Ai Weiwei’s open letter: freedom can’t be stopped in the internet age / China

April 17, 2012

Not a week goes by – between provocation and a censorship – that Ai Weiwei isn’t featured in the media.

But this time he does so directly on the front pages of the Guardian, with a sort of open letter entitled “China’s censorship can never defeat the internet”. In summary, he writes that before the Internet era all that people could do was watch TV or read the newspaper. Today, as we know, it’s very different: anyone can get information on the internet in real time and leave an opinion, at times creating problems for governments where their control strategies would omit the freedom of thought. The Chinese people have never enjoyed such freedom, even though the Constitution guarantees it. With the invention of blogs and social networks, a new sense of freedom has been created as people have experienced a new way to live out their rights. This has so terrorized the Chinese government that certain accounts and personal pages have been shut down. Despite the possibility to obscure some identities, the authorities still accept the need for a strong and creative culture. Ai Weiwei wonders what kind of creativity the state can expect from a context of control and repression of any form of individualism. The barriers, he admits, make life more interesting, because it’s in overcoming them that freedom is fully manifested. For any obstacle that one overcomes there will be a new one. However, the artist says, one thing is certain: “The internet is uncontrollable. And if the internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win. It’s as simple as that.”

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