The Chinese government is ordering outspoken artist Ai Weiwei to pay 15 yuan ($2.3 million) in back taxes, a move Ai calls “retaliation against a dissident.”
Ai said that two representatives from the Beijing tax bureau visited him Tuesday and presented him with documents from the tax authority, ordering the company FAKE Cultural Development Ltd. — registered by Ai’s wife Luqing — to pay the taxes within 15 days.
Ai, who designed the distinctive “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, said he is not even the legal representative of the company, but that police warned him Monday that as the “factual controlling person” of the company, he’d better prepare the money and pay it himself.
Ai told CNN he was initially detained and imprisoned on charges of “subversion of state power,” but upon his release the charge was changed to tax evasion.
“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.
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