The man who is so often (and rightly) described as ‘outspoken’ and a ‘dissident’ is one of the most vocal critics of the Chinese regime, particularly on the subject of Internet censorship, to the point that it tends to overshadow his work.
“[China] blocks major internet platforms – such as Twitter and Facebook – because it is afraid of free discussion,” Ai says. “And it deletes information. The government computer has one button: delete.”
China may seem quite successful in its controls, but it has only raised the water level. It’s like building a dam: it thinks there is more water so it will build it higher. But every drop of water is still in there. It doesn’t understand how to let the pressure out. It builds up a way to maintain control and push the problem to the next generation.
Ultimately, he believes, this approach will see the Internet and freedom “win” in the communist country:
It still hasn’t come to the moment that [the regime] will collapse. That makes a lot of other states admire its technology and methods. But in the long run, its leaders must understand it’s not possible for them to control the internet unless they shut it off – and they can’t live with the consequences of that. The internet is uncontrollable. And if the internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win. It’s as simple as that.
It remains to be seen how his latest article will be received by authorities in China and whether there will be further punishment dealt out to Ai Weiwei for his criticisms.