ai weiwei is "free"

Thoughts on Ai Weiwei’s Release: This is Not a “Victory”

ai weiwei is "free"So Ai Weiwei has been released, sort of. From early reports on Twitter, it seems as though at least some of his staff that had been detained have been released, too (is there any word on Wen, though?). Ai isn’t entirely off the hook, though, he’s out on bail. Or, more specifically:

The news that Ai Weiwei (艾未未) has been released on qubao houshen (取保候审,literally ‘obtaining a guarantee pending trial’, but commonly referred to in English as ‘bail’ despite substantial conceptual and procedural differences) , is excellent news and perhaps the very best outcome that could have been expected in the circumstances of this difficult case.

Qubao houshen (QBHS) is a technique that the public security authorities sometimes use as a face-saving device to end controversial cases that are unwise or unnecessary for them to prosecute. Often in such cases a compromise has been reached in negotiation with the suspect, as apparently it has been here. Of course, we will have to hear what Ai says upon release, recognizing that, as part of the agreement and as a consequence of long incommunicado detention, the released suspect is usually subdued in any public remarks made upon release (recall Xu Zhiyong, for example).

Concretely, QBHS usually means that the investigation can continue for up to one year while the suspect is allowed to have freedom of movement, if not freedom of speech, within his city of residence. His travel documents are usually kept by the police and he must seek their permission to travel elsewhere in China and certainly abroad. Often during the subsequent year in such cases, the investigation is quietly dropped so long as the suspect behaves himself in accordance with whatever deal was struck and nothing occurs to mar the agreement.

It is important to remember that, although the announcement claims Ai has “confessed his crimes”, no formal charge has ever been made against him; he was apparently not even formally arrested” (逮捕), not to mention indicted (起诉). Ai has thus not had to plead guilty to any crimes, although the term “renzui” (认罪), or admitting guilt, has been used in the press report. He can end the tax obligations by payment with interest, and perhaps a fine, as the press report says he is willing to do.

Interesting stuff. Before we move on to the inevitable question of why he was released (and why now), a few thoughts about the tax evasion charges. First of all, as far as I am aware, Ai has not told anyone other than the police that he’s admitting any sort of guilt, so I would take what Chinese media reports say about his confession with a huge grain of salt until he’s said something himself (which it sounds like he won’t, at least for the next year or so) or until some hard evidence is produced (don’t hold your breath).

As I said in a previous post, Ai was detained on April 3rd, and his studio was searched. Police didn’t return to search his accounting office until five days later, so it’s pretty clear that taxes didn’t have anything to do with the motivation for his arrest.

And while I have no idea whether or not Ai actually did evade taxes — just because they arrested him for obvious political reasons doesn’t mean he didn’t cheat on his taxes — you have to laugh at the idea of detaining someone for over two months for tax evasion in a country where only 2% of the population files income tax forms at all. Granted, a significant percentage of the country is too poor to be required to pay income taxes, but it’s undeniable that the vast majority of people who ought to pay taxes don’t. Without going into too much detail — and I’d like to note here that I do pay Chinese income taxes now — it’s perhaps worth noting that personally, I have had previous employers in high government positions who paid me (and all their other employees) in cash, under-the-table and tax-free. This is very common.

Still, who knows what taxes Ai evaded, or didn’t. He’s not yet saying — probably, he’s not allowed to say — and I highly doubt the government will ever produce any public evidence of anything, so it’s really not worth discussing in any detail. Let’s move on to the question of why Ai was detained.

There are already a number of theories about this in play. For example, there’s the official story:

The Beijing police department said Wednesday that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.

The decision comes also in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded, police said.

The Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, was found to have evaded a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents, police said.

So there’s that. Then there’s the “Wen goes to Europe” theory, which says that Ai was released ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming trip to Europe, presumably to assure that Wen didn’t have to spend several hours in every country he visits hearing the same “Free Ai Weiwei” message over and over again. Still, for such a high profile arrest, this seems like a rather small reason to release him, no?

More popular — probably most popular right now, at least in the West — is the we-did-it self-congratulatory theory. The idea is that China caved to international pressure on Ai after deciding he wasn’t worth the loss of face and international trouble that Ai’s continued detention was causing. The most convincing example of this theory is Jerome Cohen’s explanation, which also factors in Ai’s own personal connections and his family’s status in China:

The decision to grant [“bail” to Ai Weiwei] has little to do with the rule of law, but everything to do with the untrammeled exercise of discretion enjoyed by Chinese authorities. This outcome makes clear that great international public pressure plus significant domestic and personal guanxi (关系, connections) can be a potent combination even in the case of someone who went further than anyone before him in openly thumbing his nose (and other body parts) at the Communist regime. Undoubtedly, Ai’s star talent, his family history and global support from the artistic community helped a lot.

