Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks during an interview with Reuters at the hotel he is staying at in Beijing
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks during an interview with Reuters at the hotel he is staying at in Beijing, March 24, 2015 Kim Kyung Hoon—Reuters

Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Shows Off New Passport on Instagram

Jul 22, 2015

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei posted a photo of himself brandishing a Chinese passport on his Instagram account Wednesday with the caption, "Today I got my passport." The image represents a significant step for Ai, who has been denied foreign travel since his 81-day detention in 2011.

今天,我拿到了护照。

A post shared by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

Ai, who grew up in a family of dissidents who were exiled in far north and then far west China, has had a tumultuous relationship of his own with China's communist government. Although he was publicly feted during his early years and later encouraged to maintain his popular social-media blog, the tide suddenly turned in 2010 and 2011, when he was briefly placed under house arrest and then detained for nearly three months.

Though authorities alleged economic crimes, many suspected the detention was connected instead to Ai's outspoken criticism of Chinese politics. (One particularly provocative artwork featured Ai nude but for a stuffed alpaca, with a title that can be translated as Mud Horse Covers the Center, but whose meaning may also be interpreted as "F— your mother, the Party Central Committee," the Sunday Times noted in 2011.)

Ai was released after 81 days of detention but told he could not travel as he was still suspected of crimes including bigamy, pornography and illicit exchange of foreign currency, Reuters reported in 2012. He has continued to work internationally despite his restricted movement, organizing shows from Berlin to Brooklyn from afar and most recently transforming the disused prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco for an exhibition.

See the Dalai Lama's Life in Pictures

The 14th Dalai Lama at his enthronement in Lhasa, Tibet, Feb. 22, 1940.
The 14th Dalai Lama at his enthronement in Lhasa, Tibet, Feb. 22, 1940.AP
The 14th Dalai Lama at his enthronement in Lhasa, Tibet, Feb. 22, 1940.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, second in rank as spiritual leader, in Tibet, in 1954.
Dalai Lama seen with members of a Chinese government delegation on their official visit to Tibet in 1956.
Averaging 12 miles a day through the Himalayas, the Dalai Lama is shown journeying through the Karpo Pass, one of the highest on the flight route of the 23-year-old ruler from Lhasa. His flight began March 17, 1959. Here the escape party is seen on March 28, three days before reaching sanctuary in the free zone of India.
The Dalai Lama in India circa 1965.
The Dalai Lama and his loyal follower, Richard Gere, in New York in Sept. 1990.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, appears at the University of California Los Angeles to give a public teaching in Los Angeles, May 2001.
President George W. Bush winks while he sits with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet during a ceremony presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Oct. 2007.
The Dalai Lama speaks during a ceremony presenting him with the Congressional Gold Medal in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Oct. 2007.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales receives His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Clarence House in London, June 2012.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks onstage at the One World Concert at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, Oct. 2012.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a press conference at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, United Kingdom, June 2012.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits Madame Tussauds and poses with a wax figure of himself in Sydney, June 2013.
Tibetan Buddhist monks holding ceremonial scarfs stand in a line to welcome their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as he arrives at the Jhonang Takten Phuntsok Choeling monastery in Shimla, India, March 2014.
The Dalai Lama stands at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Feb. 2015.
The 14th Dalai Lama at his enthronement in Lhasa, Tibet, Feb. 22, 1940.
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