Artist Ai Weiwei says China's repression will continue if it's not challenged

As an artist and critic of the Chinese government, Ai Weiwei has had plenty to think about right now - its security crackdown in Hong Kong, its treatment of the Uighur people, and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic for a start.

Mr Weiwei told ITV News Presenter Tom Bradby if China isn't challenged now, its repression will only continue.

He said: "I think the West should never underestimate China."

"China is a state with clear ambition and a very clear vision and a very clear strategy in dealing with the West."

Mr Weiwei added: "And so in that case, the West cannot really measure and cope with the challenge of China. And the Chinese government feel they are stronger than ever, in controlling the domestic issues."

When asked by Tom Bradby whether he sees any hope left for some kind of rebellion against this repression from within China, Mr Weiwei said: "To be very honest and on the record and to be clear, I don’t see there’s any force that can challenge China from within China."

"You know, certainly there’s individual minds. But those minds, once they express their feelings, they’re either in jail or being punished In some other way."

Mr Weiwei continued: "So, that is showing clear mindset of this kind of totalitarian control. They don’t believe what they’re saying and they know that we also don’t believe it."

"But that function works, I can tell you, this kind of evil method of controlling can last for hundreds of years. But if without a really major problem to stop them to develop, they will last forever."

He's been a thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities for more than 10 years.

But alongside the activism, there is always art.

It was his design, of the famous bird's nest stadium that graced the Beijing Olympics of 2008.

In 2010 he was placed under house arrest - the same year his Sunflower Seeds installation took London's Tate Modern by storm.

Children play on top of the latest artwork by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, 'Sunflower Seeds'. Credit: PA

In 2011 he was arrested at Beijing airport and held for 81 days without explanation.

Now he has a huge new installation, at the Imperial War Museum in London, of bombs dating back a century - physical representations of man's inhumanity to man.

"What this work is really about is history, about human history, the bomb I redesigned for the war and this history relates to the past 100 years of human struggle."