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2011年11月9日星期三

111108-CNN-In China, donors to Ai Weiwei's tax bill send message to Beijing

http://newsstream.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/08/donors-to-ai-weiwei/
November 8, 2011
Posted: 1149 GMT

Ai Weiwei says he can't stop his supporters.

He can't stop them from folding RMB notes into paper planes and throwing them into his garden at midnight.

Earlier today, I talked with Ai Weiwei on the phone about the grassroots fundraising movement. He was thankful for the support but added, "I never asked the public for donations."

Ai said most of the donors are Chinese in their 20s and 30s - some giving up their first month's salary. He noted that a few retired Chinese have given him donations as well.

According to the artist, they are also using their money to make a political statement or a "ticket to vote."

"They all have a message. They are saying, 'We support you. This is such unfairness. It's not a fine to you but to us all.'"

For days now, the Chinese activist/artist has been counting the yuan pouring in from his supporters. Thousands of people in China have been donating money to Ai as he is due to pay a $2.4 million tax bill by mid-November.

Tax evasion was one of the official reasons for his near three-month detention earlier this year.

As of 4pm on Tuesday, Ai Weiwei has received a total of 6,082,451 RMB (that's just over US$958,000) from 22,260 people.

On his Google+ page, Ai details the various payment channels for the donations which include cash, PayPal, China Construction Bank, and the Chinese third-party payment network Alipay.

He says he will pay back every penny.

A number of supporters have showed up to the artist's Beijing compound to donate money in person, including this crumpled RMB note which was thrown into his Beijing compound along with the paper airplanes.

He also described much "tighter control" and more police around his compound in Beijing.

Ai Weiwei also dismissed the state-run Global Times article that said he might be suspected of "illegal fundraising." He added that he "felt sorry" for Sina Weibo after it deactivated his Weibo microblog account just when the fundraising effort was picking up.

But if the total tax bill is paid - and mainly by donations from Chinese citizens - how would Beijing react?

Ai is bracing for the worst. He says, they can accuse him of another crime.

"Either way, you can't get out."

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For more on Ai Weiwei, check out our Beijing team's report at his studio.

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Filed under: China



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