An Alternate Take on the Demolition of Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai Studio

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As with most stories, there are typically more than one side to them. Such is the case with the recent developments in Shanghai we reported on last week concerning the demolition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei‘s studio on the outskirts of that city. Reader and Taiwanese-American community activist, Charles Liu, dropped us a line over the weekend, including a link to a story that had originally appeared in the Beijing-based business and financial magazine Caijing, which tells a decidedly different tale. Says Liu, “I am very sorry to say, these accounts paint a very different picture than the narrative being presenting by our media. [In my opinion, it’s] an example of sensationalist China reporting, these disproportionally one-sided narratives, twist of facts and half-truths, greatly contributed to America’s re-surging anti-Chinese sentiment I have witnessed.” In the interest of getting both sides of the story, and because Liu was very kind to translate the article and format it into key points, after the jump, you’ll find a rundown of Caijing‘s account of how Weiwei’s Shanghai studio met its end.

  • Construction of the studio was not at the invitation of the Shanghai city government, but by Jiading District official Sun Jiwei.
  • On July 23, 2010 Ai Weiwei was notified of the lack of building permit application by Shanghai National Resource Planning Bureau, based on Article 34 Section 1 of Land Management Law.
  • It appears neither the district nor township government that proposed this construction made the relevant permit application.
  • Construction continued for another month, to completion, was due to delay by the Malu township and Dayu village government in halting the construction.
  • On October 29, 2010 Ai Weiwei was notified of the demolition, based on Article 8 of Shanghai City Illegal Construction Demolition Regulation.
  • While Ai Weiei suspects selective enforcement, Malu township stated the other eight artist’s projects were unaffected because they have obtained building permit thru proper channel.
  • There were efforts to save the building. By donating it to the village collective that owns the land, it would qualify for public project exemption under aforementioned Article 34 Section 1.
  • The Jiadin district official, Sun Jiwei, stated this is a simple land use case. Jiadin District offered Ai Weiwei compensation for the studio, but Ai refused.