Ai Weiwei Will Fight Tax Charges "To the Death"

Reuters talks to a defiant Ai Weiwei following the imposition of a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) tax bill on his design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd:

“Will a person like Ai Weiwei surrender?” In my dictionary, there’s no such word ‘surrender’,” the bearded artist said at his home and studio in northeastern Beijing where a team of lawyers and tax experts and his wife, Lu Qing, were gathered ….

Ai said authorities had not shown him evidence of the alleged tax evasion and had told the manager and accountant of Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which has helped produce Ai’s internationally renowned art and designs, not to meet him.

According to Ai, the Public Security Bureau has labeled him the “controlling person” of the company, although his wife is the legal representative. Ai said that if he didn’t pay the penalty, his wife could go to jail.

“And for a country like that, I will fight them to the death,” he said.

See also a BBC report including an audio interview with Ai Weiwei, and another from Al Jazeera English, to whom Ai said that the case was not about money: “It’s the issue of how a state can survive when they are not respectful of the law, when they’re clearly don’t have a clear procedure, transparency, or public discussion.” The Wall Street Journal agreed, describing the authorities’ actions as “absurdist”: “How else to describe a case in which the government has violated its own laws in pursuit of politicized justice?”

While his resolve to fight to the death will hopefully remain untested, Ai’s corpse has already caused consternation in the small German town where it has been on display. From TIME:

He Xiangyu’s art exhibit, “The Death of Marat,” in Bad Ems, Germany has everyone talking – about the corpse lying face down in a window display. Of course, it’s not really a corpse — it’s a statue effigy of Chinese activist Ai Weiwei.

Passersby are mistaking it for a human corpse, and, not surprisingly, have already alerted local authorities. “Several people had already called within days of the exhibition going up,” said Peter Steger, a spokesman for the police in Bad Ems. A local resident also filed charges for disturbing the peace of the dead, thinking the corpse was real.

November 3, 2011 2:29 PM
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