Interview on “What a Jasmine!” painting


So what is this painting about?

This painting was done in response to Ai Weiwei getting arrested by the Chinese police over one tweet! He was sent to jail for several months for tax evasion right after this tweet.

What did he actually tweet?

“I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!”

Why do you think the CCP authorities responded so harshly?

This was only the cherry on the sundae so to say. As the Arab Spring started to awaken across the whole Middle East, China was blocking any news from the entire area to avoid a rise up in China. There were a few risings in China, which was called the Jasmine Revolution after the tea. The CCP censor then blocked any reference to tea, Jasmine, Arab Spring, revolution on any social media.

Is this the first time they used such drastic censorship?

They lightened up a bit during the 2008 Olympics, but got the feeling they got their fingers burned opening up, since all the protests about Tibet poured in globally as they toured the Olympic torch under guard– the only tour under guard ever. Not even Hitler was that paranoid in the 1936 Olympics! Hitler tried to prove race superiority, but was thrown astray by US runner Jesse Owens.

nazi olympicsphelps

After US swimmer Michael Phelps crushed the Chinese 2008 Olympics with 8 Gold medals, China said he was a “fish” and tried to accuse him of doping after having entered several underage kids in gymnastics. You see the parallels?

You can see earlier versions of Chinese news censorship during various US elections, they only put up the likely winner candidate and no other photo to minimize the feel of freedom in democracy. Chinese citizens never got to even see any face but Obama as if he was appointed as in China.

What does the lettering in the painting say?

ShawNshawN says…
Ai Weiwei says…
Confuscious says…
Chiang Chai-shek says…
Mao says…
Dalai lama says…
Drink Tea!

What are the various elements in the painting?

The main letting “Drink Tea!” had a background of a popular Jasmine tea in Hong Kong on the left. On the right the background is an image of Mao as the Cool-Aid man saying “Drink!” in a funny commercialization. It is a way of toning down the crimes against humanity under Mao with his image used in pop art.

Putin has done the same recently in Russia with his ridiculous poses in every possible Russian sport to hide his blunt use of power.

putin astronaut putin 007 putin swim putin judo putin ski putin beer putin glide

In the white lettering is the outline of the Bird’s Nest stadium that Ai Weiwei helped consult on. At that time, Ai Weiwei was a celebrated artist by the regime as the modern face of China. Ai Weiwei later distanced himself from this project.

birds nest

Why did you get interested in the Ai Weiwei?


Well, I had been interested in Ai Weiwei since his infamous backpack art display. He had investigated the deaths of child students in the Sichuan earthquake, who died due to shoddy construction techniques in their school buildings. The CCP tried to block the investigation, but Ai Weiwei gathered all the names of the victims to list in his studio in Beijing. Later the CCP bull dozed his studio for being illegal.


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