A Chinese newspaper with close links to the Communist Party on Thursday called on famed artist Ai Weiwei to abandon his "previous politics" after the dissident was allowed to stage a rare exhibition in China.
China's best known contemporary artist abroad, Ai's outspoken criticism of China's ruling Communist party has caused much of his work to be censored domestically.
China has denied Ai a passport since 2011 in an apparent attempt to limit his international influence. But authorities allowed his first solo exhibition to open in Beijing on Saturday.
Lacking his usual political commentary, the show -- which reports said local authorities had approved -- consists of a reconstructed 400-year-old wooden ancestral hall.
The Global Times tabloid, which has close links to Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, said the exhibition showed "a real possibility for a new start," for Ai, before chastising his political beliefs.
"If Ai Weiwei can stay away from his previous politics... and change from 'pleasing the West,' to 'serving the masses,' that would be a meaningful thing," the paper said.
The editorial -- which appeared in both the English and Chinese editions of the paper -- was unusual in tightly controlled domestic media which rarely report on Ai.
It also described him as "the luckiest of Chinese 'dissidents'".
The son of a poet revered by China's first generation Communist leaders, Ai helped to design the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games, an event that brought worldwide prestige to the Communist Party.
But the burly artist's outspoken criticism of China's leaders -- he has referred to them as "gangsters" -- and involvement in controversial social campaigns went on to make him a thorn in the government's side.
Ai was detained for 81 days in 2011 amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent. Police later accused him of massive tax fraud, and China's tightly controlled court system ruled against him in 2012.
Ai was not immediately available for comment on the editorial. He wrote on Twitter Thursday that Chinese authorities have still not returned his passport.