Then, of course, there’s the self-important, batshit crazy version of the theory, as evidenced in this ridiculous press release from in which they take sole credit for Ai’s release. I’ll give you a second to read that, and then a few minutes to stop laughing. Are they sure the Chinese hackers attacked their site because of the Ai petition, and not just because they’re a bunch of pompous jackasses?

Seriously….”victory!”??? I know that’s a thing, but Ai is out pending further investigation. He’s apparently not allowed to speak freely, and probably not allowed to travel freely. Dozens — probably hundreds — of other dissidents, including many from the wave of arrests that Ai caught the tail end of, are still in prison. And there’s no real reason to believe had anything to do with Ai’s release anyway. So yeah, maybe put that champagne away, guys.

All that aside, I think there’s another theory worth considering here that I haven’t seen espoused anywhere else. Ai’s release, coupled with restrictions that prevent him from giving interviews, talking about politics, or leaving the country, could actually be a fairly brilliant propaganda coup for China. Having Ai free but quiet takes the wind out of the sails of his domestic supporters, and will probably help disintegrate and fracture the dissident community that was essentially built around Ai’s twitter feed. Meanwhile, it also shuts up the international community, who will be too busy patting themselves on the backs (see above) to notice that (a) Ai isn’t allowed to speak or travel freely and (b) there are many, many other dissidents still in prison or being detained for political reasons.

Ai’s release might also be seen as an attempt by the government to gain some control over, or at least temporarily distract from, what seems to be a spiraling mass of stories with much more serious implications: slowing economic growth coupled with rising inflation, embarrassing reports of corruption and hamfisted suppression of everything from independent candidates for China’s eunich legislature to the shuttering of the newly-popularindependent corruption-reporting sites, power shortages, catastrophic flooding, protests, bombings, riots….yeah, I think it’s safe to say that “Fat artists kinda gets out of prison” is a preferable front-page story from the government’s perspective.

In actuality, it’s way too early to be sure how this will play out, or whether or not the restrictions placed on Mr. Ai will be as severe as I have suggested above. In the interim, let’s not forget that even if Ai is 100% free, he was only one of many, many imprisoned dissidents. There is no real victory here, not yet.

(That said, I am very happy to hear that he is safe and with his family, and I hope that things go better than I have suggested they might).

0 thoughts on “Thoughts on Ai Weiwei’s Release: This is Not a “Victory””

  1. my bet, a fair percentage of officialdom doesn’t give a shit about ai weiwei .. somebody had a grudge, maybe from chengdu, called in a favor with a beijing buddy, detained him, played it by ear from there .. favor over, what to do, let him have basically residential detention for a year, see how it goes ..

    it’s not like the government is so very organized, nationally to locally.


  2. and btw, look at his skin, in the homecoming photos, compared to three month old photos .. the difference is not just bad food, he took some punches.


  3. Qubao houshen (QBHS) is a technique that the public security authorities sometimes use as a face-saving device to end controversial cases that are unwise or unnecessary for them to prosecute.

    Gees, if it was some face saving move by the government, wouldn’t that bigmouth Ai Weiwei be the first one to complain about this, instead he chose to zip his mouth?


  4. “Gees, if it was some face saving move by the government, wouldn’t that bigmouth Ai Weiwei be the first one to complain about this, instead he chose to zip his mouth?”

    My advice is to READ the posts FULLY and — crucially — UNDERSTAND them before you comment.


  5. Missing in this article is the list of the criteria for “victory”. Would that be a complete human rights overhaul for China? All detained political dissidents are freed? Personally I think this is a victory for Ai’s family, since they can be with him now.

    On the motive, I am not sure how releasing Ai would somehow cover for the domestic issues which foreign media rarely covers on China anyway. The motive could be something as simple as: there is more to gain from releasing this guy than to lock him up. In fact, if you look at the history of how China treats high profile political dissidents it all looks too familiar: whenever there is an important international meeting coming up, China typically release someone just to quiet the human rights people. This has been a pattern and will continue to be a pattern because it works.


