Ai Weiwei on Democracy and Development
"You cannot simply give up fundamental beliefs in human rights for a short-term gain.The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been in the news both in Britain     and back home    over the past several weeks. He has taken it upon himself to not only challenge his own government, but to characterize in a straightforward way the craven behavior of Western politicians - "pitiful." His outspokenness has gotten him warnings from the Chinese authorities. Just as an aside, Ai seems to be yet another of the architects who, in one or another way, weave art and politics together as they encounter the world.
This kind of thinking will cause tragedy in the future. It is going to be a strong challenge for the nations of the world to survive economically and at the same time protect civilized values, which come from the long struggle of science and humanitarianism.
We see the tendency in the world to criticize democracy and sometimes even to say that authoritarian countries like China are more efficient. That is very short-sighted. China looks efficient only because it can sacrifice most people's rights. This is not something the west should be happy about. In a town like Guangzhou there are thousands of workers who suffer injuries such as losing fingers in work accidents. They are on low salaries. They have no future.
Since the global economic crisis began, the change in global attitudes is clear to see – and I think it is pitiful. Barack Obama came to China and he is probably the only president of the United States never to mention the words "human rights" in public. You see it in France, with Hu Jintao's visit last week. How can people be so short-sighted? How can they betray those basic values?" ~ Ai Weiwei (7 Nov 2010)