The Chinese legal authorities released the dissident artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday after a three-month detention, apparently ending a prosecution that had become a focal point of criticism of China’s eroding human rights record.
Why was Ai Weiwei released?
...China came under unusually heavy pressure from all corners of the globe, not only from standard diplomatic channels but also from prominent people like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who harangued China in May at a Manhattan opening of an outdoor sculpture exhibition by Mr. Ai, and Anish Kapoor, a leading sculptor in Britain who this month canceled a show planned for the National Museum of China in Beijing. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China was scheduled to visit Britain and Germany starting on Saturday, and he almost certainly would have encountered protests and condemnation, whether on the streets or in private meetings.
“Without the wave of international support for Ai and the popular expressions of dismay and disgust about the circumstances of his disappearance and detention, it’s highly unlikely the Chinese government would have released him,” Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mail. “The public announcement of his release signals that the Chinese government has had to respond to this pressure and that the cost-benefit ratio of continuing to detain him was no longer tenable.”
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