Ai Weiwei: China protests will not shake government

1 min read

Protesters have taken to the streets of Shanghai, Beijing and other cities in recent days to demonstrate against heavy COVID-19 measures and restrictions on freedom, a show of civil disobedience that is unprecedented since leader Xi assumed power.

Ai Weiwei said the protests were not likely to carry on – not only because security forces would quash those speaking out but also because the demonstrators themselves lack organization and leadership.

“There’s no clear political agenda so it’s very easy to just arrest them and move on,” Ai Weiwei told Reuters, adding there were more “political demands” in 1989 when a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

“Even if something happens (on) the Hong Kong scale or 1989 scale it (still) won’t shake the government,” he added.

Asked if China needed someone to lead a protest movement, Ai Weiwei said nobody could do it because the country does not have a “political environment”.

“For 70 years, they cleaned out any people, intellectual or media who can raise any question.”

The protests in China were triggered by a fire in the Xinjiang region last week that killed 10 people who were trapped in their apartments. Protesters said lockdown measures were partly to blame, though officials denied that. © 2022 Thomson Reuters

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