From Beijing to Brick Lane: Chinese Political Slogans Take Over London’s Art Scene

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London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – London’s Brick Lane, renowned for its vibrant street art scene, has recently become a topic of discussion due to the emergence of slogans promoting Chinese Communist Party ideology on one of its walls.

Videos circulating online captured a group of individuals spray-painting large red Chinese characters onto a white background overnight during the weekend. These characters represent the core socialist values, consisting of 12 two-character words, which are among the most frequently used political slogans during President Xi Jinping’s tenure. 

The Appearance Of These Slogans Has Invited An Online Debate 

In China, it is common to encounter political propaganda in the form of red block characters adorning white walls. The appearance of these slogans on Brick Lane has ignited a lively online debate regarding their classification as street art and the intricate relationship between freedom of expression and political propaganda.

Furthermore, the wall has now become a battleground for conflicting narratives, as individuals swiftly added new graffiti to express their criticism of the Chinese government.

Although the slogans have garnered negative comments, it is unclear whether the individuals who painted them were being serious or ironic.

The Creator Of The Artwork Shared His Opinion

Wang Hanzheng, one of the creators who also goes by the name Yi Que for his artwork, stated that the piece did not hold much political significance. In an Instagram post, Mr. Wang wrote in Chinese, explaining that the group used political elements as a means to discuss various environments.

The post reads, “In the name of freedom and democracy, it showcases the cultural center of the West, which represents London’s freedom… Let’s challenge the false freedom of the West by embracing socialism and see what unfolds.”

He further added, “Needless to say, the situation on the other side is evident.”

Mr. Wang said that there is no doubt that the 24 characters represent not only China’s goals but also common goals for the world.

The Pictures On The Wall Have Sparked Strong Reactions From Chinese Locals 

The pictures of the wall immediately sparked strong reactions among Chinese speakers on social media. Many individuals within China, particularly those who support the government, have argued that the actions taken in Brick Lane were an expression of freedom and should be protected. Some even expressed pride in this type of cultural export.

However, there were also nationalists who questioned whether this was a form of high-level criticism, often referred to as “black” in state media and social media circles, where individuals use veiled language to satirize and criticize the Communist Party regime.

Outside of China, the artwork has faced a deluge of criticism.

One of the top comments on Mr. Wang’s Instagram post reads, “Obstructing freedom of speech is not a part of freedom of speech. The jargon you used cannot justify your brutal destruction of other people’s art.”

Another top comment challenges, “Do you dare to go to Beijing and write about democracy and freedom? If you dare, the country you claim to love will dare to arrest you.”

Mr. Wang acknowledged that the reaction to his work had been more intense than he anticipated. He revealed that he had been doxed and his parents had faced harassment. He added, “More and more people are exploiting this subject for their own purposes and displaying malicious intent. This was not my intention.” The comments under his Instagram post regarding the artwork were no longer visible on Monday morning.

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The Chinese Political Art On The Wall’s Is Under Fire 

Another creator, Gino Huang, expressed on Instagram that this piece is still a work in progress. Similar to any other graffiti, this wall’s ultimate fate will involve being covered and debated. However, we hope for it to become an integral part of the neighborhood, visible to passersby every day, and to be incorporated into a larger narrative.

The Chinese political art on the Brick Wall has raised a lot of debate among the Chinese and British nationals. As people have different views on the issue the fate of the art on the wall does not seem to be very promising. Despite raising a lot of debate, Chinese art has attracted a lot of attention among people visiting the Brick Wall in London.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.