Ai Weiwei uses donation money to pay off tax bond
Hopes tax bond will allow for administrative review
Administrative review does not guarantee positive outcome for Ai
Support from public encourages his fight
Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei paid 8.45 million yuan ($1.3 million) for a charge against his wife’s company to prevent her from going to jail, he told CNN Tuesday.
Ai told CNN that if the tax charge went unpaid then his wife, the legal representative of Fake Cultural Ltd., would have been sent to jail.
When news of the tax charges broke earlier this month, there was a huge outpouring of donations from fellow activists and supporters wanting to ease the 15 million yuan ($2.3 million) debt. Ai told CNN that the donations grew to more than 9 million yuan, but he only used a portion of it for this payment, which he hopes will give him the right to an administrative review.
Speaking to CNN by phone Tuesday, Ai said he is not optimistic about the possible results of any review. “We don’t expect any justice to come after the administrative review because there was no justice from the beginning when I was taken away,” he said, referring to his imprisonment in April.
The artist was detained on allegations of tax evasion. However, his family and human rights advocates believe that the real reason for his imprisonment is his criticism of the Chinese government. Ai was released on bail in June for his good attitude and medical concerns, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Local authorities held a closed hearing in July on the tax evasion allegations, despite demands for an open hearing from Ai and the company’s lawyers. According to the artist, authorities also declined their demand to publish the accounting records and other evidence that lead to the tax evasion charge.
Ai told CNN earlier this month he was initially detained and imprisoned on charges of “subversion of state power,” but upon his release the charge was changed to tax evasion.
“This is against judicial law, and is unethical. How can a country use this way to try to silence dissidents?” he asked.
“China always uses tax issues to cover up political issues. If the government keeps taking revenge on its dissidents with the law, it will only lead the country to its opposite side,” Ai said.
Despite having the money to pay off the bond, Ai told CNN that the tax authorities he dealt with made it difficult for he and his wife to fix the situation; refusing to take their house as collateral and even insisting that their money was transferred into a specific account.
Speaking to CNN Tuesday, Ai said he remains defiant, crediting his public support.
“But we have to appeal instead of giving up. I’m a public figure. I hope to help everyone in China to realize the reality. People said to me that ‘when you’re fined, it is like we’re fined. That’s why we supported you.””
CNN’s Jaime FlorCruz and Haolan Hong contributed to this report.