China attacks magazine for honouring Ai Weiwei


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The Independent Online

The Chinese Government yesterday criticised Art Review for naming the dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, as the most powerful figure in the art world, accusing the respected British contemporary art magazine of "political bias".

Mr Ai spent 81 days in detention after he was snatched by security officials at Beijing airport and was released in June after being held at secret locations in the city. He has been accused of financial crimes, including tax evasion, but human rights activists believe the charges were trumped up.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, told reporters that he believed the magazine had chosen Mr Ai because of the international controversy that followed his detention.

"China has many artists who have sufficient ability. We feel that a selection based purely on a political bias and perspective has violated the objectives of the magazine," Mr Liu told a scheduled government press conference.

A staunch critic of single-party rule by the Communist Party, Mr Ai was released owing to his "good attitude" in admitting to the charges against him, his willingness to pay taxes he owes and on medical grounds. He is barred from leaving Beijing for a year and from using the internet to continue his activism.