Ai Weiwei: I feel robbed by Chinese government
The Chinese artist has spoken out for the first time on camera about his tax evasion charge on his way to the Beijing tax bureau.8:58AM GMT 16 Nov 2011
Ai Weiwei made the comments on his way to the Beijing tax bureau where he paid the Chinese government 8.45 million yuan (£820,000), all of it raised by his supporters.
The Chinese government claims the dissident artist's design company Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd owes more than 15 million yuan (£1.5 million) in back taxes and late payments.
The 54-year-old artist plans to appeal the fine and said he would not pay the remaining 6.6 million yuan (£660,000) because that would be a tacit admission of guilt.
He compared his arrest to being held hostage for half a year and having to pay his own "ransom".
"More or less, like I was a hostage half year ago. Now I pay the ransom, and I feel robbed. But, you know, officially," Ai said to reporters, despite conditions for his release banning him from being interviewed by journalists for a year.
Ai has given a series of off-camera interviews since the government charged him for alleged tax evasion earlier this month, but usually refused to speak on television.
He hoped the bond could pave the way to file an appeal on his tax evasion charge and said he was not only fighting for himself.
"We must follow the legal procedure. As an individual citizen, my innocence is linked with the country's innocence. We are not only doing this for ourselves, we think the legal procedure must be just, it must be transparent and just. This is the only way we see hope in this country," Ai said.
After spending about an hour inside Beijing's tax bureau and handing over the money, Ai showed reporters the official tax documents he had obtained.
"Now this means they have officially accepted our tax guaranty, and this means they recognise we can proceed with an administrative review. They also told us that they would treat our administrative review seriously," Ai said, showing off his T-shirt depicting himself as "missing and found" to reporters waiting outside.
The artist was the most high-profile target of a sweeping crackdown on activists that started in February in a bid to prevent protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of bloggers, writers, rights lawyers and other activists were detained, arrested or questioned. Many have since been released but continue to face restrictions on whom they can see and talk to.