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President Ma attends Chinese dissident artist exhibit

President Ma attends Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibit in Taipei

President Ma Ying-jeau said on November 25 that rapprochement across the Taiwan Strait depends on respect for human rights.

"The closer the two sides' human rights record, the closer the cross-strait relationship will be," Ma said after visiting an exhibition of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei's works at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM).

The show is dubbed "Ai Weiwei Absent" because Ai, one of the most outspoken critics of censorship in China and the control the Communist Party has over Chinese society, has been unable to travel to Taipei to attend the show, not even for its Oct. 29 opening ceremony.

On display are 21 works created by Ai from 1983 to the present, including photographs, installation pieces, videos, 12 bronze heads representing the Chinese zodiac and a new piece named "Forever Bicycles."

Ma said Ai is a very special artist who can express his personal feelings as well as reflect on, mock and ridicule society through photography, ceramic art, installation art, architecture and many other art forms.

In his view, Ma said, some of Ai's works could inspire different interpretations in Taiwan.

For instance, Ai has created a marble sculpture "Surveillance Camera" to mock his living environment. According to media reports, China has reinforced monitoring of Chinese dissidents' activities by installing surveillance cameras right outside their homes, including Ai's studio.

In Taipei, Ma said he believed many people would like to see police install more surveillance cameras to improve law and order.

"Here in this country, few would use surveillance cameras as a tool to infringe upon human rights," Ma said, adding that Ai's observation is interesting.

Ai was taken into custody on April 3 while he was boarding a plane at Beijing's airport for a trip to Taiwan through Hong Kong in preparation for the current exhibition of his works.

Ma cited his June 3 statement issued to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in which he called for the immediate release of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, as well as Ai Weiwei, who was still jailed at that time.

In the statement, Ma said he reminded mainland authorities that the release of the two prominent dissidents would not only greatly improve China's international image but would also narrow the cross-strait psychological gap.


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