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Chinese activist battles tax charges

BEIJING — Activist artist Ai Weiwei believes a tax evasion case was meant to intimidate him, but losing his challenge to the $2.4 million fine Friday did not silence his criticism of China’s government.

‘‘Today’s verdict means that after 60 years of the founding of our nation, we still lack the basic legal procedures, the truth is not respected, and they do not give taxpayers or citizens any rights to defend oneself,’’ Ai told reporters at his studio, where he stayed because police barred him from attending the hearing. ‘‘The whole legal system is in a dark state right now.’’

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Ai and his supporters interpret the penalty Beijing tax authorities levied on his design company last year as official retaliation against his activism.

An internationally known sculptor, photographer, and installation artist, he has used his art and online profile to draw attention to injustices in China and the need for greater transparency and rule of law.

He was detained without explanation for three months last year during a crackdown on dissent.

After his release, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, was ordered to pay $2.4 million in back taxes.

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