Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) said yesterday he had accepted a job at an art university in Germany as he battles charges of massive tax evasion after nearly three months in police detention.
The 54-year-old — an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party whose detention sparked an international outcry — said he was “very happy” about his new position at the Berlin University of the Arts.
“I hope to be able to contribute something important in the future,” Ai said, adding that it was “not clear” when he would be able to leave China and go to Berlin.
The avant-garde artist, whose work was recently on display at London’s Tate Modern, was detained in April during a major government crackdown on dissidents.
The Berlin university offered Ai the teaching position soon after his detention, saying it “stood for the freedom of the arts and therefore for the freedom of artists.”
Ai was only released on bail last month and Chinese authorities have charged Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, a design firm they say is “controlled” by Ai, with evading “a huge amount of taxes.”
However, lawyers for the firm say they do not accept the charges because they have yet to see any of the original financial records that police seized from the company’s offices and are now using as evidence.
Ai’s wife Lu Qing (路青) — the firm’s legal representative — insists her husband has no legal responsibility for Fake. She attended a hearing yesterday to try and get hold of the financial records.
“The evidence they brought was all copies of originals. We never saw the original documents,” she said, adding that the lawyers needed these before they could mount a proper defense against the charges.
Liu Xiaoyuan (劉曉原), Ai’s close friend, said last month that the Beijing tax office wanted the artist to pay 4.9 million yuan (US759,000) in taxes and another 7.3 million yuan in fines.
Ai’s outspoken criticism of China’s leaders and his involvement in controversial social campaigns — such as a citizens’ probe into school collapses in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake — have long made him a thorn in the government’s side.
In January, his newly built Shanghai studio was torn down in apparent retaliation for his criticism of city policies and he was blocked from leaving China in December ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波).
Ai already has strong ties to Germany. In March, he announced plans to set up a studio in Berlin to showcase his work. He also underwent surgery in Germany after he said he was beaten by police in Sichuan Province.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient