To move on from oppression, China must recognise itself

Ai Weiwei's leader for his momentous guest edit.

Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei. Photograph: Getty Images

It is a challenge, and also a privilege, to have the op­portunity to guest-edit the New Statesman. The magazine has such a long and celebrated history, it is so highly respected, and so many intelligent people have put such effort into it over nearly a century. Like all written publications and works of literature and art, the magazine reflects a human condition. I am thrilled to have the chance to be associated with it.

The only thing I can contribute to this edition of the New Statesman is the content. I chose to dedicate my issue of the magazine to China, its people, its history, its culture, its current situation and its future. My country has to recognise itself, which is a challenge to anybody at any stage in life. Right now, in China, we are living in conditions that no other generation has ever experienced – of great economic growth and expansion, but also great oppression of freedom of speech and human rights.

We are living in a time of change (as is the west, in a different way). China – its government and people – has to develop a true understanding of the specific conditions of the country today, and so reinterpret our position in the world. Over the years, I have made many efforts to do this – through art, through films, through investigations, through direct action in the face of government oppression – but I still don’t have a clear answer to the problems facing our country. This is why I want to share my thoughts, and those of the other contributors to this issue, with a wider audience.

The future of China is uncertain. I believe that the world is becoming a better place, largely thanks to advances in technology which help us to address so many of the problems that we face. The expanding use of social media and the internet will help China become a more conscious and intelligent country, but the future remains uncertain. There are problems ahead which we can’t even identify yet, and it is vital to be prepared and to meet these challenges in every way we can.

Whatever the future problems are, I believe that, both as an in­ternational society and as an individual, you have to see the human problem as one. We share this planet and we have been divided for too long, for ridiculous reasons. Now, we have to come together and say, as one, that we share the same values, that we can respect differences and that, together, we can create the best possible solutions.

If I have one message for you, the readers of the New Statesman magazine, whether you are reading this in English or in Mandarin, on the page or online, it is this: the only way we can be successful, in China and in life, is through greater communication and wider awareness, in constantly questioning our standards and our conditions. You, as readers, are part of this, you are active members of this family, and you can be proud of that.

We should all be proud of that.

从压迫出发,

中国必须认知自身

有机会能够担任《新政治家》的客座编辑,是一种挑战,也是一种荣幸。该杂志有漫长而著名的历史,受到相当高度的尊重。在近一个世纪以来,有非常多有才智的人对《新政治家》付出心力。如同所有的书面出版物、文学艺术作品,该杂志亦反映出人类的状况。我非常兴奋有这个机会能与该杂志合作。

我唯一能够贡献给这一期《新政治家》杂志的就是内容。我选择把这期《新政治家》杂志献给中国、中国的人民、历史、文化、现状和未来。我国必须承认自

身,这对每一个人的任何人生阶段都是一项挑战。目前在中国,我们正处于一个其他世代没有历经过的情况:经济高速增长扩张,但是言论自由和人权则受到强大打压。

我们正处于一个改变的时代(西方世界也在改变,当然方式不同)。中国政府和人民必须真正了解现今本国的具体情况,才能重新解读我们在世界的地位。多年来,我花费相当多的心力来做这件事:透过艺术、电影和调查,尽管遭到政府压迫仍采取直接行动。然而对于我国所面临的问题,我仍然没有明确的答案。这就是为什么我想分享自己的想法跟本期其他投稿人的文章,给更广泛的读者群。

中国的未来是不确定的。我相信世界正逐渐变成一个更好的地方,主要是由于科技的进步,协助我们处理许多我们面临的问题。社交媒体和互联网的使用增长,将会让中国变成更有自觉、有才智的国家,但是中国的未来还是不确定的。我们还无法找出未来的问题,不过至关重要的是,我们要做好准备,尽我们所能来面对这些挑战。

不论未来的这些问题是什么,我相信作为国际社会和个人,我们都必须齐心协力来看待这些问题。我们共同生存于这个星球,却因为荒谬的理由,造成长久以来的对立。现在我们必须团结一致,共同说出我们享有相同的价值观,可以尊重彼此的差异。如此一来,我们才能尽可能找到最好的解决方案。

如果我要传递一个信息给阅读《新政治家》杂志的你们,不论你们是阅读英文版或中文版、刊印版或网络版,那就是:我们在中国和人生当中能成功的唯一一个方法,就是通过大量的交流、更广泛的认知,不断地质疑我们的标准和情况。作为读者,你们是这个家族的活跃成员,而你们可以为此感到自豪。我们都应为此感到自豪。