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The Lau China Institute is pleased to be hosting this celebration to mark the end of China Week 2022.

After a week of dynamic discussions on all things Digital China, please join us for our Closing Reception event held in person at King's College London.

We invite you to mingle with old and new friends over canapes, drinks and live music, as we thank you for your support and collectively look towards our future objectives in continuing to expand knowledge and understanding of China in the UK and abroad.

At this event, we are honoured to be welcoming the artist, documentarian and activist Ai Weiwei, to provide a virtual address to our China Week guests on freedom of speech and surveillance.

We will also welcome special guest Dr William Hurst from Cambridge University to provide a keynote address along with final remarks from the Director of the Lau China Institute, Professor Kerry Brown.

About the speakers

Welcome: Kerry Brown, Director, Lau China Institute

Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London. He is an Associate of the Asia Pacific Programme at Chatham House, London, an adjunct of the Australia New Zealand School of Government in Melbourne, and the co-editor of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, run from the German Institute for Global Affairs in Hamburg. He is President-Elect of the Kent Archaeological Society and an Affiliate of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit at Cambridge University.

From 2012 to 2015 he was Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to this he worked at Chatham House from 2006 to 2012, as Senior Fellow and then Head of the Asia Programme. From 1998 to 2005 he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. He lived in the Inner Mongolia region of China from 1994 to 1996.

He has a Master of Arts from Cambridge University, a Post Graduate Diploma in Mandarin Chinese (Distinction) from Thames Valley University, London, and a PhD in Chinese politics and language from Leeds University. Professor Brown directed the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN) giving policy advice to the European External Action Service between 2011 and 2014. He is the author of almost 20 books on modern Chinese politics, and has written for every major international news outlet, and been interviewed by every major news channel on issues relating to contemporary China.

Virtual Address: Ai Weiwei – ‘Freedom of Speech and Surveillance’

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing, China) leads a diverse and prolific practice that encompasses sculptural installation, filmmaking, photography, ceramics, painting, writing and social media. A conceptual artist who fuses traditional craftsmanship and his Chinese heritage, Ai Weiwei moves freely between a variety of formal languages to reflect on the contemporary geopolitical and sociopolitical condition. Ai Weiwei’s work and life regularly interact and inform one another, often extending to his activism and advocacy for international human rights.

Ai Weiwei has exhibited extensively at institutions and biennials worldwide, including at Albertina Modern, Vienna (2022); Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto (2021); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (2019); Oca – Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo (2018); Public Art Fund, New York (2017); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2017); Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (2016); Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2016); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015); Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2014); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2014); German Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2012); Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei (2011); Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2010); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); documenta 12, Kassel (2007); and Kunsthalle Bern, Bern (2004). The artist’s memoir 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows was published in 2021. Ai Weiwei lives and works in Beijing (China), Berlin (Germany), Cambridge (UK) and Lisbon (Portugal).

Closing Reception Keynote: Professor William Hurst, Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University

William Hurst is Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and Deputy Director at the Centre for Geopolitics. Bill received his PhD in 2005 from the University of California-Berkeley and, following two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford, held tenured or tenure-track posts at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toronto, and Northwestern University, in addition to a fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, before joining Cambridge in January 2021.

Outside of his work on international relations, Bill has long-running and ongoing interests in political economy, the politics of development, law and society, and urban politics, as well as social movements and contentious politics. He continues to pursue research on these in China, Indonesia, and other countries. His first book, The Chinese Worker after Socialism (Cambridge 2009), explored the politics of more than 35 million workers laid off from Chinese state-owned enterprises in the 1990s and 2000s, based on extensive interviews and field research in nine different cities. His second book, Ruling Before the Law: the Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (Cambridge 2018), was the first major monograph to compare the world’s largest and fourth largest countries and the most comprehensive work in decades on either country’s legal system at the grassroots.

He is currently at work on a book explaining the dynamics of land politics, the political economy of state formation, and the long-run implications of dramatic change and critical bargains struck in the 1950s and 1960s in China, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Besides these books, he’s also published a wide array of edited volumes, articles, chapters, essays, op-eds, and the like.

Watch Ai Wei Wei's virtual address

At this event

Kerry  Brown

Director, Lau China Institute

Event details

Somerset Room
Strand Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS