Ai Weiwei to leave China?
(Above: Ai's svelte self after 2 months on Party catering while incarcerated)
Ai Weiwei appears to be on the cusp of a very smart decision: Getting the hell out of China. Ai, recently set free by the government following 2 months of imprisonment on likely trumped-charges of "economic crimes," this week accepted a professorship at the University of the Arts in Berlin.
This could be tricky, given the fact that he's been banned from leavign Beijing for a year as the goverment investigates its charge of tax evasion against him, though stranger things have happened: Writer Liao Yiwu, also an outspoken critic of the regime, arrived in Berlin himself yesterday after wrangling his way through Poland and Vietnam en route, according to the New York Times.
Ai has been charged with $700,000 in tax evasion; the current fine is $2 million. He meets with government officials today to dispute the charges, and no doubt some face-savign deal for the government will be struck in the wake of the international furor their imprisonment of Ai provoked. Humiliation for being heavy-handed neanderthals is not something a communist regime trying very hard to project a warm and fuzzy "new" China takes very well, so we'll see. But don't expect to see Ai in studio crits in Berlin any time soon.