This Sunday, at Chinese embassies all over world, protesters are planning a global sit-in to protest the detention of the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Ai was taken into custody by Chinese authorities nearly two weeks ago for what government officials now say are questions about his finances.
As China presses on with its harshest crackdown in years, one of its most famous artists has been blocked from leaving the country. Artist Ai Weiwei is best-known for helping design Beijing's Olympic stadium, known as the Birds Nest. He was taken into detention at Beijing airport yesterday morning, as he tried to travel to Hong Kong – and onto to Taipei - and has not been heard from since, the highest profile victim yet of Beijing's latest clampdown.
"China passed Japan in 2010 to become the world's second-largest economy after the U.S.," The Wall Street Journal writes, adding that this is "a historic shift that has drawn mixed emotions in the two Asian powers: resignation tinged with soul-searching in long-stagnant Japan, pride but also caution in an ascendant China wary of shouldering new global responsibilities."
Among the latest WikiLeaks documents are memos that reveal growing tensions and frustrations between China and its ally North Korea. The leaked U.S. diplomatic cables suggest that in the event North Korea collapses, Beijing would be willing to accept a unified Korea under the South's control.
China resisted U.S. pressure to condemn North Korea on Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang shelled a South Korea-held island, killing four people and ratcheting tensions on the peninsula to new highs.
Late Wednesday, China issued its first official statement, which was notable for its failure to condemn or even criticize North Korea. Instead, a foreign ministry spokesman urged both Koreas to show calm and restraint, and to engage in talks.