gangnam Style. Link to this video

Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, has officially hopped on theGangnam Style bandwagon. On Wednesday Ai tweeted a cover version of South Korean rapper Psy‘s enormously popular music video, featuring the hefty 55-year-old artist – brow furrowed, grey-bearded, sunglasses on – dancing frenetically with a cohort of associates in his Beijing courtyard studio.

In the four-minute video Ai, wearing a bright pink shirt and black suit, imitates Psy’s signature horse-riding dance and at one stage loses his sunglasses in the process. The footage is spliced with clips from Psy’s original video but none of it showing the rapper himself. About 55 seconds in Ai pulls a pair of handcuffs from his pocket and waves them above his head, a possible reference to the 81 days he spent in detention last spring.

Ai’s parody is titled Grass Mud Horse Style after an alpaca-like animal invented by China‘s web users as a protest against internet censorship – its pronunciation in Chinese (Cao Ni Ma) sounds similar to a profane insult, forbidden on the country’s social networking sites. Ai’s 2011 work Grass Mud Horse Blocking the Centre shows a nude Ai holding a Grass Mud Horse plush toy over his genitals – the title sounds like an obscenity hurled directly at China’s central party leadership.

PSY’s Gangnam Style has more than 530m views and counting on YouTube. On Tuesday the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, met with the rapper to commend him on his international appeal. “You are so cool; I hope that you can end the global warming,” Ban said, according to Reuters.

Rapper Psy teaches Ban Ki-moon to dance Gangnam Style. 

Ai continues to be a looming presence in the international art world. He’s the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC called Ai Weiwei: According to What? Recently he has contributed commentaries to The Guardian and guest-edited an issue of the New Statesman.

gangam-style-psy-ban-ki-moon-dance-video

Yet Ai’s troubles with the government are far from over. Since his release in June authorities have kept him under close watch. They refuse to return his passport, barring him from accepting a faculty position at Berlin’s University of the Arts. In late September Ai and his company Fake Cultural Development lost their final appeal against a $2.4m tax fine.

“Ai Weiwei’s art and his activism resonate far beyond the art world and encourage an expanded dialogue on crucial social, cultural, and political issues of the day,” Hirshhorn museum director Richard Koshalek said in an exhibit catalogue, according to CNN.

He’s a pretty good dancer to boot.

 

Chinese dissident Li Wangyang found dead in ‘strange circumstances”


A leading Chinese dissident imprisoned after the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests has been found hanged in hospital.

Officials suggested Li Wangyang had committed suicide, but family members questioned this account.

His body was found on Wednesday in Shaoyang city, in the southeast of the country.

He was on his feet next to his bed, with a white strip of cloth tied tightly around his neck and connected to a window bar above, according to his brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu .

Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao, reporting from Hong Kong, said relatives doubted that Li would have been physically able to hang himself.

“They pointed out the fact that he was virtually blind and deaf and unable to walk properly from his years of mistreatment in prison,” he said.

“They also pointed out that as a leading dissident, he was being monitored by sometimes up to 10 police officers 24 hours of the day and they wonder how he may have managed to slip a bandage around his neck and tie it to a window without them noticing.”

‘Always very strong’

Li, 62, was released from jail last year after two decades in custody, but had been detained again several times since.

Even though he had so many illnesses and spent more than 20 years in jail, he never talked about suicide

– Zhao Baozhu, brother-in-law

Zhao said he was suspicious about Li’s death because the activist had never expressed a desire to kill himself despite hardships he went through.

He said that Li had seemed normal over dinner the previous night.

“He was always very strong, there was no sign at all that he was thinking of killing himself,” Zhao told the AP news agency.

“Even though he had so many illnesses and spent more than 20 years in jail, he never talked about suicide. So I don’t believe it.”

After Li’s death was discovered, more than 40 police descended on the hospital and took his body away, preventing the hospital and family from confirming the exact cause of death, Huang Lihong, a local activist, told AFP.

Zhou Zhirong, an activist and family friend, also said that Li’s relatives were escorted away from the hospital and then detained at a hotel.

“Li’s sister and brother-in-law have been taken away by the police and they were told that the death was due to suicide,” he said.

“Family friends and supporters and other activists have been strongly warned not to cause trouble and have been placed under police surveillance.”

‘Propaganda and incitement’

Activists looking at photos of the scene on the internet also doubted Li had hanged himself since his feet were touching the ground.

He was being treated at Daxiang District People’s Hospital for illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, failing eyesight and hearing.

Li was arrested for his labour activism on June 9, 1989, five days after the bloody military crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Sentenced for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement,” he spent much of his 11-year term at hard labour.

The subsequent 10-year sentence for inciting subversion centred on his demands for government help for health problems caused by beatings and mistreatment in prison.

Watch aljazeera video here

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