While preparing to testify at the trial of a political activist, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was attacked and beaten by the police. A month later, Ai nearly died from residual injuries. It was the price he paid for being one of China's most outspoken dissenters. Ai has called the Chinese government "unimaginative, prevaricating, suspicious of its own people and utterly focused on self-preservation." On Obama's recent China visit, Ai said that the country needs more pressure from the West for transparency in the government and society. Among the artist's powerful works is a 9,000-backpack exhibit representing the more than 5,000 children who perished in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, a provocative work that calls to attention the government's lack of explanation for the tragedy.