Led by the Global Times, a spin-off of the CCP’s official People’s Daily, Chinese media have recently launched a character attack against artist and blogger Ai Weiwei (艾未未), who remains in custody after being detained in Beijing for unspecified “economic crimes” on April 3. In its lead editorial on April 15, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper criticized Chinese state media for its character attack on Ai Weiwei, arguing that authorities had employed “a chain of actions outside the law, doing further damage to an already weak system of laws, and to the overall image of the country.”

But as journalist Pang Jiaoming (庞皎明) has pointed out on through Twitter over the past two days, state media were not always so unkind to Ai Weiwei, who has only lately been broad-brushed as a deviant and a plagiarist. Pang shares three articles from various spin-offs of the official People’s Daily in recent years that dealt sympathetically with Ai Weiwei and his work.

The first piece is a December 28, 2005, piece appearing in Market News (市场报). The second is an August 14, 2009, piece appearing in Global People (环球人物) and in the overseas edition of People’s Daily. The last is another 2009 piece appearing in Economic Weekly (中国经济周刊). All are publications under the banner of People’s Daily.

Oh, how the times and political winds change. And state media can be trusted to accommodate them.

[ABOVE: Ai Weiwei appears in the overseas edition of People’s Daily in August 2009.]