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Ai Weiwei vows to clear tax charges amid fresh obstacles from China authorities

Posted by Author on November 15, 2011

Ai Weiwei has said his life is turning into a “Hollywood movie” as Chinese officials throw up fresh obstacles to his efforts to clear tax charges against his company.

Hours before the deadline for paying the 15m yuan (£1.47m) fine, tax officials told the artist and human rights campaigner he could not use his mother’s house as collateral and that there were problems with the funds he had raised in a public appeal.

“I only heard this morning about this money problem,” Ai told the Guardian on Monday. “They put us in a very difficult situation. They are not following the law. There is nothing I can do.”

His lawyers plan to put up a 8.4m yuan bond, allowing them to lodge an appeal against a tax evasion charge they claim is a politically motivated attempt to pressure him into silence.

The tax issue has become a platform for Ai to question his treatment. An online appeal for financial support has prompted a flurry of donations, which the artist says he will repay.

Asked whether the authorities were deliberating making life difficult, Ai’s tax lawyer, Du Yanling, said: “We cannot determine that. But we think that if the tax authorities have accused us of something, they should allow us to fulfill our responsibilities. And if they don’t allow us to do that, then we can say they are not following their own rules.”

Even if the money is not paid on time, another lawyer, Xia Lin, said Ai would not go to jail because the tax case is lodged against his company, Fake, rather than an individual.

The lawyers were in intense discussions all morning at Ai’s home in Caochangdi, in northern Beijing, which is being monitored by CCTV. Plainclothes police have been standing outside the property, and several vans of uniformed officers were waiting in sidestreets.

Two petitioners were taken away as they tried to unfurl a banner on the pavement. In recent days, other supporters have thrown donations over the wall. It is unclear whether authorities will allow the money to be used.

Ai said he was unsure what would happen next. “It’s amazing: like a Hollywood movie,” he said. “They destroyed my house. They beat me. They put me in secret detention. And now this tax bill. It’s been one thing after another.” (Guardian.co.uk)

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