  6. @pug_ster: I think you should think about how calling Ai Weiwei a “big mouth” in this situation makes you sound.

    If your little kid had died in the Sichuan earthquake, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for you? Few people in China have the guts to do anything more than post anonymous comments on blogs and forums, and Ai Weiwei is one of them.


  7. “If your little kid had died in the Sichuan earthquake, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for you?”

    Oh please. If people REALLY cared about the kids who died in the earthquake they would be giving more money to the locals rather than exploiting this tragedy to further their own political agenda. I donated a whole month of my salary to the recent japanese disaster, although I could of just as easily acted like an anti-japanese drone rambling on and on about how the tokyo electric power company messed up and faking a rage about how japanese government is covering up nuke leaks.

    I still think Ai maybe genuine regarding the sichuan earthquake victims but its blatantly obvious that most of his supporters in the West only care abut the earthquake because it gives them an opportunity to bash China.


  8. @LOLZ: Sorry, I was talking about Ai Weiwei. I’m not sure what this has to do with his “supporters in the West.”

    Few people in China have the guts to do anything more than post anonymous comments on blogs and forums, and Ai Weiwei is one of them.


  9. Slim,

    Jerome Cohen is making up stories about Qubao houshen. How does he know? He works for the Chinese government? So, no, the question is that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Zhuge Jiong,

    Stop trolling. I said nothing about the earthquake.


  10. @ pug_ster: Suggest you read up on Jerome Cohen before you run your mouth. He absolutely knows what he’s talking about, and I’d venture to guess (although I can’t be sure how old you are) that he was probably studying Chinese law before you were even born.


  11. @C Custer,

    Sorry, I don’t care how old he is but Jerome Custer has a resume of a democracy activist rather someone who worked inside the Chinese government.


  12. pug_ster is actually becoming less logical as this wears on:

    Ai Weiwei certainly has not chosen to “zip his mouth” here.

    Cohen is a leading world authority on Chinese law.

    Working for the Chinese government would hardly bestow credibility on anyone when it comes to commenting on sensitive political and human rights cases like Wei’s. In fact, quite the opposite.

    The reason pug_ster flails and fails on all these comment boards so frequently is his rejection of logical thought and his refusal to seek truth from facts.


  13. Why waste words. Block the prat. He is beyond predictable and tedious. The reason why this site is losing its lustre in the comments department.


  14. If we support blocking him that might colour some of us a little hypocritical.

    Slim, do you think any normal person who fails so hard and so often would have the face to come back to this blog over and over again for another wringing out? He’s either a masochist a narcissist – or whattever he is he isn’t interested in having a rational discussion with any of you in the first place.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: ignore him. Its the worst punishment you can give him.

    Back to topic;

    I’ve known a family whose father disappeared in April and still hasn’t been found, and they’ve been more or less been shunned as if they were infectious – even within the academic/artistic community. While I know a lot of Chinese who are against the government, it seems like as soon as anyone gets arrested or goes missing there’s a presumption that that person is guilty as charged (or guilty without charge) – or perhaps that their misfortune is transferrable (probably partially true). A friend of mine at CAFA told me one of the top professor’s first and only response to the Ai Wei Wei disappearance was that he was a troublemaker milking for publicity. In any case, possibly what has been more distressing for me other than the governments actions regarding the april roundup has been the unexpected personal cold shouldering. For all those living in China, what has your friend’s colleague’s reaction been towards all this?


  15. @ pug_ster: “Sorry, I don’t care how old he is but Jerome Custer has a resume of a democracy activist rather someone who worked inside the Chinese government.”

    Really? Let’s take a look at his resume, shall we?

    1951 BA, Yale (Phi Beta Kappa)
    1956 JD, Yale (Editor-in-Chief of Yale Law Journal)
    1959 Joins Berkeley Law School faculty, travels to Hong Kong, begins to study Chinese and PRC law
    1964 Joins Harvard Law School faculty, creates East Asia Legal Studies division, is an outspoken advocate of normalized relations with the PRC
    1972 Makes his first trip to the PRC with the Federation of American Scientists, meets with then-Premier Zhou Enlai
    1977 Visits Beijing again, meets with Deng Xiaoping
    1979-1981 Takes sabbatical from Harvard to live in Beijing and continue studying law
    1981 Quits Harvard to practice law in China
    1989 Returns to the US (guess why!)
    1990 Joins faculty NYU Law School, established US-Asia Law Institute

    He may also be an advocate for the rule of law and human rights, but unless YOU met Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and have been studying the PRC legal system for the past 50 years, I’m pretty sure he knows a shit-ton more than you do.

