In a strong affront to the Chinese government’s attempt to censor artists and internet users, fans of the artist Ai Weiwei have raised more than $830,000 in three days through social media to help the artist fight a $2.4 million tax bill from the state.

In this June 23, 2011 file photo, activist artist Ai Weiwei opens the gate to talk to journalists gathered outside his home in Beijing. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Since a fundraising drive began Friday, more than 18,829 people have contributed money toward the bill, Weiwei’s associate Liu Yanping told AFP.

A Chinese man waits to contribute his money at the home of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing, China, on Monday. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

However, a state-run newspaper editorial suggested that Weiwei could be charged with “illegal fundraising” for accepting the funds. The government has also censored search terms related to the donations.

Weiwei has told his fans that he does not need the money, and that he plans to pay back the donations. He has given some contributors hand-crafted sunflower seeds from his 2010 installation at the Tate Modern as a thank you. "What I need is the ethical support of everybody. I don't need the money," he said.

Commemorative ceramic seeds from Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds" art installation are prepared in packets to send to people who contribute money to him. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Previously: ‘Dead’ Ai Weiwei sculpture scares German town

Exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Taiwan to focus on his absence