[JURIST] A Chinese court agreed on Monday to hear the case brought by dissident artist Ai Weiwei [BBC profile]. Ai challenged the government's imposition of 15 million yuan (USD $2.4 million) tax evasion penalty on Fake Cultural Development Ltd. which helps him to produce and market his works. He was accused and charged with tax evasion in November. Ai claims that by imposing such penalty, the government violated the tax law, and he urges the court to overturn the tax bureau's rejection of his appeal against the penalty. Monday's ruling is surprising [Reuters report] because Chinese courts have been denying, or rarely accepting, claims brought by dissidents and their relatives. However, the court's acceptance does not automatically mean that Ai will win in his case against the government.
China has faced continued criticized for detaining political dissidents. Monday's ruling comes only six days after Chen Guangcheng [BBC profile; JURIST news achive], a blind Chinese legal activist, sought safety [JURIST report] from local officials in the US Embassy in Beijing. He was wanted for exposing forced abortions and other human rights violations but escaped [JURIST report] to US protection to avoid 20 months of house arrest. He was placed under house arrest in 2010 after four years in prison [JURIST report]. In April, Ni Yulan, a Chinese housing activist and lawyer, was sentenced [JURIST report] to two years and eight months for fraud and inciting a disturbance in Beijing.