Artist defies Web censors in a rebuke of China

By David Barboza Published: March 20, 2009

SHANGHAI: One of China’s most prominent and provocative artists is challenging the government to end what he calls its cover-up of incompetence in managing the response to an earthquake last May in Sichuan Province that killed more than 80,000 people.

The artist, Ai Weiwei, 51, who helped design the Olympic National Stadium known as the Bird’s Nest, is creating a sensation in China by posting angry commentaries about the quake rescue efforts on his popular blog.

In the online postings, Mr. Ai criticizes the government’s management of the disaster response and chides officials for still not having provided a full accounting of schoolchildren’s deaths, which he and many others attribute to poorly constructed schools.

“I’m really tired of this bull,” Mr. Ai said Thursday in a telephone interview from Beijing, where he has a large studio. “I went there, and I saw the school building collapsed, and next to it is a building that is fine.”

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