Why the Chinese government can always win in court? The “tax case” of Ai Weiwei @aiww 艾未未

Wednesday, 20 June, 2012

Q: Why the Chinese government can always win in court?

A: The Chinese government can always lock up or magically make your lawyer “unreachable”. In addition, they can send police to block you from attending your own court hearing. And as if these are not enough, the judges will always follow the wishes of the central government to ensure prompt victory by the governments.

Guardian June 20, 2012, “Ai Weiwei barred from court hearing by Chinese police – Dissident artist says police warned him to stay away from court hearing on company’s lawsuit against Beijing tax authorities

CNN June 20, 2012, “China dissident Ai Weiwei harassed by police, he says

Guardian June 20, 2012, “Ai Weiwei’s lawyer missing as artist is warned away from tax hearing – Chinese dissident being told not to attend court as it considers his challenge to a fine for alleged unpaid taxes

Bloomberg June 19, 2012, “Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Says Police Block Him From Court

Reuters, June 20, 2012 “Chinese police warn Ai Weiwei to avoid tax hearing


Update: I am thrilled that Ai Weiwei retweeted this post and I am ready to see Chinese spambots starting to flood my Twitter stream now!  At the same time, I asked & replied with a serious and fundamental questions/concerns for foreigners and foreign businesses “@aiww Sad u can’t attend your tax case in court + they “disappear” your lawyer. How can foreigners or int. businesses trust Chinese courts?

China’s Ai Weiwei 4 Self-Surveillance Cameras ordered to shutdown, Beijing Gov’s 15 Surveillance Cameras still running

Friday, 6 April, 2012

WeiWeiCam - bedroom pix

Chinese original (see below for English translation): “艺术家艾未未在其位于北京草场地258号的办公室、卧室、院子分别安装了4个摄像头,通过weiweicam.com 网站直播日常生活。2012年4月2日19点开始,至4月4日18:09分被迫关闭,进行了47小时9分钟,点击520万次,下载100GB。”

English translation: “Chinese artist Ai Weiwei installed four webcams in his office, bedroom, and yard at his Beijing studio (258 Fake) live-streaming his daily life on http://weiweicam.com The live-streaming started on 19:00 April 2nd, 2012 (one year anniversary of his illegal “disappearance” by Chinese government). The cameras were forced to shutdown on 18:09 on April 4th. The broadcast lasted 47 hours 9 minutes, 5.2 million visits, 100GB data downloaded.
The following are 73 screen captures of the live broadcast.”

When the Beijing Chinese government has 15 video cameras set outside of Ai Weiwei‘s studio/home recording all the comings and goings of Ai and his guests, it is a bit absurd that the four self-surveillance cameras installed by Ai inside his studio/home were ordered to be shutdown. I very much agree with Twitter user’s sentiment.

“It’s fine for them to set up cameras to look at you, but it’s not fine for you to set up cameras to help them look at you,” one Twitter user wrote in Chinese after the cameras went down. “Absurd in the extreme.”” [HT WSJ]

CNN has a video interview with Ai. BBC has an audio interview with Ai. Also see reports from WSJ, Guardian, France 24NYTLA Times, MSNBC.

Only in an absurd world you will see any government afraid of its people singing its national anthem! Well, here I’ve set pictures from Ai Weiwei’s 4 Self-Surveillance footage to he People’s Republic of China‘s national anthem “March of the Volunteers 义勇军进行曲“. Feel free to read the attached lyrics.

Ai Weiwei Self-Surveillance-HD set to March of the Volunteers (PRC national anthem)

*** English Translation of “March of the Volunteers” via Wikipedia:
Arise! All those who don’t want to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood forge our new Great Wall!
As the Chinese people have arrived at their most perilous time.
Every person is forced to expel his very last cry.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beating as one,
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

*** Chinese Simplified original

Best Defence Against the 50 Cent Army if you support @aiww 帮艾未未时,如何应付五毛党

Wednesday, 8 February, 2012

What is 50 Cent Army (五毛党)? According to Wikipedia50 Cent Army/Party is a term for (emphasis added with minor edit),

Internet commentators (网络评论员)) hired by the government of the People’s Republic of China (both local and central) or the Communist Party to post comments favorable towards party policies in an attempt to shape and sway public opinion on various Internet message boards.

