International

China Now Investigating Nude Photos Of Outspoken Artist Ai Weiwei

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei opens his jacket to reveal a shirt bearing his portrait as he walks into the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei opens his jacket to reveal a shirt bearing his portrait as he walks into the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau. Andy Wong/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Andy Wong/AP

The artist Ai Weiwei can't seem to catch a break with the Chinese government. His open dissension, of course, doesn't help, but the government has kept coming after him time and time again.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (C) posing with women in the nude in Beijing.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (C) posing with women in the nude in Beijing. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/AFP/Getty Images

First jailing him for nearly three months, then sending him a $2.4 million tax bill. The latest wrinkle in the struggle between Ai and the Chinese government is that they are investigating one of his assistants for spreading pornography online. The photo in question, titled "One Tiger, Eight Breasts," features Ai and four women naked.

The Guardian reports:

"He said police had questioned his cameraman Zhao Zhao on Thursday over pictures Zhao had taken of the artist. 'They clearly told him this is an investigation, now, they are doing on me, on pornography,' Ai told the AFP news agency. ...

"'Netizens came to take photos with me, so we said why don't we take nudity photos, then everybody agreed so we did it and they were put on the internet, and that's it, we forget about it,' Ai said. ...

"His lawyers say the investigations are politically motivated to silence Ai, who has used his high profile to speak out on police brutality, official corruption and human rights violations.

In an interview with AP, Ai said the move meant authorities understood little about art. "If they see nudity as pornography, then China is still in the Qing dynasty," he said.

The AP also spoke to Zhao:

"Zhao said the investigation at this point appeared to be limited to himself, but that he believed it was part of the authorities' ongoing campaign against Ai.

"'To them so far their efforts have had no effect, such as the tax case, so they are trying this from other angles,' he said. 'They are again raising this issue, and will keep repeating this over again. They won't easily let him off.'"

Earlier this week, Ai paid the Chinese government a $1.3 million guarantee, while he contests the $2.4 million tax bill.

Note that on this post, we have cropped the picture to show no nudity, but if you want to see the full image, click over The Guardian, which has published it.

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