Authorities To Shut Down Ai Weiwei’s Firm

The New York Times reports that officials have revoked the business license of dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s production company, according to an online post by Ai’s lawyer:

The move came after a court last week rejected an appeal from Mr. Ai in which he argued that tax officials should not be allowed to collect $2.4 million that the officials said the company owed in back taxes and penalties. Mr. Ai had already given the tax authorities $1.3 million as a bond, and he said he now expects the officials to keep that.

If the company shuts down, then it might not be required to pay the remaining $1.1 million. The officials revoking the company’s business license did not cite the tax case, but said the company had failed to complete registration requirements this year, according to Mr. Liu, who posted his message on Sunday.

Ai, who will likely miss several scheduled appearances in the United States this month because the Chinese government has still not returned his passport, told The Guardian that closing down Beijing Fake Cultural Development “could be an excuse not to give us a fine” and said he hoped the outcome could prevent similar swindling of Chinese citizens in the future:

“I think they want to back down to try and conclude this case. From the beginning they should not have had it; they were using very old tactics to punish someone and make up a crime to make people think ‘He’s a bad guy’ … That didn’t work and it backfired. I think it completely failed,” he said on Monday.

“Of course they didn’t like the fact it had gone on so long and could last longer.”

Ai added that he had mixed feelings about the long-running case.

“Of course we have lost the battle – they kept our [tax deposit]. But I think we have won the war. We gave people a clear understanding of what the Fake case was about and how they handled it,” he said.