Kyle Chayka writes on Hyperallergic:
Reports have been flying from Twitter that approximately 14 hours ago just before a planned flight to Hong Kong, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been arrested and detained at the Beijing airport. 10 hours ago [Sunday morning Beijing time], police raided Ai’s studio on the outskirts of Beijing. Ai’s status is now unknown: his phone is off, and power has been cut to the studio. The Guardian has the first official report of the events. Here are the details of the arrest:
Ai was due to fly to Hong Kong for business this morning, but was detained at immigration on his way out of Beijing. An officer told an assistant who was travelling with him that the artist had “other business” and could not board the plane.
Between 15 and 20 uniformed and plain clothes police surrounded his studio in Caochangdi, in the north of the capital, and more were believed to be searching it. Power to the neighbourhood was cut off.
No reporters have been able to get an update out of the Chinese police or airport staff. Ai has been arrested and detained before, notably placed under house arrest around the time that his Shanghai studio was forced to be demolished. Spectators are wondering if this most recent arrest will present a short warning, as before, or if it could signal something greater.
In further censorship, all messages about Ai Weiwei have been deleted from Sina Weibo, China’s national version of Twitter. Guardian China correspondent Jonathan Watts biked to Ai’s studio complex, but an attempt to take a picture was blocked by plainclothes policemen.
This news comes at the same time as Ai’s announcement that he will be building a studio complex in Berlin as a haven from the harsh Chinese political environment. New Yorker China correspondent Evan Osnos notes that the Chinese government is in the midst of the biggest crackdown on free expression “in years,” taking into custody lawyers, writers and intellectuals.
Read More: Hyperallergic