11/15/2011, 00.00
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Beijing tries extortion with Ai Weiwei

Even though the appeal trial against Ai is still underway for alleged tax evasion, Communist authorities have told the renowned artist and dissident to pay up 8.5 million yuan. He is refusing because it would mean “admitting guilt”.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese authorities have ordered Ai Weiwei (a well-known artist and dissident) to pay an 8.5 million yuan guarantee in a 15 million yuan (US$ 2.4 million) tax case. Even though the appeal has not yet run its course, tax authorities already want to collect the money. According to Ai, the move is a childish attempt to end the case illegally.

Ai said that officials from the Beijing tax bureau told his wife, Lu Qing, the legal representative of Ai's design firm, that they wanted the guarantee paid into one of their bank accounts.

“They also clearly told us that if we exceeded this time period, they would transfer the case to the public security. There would be a different kind of outcome from that,” Ai explained.

Ai Weiwei is famous around the world for his artistic and architectural work. He is one of co-designers of Beijing’s iconic Bird's Nest National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Earlier this year, he was accused of tax evasion for a total of 15 yuan million for back taxes and late-payment penalties as part of the authorities’ crackdown against dissidents. He was detained for three months for this reason.

Human rights activists believe the measures taken against him are meant to punish him for his criticism of the Communist government.

“It's very simple,” Ai said by phone. “Those in power have the right to do anything and their power faces no restrictions.”

Supporters have sent Ai nearly 8.7 million yuan, but Ai and his company's lawyers said transferring that money into the tax bureau's accounts could be seen as admitting guilt. Doing so, Ai could also be suspected of “illegal fundraising”.

“This issue at this point is in a kind of deadlock,” he lamented.
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See also
West protests “disappearance” of renowned artist Ai Weiwei, but another 200 are also detained
Beijing court to hear Ai Weiwei lawsuit
Authorities revoke Ai Weiwei's business licence
"Disgraceful" court decision against artist Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei to appeal tax bill to shame Chinese system


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