    He didn’t work inside the Chinese government, of course, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand China’s legal system.

    Anyway, I don’t know why I’m explaining this, as it’s obviously a waste of time. Your use of “Custer” in that comment makes it obvious to me that you’re not taking this seriously, and your continual failure to base your comments on any kind of rational argument makes it clear you’re not at all interested in anything constructive.

    So consider this a warning: quit the snide bullshit, and the snarky-but-totally-unsupported-by-evidence “arguments”. Otherwise, I really will block you, and I’m sure you’ll roll your eyes and write it off as Western liberal hypocrisy and assume I just can’t deal with someone challenging my opinions, but the truth is that your comments are adding nothing to the discussion on this site. That wasn’t always the case, and I continue to believe you’re not the braindead troll everyone else seems to think you are. But you need to quit the snide horseshit and start making a real and rational case for your side, or I will block you because your bullshit is driving people away from my site. (Yes, really. You are now the #1 thing I get complaints about. Congratulations!)


  16. If we support blocking him that might colour some of us a little hypocritical.
    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: ignore him. Its the worst punishment you can give him.
    brightgrey on June 27, 2011 at 09:32

    I think every blogger has the right to block unwelcome commenters, brightgrey – if someone wants to equate that with censorship of the internet, so be it.
    But I agree with you that the best thing to do would be to let people like pug_ster add to the traffic and not to react to him anymore – unless he utters something new.

    gregorylent on June 24, 2011 at 20:44 –
    I do think that CCP worries about Ai go beyond Sichuan province. If Ai can do his own counts and statistics, so can (or that may be other citizens’ conclusion) anyone else. That would make him a harmonization priority in Beijing, too.

    The core issue is the absence of an independent judicial system. It may be to obvious to be mentioned, but before even commenting on Chinese court verdicts, one should be aware that the CCP has cells in every branch of government, including the judicial branch. It should be obvious that charges of subversion can be brouught anytime the CCP sees fit, and that the verdict will be in accordance with the CCP’s wishes —- umm, will be in accordance with the law.


  17. Justrecently,

    Yeah right. In 1959 he went to Hong Kong he ‘studied’ Chinese law by interviewing refugees there. Gees, considering there’s a famine at the time, there’s plenty of people leaving China. Where did he studied law in China in 1979-1981? From Beida? Opening a law practice in China does not mean that he is an expert in Chinese law. And the law firm that he was a consul of at Paul Weiss only handles business matters, not criminal matters. Give me a break.

    Go to his blog and he posted many articles about ‘human rights’ in China and nothing else in the past 10 years.


  18. @pug_ster: Okay, who are you? We should discuss real issues and avoid personal topics, but now that you’re criticizing a man who is internationally recognized as a leading expert in Chinese law as just being some activist, I’m convinced that you’re actually someone with as much experience and credentials as Professor Cohen–or you’re just unfit for rational discussion.

    And for the record, even if he was just an “activist” (not even sure what you’re trying to mean by the term, though I can tell you’re using it as a pejorative), that activism does way more for way more people than just sitting at the computer typing anonymous comments online.


  19. This prats sole function in life is to monopolise and polarise discussion and preclude the development of nuanced discussion. Basically, he is trashing the site. Gate him for a month and then a lifetime of probation if he returns. Life is too short.


  20. Someone I know works with some of Ai’s students, the word from them, as well as an awful lot of people, is that Ai is rich, but that the reason for his arrest is his Sichuan advocacy. Nothing that will surprise anyone there. I’m surprised to see that he has been released, but given that the purpose of scaring the hell out of opposition has already been achieved, it may be that this little exercise has already served its purpose. Did foreign pressure help win his release? Perhaps, but if all that it has achieved is his temporary release, then this may have been a wasted effort.

    One thing that must be considered is that Ai may be guilty. In fact, this seems not unlikely – many people under-pay their taxes in Mainland China. Yes, prosecuting him rather than others may show political motivation behind this case, but all the same, “do the crime, do the time” is a good principle. Of course “the time” for tax evasion should not be virtual kidnapping and then holding both Ai and his wife virtually incommunicado, and should really just be a hefty fine.


