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Ai Weiwei celebrates as Lego backs down on bulk order refusal

Joe Jones

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has published photos of himself with Lego hanging off his moustache and beard to celebrate the toy maker’s decision to back down on rules that blocked a bulk order of bricks he had placed several months ago.

Lego said on Tuesday it had dropped restrictions on large orders after facing a storm of criticism for declining his request for pieces for a large public work in Australia in October.

Ai, known for his criticism of China’s rights record, had accused the Danish toymaker of censorship and set up collection points for people to send him bricks.

Lego said at the time it had a long-running policy of not fulfilling bulk orders or donating bricks if they knew they would be used as part of a “political agenda”, but it said in a statement on Tuesday it would stop asking people why they wanted its products.

It did not refer directly to Ai’s order, but acknowledged that the rules “could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent”. Customers wanting to build public displays out of Lego bricks would now only have to make it clear that the company did not endorse the project.

AI has used the multi-coloured building blocks before to build portraits of other dissidents, including Nelson Mandela.

Chinese authorities confiscated Ai’s passport in 2011 and detained him for 81 days, only returning the document in July last year.


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