Wandering China

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China orders muzzled artist to pay $1.8m in taxes and fines [The Age]

From the BBC – China artist Ai Weiwei ‘to challenge tax bill and fine’ June 29, 2011

From Reuters – China demands Ai Weiwei pay $1.85 million in taxes, fines, June 28, 2011

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China orders muzzled artist to pay $1.8m in taxes and fines
Source – The Age, published June 30, 2011

BEIJING: Chinese authorities have ordered the artist Ai Weiwei to pay more than $1.8 million in back taxes and fines, a close friend said, just days after his release on bail.

On Tuesday, Liu Xiaoyuan said the Beijing tax office had sent Ai – who came home last week after nearly three months in detention – a notice telling him to pay back 4.9 million yuan ($718,000) in taxes and another 7.3 million yuan in fines. That would amount to more than 12 million yuan.

Police have accused Ai of tax evasion and the government said he was freed because of his ”good attitude” in admitting to the charges against him, his willingness to repay taxes and on medical grounds. He has diabetes.

Mr Liu, a lawyer, said he saw the letter with the demand for the money on Monday, the BBC reported. Ai must respond within three days, Mr Liu said.

”In accordance with the law on tax evasion … if he does not pay then he could be subject to legal action,” Reuters quoted Mr Liu as saying. ”For such a large sum, there could be a hearing,” he said, adding that any hearing could take place before July 7.

Ai could not be reached for comment, Reuters reported. Under the terms of his release, he is not allowed to talk to the media.

Rights groups have said the outspoken 54-year-old, who is known for his criticism of the ruling Communist Party, was detained as part of a clampdown on activists launched in February.

The detention of the artist sparked an international outcry, with the US and the European Union leading calls for his release.

Ai has said little since his release last Wednesday other than to assure people he is well and happy to be back with his family, sparking theories he may have been ordered to stay quiet.

The terms of Ai’s bail conditions prevent him from leaving Beijing ”without permission”, the Foreign Ministry said last week.

The artist has angered authorities in the past for his involvement in sensitive activist campaigns.

He probed the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, looked into a Shanghai high-rise fire last November that killed dozens, and says police beat him when he tried to testify on behalf of another activist in 2009.

In January, his newly built Shanghai studio was demolished in apparent retaliation for his criticism of city policies.

Agence France-Presse


Filed under: Ai Weiwei, Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Crime, Culture, Democracy, Education, Human Rights, Media, People, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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