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Ai Weiwei Blasts Chinese Government for Earthquake Response

(Bernardo de Niz).jpgArtist and designer Ai Weiwei, who collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron to design Beijing’s Olympic national stadium, is again making international headlines for his bold blogging in a nation where media outlets—YouTube, for example—are routinely censored for being critical of government policies. After his critiques of the Chinese government leading up to the 2008 Olympics—which he dismissed as a Potemkin village pageant of “pretend harmony and happiness”—Ai is focused on investigating and criticizing the nation’s handling of the May 2008 earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people and left more than 5 million homeless. On his popular blog, he “chides officials for still not having provided a full accounting of schoolchildren’s deaths, which he and many others attribute to poorly constructed schools,” noted David Barboza in The New York Times.

“I’m really tired of this bull,” Mr. Ai said Thursday in a telephone interview from Beijing, where he has a large studio. “I went there, and I saw the school building collapsed, and next to it is a building that is fine.”

On his blog, the artist has published his own list of children killed in the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, gathering more than 1,500 names. He has also posted transcripts of conversations he and others have had with government officials who have refused to cooperate with them.

Ai and a team of collaborators are at work on a documentary about the earthquake. Meanwhile, censors have yet to shut down his blog. “Every day I’m waiting for that,” said Ai. “But it hasn’t happened.”

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