Yesterday, Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei announced that authorities have revoked the business license for his design company in Beijing. According to the BBC, authorities are claiming that the artist failed to re-register the firm, while Ai views this move as yet another attempt to silence him.
The artist stated on Tuesday that he was unable to re-register his company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., after officials confiscated necessary documents from his home in the run-up to his 81-day detainment last year. "They've returned computers, but not the accounting documents related to taxes," the 55-year-old stated to Reuters.
The loss of the artist's business license comes after his unsuccessful attempt to appeal a tax evasion fine imposed on the Fake Cultural Development firm. A Chinese court last month upheld the 15m yuan ($2.4 million) tax fine, meaning Ai faces possible arrest if he does not pay the remaining fee of around 6.6 million yuan ($1.1 million). Following the ruling, the activist stated last week that he has no intention of cooperating.
Ai's lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, explained that it was not clear when the firm would be closed or how this would affect the tax evasion fine. But Ai made it clear to Reuters that if the government closes his company, there will be no way for the artist to pay the existing tax fine. "If they shut down the company, then entities to pay any fine will not exist," Ai said. "I feel this waives any penalties for the company."
According to another lawyer advising Ai, Du Yanlin, the shutdown would not impact his art career, since he could pursue projects in his own name. "The company practically speaking doesn't exist anymore," said Yanlin to AFP. Ai's career does remain restricted though, as he is still unable to travel abroad while he is being investigated for alleged crimes (including putting pornography online).
Let us know what you think of Ai Weiwei's recent run-in with Chinese authorities in the comments section. In the meantime, check out "Never Sorry," a documentary about Weiwei, here: