'Beijing Is a Nightmare': Ai Weiwei

Activist artist describes city of repression and hopelessness
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 29, 2011 11:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – Free from the “mental torture” of his jail cell, Ai Weiwei turns his pen to his home city. There are two Beijings, he writes for Newsweek: "One is of power and of money," the other "one of desperation." The millions who come to Beijing each year are its "slaves," resigned to squat in structures that will soon be razed to make room for Beijing and its riches to grow—and all the while the government and the wealthy live the high life. "I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope," he writes.

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It is a cruel existence. "You will see hospitals where they give patients stitches—and when they find the patients don’t have any money, they pull the stitches out." The judicial system is even more untrustworthy. "Without trust, you cannot identify anything. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go,” he notes. He writes, ever more sadly, of people's advice to him: Quit the city, or stay, survive, and "watch them die." Presented with those two options, "I really don’t know what I’m going to do." What he does know: “Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.” (Read more Beijing stories.)

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