It's emerged that Ai Weiwei was involved in a brawl in a Beijing Park on Friday (July 6). The confrontation took place in Beijing's Chaoyang Park and involved Ai Weiwei and Wu Danhong, a 33-year-old university professor, who online activists accuse of being an apologist for the Chinese government, paid to post pro-Beijing propaganda online. Zhou Yan, a Chinese journalist, and Yao Bo, a writer, restaurateur and pro-democracy activist, were also present.
The altercation was sparked when a feud between rival bloggers erupted over comments Mr Wu made on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, relating to the construction of a copper refinery in Sichuan province. A heated debate between Wu and Zhou ensued and the two agreed to settle their differences the following day in Chaoyang Park. Several dozen other online activists accompanied Zhou. According to one report, eggs flew during the meeting. In an interview with the Global Times, Wu alleged he was set upon by Ai Weiwei, Yao and Zhou.
Speaking to the UK's Daily Telegraph, Ai Weiwei denied attacking Wu. "It makes no sense to lie. I did not beat him," he said. "The crowd called my name when I approached and Wu panicked a little bit when he saw me. He walked a few steps and fell over. There were a few people standing by his side protecting him. I only pulled his ear saying, 'Who is this?' for less than a second because his ear was quite slippery. I'm not the kind of person to beat people up."
Yao also denied involvement. Wu, from the China University of Political Science and Law, said he had arranged to meet rival bloggers for a "verbal fight, not a physical one"and had turned up "alone, without helpers, without weapons. A dozen people laid their hands on me. I also got kicked in the back by Zhou, Ai Weiwei and some guys. I never expected such a thing would happen," he added, claiming Zhou had broken his umbrella in half.
The altercation was seized on by state-controlled media. In an editorial The Global Times claimed the incident had humiliated Chinese cyber intellectuals. "Physical fighting over conflicting political thoughts is the most vulgar behaviour yet carried out by a few online intellectuals," it said. "Resolving political disputes should be done in a civilised manner."
We're trying to embed a video of the altercation into this article but our Chinese is not what it should be. So for now, you can watch the video here. Ai Weiwei turns up at around the 12 minute mark.
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