President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for China to respect human rights and defended Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s (艾未未) right to freedom of expression as he attended an exhibition of Ai’s work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
Dubbed “Ai Weiwei, Absent,” the exhibition features 21 of Ai’s works, including photographs, installation pieces, videos, 12 bronze heads representing Chinese zodiac symbols and a new piece consisting of about 1,000 bicycles.
Ma praised the diversity, deep emotions and reflections on Chinese society shown in Ai’s artwork and installation pieces, such as a surveillance monitor made of marble, a comment on Ai’s life under the Chinese government’s scrutiny, and said it highlighted the difference between Taiwan and China.
Photo: Hu Shun-hsiang, Taipei Times
“In Taipei, local borough chiefs and residents urged the city government to install surveillance monitors as a public safety measure. It is an interesting observation of how monitors here are rarely used as a tool for the violation of human rights,” he said.
Defending his efforts to press China on improving human rights, Ma said he urged the Chinese government to release Ai and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) in his statement on the 22nd anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, urging China to respect human rights as a way to promote cross-strait relations.
“The distance between Taiwan and the Mainland depends on the two sides’ views on the protection of human rights. The more similarities we share on the issues of human rights, the closer that distance will become,” Ma said.
In a written statement this year marking the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Ma urged the Chinese authorities to release Liu, Ai and other Chinese dissidents, and called on China to “undertake political reforms and promote the development of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Ai, an outspoken critic of the control the Chinese Communist Party exerts over Chinese society and censorship in the country, was imprisoned in April on his way to Beijing airport for a planned trip to Taiwan.
He was released in June after almost three months of detention that sparked outrage worldwide.
He is currently being investigated for tax evasion and has been prohibited from leaving the country.
Pan-green lawmakers have accused the Taipei City Government and the museum of failing to help Ai visit Taiwan and attend his own exhibition, which began on Oct. 29 and runs through Jan. 29.
Ma yesterday defended the city government, saying Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) had invited Ai to attend the opening of the exhibition and the city government has never had a problem with Ai visiting Taipei.
Accompanied by Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Cheng Mei-hua (鄭美華) and Taipei Secretariat Chen Yung-ren (陳永仁) at the exhibition, Ma spent about 15 minutes glancing over the works.
However, he passed over some of Ai’s well-known works, including Study of Perspective: Tiananmen Square, in which Ai gives the finger in front of the square.
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
‘DOWN TO ZERO 2.0’: All pilots are to undergo quarantine at government centers, while cabin crew on long-haul flights have to quarantine for 14 days The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday announced stricter measures to contain a COVID-19 outbreak among China Airlines (華航) flight crew, as the nature of the confirmed cases indicated an unknown chain of transmission within the airline. The “Down to Zero 2.0” plan will be tough on China Airlines personnel, but is necessary to minimize the risk to society, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. Under the measures, all China Airlines pilots and copilots are to be recalled to undergo quarantine at government centers, while cabin crew who are returning from long-haul flights or who have
SHOPPING MALL: People who have been to places visited by the confirmed cases at about the same time should pay attention to their health condition and report symptoms The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday revealed several locations in Taoyuan and Taipei visited by two people confirmed to have COVID-19 when they were likely contagious. Case No. 1,183 — a China Airlines (華航) pilot, the husband of case No. 1,184 — on May 1 visited the “Pilot in Cafe” coffee shop from 12pm to 12:30pm, the Gloria Outlets (華泰名品城) shopping mall from 1pm to 1:30pm and Hutung Peng’s Old Shop Xinjiang Ramen (胡同彭家老舖新疆拉麵) from 2pm to 2:30pm, all in Taoyuan, the CECC said. People who visited the venues at about those times should pay attention to their health condition, and