Ai Weiwei’s attempts to stand up against his $2.4 million fine for tax evasion have been in vain, with the fine against him upheld by a Chinese court hearing that he was barred from attending.
Beijing’s critics have accused the government of using the fine in an attempt to quash the notoriously forthright artist, who makes no secret of his dissidence.
The district of Chaoyang was requested by Ai to overturn his tax evasion penalty, which was imposed on his art and design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd.
"Today's verdict shows that this country, more than 60 years after its founding still has no basic legal process, still has no respect for the truth, still will never give taxpayers and citizens an ability to justify themselves," Ai told Reuters, adding that there was "absolutely no hope" that the court would rule in favour of him.
Ai also pointed out the secrecy surrounding his case and said he would sue the Chaoyang court, indicating that there is no stopping the outspoken artist. While Ai was banned from attending the proceeding, his wife, Lu Qing, was permitted to attend.
The international celebrity status of Ai and the attraction of the international media sees China’s already muddy human rights record further tarnished.
The United States State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement emailed to Reuters
: "We continue to urge China to respect the rule of law and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens."
"China's respect for the rule of law and protection of human rights are critical to its long-term prosperity and stability," he added.
The result is timely because China and the United States will hold a human rights dialogue in Washington next week.