Ai Weiwei Is Confident He Will Be Able to Return to China

Ai Weiwei. Courtesy Center for the Creative Arts.
Ai Weiwei. Courtesy Center for the Creative Arts.

In his first in depth interview since the return of his passport two weeks ago, Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has candidly described his changing relationship with the Chinese government.

The artist—who arrived in Munich on July 30, where he was reunited with his six-year-old son—told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that Chinese authorities have developed “a foundation of trust” towards him. “Otherwise they wouldn’t allow me, the former enemy of the state, to present exhibitions, and they wouldn’t have returned my passport.”

The artist also revealed that there are “almost no conditions” associated with the return of his passport. “They promised me I could come back, which was very important to me. They said: ‘you are a free man.’”

“They know that I want to make China a better country, that I’m worried about the younger generations,” he added.

Ai Weiwei announced the return of his passport to his 111,000 Instagram followers. Photo: Ai Weiwei (@aiww) via Instagram

Ai Weiwei announced the return of his passport to his 111,000 Instagram followers.
Photo: Ai Weiwei (@aiww) via Instagram

However, when asked if he was still being monitored by the state, Ai said: “Of course. They’re following exactly what I say and do.”

“I am not afraid,” he concluded. “What happens to me is not important. I only ask for a normal life. I want to say and do things to help our society, not only criticize.”

The Royal Academy show will include eight of Ai Weiwei's huge 'tree sculptures.' Photo: Ai Wei Wei/Royal Academy via The Guardian

Ai Weiwei could travel to the opening of his museum show at London’s Royal Academy in September
Photo: Ai Wei Wei/Royal Academy via The Guardian

Chinese authorities confiscated Ai’s passport in 2011, which was widely interpreted as an attempt to silence the outspoken artist.

After the return of his passport, the artist was granted visas by both Germany and the United Kingdom. The artist is expected to take up a guest professorship at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin.

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