China's Ai Weiwei Sues Tax Office in "Evasion" Case
China's Ai Weiwei sues tax office in "evasion" case
BEIJING | Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:46am EDT
By Sui-Lee Wee
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is suing Beijing tax authorities for violating the law by imposing a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) tax evasion penalty on the company he works for without allowing him access to evidence and witnesses, Ai said on Friday.
Supporters of Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, have said the tax case is part of the government's effort to muzzle China's most famous social critic.
Ai, 54, is urging a Beijing court to overturn the city tax office's rejection of his appeal against the tax evasion penalty imposed on the company he works for, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which has helped produce his art and designs.
"In the handling of the whole process for Fake, some of their actions were illegal and violated regulations," Ai told Reuters by telephone, adding that he is waiting to hear whether the court would agree to hear the suit.
The Chinese authorities keep harping on "legality," and make much of enhancing the judicial sector, so it makes sense to take them up on it -or, try to. It won't work, but it will expose the authorities politically. With the upcoming party congress, and the extralegal purge of some political figures recently, the situation of the Chinese leadership is particularly vulnerable at this moment. Now would be a smart time for opposition forces to strike.