Ai Weiwei gives China state press first interview | world | Hindustan Times
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Ai Weiwei gives China state press first interview

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, a prominent critic of China's Communist leaders, has given his first full interview since his release from detention to a state newspaper with close links to the party.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2011 14:17 IST

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, a prominent critic of China's Communist leaders, has given his first full interview since his release from detention to a state newspaper with close links to the party.

The interview, billed as an "exclusive," appeared in the English-language edition of the Global Times newspaper on Wednesday -- a day after Ai used Twitter to make his first anti-government comments since he was freed.

The avant-garde artist, whose works have been displayed around the world, has long been an outspoken critic of China's Communist Party leaders -- once referring to them as "gangsters".

It was not immediately clear why he gave the interview, in which he made a series of unusually non-critical comments and said he had never called for a change to the "form" of China's government.

"Overthrowing the regime through a radical revolution is not the way to solve China's problems," he said in the interview, which was not published in the paper's Chinese edition.

"No one is above the law," the 54-year-old told the Global Times, whose English-language edition is aimed at foreign readers.

Ai -- whose three-month detention on tax evasion charges sparked international condemnation -- confirmed to AFP that the interview was genuine and said he thought China's official censors had given the green light for it.

The normally outspoken artist has given brief comments to journalists, but consistently refused to give in-depth interviews since his June release, citing a ban by authorities.

"It was arranged by the Global Times, and it will have been checked at all levels," he said. The newspaper is part of the same group as the People's Daily -- China's Communist Party mouthpiece.

Anne-Marie Brady, a Chinese media expert at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, said the interview was likely to have been carefully placed.

"The propaganda department probably wants to take the heat out of the international attention that's been paid to the situation with Ai Weiwei and other people who have been put under house arrest for political reasons," she told AFP.

Ai's moderate comments in the Global Times contrasted sharply with anti-government remarks he posted on his Twitter account, where he hit out at the treatment of colleagues and fellow dissidents.

Ai has been barred from leaving Beijing for a year following his detention, which rights groups say was part of a wider crackdown on government critics amid official jitters that unrest in the Arab world would spread to China.