Graffiti battle: Chinese political slogans appear on London street art wall
London Brick Lane: Debate ensued online over whether they can be considered as street art or not.
London's Brick Lane, famous for its street art, has become a talking point after one of its walls was covered by slogans praising Chinese Communist Party ideology. Videos shared widely on social media showed a group of people spray painting big red Chinese characters on a white background overnight. The “core socialist values” are composed of 12 two-character words- most common political slogans under China president Xi Jinping's rule. Political propaganda in the form of red block characters on a white wall are seen in China as well.
Following the appearance of slogans, debate ensued online over whether they can be considered as street art or not as on the wall people swiftly added new graffiti criticising the Chinese government.
Some added "no" in front, or posted other messages or images. One picture showed an £800 fine issued citing "graffiti & flyposting" as offences while others were upset that the slogans covered up older works.
Wang Hanzheng, one of the creators, claimed that the piece "didn't have much political meaning". In an Instagram photo post, he wrote in Chinese saying the group used the political elements as a coat "to discuss different environments".
"In the name of freedom and democracy, it illustrates the cultural centre of the West, this is London's freedom… Decolonize the false freedom of the West with the construction of socialism, let's see what happens," the post read.
"Needless to say what's the situation on the other side," he added. Speaking to BBC, he said that "there is no question" that the 24 characters are "not only goals of China, but common goals for the world".
"More and more people are using this subject for their own purposes and displaying maliciousness, this is not my intention," he explained.
In China some argued that what had been done in Brick Lane was freedom of expression and should be protected. "Obstructing freedom of speech is not a part of freedom of speech. The jargons you used cannot justify your brutal destruction of other people's art," a user commented on Wang's Instagram post.
"Do you dare to go to Beijing and write democracy and freedom? If you dare, the home country you love will dare to arrest you," another wrote.