Ai Weiwei: “All That’s Left is a Grass Mud Horse”

This is a translation of this post from Ai Weiwei’s blog. If you aren’t familiar with the term Grass Mud Horse, go here. The links in this translation were added by us to provide some context for those that need it. There are no links in the original post.


The Party has limitless tests for people [to endure]: on the internet you’re “Green Dam‘ed”, in education you’re swindled, in news reports you’re deceived, the milk is poisoned, [if you] lose your job you might as well die, public buses are exploding, land is being stolen, houses are being demolished, children are being sold, miners are being buried, young girls are being raped, and whatever’s left gets “Public Safetyed”, “chengguaned”, “Joint Defensed”, “Public Securityed”, “stabilized”, or “mental healthed”.

If the people arrest someone for rape, that’s anti-China [he’s referring here to the Deng Yujiao case]. Children are crushed to death and if you ask about the quality of the buildings, that’s anti-China. Exposing the poison in our foods is anti-China. Common people who’ve been beaten and abused seeking an audience with higher authorities is also anti-China. Selling children, selling AIDS-infected blood, black [corrupt] coal pits, fake news, those who should be administering justice abusing it, widespread corruption, rights violations, internet censorship; all you need to do is ask a question for it to be anti-China. Are the people who aren’t “anti-China” even people?

If it’s something that’s for the sake of the public, it’s a case of “assembling people to cause trouble”. If it’s something for the sake of the country, it’s a storm of political turmoil. If something is obviously wrong, [those against it] have ulterior motives. If there are too many people who are upset, they are being incited and are unaware of the truth. If an international source criticizes [China], then it’s foreign anti-China powers. In sixty years, [I] have never seen a ballot. There isn’t education for everyone, there isn’t medical insurance, there’s no freedom of the press, there’s no freedom of speech, there’s no freedom of information, there’s no freedom to live and move where you choose, there’s no independent judiciary, there’s no one supervising public opinion*, there are no independent trade unions, there’s no armed forces that belongs to the nation**, there’s no protection of the constitution. All that’s left is a Grass Mud Horse.

*I assume that what he means by this is that no one is paying attention to what the public thinks about things and adjusting policy accordingly.
**I think he’s referring to the army being directly affiliated with the Party rather than the nation, but I’m not sure whether or not that’s true, can anyone verify?

0 thoughts on “Ai Weiwei: “All That’s Left is a Grass Mud Horse””

  1. In response to your question about the army being affiliated with the Party rather than the nation, Wikipedia (of course not an infallible source, but one that seems pretty much on point here) says:

    “The PLA is formally under the command of the Central Military Commission of the CCP; there is also an identical commission in the government, but it has no clear independent functions. The Ministry of National Defense, which operates under the State Council, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the Central Military Commission. The ministry assures continuing CCP control over the armed forces, and its primary role is that of a liaison office with foreign militaries. ”


    “In practice, the two Central Military Commissions do not conflict each other because their membership is usually identical. Often, the only difference in membership between the two occurs for a few months every five years, during the period between a Party Congress, when Party CMC membership changes, and the next ensuing National People’s Congress, when the State CMC changes. The Central Military Commission carries out its responsibilities according to the authority given to it by the Constitution and National Defense Law.”

    I’ve heard that reforms aimed at making the PLA the army of the Chinese state rather than the CCP have been raised at times by reformers but shot down. Does anyone know more about this?


  2. @ Wahaha: I think his point is the argument against those things tends to be that they might cause instability and since things are getting better anyway, let’s not rock the boat. Ai’s point is that in a lot of ways, it doesn’t seem like things are getting better. Why, exactly, the buses exploded is unclear as far as I know, but they’re public buses, and my guess is the explosions were probably the result of poor maintenance which, obviously, is the government’s fault (a branch of it, anyway).


  3. C.Custer,

    To my knowledge from chinese website, someone carried gasoline onto the bus. Fire wouldnt have spread so quickly if it had been maintenance problem.

    National stadium in Malaysia collapsed in just a year, it must be cuz of lack of freedom of speech and information, isnt it ?

    There are lot of Chinese in China who are fighting for human rights (which is a serious problem in China). Some of them do something to help people, like those who helped Deng Yujiao; some use their big mouths to get attention, like Ai Weiwei.

    I visited some blogs by Indians, rarely did they talk about THE people who really need help, why ? will you explain ? It is supposed that with freedom of media, the voice of people who need help should be heard. No offense, the voice of Katrina victims was not heard more. (Yes, they can complain, but voice is not heard from top.)

    Therefore, I dont see how these big mouths would make society better, and I dont see how big mouths like Al Sharpton, Medha Patkar (in the following link) would make society better, they just nonstop complain but never try to solve the problems.

    BTW, the following sculpture was by Ai weiwei, which may tells us how he thinks


  4. C.Custer,

    Nothing will get better for Ai Weiwei until the collapse of CCP, nothing will get better for Ai weiwei until he is allowed to pee in front of Mao’s mausoleum. What is his idea of freedom ? maybe like his sculpture :

    and have you heard of Yue minjun ?

    He wouldve been thrown to jail if nothing had changed.

    BTW, the National stadium in Malaysia collapsed after only 1 year, would free media and free speech have prevented it ? I dont think so.


  5. As usual, your examples from other countries are totally irrelevant. As I said, I don’t think Ai is actually arguing freedom of speech would have stopped the buses from exploding, anyway.

    However, since you seem incapable of discussing China without drawing parallels to other countries, fine. Let’s take the example of Katrina. Were the voices of the victims more widely heard because the United States has free speech? I would argue yes. Let’s take, for example, a very famous thing that happened after Katrina, you may not be aware of it: Kanye West, a famous singer, was on national television conducting a fundraiser for Katrina victims. Instead of saying what he was supposed to say, he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

    Now, you might call him an asshole (actually, he is an asshole). However, that comment instantly became famous. It was shown over and over again on TV, and everyone discussed it. It actually didbring some attention to the victims and helped bring to light the racial prejudice that existed both in the media coverage and in the rescue efforts generally. He got even more people talking about the issue, and as a result, things changed.

    I’m not saying things became perfect, but you tell me: What would happen in China if someone famous said “Hu Jintao doesn’t care about Tibetans (or whatever group you want to choose)” on CCTV. Do you think it would be rebroadcast? Would people be discussing it and reading about it in newspapers?

    The thing about assholes is that they get attention. Maybe Ai Weiwei is an asshole — debatable — but what ISN’T debatable is that he has brought a lot of attention to the question of remembering the students who died on 5.12. Personally, I suspect it was largely because of his project that the Chinese government finally released the number of students that died. At the end of the day, whatever you think about Ai, isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t the goal here to remember these kids who died?


  6. Custer,

    As usual, give me the moral argument. let me tell you : Westerners judge things by Right vs Wrong, Chinese judge things by result.

    Yes, it feels great bashing government, bashing your president, but how do you solve the problems ? Can you tell me how 46 states in US will solve the problems of their deficit ? With people non-stop complaining and protesting, even criminals have the right to protest for more moeny, how the hell will Governor Schwarzenegger find solution ?

    You think I dont like the freedom in America ? I LOVE IT !!! for god sake, BUT I RATHER AMERICAN GOVERNMENT TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME !!! Why ? cuz if government gives me the right to complain, it has to give those irreponsible the right; it has to give those lazy bones the right; it has to give criminals the right; it allows people to be greedy; it allows people to demand the money they dont deserve. AND AS A RESULT, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL SUFFER !!!!

    So when you judge what government does, please dont narrow it down to a single incident or couple dozen people, like Michael Fay’s case. With all the technological advantage west has, US and West lose their power so quickly with such idiolism, only 30 years after losing control of oil price. LEARN YOUR LESSON !!!


  7. C.Custer,

    I give you two links, tell me what you think :

    In this link, a Russian painter ridiculed Putin with painting, and was arrested. ( his human right was offended, right ?)

    In this link, Putin publicly embarrassed the richest man in Russia by ORDERING him to do something to help the people. ( would such things possibly happen in a democratic country ?)

    Now ask yourself : if Russian people had been allowed to ridicule Putin anyway they wanted, would Putin have had the power over the richest man in Russia ?

    Now ask yourself again : with the way westerners deprived power from their government, how the hell will a government help its people ?

    Do you love to see Obama tell those wall-street tycoons to shut the f@#$ up ? well, give your government more power.


  8. My point is that criticism of the government LEADS TO RESULTS. So judge by result if you want! What has been the result of Ai Weiwei’s project about the students so far? Ai has reported the names and schools of thousands of students; the government has released an official number of students who died.

    Why does that result not seem to matter to you?


  9. “Now ask yourself : if Russian people had been allowed to ridicule Putin anyway they wanted, would Putin have had the power over the richest man in Russia ?”

    Yes! What the hell effect does what people are allowed to SAY have on actual POWER? What, is Putin going to go cry in a corner because the mean Russian people said bad things about him? It doesn’t matter what they say, he runs the government, which means the power still rests with him. EVERYONE could be saying bad things about him and he still has the power to order people around if he wants.

    “Now ask yourself again : with the way westerners deprived power from their government, how the hell will a government help its people ?”
    I think you really need to learn a lot more about how government in the West works (i.e., go to America and live there for a few years) before you try to make these comparisons, because you obviously really don’t understand how things work.


  10. Damn it, I am living in America.

    How much tax return does an american taxpayer get in average ? how about $200 ?

    How much tax does an american taxpayer have to pay to help AIG ? How about $1000 ? (if you know what CDS is, you will know American people will never get this money back, except holding millions of shares of worthless AIG stocks.)


    No, there is no way American people, the peope that the government is supposed to work for, will get their money back.

    Now you know how much power YOU have; you know how much power your president has; you know how much power an elected government official has.


  11. Wahaha, most taxpayers get more than $100 in tax returns. And the average taxpayer is not giving $1000 to AIG; that would mean the government was giving AIG over $300 BILLION.

    The American people won’t get all of their money back, it’s true. That’s what happens when the economy crashes, you lose some money. However, what we will (hopefully) get back is a vibrant economy that offers us job opportunities and lots of other ways to make money. Without that, our money would be worthless anyway.

    If you live in America, you know things aren’t nearly as bad as you’re suggesting. I’ll grant the Chinese government has more economic control than ours because ours is a more real free market economy, however, American elected officials have plenty of power. That’s as far as I’m going to go because, again, this isn’t a post about systemic weaknesses in the American governmental system.


  12. What’s the difference. Everyone in America pays taxes. Maybe they have no federal income tax liability because their income is still low, but they pay taxes: medicare, social security, not to mention sales taxes, taxes on gasoline, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. etc.

    The only way I could imagine someone in the US were if they were a non-smoking, non-drinking New Hampshire resident (no sales tax) who didn’t own a car and worked somewhere that paid social security and medicare benefits as part of their benefits. There might even be a couple people like that, but it’s not a statistically significant number.


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