  21. @FOARP. You could be right, but this is pretty darn politically selective. Some figures which I cut and pasted from my site:

    “Forbes reports that the Chinese have $1.5 trillion in hidden income. By way of perspective, the US deficit is around $13 or $14 trillion. More important, the figures crunched by Professor Wang Xiaolu came up with these astounding numbers:

    Almost Rmb10 tn in hidden income, or 30% of GDP. Based on a creative survey technique focusing on the correlation between income and spending patterns, and with over 4,000 samples across 19 provinces in China, Prof. Wang estimates that the per-capita disposable income of urban Chinese households in 2008 should be Rmb32,154, 90% above the official data. Total hidden income could total Rmb9.3 tn, 30% of GDP, with about 63% of hidden income in the hands of the top 10% of urban households.”


  22. So, five million rmb owed, plus 7 million rmb fine .. Wonder what tax rate that is .. But if he is still held under de facto residential detention after writing the check, you know it is political


  23. C Custer,

    I didn’t notice that I misused the name ‘Jerome Custer’ earlier, so I apologize. But I do want to point out that I was offended when you say that Jerome Cohen was an China expert earlier than I was born. But again, I apologize about calling you the wrong name. I respect your opinion that Jerome Cohen is an ‘expert’ but I simply don’t agree.

    It is probably true that Ai Weiwei’s situation with the tax evasion and the way it was handled was politically motivated. But I don’t think that Ai Weiwei was unfairly targeted. I recall that Dan from Chinalawblog has a post about many companies are being cracked down for tax evasion or accounting misappropiation, and considering that Ai Weiwei is fairly well off, the Chinese government should crack down on the larger number first.


  24. @JR – Pretty obviously, the conditions are such that there is no way of knowing this.

    @KT – “Hidden income” as a percentage of GDP is a somewhat dubious concept when the GDP figures themselves are somewhat rigged. At any rate, massive re-adjustments (such as that back in 2004/5~ish when 30% extra nominal GDP was suddenly ‘found’ in the services sector), regional GDP summing to more than national GDP, and other anomalies show that Chinese GDP figures are somewhat notional.


  25. “One thing that must be considered is that Ai may be guilty. In fact, this seems not unlikely – many people under-pay their taxes in Mainland China. Yes, prosecuting him rather than others may show political motivation behind this case, but all the same, “do the crime, do the time” is a good principle.”

    FORAP makes a good point here. Ai’s works are quite pricy in recent auctions. His sunflower seeds alone were sold for more than $500k USD this year. It has been reported that Ai owes some 5M RMB in taxes and was fined about 7M RMB. Given the tax culture in China it could be very possible that Ai’s wife (who previously managed Ai’s finances) didn’t pay her husbands’ taxes. Although I have to say that it wasn’t all that hard for my parents to hire accountants for their company in China. When you are dealing with large amounts of foreign money, to keep good accounting records is just common sense.

    The popular defense that just because there are many others who don’t taxes Ai shouldn’t may taxes either, is hardly logical and a slap to the face of those who do happen to pay taxes in China. Just because you are a political opponent who happens to be a popular figure in foreign media, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay your taxes.

    I think the most likely scenario here is that the Chinese government wants to silence Ai, so they had to find something which they could charge Ai with. After a while they finally found something that would stick, that Ai didn’t pay his taxes. I am interested in hearing what Ai’s wife would say about all of this.


  26. “Why waste words. Block the prat. He is beyond predictable and tedious. The reason why this site is losing its lustre in the comments department.”

    I can bet that if the China defenders stop commenting here, the comment section would be mostly dead. A lot of the anti-China regulars here have their own blogs, and most have barely any visitors for a good reason: there are no opposing view points.


  27. Xiaowai,

    I never said that I was an expert in China, but I am questioning the origin of the term ‘qubao houshen’ and if it is true, if this actually applies to Ai Weiwei. Are there any set of laws, guidelines, or orders from the Chinese government about qubao houshen? Of course, he is probably not allowed to speak about the current situation of tax evasion, but I don’t think it applies to anything else.

    I used to think that Ai Weiwei is different from all the other ‘Human Rights’ Activists who was jailed but now I think he is just the same just by the way that he was supported by the west during this 3 month ordeal.


  28. You were offended that I said Cohen was studying China before you were born? How is that offensive? Was I wrong? I’d say he started studying in ’59 as a conservative estimate….so either you’re 52+ years old, or what I said was a statement of fact….either way, not sure how it could be offensive.


