China tells Ai no trial for tax
Chinese authorities have told dissident artist Ai Weiwei he will not be given a public hearing to reconsider a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) tax evasion penalty, said Ai. REUTERS photoChinese authorities have told dissident artist Ai Weiwei he will not be given a public hearing to reconsider a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) tax evasion penalty allegedly due from the company he works for, Ai said on Thursday, a move he denounced as “inconceivable”.Supporters of Ai, whose 81-day secret detention last year sparked an international outcry, have said the tax case is part of Beijing’s efforts to muzzle China’s most famous social critic.
Ai, 54, told Reuters by telephone he received the notice, dated March 23, from tax authorities on Tuesday. It said Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which has helped produce Ai’s internationally renowned art and designs, will only be given “a written hearing” and not a public trial. “I think this is inconceivable,” Ai said. “Our lawyer said: ‘Which country in the world doesn’t dare to face their own taxpayers?’” “I can only think that anything that cannot be made public is due to embarrassment at making it public,” Ai said. “As the people who’ve been charged, we aren’t afraid of making it public.”
“But as a country, how can you be afraid of being transparent?” Beijing tax authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Ai paid a bond of 8.45 million yuan last November - all contributions from tens of thousands of supporters - that allowed him access to an administrative review of the tax evasion charges.