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2011 loan

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Xīnmǎo jièkuǎn | 辛卯借款

Call for “loans” to Ai Weiwei superimposed over a cartoon by Rebel Pepper

In late 2011 (a Xīnmǎo year in the Sexagenary cycle), Chinese tax authorities ordered dissident artist Ai Weiwei to pay 15 million yuan (US$2.4 million) in alleged back taxes and fines.

When he received the tax notice, Ai had just been released on bail after an 81-day detention that appeared to be retaliation for his support for the Jasmine Revolution. Netizens perceived the fine as continuing punishment for his political activities and decided to “loan” Ai Weiwei the funds needed to pay the fine.

By November 4, 2011, a total of 2,381 people had “lent” Ai Weiwei 665,000 yuan, many by tucking bills into paper airplanes and flinging them over the walls of Ai's studio in Beijing. By mid-November, supporters had sent Ai more than enough to cover the fines. The artist repaid donors with a rendition of the “Song of the Grass-Mud Horse.”

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