  29. @ LOLZ Sure they have their own sites, but they also scribble about a wide range of things of personal interest with no relation to China ranging from the trivial to the serious. And so it should be. To devote the totality of one’s life kicking the CCP and its doublespeak is a fool’s mission and a total negation of all the possibilies offered by blogs.


  30. @ LOLZ @ Pugster. Re: your level of political committment. I am sure that neither of you have hit the bank account, borrowed from relatives and maxed the credit card to buy an apartment in your soul country China. A pair of rat line, bolt hole specialists both of you. Zero credibility both of you.


  31. 1) How does Cohen know that Ai Weiwei was released under 取保后审?

    Well, it could be because Xinhua says he was:

    2) How does Cohen know what the legal effect of 取保后审 is?

    Well, it could be because it is exactly as described in the statute:

    3) How does Cohen know how 取保后审 is used to save face?

    Here all you can say is that’s just how it has been used in the past.

    4) How does Cohen know that Ai Weiwei was never formally charged or arrested?

    Because the only thing ever announced was that Ai Weiwei was under investigation. He has not made any court appearance, no proceedings have been brought, no arrest report filed, etc. etc. etc.

    5) How does Cohen know that Ai Weiwei has not formally plead guilty to any crimes?

    This follows from point 4) – you cannot plead formally plead guilty to a crime if you have not been charged with one. You can ‘hand yourself in’, as the police in England say, but pleading guilty only takes place in court. There are very good reasons for this, not least that people may be pleading guilty to a crime that they have not committed.

    Ai may well have underpaid his taxes, and payment of the back-taxes plus a fine may be taken as an acknowledgement of this, but this is not a formal confession to a crime. Without charges being brought, no such confession can take place.


  32. “To devote the totality of one’s life kicking the CCP and its doublespeak is a fool’s mission and a total negation of all the possibilies offered by blogs.”

    LOL. Are you calling all of the bloggers who post anti-Chinese government stories all day fools? You do know that there are some regulars here who just do that right? But then they come here to post because even they know that preaching to choir all day long is stupid.

    “I am sure that neither of you have hit the bank account, borrowed from relatives and maxed the credit card to buy an apartment in your soul country China.”

    I can’t speak for others but my parents did borrow heavily from relatives for themselves and for me to study abroad. I think maxing credit cards or buying properties which you can’t afford is a sign of poor financial discipline so no I don’t have such experience.

    Finally, if you and others are all for social equality in China, why haven’t you guys ever discussed HOW to achieve this other than bashing the Chinese government? For example, one way to reduce financial inequality is by taxing the wealthiest and then redistribute across the least wealthy. This effort can be improved by removing barriers blocking those capable but without means so this lot can effectively competing with those who are incapable but with means. Topics such as reforming the Chinese tax system would be a great starting point, but most here have no idea how it works. Let alone to develop a sound opinion on it.

    I have posted this many times already but IMO most of the commenters on the Chinese blogs have no real interest in solving China’s issues on a practical level. This is demonstrated by their lack of interest in learning the details of how the system actually works, the pros AND the cons. Their opinions are based off mostly conjectures biased towards their existing ideology.


  33. @FOARP,

    Thanks for bringing up the article about Qubao houshen. However, the article on the Chinese website really have nothing in common with Jerome Cohen’s definition of it. The article on the Chinese website is pretty much high and dry about the legal procedures about this, but Jerome Cohen makes his warped assessment and even claimed this has little to do with rule of law.

    The word that Jerome Cohen didn’t mention at all is arbitration and whether Ai Weiwei’s party wants to settle this as a civil matter otherwise the Chinese government will pursue this as a criminal matter. Obviously, it seems that Ai Weiwei decides to settle this so this is not a face saving move by the government.


  34. Pug_ster – Firstly, as far as I can see, every detail as to QBHS’s legal effect as described by Cohen (the 12-month investigation period etc.) is backed up by the statute. If you believe the opposite is true, you should say where Cohen’s explanation conflicts with the statute.

    Secondly, if this is being pursued as a civil matter, then why was detention necessary in the first place? Why, indeed, has no statement to this effect been made? What kind of civil law arbitration takes place with one person detained without charge for more than two months without access to legal counsel? Why would the government accept such a deal if they had evidence of criminal activity? Why, if Ai was, as the government says, willing to pay the entire time, did it take them more than two months to accept his offer? Why is Ai still under investigation if the matter is already settled?

    In fact, there is no evidence that this is being dealt with as a civil matter. All evidence points to a face-saving release on grounds as spurious as those behind the original detention.


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