It is interesting when you connect these two events together.
The internationally acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei was detained in Beijing Airport as he was starting out to Hong Kong on April 3 according to BBC. Earlier in the same morning, Shanghai police raided Q bar, a gay bar on the Bund, and arrested over 50 patrons. A Shanghai English website Shanghaiist covered this story.
These two events remind cynical people of the government’s tight control over some sensitive issues. Social activism and homosexuality are among the taboos.
Nobody has seen or heard from Ai Weiwei since the arrestment. The authorities have not commented as usual. Searching for Ai Weiwei on a Chinese website leads to no result any more. Ai has become one of China’s most outspoken critics, complaining about a lack of human rights. The 53-year-old artist was last year prevented from traveling abroad and in a separate incident, was held under house arrest. His assistant said the police had visited his house three times just before the arrestment.
In the gay bar event, the party-goers were locked up in Huangpu Police Station for over 10 hours and released later that day. Shanghai Daily reported that the police said “pornographic” shows were taking place when they arrived at the Q Bar in the earlier Sunday. Police gave no details about the shows. However, the report cited migrant workers who live nearby that they “often saw naked men on the roof, drinking beer, chatting loudly, and even having sex”.
These two stories appear to be different. But behind these stories, we see that China’s not ideologically open as it is economically. Homosexuality although is accepted by the open-minded is still unbearable by the majority or the authorities. The government crackdown on activist is going even more harshly. Ran Yunfei was arrested a couple of weeks ago and then it was Ai Weiwei’s turn, who has a even larger influence than Ran. Detaining someone without legitimate reasons happens frequently in China. No matter it is a party-goer or a social activist, arrests should be a legal action with legitimate explanations.