2011/05/20

China police alleges Ai Weiwei firm evaded tax

BEIJING, May 20, 2011 (AFP) - Police in Beijing alleged Friday a firm
controlled by Ai Weiwei had evaded "a huge amount" of tax, state media
said, as authorities appeared to ramp up their case against the
detained artist.

Police authorities in the capital, citing an initial probe, also
alleged the company -- Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. -- had
"intentionally destroyed accounting documents", the official Xinhua
news agency reported.

Ai, one of China's most prominent artists and a vocal critic of the
ruling Communist Party, was detained by police on April 3 amid the
government's biggest crackdown on dissidents and activists in years.

The 54-year-old's detention has been loudly condemned internationally,
with the United States and European Union calling for his release.

Up until now, the Chinese government had only said that Ai was under
investigation for economic crimes, but police have so far failed to
issue a formal arrest warrant.

Chinese authorities, apparently spooked by the wave of pro-democracy
uprisings sweeping the Middle East, have detained dozens of lawyers,
artists and other perceived critics in recent weeks.

Many of the detainees have been beaten while in custody.

Ai was able to meet with his wife Lu Qing last Sunday and appeared to
be in good health, his sister told AFP, in what is believed to be the
first known face-to-face contact between him and his family since his
detention.

Police authorities told Xinhua that Ai's "right to meet with people
who live with him was ensured in accordance with the law."