Less than a week after his release from detention, Ai Weiwei—forbidden to discuss his case and restricted to the city limits of Beijing for at least one year—was hit today with a bill for some $1.87 million in unpaid taxes and fines.
At the time of his return home on June 22, the official Xinhua News Agency claimed that Ai had shown “a good attitude in confessing his crimes” and “repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded.” Now the cost has been specified: $773,000 in back taxes, $1.1 million in penalties.
The notice was delivered from the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau to Ai’s home on June 27, although the artist refused to sign an acknowledgement of receipt.
The charges allegedly stem from destruction of certain financial records at Ai’s design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. But they are widely seen as the government’s way of punishing Ai for his political outspokenness.
The only bright spot in the current scenario is that four of the artist’s associates, who had also been detained for nearly three months, were finally released late last week. They are: accountant Hu Mingfen, studio worker Liu Zhenggang, driver Zhang Jingsong and reporter Wen Tao.