Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

The case of Ai WeiWei in China

Delivered in Plenary - 7th April 2011

Mr President

Once again we are debating China, and its government’s intolerance of dissent. As we know from our debate last month on the Communist regime’s vandalism of the ancient city of Kashgar, China vigorously tries to suppress cultural expression that does not conform to what its Communist rulers deem appropriate.

Ai Wei Wei is an heir to China’s magnificent and ancient artistic traditions. He has also used his artistic talents to raise awareness of China’s dismal human rights record and dearth of political freedom. Clearly, there is also a lack of freedom of expression in China. How else can the regime explain Mr Ai’s arrest on economic crimes and because he failed to complete the correct departure procedures for travelling to Taiwan. This is plainly a smokescreen. In fact, the real reason was later elucidated by the state-run Global Times newspaper in a menacing editorial, which said that Mr Ai would pay a price for his resistance.

We abhor the Chinese Government’s disgraceful treatment of this distinguished artist. We in this House call for his immediate release, and we express regret, once again, that China goes to such extreme lengths against those who dare speak out for their basic human rights.