Ai Weiwei blocked from leaving China
Published 03/12/2010 | 15:15
Ai Weiwei, China's most famous artist, has been blocked from leaving the country in the run-up to the Nobel Peace prize ceremony next week.
Mr Ai, 53, said he was about to board a flight for Seoul in South Korea when he was stopped by Chinese officials at Beijing airport. He said he had been informed that allowing him to leave China was a risk to national security.
He said he believed he had been stopped because Communist party officials suspected that he might try to attend the Nobel Peace prize ceremony on December 10 in Oslo.
This year's winner is Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer who is serving an eleven-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion" after he co-authored Charter '08, a petition for political reform in China.
The Chinese government is furious that Mr Liu is the first mainland Chinese to win the Nobel Prize and has branded the prize a tool of Western "ideological warfare" against China. It has threatened to punish any foreign diplomats who attend the ceremony, and Russia, Cuba and Iran have declined invitations.
Mr Ai, who is currently exhibiting an installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London, said he had not planned to attend the Nobel ceremony. "I was going to Seoul because I am a curator for the Gyeongju Biennale," he said. "Then I was flying onto Berlin and the Ukraine for other art events."
Only one of the Chinese guests invited to attend the ceremony by Mr Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has been able to confirm his attendance, with scores of supporters and fellow activists confined to house arrest since the prize was announced at the beginning of October.