Government of China Detention of Contemporary Artist Ai Weiwei Tests Depth of Crackdown

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BEIJING (REUTERS).- China’s detention of internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei has sparked a petition urging his release, exposing alarm among the nation’s liberal intellectuals who see his case as a test of how far a crackdown to stifle dissent could reach. Chinese officials have not commented on the whereabouts of Ai, who was stopped on Sunday from boarding a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong and taken away by border police. There is little doubt he has joined a lengthening list of dissidents and activists in detention or informal custody. Ai has been out of contact; his mobile phone is off. His wife, Lu Qing, told Reuters that police officers