China's Ai Weiwei loses appeal against tax fine
CHINA: Chinese artist and fierce government critic Ai Weiwei said
Friday his challenge against a $2.4 million fine for alleged tax evasion
that he says is politically motivated had failed.
Ai, who spent 81 days in secret detention last year as police rounded
up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China,
was barred from attending the Beijing Chaoyang court as the ruling was
Speaking at his studio in Beijing after receiving the news from his
lawyer, the outspoken 54-year-old told reporters he was "very
disappointed" by Friday's ruling -- which had been widely expected --
and would appeal it.
"China keeps telling other countries they are a rule of law
country... But we only hope they implement the laws they themselves drew
up," he said.
Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist whose works have been
exhibited around the world, has accused China's Communist regime of
seeking to "crush" him for his social activism.
On his release from detention last year he was accused of tax evasion
linked to Fake Cultural Development, a company that he founded but which
is now registered in his wife's name.
Last November the Beijing tax bureau issued a bill for 15 million
yuan ($2.4 million) in alleged back taxes and penalties against the
company, prompting an outpouring of public support for Ai.
Supporters came from far and wide to help him raise the $1.3 million
he needed as a bond to challenge the charge, with some even throwing
money over the walls into his courtyard home, including banknotes folded
into paper planes.
At a June 20 hearing, lawyers for Fake argued that the Beijing tax
bureau had acted illegally in fining the company.