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China: Ai Weiwei pays $1.3m to appeal tax bill

Ai Weiwei has paid the Chinese tax office $1.3 million to launch an appeal against a bill for unpaid taxes, the artist said Tuesday.

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Artist Ai Weiwei is a defiant critic of China's government. (Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Ai Weiwei paid the Chinese tax bureau 8.45 million yuan ($1.3 million) for the right to appeal against charges of tax evasion.

The artist was ordered to pay a 15-million yuan ($2.4 million) tax bill two weeks ago, and pledged to challenge the demand.

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Under Chinese law, Ai was obliged to pay a bond in order to begin legal proceedings.

The tax bureau threatened to hand his case over to police if he failed to pay the bond by November 15, he told the BBC.

Ai raised the sum with the help of some 30,000 doners from around the world. Supporters gave him nearly 9 million yuan ($1.4 million), he said, which he has promised to pay back.

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The artist was not optimistic about the outcome of the appeal, however, telling Reuters:

"Even if I've paid the money, they can even stop the process for an appeal for an administrative review. Even if I've applied for an administrative review, they can ignore me.

"So we harbour no hopes. The only thing we can do now is bring this matter into the open, so the public can see."

Ai's mother, Gao Ying, had offered to sell her house to help her son settle the tax bill. She is not aware he has paid the bond and would be furious to learn he had given in to the authorities' demands, he said.

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