China court says Ai Weiwei can challenge $2.4MN tax bill


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


Peter Parks

China’s dissident artist Ai Weiwei has been told he will be allowed to challenge a massive $2.4 million tax bill in court.

The fine for “back taxes” was imposed last year on a design company, Fake Cultural Development, founded by the 54-year-old. Ai had to pay a $1.3 million bond in January to appeal it, and says the bill is the Chinese authorities’ revenge for his political activism.

According to Reuters, Beijing’s Chaoyang District Court accepted Ai’s lawsuit on Monday. The internationally renowned artist, who has been a prominent critic of human rights abuses committed by China’s communist-controlled government, told the news agency it was hard to predict the outcome of his case “due to the interference of the tax bureau and the public security [bureau].”

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Ai was taken into custody last April and kept at a secret location for 81 days as police rounded up dissidents amid calls for an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in China, the Agence France Presse reports.

According to the BBC, a gagging order was imposed on him when he was freed in June, but he continued to tweet and speak with the foreign press. The tax evasion charges followed shortly after, and the Chinese authorities maintain that Fake Cultural Development – which is registered to Ai’s wife – owes them money which must be paid back. 

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