Ai Weiwei's tax bill comes due


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sits in the courtyard of his home in Beijing on November 7, 2010.


Peter Parks

Chinese artist and government critic Ai Weiwei must pay up $2.4 million to the Chinese tax authorities by Wednesday or his case will be turned back over to the police, Ai tells the Associated Press.

Ai, who was held for nearly three months in secret detention without formal charges this spring during China's massive crackdown on dissent, has said the tax bill is false and his company does not owe the money. Still, Chinese citizens have come out in full force to donate to his cause, pouring in cash donations to pay the tab. Ai has since said he's not sure if he'll use the donations. The situation is doubly complex because donations have not been made to an official charity and could in fact leave the artist open to even more taxes.

In any event, the deadline looms Wednesday. Ai has become more vocal in recent days, breaking his post-detention silence and granting extensive media interviews despite the inherent risks. He was ordered not to give interviews as a condition of his release. In an interview with Newsweek, Ai predicted that things will not improve soon and said the West is complicit in China's repression.

“Today, the West feels very shy about human rights and the political situation. They’re in need of money. But every penny they borrowed or made from China has really come as a result of how this nation sacrificed everybody’s rights,” Ai told the magazine. “With globalization and the Internet, we all know it. Don’t pretend you don’t know it. The Western politicians—shame on them if they say they’re not responsible for this. It’s getting worse, and it will keep getting worse.”