Chinese Artist Missing After Cops Raid House

Authorities cracking down in fear of Mideast-style protests
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2011 2:41 AM CDT
Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei holds ceramic sunflower seeds that were part of his massive Tate Modern installation last year. He's been missing since police detained him at Beijing International Airport.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei remains missing, more than a day after police stopped him at the Beijing international airport, raided his home, and questioned his wife and assistants. Ai—best-known as a consultant on Beijing's famous "bird's nest" Olympic stadium—has been an outspoken critic of China's government. But supporters hoped his fame and international standing would protect him from arrest. "They asked me about Ai Weiwei's work and the articles he posted online," said Ai's wife. "I told them that everything that Ai did was very public, and if they wanted to know his opinions and work they could just look at the Internet."

The move against Ai—who recently had a major exhibit at London's Tate Gallery—comes as China is carrying out a serious crackdown on activists, writers, lawyers, and others who have called for protests like those that have rocked the Middle East this year, reports AP. "The Chinese government is stepping up its harassment of the remaining prominent dissidents and is trying to silence all of its critics," said the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. But so far, no protests have emerged.

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