When Ai Weiwei penned a scathing criticism of Beijing and the Chinese government in Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast on Sunday, China watchers waited for the authoritarian government's stern reaction. Ai, whom the government released in June from a secretive three-month detention, has been told to keep his mouth shut, as the Washington Post's Elizabeth Flock pointed out on Friday. But in a nation known for its strict control over media and expression, the censors did a haphazard job (at best) of cutting off access to the piece. They ripped it out of the magazine copies that were distributed there but left the teaser on the cover, and the piece went up online.
By Friday, the piece had more than 6,000 likes on Facebook, more than 2,000 tweets, and hundreds of comments.
“It delights me that astute readers will have seen the cover line, noted the ripped page, and then gone straight to the Web to read Ai's courageous piece,” [Newsweek International editor Tunku] Varadarajan said.
So far, no reports have surfaced of retribution against Ai since the article's publication.