Ai Weiwei has ‘no trust’ UK can intervene in Hong Kong crisis

Artist fears Britain will take no responsibility and is seen by China as ‘nothing’

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist and activist, has said he has “no trust” that the UK can or will respond to the recent Chinese crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong, and that Beijing thinks Britain is “nothing”.

Ai, who was interviewed on the BBC’s Today Programme, said he does not believe Britain or the west is interested in getting involved in the dispute, which has been described as the region’s “most serious crisis for decades”.

Asked if Britain has a special responsibility to intervene, he said: “I think Britain has been laughed about by the Chinese government. They think Britain is just nothing, it’s like an insult about Britain, about what Britain’s going to do – they cannot even deal with the issues facing them.

“I don’t think Britain is going to take any responsibility. As someone fighting for human rights, I have no trust for Britain at all.”

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have used a digital advertising campaign aimed at prompting the UK to take action to protect rights in the former colony, after Beijing began a violent clampdown on the protests that were initially triggered by extradition proposals and have widened to demand broader democratic reforms.

The extradition proposals would have allowed some suspects to be sent to mainland China for trials.

The artist said when the protests started in June, he sent a video team to film incidents and interview people in Hong Kong in order to “fight for freedom of speech and human rights”.

The videos could be used in an art work or a documentary film or a series of interviews, according to Ai, who said the protests had started as a “rational demonstration” by young people to withdraw the extradition law before China reacted “irrationally”.

Beijing officials have blamed the unrest in Hong Kong on “black hands” from the US, with a Communist party-controlled newspaper accusing an American diplomat of meeting with protesters under the headline “Foreign Forces Intervene”. The newspaper identified the diplomat by name, a move that the US said was indicative of a “thuggish regime”. Despite the rhetoric Ai is convinced the west will do little.

“We should not forget 1989 when they used tanks to crush peaceful demonstrations,” he said. “They know the west won’t interfere as they want to do business as normal.”


Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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