Artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who spent almost three months is detention and has since been ordered to pay $2.4 million in back taxes, visited the tax bureau to pay $1.3 million in order to secure the right to access the administrative review of his case. The money he paid had been collected from supporters online, and Ai has said he will repay the money if he wins his case. Reuters reports:
Surrounded by television reporters outside the tax bureau, Ai said tax authorities told him they will “carefully handle” an administrative review, in which a panel re-examines the merits of an official decision to bill him 15 million yuan.
“I’m speaking up, not for myself, but for those who have no voice,” Ai, 54, told Reuters in an interview at his home and studio in northeastern Beijing.
“I hope that when society looks at me, they’ll remember that I’m not an individual case,” he said. “Many people don’t understand why they can’t be with their children, they aren’t able to see the people they want to see. Their voices will never be heard,” he said.
In an interview with CNN, Ai said he had little hope of winning a court case but he hopes to score a moral victory over the government:
Now, Ai and his lawyer are trying to locate two missing company staffers who are the only ones to have allegedly seen the official tax evasion documents.
Ai said they were detained and severely interrogated and that police are “hiding them somewhere.”
The artist said he expects Western nations to turn a blind eye to China’s human rights record since they need Beijing’s economic clout and ready cash reserves to finance their public debt.