Tag Archives: graffiti

Graffiti on the urban scene in China?


Graffiti have become ubiquitous throughout the European urban space. Spray paint has become the most widely used material for graffiti, which are often a form of artistic expression, sometimes a tool for political protest. Although considered an act of vandalism if carried out without the proprietor’s consent, the authorities seem to be negligent in applying the law, or else are unable to enforce it because of the overwhelming number of graffiti that proliferate on public walls, commercial façades, or even on private residents’ doors, not to mention the huge cost of cleaning them. (Last year the city of Barcelona approved a plan to clean 2,500 blinds at a cost estimated at 200 € per item).1. In China, graffiti are peculiarly rare, except in some public spaces that have been tacitly reserved for this use. According to an article published in Talk Magazine in February 2012,2 one of the reasons graffiti are absent from the urban scene in China is the fast rate at which the legions of public cleaners employed by the city wipe them out. The only graffiti that seems to endure is that used to form the character “chai” (拆), which marks every building doomed to demolition.


Chāi (拆), Elosua Miguel

  1. http://www.europapress.es/catalunya/noticia-barcelona-pagara-limpieza-2500-persianas-graffitis-cambio-mantenimiento-20130313162224.html. Last retrieved on July 4, 2013 []
  2. http://shanghai.talkmagazines.cn/issue/2012-03/graffiti-chinese-characteristics. Last retrieved on July 4 []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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