BEIJING – One of China's most famous contemporary artists has been missing for more than a day after he was blocked from leaving the country and police raided his home, his wife said Monday.
The disappearance of artist Ai Weiwei comes as China carries out a massive crackdown on lawyers, writers and activists, arresting and detaining dozens since online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa began to circulate in February. No public protests have emerged.I have seen Ai speak on many occasions on TV. I have never seen him advocate violent overthrow of the Chinese government, though has been critical of its excesses. This is yet another example of the brutal government in Beijing simply not being able to handle criticism of the way it handles things at home.Known for his distinctive scraggly beard and stocky frame, Ai was a consultant for the futuristic Bird's Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics before souring on the event. He was later beaten and detained while attempting to attend the trial of an advocate for victims of the devastating 2008 earthquake in the southwestern city of Chengdu.