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Ai Weiwei says he ‘can’t understand’ Trump supporters

The dissident artist spoke out about his concern for Chinese supporters backing the Republican candidate

Ai Weiwei has said he doesn’t understand Chinese supporters of the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

While at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York prior to the opening of his exhibition, Laundromat, featuring cast-off belongings from a refugee camp, Ai Weiwei spoke of his confusion and concern for the amount of support Trump was receiving from Chinese people living in the U.S as well as in China.

According to Artnet, he said: “Some of the people in China were human rights defenders, but here, many of them openly talk about how much they love Trump. I can’t understand it.” He described the worldwide rise of conservatism and the quest for power as a “phenomenon”.

“A lot of Chinese people love Russia’s Putin. They also love strong leaders,” he added.

Throughout his presidential campaign and in several instances during the debates, Trump has threatened a trade war with China and accused its people of “stealing jobs” and manipulating their currency.

The dissident artist also stated that whoever becomes president should maintain good relations with Beijing, but must not lose sight of human rights issues, especially in relation to China, or sacrifice said issues because of political and economic ties.

“There is no excuse for sacrificing any of these values – not to mention human rights – and not to defend all of these values,” he said.

Ai Weiwei spoke about his own imprisonment back in 2011 to showcase the imposition on freedom of expression and basic human rights. “If there is no voice, there are no people. Nobody feels secure. The problem is that in society nobody trusts anybody. Nobody believes anybody. That is a real problem.”