Ai Weiwei Criticizes Donald Trump’s Political Views

He also questioned Chinese Trump supporters.

Ai Weiwei speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

The Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said he doesn’t understand Chinese supporters of the republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday, ahead of the opening of his new exhibition, the artist explained that he was concerned by the number of his compatriots, both in the United States and in greater China, that agree with Trump’s political views.

“Some of the people in China were human rights defenders,” Ai told the audience. “But here many of them openly talk about how much they love Trump. I can’t understand it.” Ai also likened the shift towards conservatism a global “phenomenon.”

As the South China Morning Post pointed out, Trump has consistently vilified China, accusing the country of taking away American manufacturing jobs and manipulating its currency, the yuan. Trump has even threatened China with a trade war.

Ai Weiwei has four exhibitions opening in November in New York. Photo: courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Ai Weiwei has four exhibitions opening in November in New York. Photo: courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Using his platform and influence as a deeply political artist, Ai went on to encourage both candidates to maintain close links to Beijing, should they win the presidency. But he hastily added that the US should not prioritize diplomatic and economic ties to the rising superpower over human rights.

“There is no excuse for sacrificing any of these values—not to mention human rights—and not to defend all of these values,” the artist emphasized.

Citing his own 81 day imprisonment in 2011 as an example of the consequences of the absence of basic rights, he explained that fear of reprisal was curtailing free expression in his home country, particularly in the arts. “If there is no voice, there are no people. Nobody feels secure. The problem is that in society nobody trusts anybody. Nobody believes anybody. That is a real problem.”

Since Chinese president Xi Jinping took power in 2012, China has adopted an increasingly tough stance on dissidents questioning the government, arresting hundreds of outspoken lawyers and activists, the Guardian reported.

“I think everybody has to defend, has to fight, has to really make their own voice be heard. And that’s all,” Ai concluded.

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