Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, China has been in the focus of every discussion and criticism related to the global health crisis. While many people have pointed out what Beijing wrongly did during the pandemic, a dissident Chinese artist made a secret film in Wuhan that clearly depicts how Chinese authorities actually reacted during the outbreak.

The internationally known artist Ai Weiwei who is known for several contemporary artworks, including Beijing National Stadium—also known as Bird's Nest—made a secret film called "Coronation" in Wuhan city, where the SARS-CoV-2 first appeared, during its strict lockdown.

Ai has called attention to human rights violations and government corruption in CCP ruled China with his work. He had had a camera team on the ground filming for the duration of the quarantine in China's Wuhan city, while he directed the film remotely from Europe.

The Secret Film

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei YouTube/ Anderson Ranch Arts Center

A statement on the Ai's website reads that China has assumed the status of a superpower on the global stage, yet it remains poorly understood by other countries. In addition, the statement says, "Through the lens of the pandemic, 'Coronation' clearly depicts the Chinese crisis management and social control machine—through surveillance, ideological brainwashing, and brute determination to control every aspect of society."

It is not hidden that for two months over 11 million residents of Wuhan, where initially the virus emerged, had to follow strict lockdown measures imposed by the local authorities. The city in Hubei province was the epicenter of the outbreak and saw the most deaths.

The statement says that this movie shows the progressions that occurred in a city and in individual space due to the Coronavirus infection. As per the website, it represents the value of individual life in the political environment, "reflecting on the difficulties we face as individuals and countries in the context of globalization."

"Ultimately, the result is a society lacking trust, transparency, and respect for humanity. Despite the impressive scale and speed of the Wuhan lockdown, we face a more existential question: can civilization survive without humanity? Can nations rely on one another without transparency or trust?" says the statement.

'Vulnerable Moments'

As reported by AP News, he said his friends in Wuhan have been sending him the video footages, even from a hospital, giving him multi-angled visuals of vulnerable moments of the city during its unprecedented lockdown.

He said, "I think China has handled it better [than SARS] because they're much more experienced," but there's still a lack of transparency. He also said, "They [China government] intentionally covered [up] the whole pandemic as a secret for many weeks," and added, "In a certain sense, they will never change."

The well-known artist was arrested at Beijing airport in 2011. He was incarcerated for 81 days without explanation. But after his release, Chinese authorities said that Ai had confessed to tax evasion and fined $2.4 million. He has since left China but has the legal right to return to his homeland.