‘My Blog Was Deleted’

Don’t curb the Internet, designer and commentator Ai Weiwei says: It’s China’s best hope.

aiweiwei.jpg Chinese artist and commentator Ai Weiwei, in Kassel, Germany, June 14, 2007.

HONG KONG—Ai Weiwei, the celebrity blogger calling for an Internet boycott to protest required filtering software for Chinese computers, says he hope the online strike will force people to think about their rights—even though his own blog has now been shut down.

“No one can block the Internet, though all totalitarian regimes rule by intimidating and applying restrictions on people,” Ai said in a telephone interview from his home in Beijing. “I wish all citizens could exercise their rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Ai, a blogger, social commentator, and the designer of Beijing’s emblematic "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium, said he hoped the online boycott would wake up Chinese Internet users, who he said have faced ever-tighter online curbs this year.

He said he planned to pursue a legal complaint against sina.com, his blogging platform, for closing down his blog after he called for the July 1-2 boycott. “I sent out my appeal for a cyber strike on my blog…But today my blog was deleted,” he said.

“In the first half of this year, the Internet in China has suffered from more and harsher restrictions. Obviously the government wants to control people’s rights to access information and news, and it wants to restrict freedom of speech,” he said.

“The cyber strike can push more people to think about their own rights, and therefore to express their attitude toward official cyber controls and restrictions.”

He picked July 1, he said, because that’s the day Chinese authorities will begin requiring the installation of a filtering program known as Green Dam, which officials say aims to protect youths from online pornography.

It also marks the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, “which pitilessly restricts press freedom and personal freedom of expression,” he said, and the anniversary of a killing spree in Shanghai by a disgruntled citizen, Yang Jia.

“The Internet is the only visible possibility for China to develop into a democratic and civil society. It enables Chinese people to freely obtain information, though strict media controls remain and information can’t be disseminated” as it is elsewhere, Ai said.

“The Internet provides a platform for Chinese people to freely communicate and exchange information. All these are not what a totalitarian political entity wants to see.”

Original reporting by Ding Xiao for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by Chen Ping. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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