Lego’s refusal of Ai Weiwei’s request ‘the right choice’

By Xie Wenting and Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-26 0:18:04

Danish toy titan Lego Group refused controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's request to use a bulk order of its toy blocks to create political works for his upcoming exhibition in Australia, a move experts believe is due to practical concerns about profit and China's increasing economic influence in the world.

"The company is unwilling to let politics influence its business. ... It made the right choice," Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times.

Ai wrote on Friday on the photo-sharing app Instagram that Lego refused his order of toy blocks to make an art installation for the National Gallery of Victoria later this year because "they cannot approve the use of Legos for political works."

Troy Taylor, head of marketing for Lego in Australia, said in a written statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday, "We refrain, on a global level, from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of LEGO bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda."

Feng Yue, a political science expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Lego's reaction shows that Western countries, companies and individuals are beginning to see China as multi-dimensional as the country prospers and approaches the global arena with an open attitude.

Ai, a contemporary Chinese artist, is renowned for creating political artworks and openly criticizing the Chinese government.

The Guardian reported Saturday that Lego's growth has been the fastest in Asia, and the company has also invested heavily in a manufacturing facility in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province.

Some experts also believe that Lego's refusal reflects Ai's growing alienation from the West.

The New York Times reported in September that Ai had "abandoned his usual combative style toward the authorities in favor of a conciliatory tone."

"Ai was made use of by many Westerners, who were disappointed and outraged enough to stop cooperating with Ai when he did not lash out at the Chinese government as they had wished," Li Yunlong, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told the Global Times.

According to the Guardian's report,  the Danish toy maker refused another request from a US journalist to  create a politically themed set earlier  this year.

Neither Lego nor Ai could be reached by the Global Times as of press time.

Posted in: Politics

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