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Ai Weiwei
courtesy of Instagram/@aiww

Ai Weiwei criticises the lack of British involvement in Hong Kong protests

“As someone fighting for human rights, I have no trust for Britain at all.”

Since June, conditions in Hong Kong have escalated to what is being called the region’s “most serious crisis in decades”, with protesters taking to the streets and being met with increasing violence, including rubber bullets and masses of teargas (reportedly over 2000 rounds have been fired, half of that in a single day).

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has had film crews documenting the situation almost from the start. Much of the footage can be seen on his Instagram, which has turned into a kind of documentary project in itself, helping to spread the message about the protests – which began in opposition to extradition proposals but grew to include demands for democratic reforms – to a worldwide audience.

However, Ai Weiwei has spoken out about his distrust in Britain when it comes to getting support for the fight for democracy. Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme yesterday morning, he seemed to suggest that Britain would be pretty powerless if it did want to intervene, saying: “I think Britain has been laughed about by the Chinese government.”

“They think Britain is just nothing, it’s like an insult about Britain, about what Britain’s going to do – they cannot even deal with the issues facing them.”

This paints a pretty stark picture about how the UK is being viewed by the rest of the world in the wake of failed Brexit negotiations and changes of leadership.

“I don’t think Britain is going to take any responsibility,” Weiwei added. “As someone fighting for human rights, I have no trust for Britain at all...”

“We should not forget 1989 when they used tanks to crush peaceful demonstrations. They know the west won’t interfere as they want to do business as normal.”

The fact that the UK government can’t be relied upon to involve themselves in what is clearly a global issue also suggests the growing lack of faith in its conservative government regarding human rights and global democracy. The picture Weiwei paints is, unfortunately, an all-too-familiar picture of an increasingly isolationist state.