Last Thursday, the Chinese government rejected artist Ai Weiwei‘s appeal of a $2.4 million fine levied against his FAKE design studio company for tax evasion, a charge that most regard as trumped up to justify the artist’s arrest last year. Ai says there’s no way he’ll pay.
Ai has continued to fight the Chinese government’s charges, going so far as to deposit $1.33 million in a government-controlled bank account in order to be allowed to make his appeal. He told the Wall Street Journal that he thinks that the initial money is already lost, but he refuses to pay any more.
At the very least, Ai was allowed inside the court for the ruling. “I told them the whole thing was a disgrace,” the artist noted, describing a group of “helpless” court staff who “didn’t want to do it,” but were compelled to pass on the verdict by the government. He tweeted an image of his court ruling with just a single word: “Disgrace.” The full photo of the ruling is below.
Later, Ai tweeted a pithy judgment of the Chinese legal structure: “Do you still have illusions about this system? I stopped having illusions a long time ago, I only have delusions.”
The outcome of the suit is a stalemate — Ai isn’t paying, and, so far at least, China isn’t compelling him to pay or making further threats. “We’re not going to pay the fine because we don’t recognize the charge,” he told WSJ. “And I think they’re probably too embarrassed to come and ask for it.” The $1.33 million deposit was largely funded by supporters who went so far as to throw money over Ai’s studio wall. Paying the donors back, the artist estimates, will take two to three months.
The fine isn’t Ai’s only problem, though. The artist is also fighting for the return of his passport, which was confiscated when he was arrested in April of 2011. The document should have been returned to him following a probation period that recently ended, but the passport is still missing.
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