900 Million Are Isolated in This Dictatorship
Chen Weiming Interview


Chen Weiming: Sculpture Artist
Born in 1970 in Hangzhou city in Zhejiang Province, China, Weiming was inspired to become a democracy activist after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. His art works include a statue of the “Goddess of Democracy” (2008), a bas relief portraying the Tiananmen Square Incident (2009) and a bas relief of Liu Xiaobo (2017).

Interviewer:Hanako Cho

What does democratization mean to an activist who has long supported the democracy movement through art?

–What made you join the democratization movement?

Chen: I began making political artworks after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. When I saw footage of the Chinese Communist Party shooting at the civilians, I decided to speak to the people though sculpture – just like how Picasso’s “Guernica” communicates to the people the horrors of war.

Ever since, I have been making works that arouse the values of freedom and democracy in the people’s hearts. For example, the “Goddess of Democracy” statue is a materialization of the spirit of the Hong Kong people seeking democratization.


The Tiananmen Square memorial service in 2010.
1.5 million Hong Kong citizens saw a glimmer of hope for China’s democratization behind Chen’s statue of the “Goddess of Democracy”. The statue is now in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and replicas stand in cities in the U.S. including San Francisco and Washington D.C.

–What was going through your mind when you made the Liu Xiaobo relief?

Chen: When I ruminated over Liu Xiaobo’s ideas, behind the steel bars I saw his strong devotion to free the Chinese people of their sorrow. He was hiding his sorrow and smiling out to us. Unfortunately, Mr. Liu died before I could complete the relief, but I want more people to realize the meaning behind his smile.

–How do you see Chairman Xi Jinping?

Chen: Xi Jinping is securing his dictatorship. We must especially watch the stratification happening in China.

For example, in December 2017 the Communist Party commanded 200,000 people living in the provinces and coming in to Beijing for work to turn back immediately. In the City there are around 300 million provincials coming to work. The government thought that if the numbers increased any further, it would threaten the status of the 400 million living in the city. That’s why they decided to kick out the provincials.

These provincial labourers are illiterate and can only do menial tasks. They tried to send their children to school so the children can later find jobs, but now many schools have been bulldozed down, and others have their electricity cut off. They are being driven into a corner.

In other words, around 900 million labourers and farmers are not being treated like people. This is an isolation policy just like Apartheid.


Increasing Wealth Disparity

The Communist Party of China flag portrays the hammer-and-sickle. The hammer symbolizes labourers and the sickle symbolizes farmers. The Communist Party supposedly aims for equality amongst the people, but this is now an empty slogan. The wealth disparity is only getting wider. The wealthy can afford jet aircrafts, but the farmers are only just able to afford enough food for the day.

Veteran soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army are also expressing dissatisfaction. They become farmers when they retire, but there is no work in the villages nor enough money.

Xi fears that the farmers and soldiers may simultaneously riot. Even the wealthy Party members are transferring their wealth overseas. My art school friend, who is being paid by the government, was physically harassed by a State Security officer – a spy of the Communist Party – because something he wrote in his blog was deemed anti-government.

The number of people who trust the Communist Party are decreasing. China may be the world’s second greatest economic power, but Xi’s foundations are frail and the economy is on the verge of eruption.

–Do you have a message for the Japanese people?

Chen: 2018 is the 29th year after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. We want to build a Tiananmen Square Massacre Memorial Museum in the U.S. to show the American people the true face of the Communist Party. Japan too should think about what can be done next to help democratize China. I pray that the two countries will eventually be able to establish friendly relations.



900 Million Are Isolated in This Dictatorship
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