ARTS & CULTURE
08/11/2011 06:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

Ai Weiwei Interviewed By Communist Party Tabloid

China's Global Times has published an interview with beleaguered artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, but commentators are not convinced that it was the best forum for candid statements of Ai's detention.

The Atlantic Wire observed that the Global Times is a companion paper to the Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily and opined that "The story also makes Ai sound more like a privacy-hungry celebrity than a recent detainee."

In the interview, Ai's observations are largely philosophical, and his statements about the detention he suffered and the government he opposes are made in oblique, emotional terms.

Ai's most provocative quotation in the interview is also his most politically conservative: "Overthrowing the regime through a radical revolution is not the way to solve China's problems," he said. "The most important thing is a scientific and democratic political system."

Skeptics immediately jumped on the line as a sign that the interview was not to be trusted. Besides the Atlantic Wire's critique, Lee Rosenbaum questioned the sentiment in her CultureGrrl blog, asking "Does that sound like him? I'm not so sure."

In addition, it's not clear why the article, which was published around 10 PM Beijing time on August 9, made no mention of Ai's provocative comments on Twitter, which had been posted around midnight and had been making headlines throughout that day.

But if Reuters' extraordinary article on Ai Weiwei's prison conditions is any indication, the artist may have good reason to remain cautious in his statements. According to the article, Ai was "watched over by two police officers for 24 hours a day, with their faces often inches from his, watching his every movement even while his slept."