An outspoken critic of the Chinese government today called on the country’s hundreds of millions of “netizens” to stage a one-day protest against the Communist party’s tight controls on freedom of expression.
Supporters of Ai Weiwei described it as a day of mourning for the Chinese internet, which will come under greater pressure from censors than ever before when the authorities introduce new Green Dam censorship software on 1 July.
On that day – also the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist party – Ai said people should stay offline for 24 hours.
While the move avoids direct confrontation with the authorities, it is an unusually public attempt to mobilise opposition to the party that has ruled China for 60 years.
Ai, an influential contemporary artist, said he was trying to create a new vocabulary for demonstrations.
“Normally you have no right to protest, you cannot go on the street, you cannot strike,” he said.
“But the authorities cannot make you touch a computer. We are just trying to show our attitude.”
[An] installation piece named Through fills the entire exhibition room and is comprised of fragments of tables and temple pillars that date back from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Weiwei has reconstructed them so that the angular beams often impale the tables and lean against them.