How did I get myself tangled with the 50 Cent Army (五毛党)? Well, I’ve written about Ai Weiwei (艾未未 @aiww) once in a while since I think he is a great Chinese artist/political activist. Recently, when I tweeted something about Weiwei that got retweeted by @aiww, I would get Twitter mentioned by one of the 50 Cent Army (in this case Twitter user 20uI30a)!

OK, the best defence against the 50 Cent Army (五毛党) is to ignore them. Yes, ignore them! Don’t waste your energy, just ignore them!

In my case, so far I’ve taken one step further to confirm the offending Twitter accounts actually have the telltale signs of 50 Cent Army and I then will block the user and report them for spam. Of course, my act of blocking and reporting the accounts for spam is a complete waste of time! Why? Because these type spam Twitter accounts are disposable accounts! They are automatically created. Once these accounts did their job of wasting your time/energy to read and reply, etc the posters had already moved on to a brand new spam account. The spammers are “smart” and fully expected these accounts to be suspended. So after posting a few tweets (127), they will stop using an account and move on.

So save yourself the time, just ignore the 50 Cent Army. I’ve wasted my time to write this post so that you don’t have to waste your time. :)

P.S. Part of me is sad for people in the 50 Cent Army but then thinking they get 50 cents per post, it makes me laugh at the topsy turvy world of China.

Middle Fingers Salute to the Absentee Ai Weiwei at Sundance 2012

Sunday, 29 January, 2012

Pictures of Middle Fingers Salute to the Absentee Ai Weiwei as Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry won U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance at Sundance 2012. RT@aiww:指天骂地 RT @denghaoyang:中指森林。@aiww RT @AWWNeverSorry:昨夜 圣丹斯颁奖给@aliklay @AWWNeverSorry @aiww现场,表彰他们’道歉你妹’的反抗精神

For the record, two film reviews from industry respected sources. Excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter review (emphasis added),

“The filming is much of the point: Like Warhol 2.0, Ai documents his surroundings obsessively and views Twitter as a necessity. Through a constant online presence, he has become “Teacher Ai” to a legion of followers, and some of his most important art/politics hybrid projects — like one intent on uncovering facts about the Sichuan earthquake that the government wants buried — rely on their participation. As we spend time with him in his studios and home, Ai seems authentically driven by a need for more freedom than China is currently offering.”

Excerpt from Variety review (emphasis added),

“Rather than dwelling too heavily on his museum shows, much of the film expands upon Ai’s key tweets of the past few years. Hence, the incidents that take precedence include the wrenchingly unjust demolition of his Shanghai artist’s studio and his confrontational attempts to seek justice for a police raid that left him with a bleeding head wound — both major events for Klayman to have caught oncamera.

Among Ai’s better-known work is a series of photographs that feature his extended middle finger superimposed over Tiananmen Square and other iconic sites. Whereas many contemporary artists question authority via their work, Ai does not confine his criticism of hegemony to galleries and museums. Instead, he takes the assault directly to the powers that be, which in turn expands the scope of his work to a form of pseudo-performance art, providing Klayman with a handful of lively “happenings” to include in her film, such as Ai’s heated confrontation with the officer who allegedly beat him.

Though the docu provides occasional insights into Ai’s personality, China serves as the more interesting character here, a complex adversary capable of inspiring a range of creative reactions from the artist. By opening with a metaphor about exceptional cat that has learned to open doors, Klayman stresses the one-in-a-billion odds of someone like Ai existing. The film is a good start, but such an important artist deserves a more rigorous portrait.”

