China has handed down a tax bill to one its most famous critics, saying the artist Ai Weiwei owes $2.4 million.
Ai, who was held without access to family or lawyers and without formal charges for nearly three months this spring, told Reuters that the government arbitrarily labeled him as controller for his design firm, and said the company owes back taxes. The tax case against Ai was widely panned as a government attempt to silence the internationally famous artist. Since his detention, the previously outspoken Ai has been all but silent, granting only a few interviews and steering clear of social media platforms where he was once a prolific poster.
Ai told Reuters the charges are against his firm, but clearly single him out. He said there's no evidence his company dodged taxes.
"Up till this day, Fake Company has not seen any account statements," Ai told Reuters. "I told them: 'This is not reasonable.'
"But they told me: 'If the country says you have evaded taxes, then you must have evaded them. Why don't you lose hope? This country will never change its ways.'"