News / Asia

Ai Weiwei Tax Donations Pouring In

A man waits to contribute money at Beijing home of dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Nov. 7, 2011.
A man waits to contribute money at Beijing home of dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Nov. 7, 2011.

Thousands of Chinese added their contributions Tuesday to help artist Ai Weiwei pay a massive tax bill that many see as an attempt to silence the outspoken social critic.

At Ai's Beijing art studio, volunteer Liu Yanping says more than 20,000 contributions arrived from within China and around the world.

"As of last night at about 10 o'clock we have received over 5.6 million yuan in over 20,000 transactions," said Liu via a translator. The contributions total more than $900,000.

Ai, who was held without charges for almost three months earlier this year, has been ordered to pay $2.4 million in back taxes by next week.

Political conspiracy suspected

Ai's supporters, however, suspect the tax bill was manufactured to justify his detention for political reasons. Ai says the authorities have never explained the basis for the bill and that they are still holding his accounting records.

The artist told Reuters news agency in an interview Tuesday that he has not yet decided whether to pay the bill, explaining that if he pays the bill it would make it possible to appeal the bill. But he said police have told him that paying the bill would be taken as an admission of guilt. He has also been told if he doesn't pay, the affair will be treated as a criminal matter.

Ai's international supporters worry the high-profile donation campaign may lead to more legal trouble for the artist. But Swiss art gallery owner Urs Meile, who works with Ai, says the man is driven by the same forces that made him China's most celebrated modern artist.

"Of course he is afraid somehow, but on the other hand he says 'I cannot stop doing these things,'" said Meile. "It is like an artist who wants to do an art work, nothing can keep him away from doing certain things."

At Ai's Beijing studio, some acknowledge that the donation campaign has become more than just an attempt to help a wealthy artist with a tax bill.

Volunteer Zhang Haining says by making small contributions, the thousands of Chinese can forge a powerful and fearless political force.

"I want to stir the hearts of the Chinese people, and right now I hope that the Chinese people won't be too numb," said Zhang. "If everyone makes their small contribution, I think it can become a powerful force -- one that is fearless."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More