Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei's Fake Cultural Development closes

Does the Chinese state's closure of the artist's firm mean that he has "lost the battle but won the war"?

The 55-year-old Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei may escape paying the outstanding balance on his £1.5m tax fine, after the Chinese government removed Fake Cultural Development's business licence last weekend. The firm, controlled by Ai, had not fulfilled its yearly registration requirements, and so can no longer pay the fine. The artist told The Guardian newspaper that he thought the ruling "could be an excuse not to give us a fine."

Last week he lost his appeal against the tax fine, levied in 2011 after Ai was released from state detention. In a statement to the AP press agency following last week's ruling the outspoken artist said: "What surprises me is that this society, which is developing at such a rapid rate today, still has the most barbaric and backward legal system. I think it's a bad omen."

Though he may now escape the fine, Ai has still to receive his passport back from the government, his freedom to travel is still restricted, and he remains subject to strict police monitoring.

For further insight into Ai Weiwei's life and powerful body of work, consider our book, his first monograph.