Friday, December 13, 2013

Example of Citizen Initiative and Government Accountability

In November 2010 upon the imminent demolition by Chinese authorities of his newly constructed studio in Shanghai, Ai Weiwei invited guests to feast on 10,000 river crabs in protest to the Chinese government's control of information. Due to house arrest, Ai Weiwei was unable to attend.

'He xie' means "river crab." In addition, he xie represents "harmonious," and it is used in the Chinese Party slogan: "the realization of the harmonious society." In terms of the internet, he xie refers to online censorship and removal anti-establishment views (Perez Museum, 2013).

The image below captures the Ai Weiwei protest, and acts as a symbol of the Chinese people's struggle for liberty and freedom of expression. By eating the river crabs, the protesters are symbolically eliminating the information control by Chinese authorities. Note, symbols are a central feature of Chinese society as illustrated by the use of symbols in the Chinese languages.

Representation and symbol of the Ai Weiwei's protest against Chinese censorship. Photo taken at the Perez Museum in Miami.

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