【 Guardian 】   Post Date: 10/1/2012
Ai Weiwei firm to be closed down by Chinese authorities
Author: Tania Branigan
Chinese authorities are closing down the firm handling Ai Weiwei's affairs, the outspoken artist said on Monday, possibly saving him from paying the remainder of a 15m yuan (£1.5m) tax fine.
guardian.co.uk, Monday 1 October 2012 03.13 EDT
 
2012101Ai-Weiwei-008.jpg (460×276)
 
Ai Weiwei outside court in Beijing last week. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP
 
 
 
Chinese authorities are closing down the firm handling Ai Weiwei's affairs, the outspoken artist said on Monday, possibly saving him from paying the remainder of a 15m yuan (£1.5m) tax fine.
 
The 55-year-old said he believed he and his team had lost the battle but won the war, after a court rejected his appeal against the charges last week.
 
Officials said this weekend they were removing Fake Cultural Development's business licence because it had not met annual registration requirements. The company has been unable to do so because police confiscated all its materials and its stamp when they detained Ai last year.
 
"I think it could be an excuse not to give us a fine," the artist added. Ai's lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, said it was not clear how Fake could pay the 6.6m yuan outstanding if it had no licence. But he added that he had filed a request for a hearing into its closure.
 
Ai's supporters have always said the fine and his 81-day detention were in retaliation for his social and political activism, while Chinese authorities insist the case was unrelated to human rights and was solely about tax evasion. He was held amid a broader crackdown on dozens of activists, lawyers and dissidents.
 
Thousands of supporters sent Ai money to help pay an 8.45m yuan bond, allowing him to challenge the charges. After his appeal was rejected he said he would refuse to pay the rest because he did not recognise the fine, adding that he suspected authorities would be too embarrassed to collect it.
 
"I think they want to back down to try and conclude this case. From the beginning they should not have had it; they were using very old tactics to punish someone and make up a crime to make people think 'He's a bad guy' … That didn't work and it backfired. I think it completely failed," he said on Monday.
 
 
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