Shanghai Artist Dai Jianyong Arrested for Posting Comical Photos of President Xi

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Originally published by China Topix on May 31, 2015

A Shanghai artist faces up to five years in jail if he is found guilty of “creating a disturbance” for posting a photo online which depicts the comically altered face of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to The Independent.

The beleaguered artist has been identified by support group Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) as Dai Jianyong.  The authorities reportedly arrested Dai for spreading the digitally altered pictures of the Chinese president, which depcits President Xi with a moustache and scrunched up face, according to The Sunday Times.

Dai is well known for to have a penchant for posting digitally altered photos of famous personalities online which usually shows them with their faces scrunched up.  The artist even posted similar images of himself online.  

Dai reportedly describes his characteristic crinkled up face pose as “chrysanthemum face.”  However, the flower means anus in Chinese slang, according to China Digital Times.

A number of online users have even compared President Xi’s crinkled face and moustache in Dai’s photo to that of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

AP interviewed Judy Zhu, Dai’s wife, who said that her husband has been incarcerated near their home.  She claimed that Dai created the photo of President Xi for amusement and not as a sign of dissent.

CHRD Hong Kong director Wendy Lin has noted that the arrest of Dai means that even humor as a form of expression is no longer tolerated by the Chinese government, according to Quartz.

Experts say since he came to power in 2012, President Xi has maintained a conservative view with regards to political opposition.  In one of his speeches, he said that the country’s artists should concentrate on creating works that uphold the country’s socialist view. The government press mentioned the similarity of the speech to the one given by the late Mao Zedong 72 years ago.

After giving the speech, the state media regulatory body made some insinuations about sending artists and members of the press to the rural communities in order to help them “form a correct view of art.”

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