Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Conflicting Choices

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei handed over $1.3 million in taxes today -- he had to pay up in order to appeal his tax bill.

The tax office changed the rules and said that in order to Ai to appeal, he had to hand over the money, or face police prosecution. And he had to pay up by today.

Ai was conflicted because the authorities changed the rules because making him pay gave the perception he admitted guilt of tax evasion.

"How they are saying we have to deposit it into the tax bureau's account [so] even during the appeal, they can just take it, which is not fair," the 54-year-old said earlier. "That way they can tell the public: 'This guy has paid and the case is over... that's all they want, they're so childish."

In the end Ai relented.

"This is the only way we could lodge an appeal. If we missed the deadline they said they could turn the case over to the police," he said later.

He used the money supporters donated 9 million RMB ($1.4 million) and Ai has promised to pay them all back.

After he handed the money, Ai told the BBC: "I feel upset and helpless. The whole process is absolutely outrageous."

Now that he has handed the money over to the authorities, Ai isn't even sure if the appeal will be allowed to proceed since he has paid part of the tax bill.

"It's not lawful, but in China you can't really argue with them," he said.

None of the related authorities, the tax bureau or any government department connected to the case would comment on Ai's situation.

Ai knows he's playing with fire, but the public's respect of him [those who are aware of him] has grown stronger because he's having such a public fight against the authorities.

For them he represents the oppressed and they are standing behind him to give him as much support as they can.

Who knows how this will end -- the ball is now in the government's court.

1 comment:

  1. THERE IS A CHINESE SAYING: IF YOU WANT TO PROSECUTE ANYONE THERE ARE LOTS OF EXCUSES.

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