Artist and fierce government critic Ai Weiwei has turned the tables on China’s Communist regime by transforming a crippling tax fine he says is designed to silence him into a huge wave of solidarity.
The painter, sculptor, architect and activist was a thorn in the side of the government even before he managed to pay a 8.5 million yuan (NT$40.5 million) bond thanks to money raised by some 30,000 Chinese people in record speed.
The artist disappeared into police custody for 81 days earlier this year. He was released in June, but on Nov. 1 was ordered to pay 15 million yuan (NT$71.5 million) in back taxes levied against a company he set up.
Days later, a spontaneous online movement to help Ai began. Supporters sent him money orders, checks, Internet transfers, and even rolled bank notes into balls and threw them over the walls of his Beijing studio.
Renaud de Spens, a Beijing-based Internet expert, said the outcome was a “huge kick in the teeth” for the government. “The regime tried to scare him, but it was not a good strategy,” he said.
1. turn the tables
翻盤；扭轉局勢 (fan1 pan2; niu2 zhuan3 ju2 shi4)
例: She turned the tables on her rival with allegations of corruption.
政權 (zheng4 quan2)
例: The Chinese government is an authoritarian regime.
3. a thorn in someone’s side
眼中釘 (yan3 zhong1 ding1)
例: Health inspectors are a thorn in the side of most restaurants.