This is an important discussion to have and everyone has it the wrong way.
Premise 1: China is a surveillance state.
Premise 2: America is a surveillance state.
Conclusion: America will soon look like China.
NO NO NO NO NO.
China is a middle class the size of the United States on top of a feudal system of poverty the size of India being run by a command economy attempting to make its way in a capito-socialist world. "If China, therefore the rest of the world" simply doesn't work.
Ai Weiwei is under heavy state surveillance for two reasons:
1) He's the only Chinese westerners can name besides Mao Tse Tung, Confucious and Yao Ming
2) He endlessly, relentlessly says nasty shit about the Chinese government.
In the US, we have all sorts of people who say nasty shit about the US government. A lot of them are in the US government. That right there kinda nukes the whole parallel. Not to mention the economics of totalitarianism are entirely different: China can afford to have two dudes standing like palace guards while Ai Weiwei pisses. For that matter, Ai Weiwei can afford to cover the floor of a warehouse with handmade porcelain sunflower seeds. Chinese surveillance is active - the Chinese go out and snag whatever they can, whenever they can, however they can, using whoever they can (would you believe I've read this book? I have, back when it was topical! I've even interviewed the author!). American surveillance, on the other hand, is passive - we scoop up whatever is already there and then try and figure out how to do something with it.
The NSA is never going to have two dudes sitting at a restaurant watching you to see if you do something because it's a gross waste of resources. The FBI? Sure. But they need a good goddamn reason. In China, saying nasty shit about the government qualifies as a good goddamn reason... and if we learned anything from J Edgar Hoover it qualifies here, too. The difference is Chinese culture has been about continuity and the state for the past 4000 years. American culture has been about individualism and the right of self-determination for the past 300. Thus, Americans get itchy when J Edgar snoops on MLK. Americans get itchy when the NSA starts throwing sops to the DEA. The Chinese are too busy trying to bust out of a 1-party system to focus on vagueries like that. We're talking a nation that met OWS-style protests with tanks and that performs 5,000 executions per year here - let's not be too hasty to draw parallels.
The problem in the United States is retention. Yes, you put a lot out on the wires. With a wiretap, someone has to be interested in what you're saying right now for them to have access to it. The problem of Big Data, be it Google, Disney, AT&T or the NSA, is that they're recording it all in case they need it later. There's no context to any of it - or more specifically, the context isn't required, which allows a lot of leeway.
We will have to rebalance our needs for privacy and convenience. It will happen. But saying "Ai Weiwei is living in our future" is disingenuous.