Cyprus Mail

Lego changes rules to calm storm over Ai Weiwei brick order

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

Lego has dropped restrictions on bulk orders of its toy bricks after facing a storm of criticism for refusing to sell thousands of them to dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai, known for his criticism of China’s rights record, accused the Danish toymaker of censorship in October for declining an order that he wanted for a new work.

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 the decision was condemned by rights groups and triggered an online campaign collecting donations of bricks for the artist and free speech campaigner.

Lego said in a statement on Tuesday it would stop asking people why they wanted its bricks.

It did not refer directly to the Weiwei 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, it added.

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

He has used Lego bricks before to build portraits of other dissidents, including Nelson Mandela.

Owned by the founding family Lego is the world’s largest toymaker by sales having recently overtaken US Barbie-maker Mattel and Monopoly-board maker Hasbro.

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