As I tweeted, I am very much looking forward to watch Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Alison has captured some very important moments and stories in Ai Weiwei‘s life and it is about time more of us get to know him.

Jan 30, 2012 update: LA Times, “Ai Weiwei documentary gets middle-finger salute at Sundance

News re Ai Weiwei and his followers’ mass nudity protest

Friday, 25 November, 2011

* Nov 29, Guardian, “Chinese police question Ai Weiwei’s wife – Lu Qing released after three hours of questioning, according to the artist and activist

* Nov 29, Telegraph, “Chinese police question Ai Weiwei’s wife – The wife of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident, was taken in for almost three hours of questioning by police in Beijing on Tuesday and warned her not to leave the city.

* Nov 26, Guardian, “Ai Weiwei: ‘Every day I think, this will be the day I get taken in again…’The more he is harassed by his government, the more Ai Weiwei becomes a symbol of activism in China. But how much longer can he continue to speak out?

* Nov 26, Taipei Times, “Ma defends Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for China to respect human rights and defended Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s (艾未未) right to freedom of expression as he attended an exhibition of Ai’s work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.”

* Nov 25, Seattle PI “Taiwan leader calls for artistic freedom in China

“The distance between Taiwan and China will be determined by their views on human rights protection,” Ma [Taiwan President] said. “When our views get closer, the two sides will move closer.”

* Nov 23, Media Bistro, “Ai Weiwei’s Assistant Investigated for Pornography, Internet Supporters Go Nude (or Nearly) in Show of Solidarity

* Nov 22, MSNBC, “Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei answers reader questions

Q: How did you react to the love shown by your supporters who raised money to help you with your legal issues with the government? Were you at all surprise, and how did those who oppose you respond to this kind of support?

Ai Weiwei: I was deeply impressed, firstly surprised by the reaction of the people who openly support me, who was accused by the state with tax fault. This never happened in a nation like china where the authority is the law. And people really can express their feeling against the accusations. With my unique condition, because I have been working with internet for the past few years, and created a space where the oldest power structure seems much less powerful. So people used the money as a voting ticket to express their feelings against authorities, which was trying to manipulate judicial system, and to punish someone who have different opinions, or even a simple expression which reflects certain kind of freedom. In less than 10 days with restriction that my name can not even be recognized on Chinese internet, we got support over 9 million yuan(about 1.4 million dollars), and that not only came as a surprise to me, but a surprise o the whole society and the authorities as well. That would become a symbolic event which really announced a kind of people’s power from Internet.


Q: I didn’t think you were allowed to talk to the press after being released from prison, what’s changed?

Ai Weiwei: I’m not talking to press. I’m talking to people.


Q: Do you believe that you can beat the tax evasion charges?

Ai Weiwei: In current conditions I don’t think we can change the outcome of tax evasion investigation because we don’t have independent judicial system. We don’t even have independent tax department. Chinese media, tax bureau, and the court, they are all under one party’s control. There’s no miracle about it. But at the same time, we already won the trial outside the trial. People openly discuss it and support me. It’s already a victory. It will also be a reminder to the powers that they should never use justice as a means for revenge, otherwise that would really hurt themselves, and put the nation in a shadow when there’s no trust in justice.

* Nov 22, MSNBC, “The story behind the chat with Ai Weiwei

* Nov 22, WaPo, “Ai Weiwei rallies his followers in protests

* Nov 21, 2011 Guardian, “Ai Weiwei supporters strip off as artist faces ‘porn’ investigation

* Nov 21, Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei’s followers’ mass nudity protest” (uncensored nude photo)

* Nov 21, HuffPost, “Ai Weiwei Supporters Tweet Naked Photos



艾未粉果 Ai Wei Fans’ Nudity – Listen Chinese Government: Nudity is NOT Pornography

I like this one “@yanglicai: 同光同罪”. In rough English translation, “if nudity is breaking the law, I am breaking the same law, sentence me the same way”)

People’s money battles with oppressors (這是對抗強權的人民幣)

Saturday, 12 November, 2011

“這是對抗強權的人民幣” New meaning for Renminbi (People’s money), “People’s money battles with oppressors.”

Two more days to lend money to Ai Weiwei, so far $7,571,713 yuan from 26,723 micro creditors have been raised to protest Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users.

From Ai Weiwei’s Google+ Account.

艾未未 – 9:13 AM (edited) – Public

支付宝 19322笔 2477717元
建行卡 4559笔 2704123元
paypal 792 笔 290522元
现金 335笔 1385257元
邮局汇款1715笔 714094元


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets 21,000+ microloans totalling 5.9m yuan so far to pay his 15m yuan tax bill

Monday, 7 November, 2011

For the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, it is not about the money, it is a chance to let the Chinese public to voice their support of him and disapproval of Chinese government unjust accusation/judgement. Read along to find out what these two donations signify:

512 yuan, about $80

89.64 yuan, or about $14

Washington Post, “Ai Weiwei fans raise funds to pay his massive tax bill

“In a strong affront to the Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users, fans of the artist Ai Weiwei have raised more than $830,000 in three days through social media to help the artist fight a $2.4 million tax bill from the state.”

BBC English, “Ai Weiwei China tax bill paid by supporters” (with English interview)

“By Monday, there had been donations totalling more than 5m yuan ($790,000; £490,000) to pay off the $2.4m in taxes and fines the authorities say he owes.

Many people believe he was served the bill because of his outspoken criticism of the government rather than because he had evaded taxes. Read the rest of this entry »

“Most powerful artist” in the world Ai Weiwei (艾未未) doesn’t feel powerful

Thursday, 13 October, 2011

Have a listen to BBC radio interview of “most powerful artist” in the world, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (+艾未未). Ai, I don’t feel powerful at all. I am still under detention. (also see reports in UK Reuters, Telegraph)

Other recent insightful articles and video:
1) NYTimes Oct 13, Dissident Creates by Remote Control
2) Ai Weiwei’s wife urges China to drop plan on detentions
3) PBNS Frontline doc (free online): Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?

Chinese government’s $400K Time Square ad

Wednesday, 3 August, 2011

Chinese gov ad at Time Square

The Chinese government’s Time Square ad, allegedly costing $300K – $400K per month, is worth every penny. Because it is much more expendable than the blood, toil, tears and sweat needed to create a legal system that respects the rule of law and human rights. Just ask Ai Wei Wei, Liu Xiaobo, and Liu Xia.


[HT Edward & Mad Dog]

Release Ai Weiwe 艾未未i ! Where is Ai Weiwei?

Friday, 8 April, 2011

The lawless Chinese government has detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei but his family, friends, and supporters have no idea of his whereabout.

More news from: The Independent, Newsweek “A Provocateur Finds Out Just How Far He Can Go“.

Release Ai Weiwei ! Where is Ai Weiwei?


Weiwei sent a message to the police back in China,

Some photos, at the right moment, completely change the history. - part 1

Some photos, at the right moment, completely change the history. - part 2

Weiwei snapped this photo. Then he tweeted it to his online followers. - pix 1 Read the rest of this entry »

Where is Ai Weiwei? 尋人啓事:艾未未

Wednesday, 6 April, 2011


* CNN, “Where is Ai Weiwei”

* Bloomberg, “Arrest of Artist Ai Weiwei Prompts Germany to Summon Chinese Ambassador”

* Bloomberg, “Ai Weiwei Probed for ‘Economic Crimes’ by China as Global Backlash Mounts”

* Guardian, “Ai Weiwei is investigated by Chinese police for ‘economic crimes'”

* BBC, “Chinese artist Ai Weiwei held for ‘economic crimes'”

* Slate, “Has China Decided to Declare Ai Weiwei a Criminal?”

趙連海:以死抗爭 (with video)


April 8th update:

* Vancouver Sun, “The smell of jasmine strikes fear in China’s leadership – Seasoned watchers say this is the most intense drive against dissent by the authorities over the past 15 years

* CNN News with video, “Chinese artist Ai Weiwei: Economic criminal?

* CNN, “Ai arrest highlights China’s crackdown

* The Huffington Post, “Free Ai Weiwei

* Guardian, “Ai Weiwei detention nothing to do with freedom of expression, says China – Foreign ministry removes all references to detained artist from official transcript of news conference and claims he is being investigated for economic crimes

“The Chinese government has removed references to Ai Weiwei from its official transcript of a news conference. Ten of the 18 questions at the briefing on Thursday concerned the prominent activist, who was detained on Sunday at Beijing airport. All were omitted from the transcript posted on Friday on the foreign ministry’s website.

A spokesman for the department, Hong Lei, said Ai was being investigated for economic crimes, but gave no details. He added that the inquiry had nothing to do with freedom of expression, although the artist has often been targeted by the government. “China is a country under the rule of law, and relevant authorities will work according to law,” he said.”


April 7 update:

* The Guardian, “Ai Weiwei’s family denounce ‘absurd’ economic crimes investigation”

* The Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei’s family speak out against investigation”

Lu Qing, Mr Ai’s wife, said that while no one had expected the arrest, Mr Ai had a “bad feeling” in the week preceding the arrest, especially after multiple visits by the police to the family home. She said a further 40 to 50 policemen had combed the house since last Sunday, taking away computers and money.

“I never expected things would get this bad,” she said. “I have been on the phone to the authorities non-stop since Sunday and no one has been able to say a single word about what is going on,” she added.

Ai has high blood pressure and diabetes. I’m seriously concerned for his health, and about whether anyone is giving him his medicine. His mother has also been very unstable these last few days, and she also has high blood pressure,” she said.

Mr Ai, whose 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds are currently filling the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery in London, is thought to earn a substantial living from his art. Next month, an installation by Mr Ai will be mounted outside the Plaza hotel in New York, before then travelling to Somerset House in London.

In the past, the Chinese authorities have pursued government critics like Mr Ai for alleged tax violations or other non-political crimes.”

* ABC News, “Potential 2012 Presidential Contender Amb. Jon Huntsman Criticizes China’s Human Rights Record In ‘Farewell’ Speech”

United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman delivered a “farewell” speech in Shanghai on Wednesday and he “commended Liu, Ai and others like them who “challenge the Chinese government to serve the public in all cases and at all times.”

“By speaking out candidly,” he noted, “we hope eventually to narrow and bridge this critical gap and move our relationship forward.””

* BBC News, Profile: Ai Weiwei

* Wall Street Journal blog, “Huntsman Suggests Change Needed in Beijing, Not Washington”

* The Diplomat, “Ai Weiwei and ‘Economic Crimes’”

Remarks by Ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr.at the Barnett-Oksenberg Lecture

Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei? Lessons for Canadians #elxn41

Sunday, 3 April, 2011

April 3, 2011: Ai Weiwei detained by Chinese gov.

Guardian, “The 53-year-old [Ai Weiwei] remains uncontactable more than 12 hours after officials held him at the capital’s airport. […] His detention comes amid what human rights campaigners have described as the harshest crackdown on activists and dissidents in over a decade.

The Telegraph, “Ai Weiwei stopped from leaving China

The New Yorker by Evan Osnos, “Ai Weiwei Detained” – Highly recommended article.

Have a watch of the full PBS Frontline documentary: “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?

“All of a sudden, these people who’b been standing on the sidewalk, milling around doing things, turned out to be people who had come to have dinner with him [Ai Weiwei]. And everybody there knew that, by simply eating dinner there, it was an act of defiance.”

P.S. When I saw Ai Weiwei willing to risk his life in “Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?” in order to fight for a better China, I am ashamed of the low voters’ turnout in Canada. It pains me to see my fellow Canadians, young Canadians, adult Canadians, born with the rights to vote easily giving up their rights/privilege to vote and ignoring their duty to vote in elections.

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