Thousands Contribute to Fine of Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Wei Wei

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November 6, 2011; Source: New York Times | Accused by the Chinese Government of avoiding $770,000 in taxes, the well-known dissident artist Ai Wei Wei was hit on Tuesday with a bill, including fines, of $2.4 million. Mr. Ai claims that the move is politically motivated—he is an open critic of China’s Communist party.

He was given 15 days to pay the fine and a gag order as a condition of bail. Sincethat time, more than 20,000 people have come forward to help him pay it—so far contributing at least $550,000 in donations that vary in size and mode of delivery.

This story reports that after Ai’s Weibo account (which is the Chinese form of Twitter) was disabled, supporters began traveling to the compound where Ai is being held and throwing in money by folding the bills into paper airplanes. One donor offered the equivalent of $157,000 but was told by Ai that he would rather not accept it and that he preferred smaller donations. Crowdsourcing builds followings.—Ruth McCambridge