Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Chaoyang District Court in Beijing agreed to hear Ai Weiwei's lawsuit challenging the 15 million yuan (US$ 2.4 million) tax evasion fine the government levied against the company that markets his work. The court has not however set a timetable for the hearing. The artist said he expects the case to be dealt with "sooner rather than later," within three months at the latest.
Ai is an internationally known artist who worked on the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing and has works exhibited in London's Tate Modern Gallery. He is also known for his criticism of China's Communist regime and, for this, was arrested and held in jail for three months in 2011 without charges at a time when Chinese authorities feared a spill over effect from the Arab spring demonstrations. After his release, he was put under house arrest.
After he was released, the authorities handed him a bill for back taxes they said were owed by the company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which is controlled by his wife. He said the tax bill was "a joke" meant to cover for the fact that he was never charged.
The lawsuit filed by his lawyers against the No 2 Inspection Squad of the Beijing tax bureau is based on the contention that the tax office violated laws in handling witnesses, evidence and company accounts in his case.
"This is a chance to look into the Chinese judicial system," Ai said. Details about tax bureau's case against him will be made public, online, to allow people to judge for themselves whether he was right or wrong.