【 Reuters 】   Post Date: 9/26/2012
Ai Weiwei pushes back on tax fraud charges
Author: Sui-Lee Wee
The Chinese artist and dissident vows to continue the fight against what he says are fraudulent charges designed to silence him.  The government is accusing his company of evading $2.4 million dollars in taxes, and while the cost of fighting the charges is high, Ai says it is important to society that he fights on.
(Reuters) - Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said he was ready to continue to battle the country's legal system if he loses a second appeal on Thursday against a huge tax evasion fine, a case that has badly tarnished China's human rights reputation.
The $2.4 million tax evasion case is widely seen as an attempt to muzzle the outspoken artist who has repeatedly criticized his government for not sticking to the rule of law.
Ai, who has waged a near five-month long legal battle with a Beijing tax agency, said on Wednesday that he had little hope of winning the second appeal.
"We will keep trying, we will not stop," Ai, 55, told Reuters by telephone.
"This price is large, but if I don't bear this, it will be a loss to society."
Ai had asked the Chaoyang District court to overturn the city tax office's rejection of his appeal against the 15 million yuan ($2.38 million) tax evasion penalty imposed on the company he works for, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, which produces his art and designs.
"My efforts are not just for the company, but it's also so that this matter will have a clear record," he said.
"This record will tell us: a price must be paid for defending our rights. At the same time, we can tell the government that they can't treat people like this, because they pay a huge price too."
Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, said the government had spent massive resources on his case, including deploying dozens of police to flank the road leading to the court during the hearing and appeal this year.
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Key Words: Ai Weiwei, human rights China
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