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China’s Ai Weiwei To Appeal $2.4 Million Tax Bill


Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing, June 23, 2011.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing, June 23, 2011.

Well-known Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei is questioning how Beijing authorities came up with a more than two million dollar bill for back taxes, and says he may have to auction off his father's house to pay it.

The past year has been difficult for Ai Weiwei.

In April, he disappeared into detention for about two months. Authorities said the detention was over tax evasion, but he says officials repeatedly asked him about his calls for human rights.

On Wednesday, he told VOA that two policemen came to his house this week to deliver a notice demanding that he pay more than two million dollars worth of back taxes.

Ai says there is no detailed or clear explanation of how authorities compiled the total, and the police are holding all of his company's original accounting documents, so there is no way he can verify it.

Tax regulations give him 15 days to pay his bill. If he does not pay, he was told, the case will be transferred to the Public Security Bureau. He says it then becomes a criminal case, in which he could face up to seven years in jail.

Ai says he and his family have decided that they might put up his father's house for auction to pay the bill. He says he is also planning an appeal.

He said he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. He says this is his life, and he has to deal with it.

The 54-year old artist was detained earlier this year, shortly after the so-called Jasmine revolution spread civil unrest throughout the Middle East.

The outspoken and internationally famous artist is best known for helping to design the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Bird's Nest.

He became increasingly critical of the Chinese government following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, when he took up the cause of the thousands of children who were killed when their shoddily built schools collapsed.

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